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[Tutorial] How I Ranked a Client’s Site in 20+ cities for 60+ Keywords WITH DUPLICATE CONTENT!

The reason I’m writing this little tutorial is because I’ve received quite a few questions via PM and in some threads over on the Warrior Forum and thought maybe I should put together something so you all can use this as a guide.

This is based on my experience in ranking a local business in a small city. The small city wasn’t going to get many searches so it was important to show an ROI and that wasn’t going to cut it. The only other option when it comes to SEO was to rank in other cities with a larger population.

What I was able to do, is rank in over 20 cities for over 60 different keywords. Here’s the kicker… it was with duplicate content and only on page optimization. Some of the rankings came from cities 50 miles apart!

Why am I REALLY Sharing This?

Like I said, I get a lot of questions but I guess the real reason I’m sharing this is because of all the Google guideline cheerleaders that are preaching original content, and using scare tactics getting people to believe you can’t have any duplicate content, that you must follow everything Google says 100%.

I’m not naive… I know Google is smarter than me. I find some useful stuff every now and then and usually it will work and not be affected by any algorithm change like Panda, Penguin, Hummingbird, etc. Maybe this won’t work in the future, but I think it will last for a long time.

Getting Started

The first thing you have to realize is that you’re no longer trying to rank keywords. This really has been the case for a while now, but it is especially true when it comes to local SEO. You’re trying to rank keyword topics. So if you’re doing local SEO for a client that does Garage Door repair and installs then you want to rank for a variety of topics such as:

– Garage Door Repair
– Garage Door Spring Repair
– Overhead Door
– Garage Door Installation
– Garage Door Openers
– Garage Door Replacement

You want to rank for everything that is relevant, and rank it on the same page if possible.

It’s important to note that it is ALL about relevance. Keyword topic relevance and location relevance.

The First Step: Choosing Your Cities

The first step in ranking for multiple cities in Google My Business aka Google Places, aka Google + Local, and even regular organic SERPs is to choose the right cities. If the client is located outside of Houston, TX you don’t necessarily want to target Austin, or San Antonio do you? Your client likely won’t want to travel that much to a job site.

It isn’t just a matter of travel though, if you have your city matrix spread out in other areas that are not in close proximity to the actual city he is in, you’re not going to have success. Maybe that could be different in organic results but it’s not going to happen in local.

What I usually do is target smaller cities where there is less competition, and also usually more income. Most clients of mine get MORE business from ranking in many smaller cities than they would with a ranking in a larger city. If you have 20 cities within a 20-35 mile radius that’s very good to start targeting.

Step 2: Creating Your Content

Each city is going to have its’ own page. You should be thinking of these pages as a landing page but you need to have it beefed up with content while also setting it up to convert the visitors into leads for the business.

For the most part I stay between 500-700 words for the main content of the city specific landing page. The main content usually has 4 sections, split up in h tags, so I have my h1, h2, h3, h4 tags in the page all targeting different related words that will help us rank. I will explain this further in step 3.

Two section headings will have the city name in it, but it is very important for your content to read naturally.

I don’t spin the content for other landing pages, but I do sub out city names, of course, which are usually mentioned once in each section.

Step 3: On Page Optimization

This is very important, and always is. On page optimization is absolutely key when it comes to rankings especially when it is for Local SEO. The tricky thing is to not overdo it and to have a nice level of variance. This comes with practice and testing.

What we will worry about when it comes to on page optimization:

  • Title Tags
  • URL
  • An Image
  • H1-H4 Tags
  • Outbound Link

First up is Title Tags

This is the browser title tag, if you’re doing any sort of SEO I expect you already know what title tags are and everything else listed, as these are very primitive things but many people overlook the importance.

The browser title tag is high impact. Just the other day I saw some clueless person saying that the Title is no longer important, Google inserts the title they feel is relevant, and while that is in some cases true, the title tag is still one of the most important aspects on on page optimization.

Let’s continue with the Garage door example, but we’re going to use a small city in texas as the target. I would optimize the title like this; “Overhead Door & Garage Door Repair Humble Tx” or “Garage Door Repair & Installation Service Humble TX”.

Be careful to not make the title too long, or else it will be less effective. Some would say that the title examples I gave above were too long, but they’re not, you still actually get full benefit from those titles.

What I do is switch the titles on a page to page basis. I don’t keep the exact structure for every single page. The content remains the same structure, but the titles and urls do not.

Next is the URL

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You know how people say you should have an exact match domain for fast ranking? While that is sometimes true, if you have an existing site you can still have an exact match url for your existing domain. For example if it is Bob’s Overhead Doors and the website is bobsdoors.com you would make the exact match for your landing page to be bobsdoors.com/locations/garage-door-repair-humble-tx

I will also change up the URL depending on what the title tag is. You do NOT want these to be the same, if the title tag targets garage door repair by itself, then you change your url to be something similar but not exact, like /overhead-door-humble-tx. This is very similar, it’s relevant, but different, so you will not be hurt by over optimization. It also boosts your relevance making it much easier for you to rank.

Let’s use another example using a different type of company, like roofing.

Title tag – Roofing Contractor in Humble, TX

URL – bobsroofing.com/residential-roofing-humble-tx

While roofing is an important keyword in both the title and the url, there is enough variance to not be penalized for over optimization and also receive a boost for the indicated relevance variation.

This is what you want to do when optimizing your pages now in 2015. Whether it is for local SEO, or national organic SEO you will find this strategy to be rather useful.

Optimizing an Image

This is one of the trickier parts of the on page optimization strategy that I use for Local SEO. We’re not simply optimizing a single image and changing the name on a page by page basis, we’re going to look for a unique image that already exists on another website.

