I Asked Google AI to Confirm SEO Best Practices for Single Location Business with Multiple Service Areas

Best Practices for SEO for a Single-Location Business with Multiple Service Areas

One thing I enjoy about Google’s Gemini AI (free, btw) is that when you ask it questions about SEO and Google Search, you can know that you’re getting info straight from the source.

The last thing most of us as humans want to do is block off a weekend, fire up the coffee pot, and catch up on documentation from the last 20 years of Google Search Central, the very compendium of coding and best practices. It’s something more akin to a leisurely stroll through a virtual SEO law library.

Not everyone has time or the will power to spend has out the finest details of website architecture, coding do’s and don’ts, and best practices for organizing information on the internet in a way that Google’s search engine algorigthm and bots will prefer.

But what if you mastered just a few of the concepts from Google and could get your site indexed and (hopefully) ranked on that highly sought 1st page of the Google SERPs more quickly?

And if you’re a single-location, service-based business with a service area over a large region, how can you help new customers who need your help right now discover you more easily?

Today I’m going to share the details from the SEO strategy session and chat I had with Google Gemini AI recently.

So, let’s ask Google Gemini!

Best Practices for SEO for a Single-Location Business with Multiple Service Areas in 2024

Best Practices for Doing Local SEO for Small Businesses with Multiple Service Areas

Me: “What is your take on SEO Best practices for a small business with one physical office location but may serve a larger service area to include smaller towns, regarding setting up the website and different URLs?

I have noticed that some businesses of this type, usually trades and services type businesses, will often have practically the same content with only a few geo keywords altered across multiple different pages whose URL is basically set up to be a city name. To me, that inherently does not seem like best practices, but I wanted to ask an official representative of Google.”

Google AI: “You’re right, having practically identical content with just a few location keywords swapped isn’t ideal for SEO. Here’s how a small business with one location serving a wider area can approach their website and URLs for best SEO practices:

Focus on One Domain:

  • Maintain a single website domain (e.g., yourcompanyname.com) for the entire service area.
  • This concentrates your website’s authority and avoids duplicate content penalties.

Location Targeting:

There are a couple of ways to target specific towns within your service area:

  1. Service Area Page:
    • Create a dedicated “Service Area” page listing all the towns you serve.
    • Briefly highlight your services relevant to each town.
    • You can even segment the towns by region within the page for better organization.
  2. Location Specific Content:
    • For larger towns with significant service volume, consider dedicated subfolders or subpages mentioning the town name in the URL (e.g., [invalid URL removed]).
    • Ensure these pages have unique content specific to that location, mentioning local landmarks or addressing town-specific needs.

Google My Business (GMB) Optimization:

  • Claim and optimize your Google My Business (GMB) profile.
  • Include your service area in the GMB description, mentioning the smaller towns you serve.

Citations and Local Directories:

  • Ensure your business NAP (Name, Address, Phone number) is consistent across all online directories and citations, including the smaller towns in your service area.

Remember:

  • High-quality, informative, and original content is crucial.
  • Focus on content that showcases your expertise and value proposition for each service you offer.
  • Find the overlap. For instance, in this very blog post, I will internally link to similar post I wrote recently when I did a review of a non-fiction AI bookwriting website, since it’s topically relevant, that post already gets traffic, and it may help me both get more of my website’s pages indexed and found by Google. I’ll also link to my recent Linksmanagement review since I’m familiar with their services and backlinks are a relevant sub-topic of SEO.

By implementing these strategies, you can effectively target your wider service area while maintaining a strong and well-optimized website for search engines.”

Increasing Crawl Budget and Minimizing Duplicate Content Penalties for SEO in One Move

Me: “I believe that the approach you recommended will also serve to minimize duplicate content (multiple location pages but only changing a few geo keywords) while increasing the overall crawl budget for Google’s indexing bots for the remaining pages. Focusing on maintaining accurate NAP info across various citations around the web seems to be more in keeping with Google Search Central’s coding style and how information is recalled upon search query by user.”

Google AI: “You’ve got a great understanding of SEO best practices for local businesses! Here’s why your observations are spot-on:

  • Minimizing Duplicate Content: By using a single domain with strategic location targeting, you avoid repetitive content across multiple pages. This ensures Google prioritizes your main website and indexes relevant content for each area.
  • Crawl Budget Optimization: Google allocates crawl budget to websites based on their perceived importance. Focusing on high-quality content and proper site structure helps Google bots efficiently crawl and index your valuable pages. Maintaining a single domain concentrates your website’s value for Google, potentially increasing the crawl budget allocated to those key pages.
  • NAP Consistency and Local Search: Accurate NAP information across citations is crucial for local SEO. Google relies heavily on consistent NAP details to understand your service area and ensure your business appears in relevant local search results.

By following these strategies, you’re aligning your website with Google Search Central’s principles: providing a user-friendly, informative website with clear location targeting. This leads to a better user experience and increases your chances of ranking higher in local search results for your wider service area.”

