A Local Search Strategy that Works | WordPress Local City Landing Pages

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A Local Search Strategy that Works | WordPress Local City Landing Pages

WordPress city landing pages, a local search strategy that works!

NOTE: For SEO professionals, professionals, programmers or jedi’s that are visiting this article, I would LOVE to hear any ideas you have about how to integrate an article spinner (Spin Syntax) into this strategy. As you read this article, I mention duplicate content risks a few times, and am working on integrating a spinner into this process and would love to hear from you!

A Local Search Strategy that Works

In this article you will learn how to implement a proven and reliable city landing page strategy. If you follow this strategy exactly, you can expect to experience an increase in website traffic AND an average of one new customer or client per month.  One client or customer per month that you would not have otherwise retained! This strategy is perfect for a local business, where “local business” is defined as an SAB (service area business) and your services are searched, located and performed within a radius around a point (typically 20-30 miles). Examples of SAB’s:

  • Attorneys
  • Doctor Offices
  • Plumbers
  • HVAC
  • Accounting Firms
  • Construction Companies

Continue reading and learn one of the simple tactics we use to dominate local search rankings. We, 3V, have used this strategy dozens of times to acquire more visibility and higher rankings in search engines for our clients. Below is a screen capture of local search listings and rankings for “Downriver DUI Attorneys”, as you can see the law firms we work with locally dominate the local DUI searches.

DOWNRIVER-DUI-SEO-RANKINGS-V1.1

We have tried hundreds (literally) of strategies and tactics, some better than others. When we find something that works we fine-tune it. When we find something does not work, we send it to the scrap heap. One particular strategy that we have continued to fine-tune for the last 4+ years is Local City Landing Pages. These are web pages that we try to rank in the SERP (search engine results page) for city specific consumer searches. Some examples of these types searches are:

  • Flat Rock Heating and Cooling Company
  • Detroit Divorce Attorney
  • Roofing Companies near Flat Rock, MI
  • 48192 plumbers

Disclaimer: When using this strategy, it is imperative to follow our guide exactly otherwise you risk doing more harm than good. The reason for this is that Google’s crawler identifies duplicate content on a site and will either penalize or ignore pages that they consider to be duplicate. This strategy is NOT an alternative to a fully developed content marketing plan or to SEO, rather this is an example of one tactic that can be applied to acquire higher rankings, more traffic and more website conversions.

WordPress Local City Landing Pages

Many small and mid-market businesses select WordPress as a solution for their website. We (3V) publish the majority of our small business websites in WordPress. The WordPress extension directory has many options and plug-ins for publishing city landing pages and we have tried all of them. None of them offered the features, flexibility and functionality that we were looking for so we have developed an alternative solution for WordPress.

WordPress Landing Pages Using “PHP Code Plugin”

The biggest challenge using this strategy is to avoid, as much as possible, duplicate content while making the page read naturally. Nothing is more annoying than reading a web page about a local plumber on a page that reads something like; “New York Plumber – Bob and Company … Bob the New York plumber has countless years of experience being a New York Plumber …”

This solution is a balance of unique content and cost effectiveness.  It’s cost effective either in terms of money and time. This solution addresses all the major duplicate content challenges (meta title, description, h1/h2/h3 tags, content and contextual linking). There is NO alternative to creating individual pages for each city in your service area, but that might cost you thousands of dollars or dozens of hours of time. At the very least, this solution is a GREAT stopgap solution if you are planning on creating unique and dedicated city landing pages. We have utilized this solution dozens of times, each time successfully. One thing we work hard on is fine-tuning and perfecting the solution, for those with advance PHP or programming knowledge, you may create additional snippets of code (using PHP Code for Posts plugin) to implement additional coding on a city by city basis to make your pages more unique.

Disclaimer (once again): When using this strategy, it is imperative to follow our guide exactly otherwise you risk doing more harm than good. The reason for this is that Google’s crawler identifies duplicate content on a site and will either penalize or ignore pages that they consider to be duplicate. This strategy is NOT an alternative to a fully developed content marketing plan or to SEO, rather this is an example of one tactic that can be applied to acquire higher rankings, more traffic and more website conversions.