What I like to do is go to a city website, or wikipedia if there is one for the city and look for some picture of the city you’re targeting. Some cities even very small cities have a picture of downtown, a court house, city hall, SOMETHING that you can use that would already be indexed by Google.

Many people think you can simply use the same image on each page, just changing the file name, or alt tag and this is very foolish to think that alone would trick Google into thinking it is unique or relevant. The reason we want an image from a site that Google already indexed is because we can change the file name to be city.jpg or whatever extension, but we also have the image that is associated with the city you’re targeting through meta data. Each image, whether it is yours or someone else, it has meta data attached to it, and Google is sophisticated to know this, and have that data used in their algorithm.

What about copyrights? Well, I can’t give you legal advice, I can only tell you what works and what doesn’t, and it works. That’s what I care about. For good measure you can add a caption to the picture and link to the original site you got the picture from, that would also boost your local relevance.

How you structure your image optimization:

Lets use the same roofing example earlier assuming the url and title are like this

Title tag – Roofing Contractor in Humble, TX

URL – bobsroofing.com/residential-roofing-humble-tx

We would then make the image file:

humbletx.jpg

Perhaps add an alt tag Alt=”City Hall of Humble Tx” or “Downtown Humble Tx” or “Main Street Humble Tx” or “Landmark Humble Tx”

So just with the title tag, url, and image… we have roofing mentioned twice but with variance and we also have high indicators of local relevance using this structure.

Tip – Using landmarks is extremely beneficial in ranking city specific pages.

Variance + relevance = Good rankings!

Now Your h1-h4 tags.

You will want to pay special attention to this area because if you followed my instructions carefully with the title, URL and image you do NOT want to overdo it here or else it will not have the results you need.

You want to continue showing not only Google, not your visitors that this page is relevant to them.

These are your section headings for your content.

Using the roofing example we already have:

Title tag – Roofing Contractor in Humble, TX

URL – bobsroofing.com/residential-roofing-humble-tx

image file: humbletx.jpg

h1 – Best Service in Humble Tx
h2 – Your Roof Is In Good Handsh3 – Emergency Service Available
h4 – Our Guarantee for Your Humble, Tx Home

Notice we don’t overdo it but we have the city mentioned a couple times. Roof is only mentioned once but since the Google machine already knows a lot of roofers have emergency service throughout the country, and many have some sort of guarantee or talk about warranty you benefit from the mass data Google already has. You’re allowing them to associate your pages with things it already assumes and looks for when it comes to relevance.

Outbound linking is important.

When you’re changing your content, or changing the cities in your landing pages, you will want to like OUT from your site. Usually you only want to do this once or twice. If you have an image and you’re linking out to the original site to give credit, that is usually good enough. But… if you’re wanting to go the extra mile there’s two strategies I use when determining where to link out to show relevance.

1.) I like to link to the city website or wikipedia if they have one. City website is always my preference, but if I’m unable to have a city website then wikipedia or another source would be just fine.

2.) Inside your content if your client has any kind of certification or uses some sort of manufacturer then you want to link out to that site. For example, roofers have the NRCA, GAF, Certainteed, etc. you can link to those websites to show keyword topic relevance. This is a link you wouldn’t have to change page to page, but if you use this extra measure, you also want to link out to the city.

Step 4: Linking To Your City Pages

This is actually really easy to do. Either in your footer or side bar you want to have a section to display “locations served” and list the cities that you have pages built for and directly link to them.

Without this, or having it on some secondary page somewhere in your site, will not have the results you likely need. I’ve seen some cases where it has worked a little bit but not the magnitude that you probably want to get for yourself or your client.

It’s important to have this on the home page at least, and if you can, on every page on your website.

Step 5: Overkill

You should wait a couple weeks before doing any of this, but these are some extra things you can do to increase your rank.

1.) List the zip codes of the city at the end of the content.

For example, Zip Codes in City name served: 90210, 90213, 90124

This is another signal that your page is relevant.

2.) Create and embed a Youtube Video.

There’s people out there that go all out for youtube videos, but I don’t. I don’t have time to learn that crap and I’m too cheap to outsource that to someone else and cut into my profits. Instead, Hello Animoto. Cheap to use, easy to use and create a slideshow video, and optimize the youtube listing for relevant keywords, then embed into the website.

This helps in multiple ways. It allows you to take up another place in the search results with the video. It shows increased relevance for the location and keyword topics. It creates a backlink from youtube to the city specific page and it creates additional variance to the duplicate content used on each page.

3.) Linking to other businesses

This is a technique I really don’t like to use but it is effective in some situations. Picking out a couple places in the city, of non competing businesses and having a recommended business section. So if you have a roofing client, you would recommend maybe an electrician, garage door repair company, and landscaper. List their website and addresses.

Usually if you’re not already ranking well, then maybe it’s time for some backlinks and citations before trying this method.

However, this method by itself has ended up bringing a lot of referral business using a website affiliate structure.

The affiliate structure I’m talking about is a lot like backlink outreach. You will want to get a hold of 3 businesses in your client’s area, tell them you’re putting together a cross promotion of different businesses in the area, and its 100% free. This is what they need to do, they put links to the 3 other businesses, and the 3 other businesses link and recommend them.

Very effective when used properly.

That about sums it all up

Using this strategy will allow you to be much more effective when it comes to local SEO, and spending a lot less time building backlinks and citations.

You’re giving Google exactly what she wants.

Do you have any tips you would like to share? Questions to ask? Comment below

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