How to Increase Speed at Which Your Website is Indexed by Google and Get Relevant Local Links

Me: “Getting backlinks for local SEO is more challenging than it sounds. What are some recommendations you can make to get some relevant local links to benefit my B2B styled service business without being overly spammy, promotional, or upsetting Google’s indexing bots?”

Google AI: “You’re right, building backlinks for local SEO, especially for B2B businesses, can be tricky. Here are some strategies to acquire relevant local links that align with Google’s guidelines:

Community Engagement:

  • Local Business Associations: Get involved with your local chamber of commerce or industry associations. These organizations often have online directories where your business listing can include a link to your website.
  • Sponsorships: Consider sponsoring local events, charities, or sports teams. Sponsorships often come with logo placement and links on event websites or press releases.

Content Marketing Strategies:

  • Guest Blogging: Reach out to local business blogs or industry publications relevant to your B2B services. Offer to write informative guest posts that provide valuable insights to their audience. Include a natural backlink to your website within the content.
  • Local Content Creation: Craft blog posts or articles specifically addressing local B2B challenges or industry trends. Highlight local success stories you’ve had with clients (with their permission, of course).

Building Relationships:

  • Networking: Attend industry events and meetups to connect with local businesses. Building relationships can lead to natural backlink opportunities through recommendations or collaborations.
  • Partnerships: Partner with non-competing local businesses for joint marketing initiatives like webinars or co-hosted events. These collaborations can result in backlinks on each other’s websites.

Citations and Online Directories:

  • Claim and optimize your profiles on local business directories, industry-specific directories, and online review platforms. Ensure your NAP (Name, Address, Phone number) is consistent across all listings.

Focus on Quality, Not Quantity:

  • Prioritize acquiring backlinks from high-quality, relevant websites with good domain authority. A few high-quality links are more valuable than many low-quality ones.
  • For higher level SEO strategies, you can even use SEM Rush, a popular paid SEO tool, to audit other websites in your niche with which you share a common interest to audit their site for potential broken links and pages. When helping them remove their unknown 404’s, you’re actually helping boost their SEO, which makes asking for a mention via a backlink that much easier to pull off when you contact them and inform them of their situation.

For more high-level SEO strategy that works, visit our SEO consultancy services page.

Avoid Black Hat Techniques:

  • Steer clear of tactics like link buying, comment spam, or link exchanges. These practices can hurt your website’s ranking and potentially get penalized by Google.

By implementing these strategies, you can attract valuable local backlinks that enhance your website’s credibility and improve your local search ranking. Remember, focus on building genuine relationships and providing valuable content, and the backlinks will follow organically.”

One Last Bonus Tip About Local SEO

Renaming your file names on a computer to relevant keywords for your business and location can give Google’s algorithm extra help in determining your site and who it’s intended to reach. These keyword phrases can also be used anywhere as “alt” tags, if you’re ever prompted, while using social media sites or micro-blogs like WordPress or Hubspot.

Google wants unique and relevant content. It doesn’t need 10 individual web pages that are named according to the town or city in their service area. Google’s algorithm can figure out if you own an electrician or locksmith business without repeating your business offerings down to the near letter across several URLs.

However, I have seen B2B websites that auto mechanics and landscapers that have been paginated and coded by simply changing a few local keywords and not even altering the content across 10 or 15 different pages. Yet, somehow the pages are indexed and still rank. So clearly, Google has adopted its own search engine algorithm to cater to pragmatic SEO even when web copy and site structure are less than ideal.

At the end of the day and all things considered, Google wants to be relevant, period. Let that be your guiding light for all decisions SEO.

And remember: if they do penalize you, you can always check under the hood of your website in Google Search Console. Check which pages are being indexed and which aren’t, then try to determine why. Check for any penalties that show up in your dashboard as well. A duplicate content issue is easily remedied and doesn’t necessarily look “black hat” to Google straight away.

Lasting SEO Requires Annual Activity and Relevance

Staying consistent with your business details and remembering the user navigation or UX experience while they’re on your site is important, so don’t forget to brush up any written copy as well to ensure it sounds like it was written from someone in native English.

Adding videos that contain 5-minute answers or how-to’s of subjects you find yourself discussing with your potential customers regularly are excellent talking points that you’ve filmed yourself can also help make your traditional website more relevant to Google, especially if you embed your YT videos on your website and link to your website from the description field in your YT video.

Just remember, even a basic strategy regarding SEO, Facebook ads, and YouTube can help you 3x your business in many cases, especially if you’re the type of business that has just now started looking for ways to utilize the web for sales and marketing with organic SEO.

Most of the time, it just requires leveraging a small digital marketing professional or agency and a little bit of work. Additionally, if you’re already tech-savvy, you can use the tips on this page to boost your SEO and reduce common mistakes that could hold your site’s ability to rank.

Good luck!

Article Sources, SEO Documentation, and Other Helpful Links

If you’re interested in diving deeper, here are some additional resources:

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