In Google’s Office-hours Hangout recorded on 14 January 2022, Google’s stalwart John Mueller discussed SEO strategies on how to target one website for multiple locations in order to get the best results. In response to the question, asked by one of the viewers (an SEP professional), on how to SEO-optimize a client’s website for multiple states within the same country (US), Google offered some real-time advice as to how to go about it. While the SEO professional had thoughts about creating different landing pages for different states and have the viewers redirect to the location-specific landing page via website’s homepage and at top of that add a noindex tag to each of the landing pages, John thought differently and offered other, more efficient ways to target multiple locations. There are important tips for anyone looking to implement the same.
Tip 1 – Google crawls one website only from one location
Here’s what John said:
“I think there are a few things to keep in mind there. On the one hand… we generally just crawl from one location. And probably for most systems, that would map back to California. And essentially what that would mean is that the content that we can look at would be the content for California, and we would not have access to the content for the other states, which depending on what kind of content you have there, for the other states, that might be okay but it might be problematic.
So that’s kind of the first thing to keep in mind is when you search for your company it’ll look like this is purely in California, or maybe even in San Francisco, I don’t know how the IP addresses would map there. So I think that’s something that often throws people off, especially with geo IP redirects or dynamically swapping the content.”
In summary, redirecting site visitors using dynamic Geo IP Addresses is not the best SEO practice when it comes to crawling.
Tip 2 – Never, ever redirect to a noindexed page
Doing so would simply lead to the homepage being dropped from the search results altogether. John went on to add:
“The other thing is if you noindex the individual state landing pages, then, of course, the state landing page that someone from California would go to would also be noindexed, which would basically mean that your homepage would drop out of search results. So that would be a pretty bad thing.”
Tip 3 – Google recommends offering visitors links to relevant pages via Banners
John suggested, instead of having visitors redirect to different location-specific landing pages, offer them links to all the relevant pages by using dynamic banners. Here’s what he said.
“My general recommendation for these kinds of situations, instead of redirecting automatically to a specific location, is to make it so that the user can find that content much easier. So something like a dynamic banner on a page when the user goes to the homepage, there’s a banner on top that says: ‘oh, it looks like you’re in Texas, and we have an office in Texas, and here’s the information, and click this link to find out more.’
And that way the user has the ability to go to these individual pages. And ideally those individual pages would also be indexable, because that way if someone looks for your company name plus the state name they would be able to find that landing page, which would be essentially ideal.”
Tip 4 – Use multiple versions of the web copy based on visitor’s location
Having a different copy based on where the visitor is located seems like the best way to go about business and target multiple locations with one website without the certain risk of creating different location-specific landing pages.
“The other approach that you could take is to swap out some of the content dynamically on the homepage. So instead of having separate state landing pages, you have your general homepage and you have that state specific information dynamically swapped out.
The important part here is to make sure that overall that homepage still has enough generic content so that it doesn’t come across as like everything is for California, but rather it’s like this is lots of information about your business, and since it looks like you’re in California here’s specific information for California, or whatever state that you’re in. So those are generally the two directions that we recommend there.” added John.
Tip 5 – Creating a landing page for each state if the business is located there is usually okay
John said, “With regards to the individual state landing pages for a handful of versions, we wouldn’t really see that as being problematic. If you had landing pages for every city in every state, then that would start looking a bit iffy for our web spam algorithms.
But if you’re talking about a handful of states, or maybe even all states, it’s something where you have 50 different versions of the homepage with your local address with phone numbers, opening hours, kind of that additional local information on them. From our point of view that’s generally fine.”
Do watch John Mueller’s full response to question at the 14:18 minute mark and may be also stick around for the rest of the discussion for some other valuable insights.
Source: Search Engine Journal