Pre-requisites:

  • A Current WordPress Website (version 4.0+)
  • Yoast SEO WordPress Plugin
  • Working Knowlege of WordPress
  • A Little Bit of Programming Knowledge (although we will copy paste most of the implementation)
  • 2-8 Hours of Time (or a couple hundred bucks to pay your partner)

Implementation Steps

1) Download, install and active the PHP Code Plugin – Click here or install the PHP Code for Posts plugin directly from your WordPress plugin installation screen (this is preferred). Remember to activate the plugin.

PHP Code for Posts

2) Configure the PHP Code Plugin – Follow these instructions, EXACTLY!

php-code-add-new

 

php-code-add-new-code

3) Add the following code to your Theme Functions File – Be VERY careful here, it is recommended that you update this file via FTP or cPanel File Manager (if you have cPanel) but you can update the theme file directly here. Copy the following snippet into your theme file.

  • Open your theme editor (see image below)
  • Navigate to your theme function.php file
  • Copy/Paste the code below
  • Select “Update”

// Remove Canonical Link Added By Yoast WordPress SEO Plugin
function at_remove_dup_canonical_link() {
return false;
}
add_filter( 'wpseo_canonical', 'at_remove_dup_canonical_link' );

// THIS ADDS DYNAMIC WORDS/CONTENT TO THE META TITLE
function yoast_add_keywords( $str ) {
$city = $_GET['city'];
return $city." ".$str;
}
add_filter( 'wpseo_title', 'yoast_add_keywords', 10, 1 );

// THIS ADDS DYNAMIC WORDS/CONTENT TO THE META DESCRIPTION
function yoast_prepend_city( $str ) {
$metadesc = wpseo_get_value('metadesc');
$city = $_GET['city'];
return $city." ".$metadesc;
}
add_filter( 'wpseo_metadesc', 'yoast_prepend_city', 10, 1 );

theme-editor

edit-themes-file

4) Create Template Page – This may take some time but the approach is straightforward. Enter the everywhere you would like the city name (or location) to appear. I recommend entering the code snippet at least 10 times as follows; <h1> tag once, <h2> tag at least once, <h3> tag at least once and within the content at least 7 times.

Superior Comfort HVAC php code snippet

superior-results-of-snippet

5) Enter Yoast SEO Title and Description – This is VERY important, the metadata code we added in step 3 requires that Yoast title and description metadata be complete. See the example below;

superior-yoast-seo

6) Create Navigation (Homepage is Best) – This step is CRITICAL. Because we have only created one WordPress template page, we will need to create links on the site in order for search engines to crawl, find and index these pages (they will not be available in a sitemap). We HIGHLY RECOMMEND that these links be entered on the homepage, or at least a subset of links on the homepage. The reason for this is that having these contextual links on your homepage will have a ranking boost effect for your homepage, you rankings and your traffic acquisition as a whole. Embedding these contextual links on sub-pages greatly diminishes the impact of this strategy.

Sample Code for Linking:

Below is sample coding for linking to your homepage. Each link should have a separate city in the URL (blue text) and separate keywords/keyphrase (red text). We (3V) typically use lists (the <li> tags) to publish our links in columns however you can build lists any way you want.

<a href=”http://superiorcomforthvac.com/heating-and-cooling-furnace-and-ac-sales-install-repair/?city=Allen Park“>Allen Park Heating & Cooling</a>

