For some businesses, ranking for a larger region may make more sense than optimizing for a hyperlocal approach.
This is especially true for service area businesses that offer services in various areas and may not get in-office foot traffic.
Implementing a well-orchestrated regional SEO strategy can help extend your impression reach without breaking the bank for physical offices in every little city in an area.
If done correctly, you can still rank in the SERP for the coveted “near me” searches that have become commonplace for users.
Regional SEO vs. Local SEO
There is a key difference between local SEO and regional SEO.
According to Brian Harnish,
“Local SEO is a strategic process that focuses on emphasizing the optimization efforts of local brick-and-mortar businesses.”
Many non-brick-and-mortar businesses, also known as service area businesses, attempt to implement local SEO by setting up virtual offices to increase their visibility in the local SERP.
According to Google’s guidelines, virtual offices are allowed as long as it’s staffed during your normal business hours by your staff.
While you can always reinstate your suspended listing, it’s certainly a pain.
Your listing may get suspended again in the future if a report is filed by a user or Google suspects that you’re violating their guidelines.
In an effort to reduce any decline in organic visibility and business from your SEO efforts, I recommend following these five tips to optimize your regional SEO strategy.
1. Research Your Area
We may think we know the areas we serve, but hard data can always prove us wrong.
Before you start chucking away with the next steps, make sure you know which cities are generating the most organic search interest for your goods or services.
Conduct Local Keyword Research
Conduct thorough keyword research by adding geo modifiers to your phrases.
Compare that with your geography report in Google Analytics to see if there are any similar trends.
Once you have your list of cities, rank them from highest search interest to least.
Group Your Cities
Next, we want to see which of these cities we can group together in single regions. Our goal is to reduce the number of regional pages we’ll be creating in step three.
For example, if I’m trying to rank for my SEO services in Dallas, I may also want to target the common business districts such as Addison, Plano, Frisco, and Irving.
It’s also worth noting that Fort Worth is less than 40 miles from Dallas, which means it may make sense to combine the two areas, depending on how many regions you’re targeting.
At this stage, we may end up with a single DFW page that can target the majority of North Texas.
2. Limit Doorway Pages
Google defines doorway pages as “… sites or pages created to rank highly for specific search queries.”
They go on to elaborate that doorway pages are essentially a set of duplicate or similar pages that all lead to the same destination and may harm the user experience.
Creating doorway pages often takes the form of duplicate local landing pages, which is a trend that really needs to stop.
The unfortunate truth is that sometimes, they actually work.
I believe there is a right way and a wrong way to approach doorway pages for regional SEO.
In fact, in a late 2017 Webmaster Hangout, Google’s John Mueller even confirmed that well-crafted doorway pages may be a fine strategy if implemented correctly.
3. Create Better Regional Pages
Creating a well-oiled regional page is not too different than my guide to the perfect location page.
There are several elements that should be included on both a location page and a regional page, but regional location pages require a bit extra to ensure they provide a meaningful user experience
Include an Area-Specific Description
The description should be 100% unique on your site.
This can be what separates a well-crafted region page and a doorway page.
Some things to include in your business description to help improve the value of your region page include:
- History of business in the region.
- Why your services are especially relevant to consumers or businesses in that area.
- Any notable projects in the area (include photos).
- Services or goods offered that may be popular in the area.
- Unique selling proposition.
- Describe the actual service area, using major highway cross-sections or notable landmarks.
- Add internal linking to other nearby region pages.
Mention Local Clients & Testimonials
If you’re a B2B company, include any notable clients in the area that may be recognizable to users.
Discuss the work you did for those clients and include relevant photos of your services.
If photos are not available, include logos.
If possible, include testimonials from those clients.
Want to take it up a notch? Make video testimonials in that region.
This is where you can separate yourself from your competitors.
Your competition may be using this same tactic and add general stock photography to the region page.
Take it up a notch and take your own high-quality photos in the area.
Here are some tips on photos:
- Feature your logo prominently in some of the first appearing photos.
- Optimize your image name and alt text.
- Show images of your goods or services in action.
- Include recognizable landmarks from that region.
Include Service-Area Map
Create a customized map of the region with a highlighted section showing your service area.
This can accompany the section of your description that mentions your service area.
If possible, work with a developer to create an interactive map to improve the user experience.
Physical Office Location (If Applicable)
Getting a local office in every region can be expensive. It may also not be necessary for every business.
However, having at least one physical office in the heart of your region can significantly help boost your local rankings.
4. GMB Local Office vs. Service Area Business
If you can afford a physical office, even if it’s just for answering calls and dispatching service members, setting up a Google My Business profile is a no-brainer.
However, some businesses may not be able to afford several offices and may not make sense for their strategy.
In those cases, I recommend setting up a service area business in GMB and cast a wide net.
5. Develop a Niche Link Building Strategy
Local link building strategies come in all shapes and sizes.
However, the best strategy is an integrated one that is customized to achieve your goal.
Some ideas on gaining new links to your region pages include:
- Participate in local charities and events (and run some PR about it).
- Submit your region page to industry-specific directories.
- Take advantage of reviews and testimonials.
- Write guest posts for your client’s websites about your work.
- Local SEO: The Definitive Guide to Improve Your Local Search Rankings
- Local SEO for Beginners: How to Get Started
- How to Build Authority in Local SEO
Screenshot taken by author, August 2019