After seeing some success in Google Search Results for a website, many attorneys then want city specific landing pages. It is a great idea, and it is very likely that one of your competitors is doing it. Should you? This page will explain everything you ever wanted to know about city pages, the pros, cons and associated risks.
I work with several law firms all over the country, so please feel free to see my page called Personal Injury Attorney SEO, which clearly explains precisely what I do here.
Some of the benefits are very obvious, others, not so much:
- The most obvious benefit of having a city specific landing page for is capturing people when they are actively searching for a personal injury attorney. Why target just “Dallas Personal Injury Lawyer” when you could also show up for “DeSoto Personal Injury Lawyer”?
- Secondly, not everyone types in a geo-modifier when they search. That means that some people simply type in “Personal Injury Lawyer” with no city name. In these cases, Google will display organic search results to pages which rank well for their location. Google uses the user’s location for search intent. They have many patents surrounding this, but the easiest way to see it in action is to pull out your phone and type in “pizza”.
What is the Google Doorway Page Penalty?
Google has something called the “Doorway Page Penalty”. I have never seen an attorney impacted by this penalty, but it does exist and it is something you should be aware of prior to crafting up city specific landing pages. Google’s own definition of a doorway page is very vague and basically says that if you have several pages similar to each other that funnel people to a specific page you are at risk. Gleen from that what you will. To me, it says that city specific pages are safe. Even if they aren’t, you are likely to create them anyways simply because your competitor is doing it and has been getting away with it for years.
When Google announced this change, they also stated that creating pages “for the purpose of capturing more search traffic” is a no-no. But, that is the entire point of having a website, isn’t it?
Anyways, you are now aware of the risks. Even if penalized, I suspect lifting the penalty would be fairly easy and take only a couple of days.
Creating great city specific pages
The key to creating a great landing page is to craft it specifically to the user of that city. You will need brand new pages for each city, detailing the unique ways people are injured in that town. The town could have an infamous chicken processing plant, or maybe there are several cyclists in an urban area with no protected bike lanes, or maybe Uber vehicles are blowing red lights and cutting everyone off.
A bad landing page is simply a page you’ve duplicated 50 times and swapped out the city names. There are 100 problems with this. Most importantly, duplicate content problems, and, the pages just aren’t going to rank well, so all you’ve done is dilute the authority of your entire website by blasting it with low quality content. This can do more harm than good. HVAC companies, plumbers, roofing companies and many other businesses have thought of this and Google figured out how to take action against this kind of thing many years ago.
Ranking city specific pages
I personally name mine, in most cases, “Desoto Personal Injury and Car Accident lawyer”. This of course depends on the population of these cities and what the competition is up to, but in general, many of these pages can indeed rank for both terms (“personal injury lawyer” and “car accident lawyer”).
IF you are in a city such as Dallas AND you rank well in Dallas THEN you will very likely rank well in the suburbs and small towns nearby simply because of your website’s authority (power). This varies greatly from area to area but I will note that the top law firm in LA ranks very well in about 50 cities.
Local Packs / Maps Results
Note: Not everyone looks at maps results. Just as many people scroll past AdWords ads, lots of people skip past local results, thinking that they are ads. I have seen it in person numerous times, most recently with one of my own children.
Here is an example of a local pack:
As of 2018, to show up in local results, you need:
- A “Google My Business” location within the city limits
- To rank well organically
There are exceptions to this, and Google does change these results frequently, and has additional factors such as user’s location, but in a nutshell this is what 99% people need to know about local results.
You can indeed get a $99/mo shared office location to get placement in Google’s local results. You aren’t supposed to do it if it is not staffed, but there is no real downside to this other than Google potentially removing the listing and that almost never happens.
Having the location does not help the organic rankings, but if you rank well organically, you can indeed get your location to trigger a local result.
And yes, you will need to build out reviews for that location.
In most cases, most attorneys wait to see if they rank in certain cities and may consider an additional location page if they rank well. In general, most attorneys buy 2 or 3 of these for every 50 cities they target.
- Building out city pages can be greatly beneficial, capture more leads from injured and potential clients.
- Build them out carefully and thoughtfully and make each page unique.
- Be aware of the potential risks.
I have built out hundreds of city pages. If you have additional questions or would like to improve your footprint in search results contact me today.