April 20, 2011
I completed your SEO course on Lynda.com and thought it was great. I am a freelance website designer and also attempting to provide SEO.
I have a client who does business (process serving) in multiple states, but these states cannot also really be categorized into one regional area (I think). They plan to expand into additional states in the future; however, they have only one physical place of business -- which is their home address. I submitted to Google Places with that address, with their permission.
Since local listings seem to have displaced many other listings from the first page of results in Google, how do I get them to show up in the other states where they don't have a physical place of business or storefront? Perhaps they could put the addresses of the individuals that do work for them (in their "network"), but what if they don't want to publicize a home address (especially due to the nature of the business)?
Is there a way to tell Google which states the site is relevant for? On the other hand, if they want to expand their service area, the company would probably want their site to show up for other states as well, even though they are not national yet.
To complicate matters, I think when users (most likely attorneys) are looking for process servers, sometimes they search for the city/state combination as well. I understand from reading previous posts that having multiple URLs redirecting back to the original site would not be good -- that is, process-server-maryland.com, process-server-washington-dc.com, etc. Right? I don't think the information will really vary from state to state, but I can't say that for sure. Should I ask my client to create new content for each state, and explain how process serving is different in that state, and create state pages?
Right now, I just have the list of states (but not cities) in the body copy of the home page. There is no navigation for each of the states.
Thanks in advance for your help.
This is definitely a tough situation as far as the organic / natural Google search results go. It's getting even worse because Google has put added emphasis on local Google Places Pages so prominently in their search results.
Unfortunately, you can't add Google Places pages for locations where you don't have a physical office address and phone number, so that's out. (I suppose you could try to purchase dummy phone numbers and addresses strictly for this purpose, but that would be the spammy way to do things, which I don't recommend.)
You can, however, create specific city/state landing pages to be used in conjunction with Google AdWords. You'd target them locally through appropriate ads and keywords within your AdWords interface. This way, only people searching from the appropriate city/state will see the ads and resulting landing pages.
While you might be tempted to use those same landing pages as a way to bring in people from the organic search results (and they may even work fine for this purpose), I would caution against it. Those types of pages often contain mostly duplicate content and have been dubbed "madlib spam" pages by Google. You really need a way to make them unique other than just switching out the city or state name in order to not be considered to be spammy by Google. (See our old forum post on madlib spam.)
That said, most companies that do business in a number of geographical areas may have enough additional information to work with, if they get creative enough. Think about what sort of content would be helpful to your potential customers which also just happens to mention the states you do business in.
Off the top of my head, how about case studies and/or testimonials from previous clients or customers within the different states? You could create a separate page for each case study that discusses the client, where they're from and what you did for them. These would be useful to your site visitors while also making it clear to Google that you do business in each of those states. You could even make them more effective for your potential customers by having video interviews with past clients (if they were willing) and embedding those on the pages as well.
You can (and probably should) list the various states where you work somewhere on your home page, but I imagine you might be able to think of other creative ways to add this local aspect to your site which apply to your client's specific business. The main thing is to figure out ways to get the appropriate content on your site without simply creating useless, duplicate fluff, that's just there only for the search engines. Start by brainstorming the type of extra local information that the potential customers would want to see, and branch out from there.