Today’s Ask an SEO question comes from Janet in Brisbane. Janet asks:
“How do I stop a webpage from ranking so well, without deleting it? It’s bringing lots of traffic from the U.S., which isn’t relevant as the site is for a local business. Is the page that has gone crazy harming the rest of my site in search engine results, or helping?”
Great question Janet!
Without knowing your specific situation I cannot say if it’s hurting or helping the rest of your search engine results.
However, I can help you with a few ways to stop your website from showing to people in irrelevant areas.
Please be careful, though, as there could be some unwanted side effects.
Make Your Area Served Clear
The first thing you can do is look at your schema. There is an “area served” feature you could claim.
By defining the city, town, county, country, district, etc. you serve, you’ll signal to search engines that this is the only area your content or services is relevant for.
Next, log in to Google My Business and place the same location and area served information.
Evaluate Your Copy
Is your copy localized for your area? If not, can you modify the wording a bit to make it more clear that your services are only for the people within your region?
Try focusing on local talking points within your service area. It could be local holiday celebrations to landmarks like a statue in a park.
For example, if you’re talking about New Year’s Eve and you’re in Key West, Florida, forget mentioning Anderson Cooper and the ball drop in Times Square. Instead, focus on the drag queen that drops in the high heel.
Everyone knows about Times Square celebrations but your local audience knows about the local events.
Have you also evaluated your footer and other lesser checked areas?
Website copy also includes the text in your footer and local information in the body section of a page.
Make sure location pages have local phone numbers, street addresses, and interactive maps.
Having this type of information helps send signals that these are the areas people can reach you in and utilize your services.
The Downside of Localizing Pages
There is a downside to all of this.
When you localize your pages you could hurt your national and international rankings.
If you end up wanting to expand, sell, or merge companies in the future you may not be able to get the traffic back.
By ranking outside of your local area you could also be attracting natural backlinks.
If your service page has internal links then the lack of new backlinks could cause everything to start declining because you’re no longer acquiring links that pass authority.
When this happens to some of the local businesses I work with, I don’t block or try to get rid of the traffic. I instead help them monetize it and scale their companies with it.
I sell leads to similar companies outside of their market (when legal and the person opts in – again legally) and I also build an audience for podcasts, newsletters, and other communications to grow the brand.
These subscribers help me get cross-promotions and PR opportunities to scale my clients’ businesses.
Having traffic outside of your service area isn’t always a bad thing.
It’s how you use it that counts.
Think about this before trying to get rid of this traffic.
And remember: once you do localize and that traffic goes away, you may not be able to get it back again.
Editor’s note: Ask an SEO is a weekly SEO advice column written by some of the industry’s top SEO experts, who have been hand-picked by Search Engine Journal. Got a question about SEO? Fill out our form. You might see your answer in the next #AskanSEO post!