Maybe this describes your small business, or a client’s small business:
1.) You know you need to create great, unique content so you can target relevant local keywords and attract new search traffic.
2.) You offer the same (or very similar) products/services in multiple cities.
3.) You’re struggling with how to combine #1 and #2 above.
This problem was a common conversation that we had recently during the Local Content Marketing roundtable session at GetListed.org’s Advanced Local University. I’m not sure my replies were very good in the moment, but I’ve been thinking about this in the meantime and can share some more coherent thoughts.
The One Thing NOT To Do
In this situation, the worst thing you can do is to create a series of web pages (or blog posts, etc.) that are all the same, with only the city/town names changed — like this:
If you have a law firm with offices in Seattle and these other nearby cities, you can’t write the same exact pages for each location and just change the city name throughout each page. Search engines will likely see this as duplicate or low-quality content and, if you really go overboard, maybe as spam.
This is tough because there are only so many ways you can explain the products/services that you offer, right? If you only have five locations, you might be able to make it work with unique content for each page. But if you have a dozen locations? 25 locations? More? Good luck. Or, rather than luck, think about some of these ideas:
5 Ways to Create Local Content for Multiple Cities
Here are a few ideas that may help get past the “what do we say about each place we do business?” problem.
1.) Ask yourself: What’s different about the areas we serve?
In many businesses (admittedly not all), the services you offer are different in each location. There’s a local lawn care company in my area that also serves Spokane, Boise and Salt Lake City. They may offer the same services in each location — lawn maintenance, tree care, pest control, etc. — but I’m sure each city has different challenges. For starters, the weather in all those locations differs, so lawn care tips and ideas can be explained differently. Each city surely has different pest control challenges, so that’s another opportunity to write unique content.
2.) Tell your customers’ story, not (only) yours.
Maybe your story is the same no matter what city you do business in … but surely some of your customers have different stories, right? So don’t just write about what you do, but write about how your customers have used your product/service to solve some unique problem. You may have similar text on each city page, but you can expand that boilerplate copy with a unique case study or two — and that’ll help reduce the chances that each page gets flagged as duplicate/low-quality content.
3.) Use different types of content.
In the process of doing #2 above, you can also try different types of content on each city page. Put videos on some pages, but not all. If it’s a video testimonial or interview with a customer, be sure to include a text transcript (to help make the content unique). Show photos (with text captions) on other pages. Do a text-based Q&A with a customer, or maybe the location manager, and add that on some pages. Use different types of content to make sure the city pages aren’t identical.
4.) Considering hiring a professional copywriter.
If you’re really struggling, think about bringing in a pro — preferably one with a good understanding of SEO and the need for high-quality, unique content. Not only can a pro help you improve your existing content, but s/he should also be able to help come up with new ideas for making your location pages unique.
5.) Blog regularly!
You knew I was gonna suggest blogging, right? The very nature of a blog forces you to write unique content — you can’t put the same blog post up time after time. Even if you’re really struggling with getting unique content on your main website, you can use a blog to write unique articles about different locations, different stories in each location, different challenges and solutions in each location, etc. You can target your main keywords with these posts, and you’ll also probably end up getting new visitors for a bunch of long-tail terms that you hadn’t thought of before.
There are five ideas for avoiding the problem of boilerplate content and creating unique, local content. What ideas can you add? Comments are open – share your thoughts so that everyone benefits!
(Stock image via Shutterstock.com. Used under license.)