</p>
<h4>Locations Served</h4>
<div class="menu-locations-container">
<ul id="menu-locations" class="menu">
<li><a href="http://superiorcomforthvac.com/heating-and-cooling-furnace-and-ac-sales-install-repair/?city=Allen Park">Allen Park Heating &amp; Cooling</a></li>
<li><a href="http://superiorcomforthvac.com/heating-and-cooling-furnace-and-ac-sales-install-repair/?city=Brownstown Township">Brownstown Heating &amp; Cooling</a></li>
<li><a href="http://superiorcomforthvac.com/heating-and-cooling-furnace-and-ac-sales-install-repair/?city=Dearborn">Dearborn Heating &amp; Cooling</a></li>
<li><a href="http://superiorcomforthvac.com/heating-and-cooling-furnace-and-ac-sales-install-repair/?city=Downriver">Downriver Heating &amp; Cooling</a></li>
<li><a href="http://superiorcomforthvac.com/heating-and-cooling-furnace-and-ac-sales-install-repair/?city=Flat Rock">Flat Rock Heating &amp; Cooling</a></li>
<li><a href="http://superiorcomforthvac.com/heating-and-cooling-furnace-and-ac-sales-install-repair/?city=Grosse Ile">Grosse Ile Heating &amp; Cooling</a></li>
<li><a href="http://superiorcomforthvac.com/heating-and-cooling-furnace-and-ac-sales-install-repair/?city=Huron Township">Huron Township Heating &amp; Cooling</a></li>
<li><a href="http://superiorcomforthvac.com/heating-and-cooling-furnace-and-ac-sales-install-repair/?city=Lincoln Park">Lincoln Park Heating &amp; Cooling</a></li>
<li><a href="http://superiorcomforthvac.com/heating-and-cooling-furnace-and-ac-sales-install-repair/?city=Riverview">Riverview Heating &amp; Cooling</a></li>
<li><a href="http://superiorcomforthvac.com/heating-and-cooling-furnace-and-ac-sales-install-repair/?city=Rockwood">Rockwood Heating &amp; Cooling</a></li>
<li><a href="http://superiorcomforthvac.com/heating-and-cooling-furnace-and-ac-sales-install-repair/?city=Romulus">Romulus Heating &amp; Cooling</a></li>
<li><a href="http://superiorcomforthvac.com/heating-and-cooling-furnace-and-ac-sales-install-repair/?city=Southgate">Southgate Heating &amp; Cooling</a></li>
<li><a href="http://superiorcomforthvac.com/heating-and-cooling-furnace-and-ac-sales-install-repair/?city=Taylor">Taylor Heating &amp; Cooling</a></li>
<li><a href="http://superiorcomforthvac.com/heating-and-cooling-furnace-and-ac-sales-install-repair/?city=Trenton">Trenton Heating &amp; Cooling</a></li>
<li><a href="http://superiorcomforthvac.com/heating-and-cooling-furnace-and-ac-sales-install-repair/?city=Westland">Westland Heating &amp; Cooling</a></li>
<li><a href="http://superiorcomforthvac.com/heating-and-cooling-furnace-and-ac-sales-install-repair/?city=Woodhaven">Woodhaven Heating &amp; Cooling</a></li>
<li><a href="http://superiorcomforthvac.com/heating-and-cooling-furnace-and-ac-sales-install-repair/?city=Wyandotte">Wyandotte Heating &amp; Cooling</a></li>
</ul>
</div>
<p>

superior-homepage-linking

6) Manually Submit Pages to Google Webmaster – This is not a necessity however by manually submitting these links to Google Webmaster, it will ensure your new city landing pages are immediately indexed and searchable. If you choose not to manually submit these links, I have seen it take nearly 6 months for city landing pages to become available. Use “Fetch as Google” to fetch your homepage (assuming you linked these city landing pages on your homepage), once fetched issue a “crawl this URL and direct links” submission method. IMPORTANT:  Be careful as you may only issue 10 of these per month.

superior-webmaster

webmaster-fetch

 

7) Check Results – Experiment with Google searches using the city landing pages keywords. You will see that your website will be listed and ranking for these keywords and terms. Please note, it is an unrealistic expectation to acquire top rankings using this strategy. You will, however, acquire search listings and ranking for a much more broad set of keyword searches. Monitor the performance of these pages in Google Analytics and fine tune the content over time!

Below are results from a report of page visits (and landing pages) from the site featured in this article for the last 30 days. We acquired 28 new visitors from city landing pages, with 4 of those 28 visitors converting (we measure conversions as either a “click-to-call” or the completion of a contact form).

superior-results

Michael Lucy
Michael Lucy

Michael Lucy is an avid digital marketer with a deep rooted passion for anything and everything involving technology. From programming to SEO to PPC to remarketing to programmatical advertising, Michael loves to keep current with technology, sharing knowledge and collaborating with other like minded digital marketers.

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