Why Landing Pages Are Key to Hyper-Local Search
Hyper-local search is all the rage. The competition for the most popular short-tail keywords makes ranking for them almost impossible. The new frontier is the less competitive long-tail of local search.
Small businesses have discovered the importance of search for their marketing mix. Location-based marketing services and the growth of mobile has made it possible for donut shop owners, landscapers and birthday party clowns to make an impact with hyper-local search.
Unfortunately most businesses miss the mark when it comes to bringing people off of the search engine on to their web properties. They’re still relying on their website to close the deal.
This is a mistake.
The key to winning in hyper-local search is the landing page – or rather, multiple landing pages for multiple locations.
Dominate Multiple Neighborhoods
Say, for example, you’re house-painting contractor. If you live in a large city such as Chicago, Houston or Los Angeles, you can service the whole city you live in. Your farthest drive is probably 45 minutes on an average traffic day.
But your customers are not looking for services for your city. They’re looking for services for their neighborhood.
The Greater Los Angeles area is a case in point. It’s comprised of dozens of cities, such as Redondo Beach, Carson, Harbor City, San Pedro, Long Beach, Lakewood and Paramount, to name a few. Your potential customer in Long Beach is not looking for a painter that serves the Greater Los Angeles area. She’s interested in somebody who can service Long Beach.
In fact, she may live in the Belmont Heights neighborhood of Long Beach and wants to know if you can service Belmont Heights.
So what will she search for on Google? “house painting belmont heights long beach ca,” or something similar.
That’s a long-tail keyword. The competition is lower for this long-tail keyword (and the traffic is lower). But the good news is that when somebody in Belmont Heights is looking for a painting contractor, your landing page will show up.
But you should also have a landing page for the Belmont Shore area of Long Beach, and the Traffic Circle area of Long Beach, etc.
Each landing page allows you to rank for your keywords in that specific neighborhood.
A perfect example of this type of hyper-local strategy is The Brothers that just do Gutters, a gutter maintenance firm from the U.S. northeast. “The Brothers” have mastered the use of specific landing pages for dozens and dozens of municipalities, neighborhoods and counties in New York, Connecticut, New Jersey and Virginia.
Each landing page uses the appropriate hyper-local keywords in their title tags, h1, h2, h3 tags and body copy, allowing them to dominate search for specific municipalities.
For example, when you Google “gutters westchester ny,” the 2nd organic result is for The Brothers. You get similar results when you search for “gutters ocean county nj” or “gutters danbury ct.
Each one of these results sends you to a completely different landing page - a hyper-local page. The Danbury, CT page is a separate page from the Westchester County, NY page.
Each landing page is a self-contained hyper-local SEO powerhouse, with the appropriate keywords in all the right places.
The Brothers dominate the hyper-local SEO market for gutter repair services – not by dominating the keyword “gutter repair,” but by dominating long-tail keywords in dozens of local municipalities. This would not have been possible without the use of dozens of landing pages dedicated to these localities.
If this sounds like a lot of time-consuming effort, it is. You could achieve similar results if you packed the services pages of your main website with the keywords representing all the dozens of local municipalities you serve.
But this is like hitting two (or three or four or ten) birds with one stone. It may work when it comes to your search results pages, but this is terrible when it comes to scent.
Scent is the term search and conversion marketers use to describe the path prospects take when searching for a particular item on the Internet. When your prospect is searching for something they are essentially following a scent, like a hound dog when it’s searching for a bone.
As Bryan Eisenberg says:
“A prospect types into the search box the search term she believes will give her the desired result. Then, she willfully follows the scent trail of that specific term from the starting point, usually the search results page, seeking a specific answer. She frequently returns to the starting point for orientation. If she doesn't find the answer after several clicks, she starts a new scent trail. She repeats this process until she finds her answer.”
You want your visitors or clients to follow their scent all the way to you. The best way to make your prospects lose their scent is to dump them on to your main website. If they’re looking for a specific hyper-local search term, and can’t find that search term on your web page, you’ll lose them.
This is called losing the scent.
For example, supposed you’re a pizza shop owner in Dallas, Texas, and one of your shop locations is right next to the campus of The University of Texas at Dallas (UTD), in Richardson, Texas (a suburb of Dallas). Your search efforts would be focused on attracting students that live on or near campus. Those students might search for “pizza UTD” on Google. Your store will show up (hopefully) as one of the first results on the resulting Google Maps page. The student will see your location near the UTD campus on the map and will click on the result.
This takes them to a Google Maps landing page that displays basic information about your campus store. But the information on this page is limited, so the student will click on the link to the website you provided on the Google Maps page when you set up your Google Places account. When this hungry student clicks on your website and finds no mention of the University of Texas at Dallas location, they’ve lost the scent they were following. There’s a high probability they will click the “back” button on their cell phone or browser and start looking for the second choice pizza place on the Google Map.
When they click your competitor’s link to find the pizza place hours, find a menu, etc. they’ll see “UTD Campus Richardson” all over the place. Bingo, the scent they were following took them to what they were looking for! In this hypothetical scenario, your competitor used a specific landing page to continue the scent of that student’s hyper-local search. You should too.
Landing Pages: the Yellow Brick Road for Hyper-Local Search
The signs are all around us: hyper-local is exploding. Content sites such as NeighborsGo, Examiner.com and many others cater to this market. Your prospects are more interested in their little corner of the globe than what’s going on globally.
This provides a tremendous opportunity for your search marketing efforts. Unfortunately many small businesses lose their prospects before they've had a chance to become customers because they rely on their website exclusively.
To help your prospects find their way to you, you’ve got to provide them with a specific path back to you. Deploying multiple keyword rich landing pages that cater to specific towns, cities, municipalities and neighborhoods is like providing your prospects a yellow brick road that will take your prospects home – to your business.