Local Search and Landing Pages: Best Practices

Written by: Jason Bayless | October 27, 2016
Since the dawn of search engine optimization, landing pages have been a key part of improving site rankings and keyword effectiveness. This remains true, but Google has increasingly cracked down on substandard landing pages that it calls “doorway pages.” Companies who are working hard to achieve local SEO results have come to fear the search giant’s increasingly hard line against certain types of landing pages, fearing that they’ll be caught in the crossfire between Google and its black hat nemeses on the other side. The good news is that this is probably not true, as long as site owners adhere to some best practices.

Doorway Pages: What Are They, Exactly?

Doorway pages are, in the traditional sense, not a landing page. Instead of “landing” on this page, a customer is advised to “click through” this page. That’s what makes it a doorway. In order to achieve this type of conversion, disreputable doorway pages typically follow a three-point format:

  • They target multiple geographic areas with a single page.
  • They create multiple landing pages with very similar content.
  • They only use the landing page to funnel customers to the main site.

Reputable business owners won’t be doing any of these things, at least not intentionally. With a solid understanding of best practices for local search landing pages, it will be even easier to steer clear of controversial behaviors within a conventional landing page structure.

Best Practices: How to Create a Great Local Landing Page

Given the “worst practices” listed above, it’s probably easy to draw a few conclusions about what makes a reputable, top-performing landing page in today’s search results. For starters, let’s look at the exact opposite behaviors to those listed earlier. A great landing page should:

  • Target a single, narrow geographic area.
  • Create substantially different, and more locally relevant, content for each local landing page.
  • Publish the page not as a funnel, but as a source of information about a specific location or local service.

Those are good general guidelines, but it’s worth expanding on each of them so that website owners new to local search and landing pages can create something that they’re proud of, that works, and that won’t raise red flags when the Google algorithm does its job.

  1. Targeting a Single Area
    It’s hardly a secret that many business owners are looking to target multiple geographic areas, perhaps with multiple retail outlets or an online store that accommodates a larger region. That’s perfectly fine, but it needs to be done the right way when creating a landing page. While a good landing page targets only one particular area, that doesn’t prevent site owners from creating multiple landing pages so that there’s one landing page for each area served. This practice is actually encouraged by Google.
  2. Create Unique Content
    Targeting different areas means creating different, more highly relevant content for each location served. Don’t simply use the same content, with a change of the location name where necessary. Create entirely unique blog posts, marketing copy, and location information, so that Google recognizes the landing page as fully unique from others.
  3. Avoid the Funnel
    A local search landing page is not a funnel to the homepage. Instead, it’s a valuable source of information. Information published on a landing page should include the business’ address, phone number, retail hours, and key contact information that customers might need in order to get answers to common questions.

Leverage Local Search Landing Pages the Right Way

Landing pages are a great asset for local search, but they must be created and utilized in a way that makes sense for customers. Instead of a mass-produced, uniform, and barely-useful page, create something where customers can read, learn, and land, and then take meaningful action on their own terms.