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Google’s Advice For Targeting Multiple Locations With One Website

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Google's Advice For Targeting Multiple Locations With One Website


Google provides detailed advice for websites that need to target multiple locations, such as a business with offices in different states.

This topic is discussed during the Google Search Central SEO office-hours hangout recorded on January 14.

An SEO professional named Gail (last name not provided) asks Google’s Search Advocate John Mueller about an idea her client has to optimize their website for several US states.

Their idea is to create landing pages for each state they operate in, and automatically send visitors from the homepage to the appropriate landing page via dynamic geo IP redirection.

On top of that, they also plan to add a noindex tag to each of the separate landing pages.

If you hear alarm bells ringing, your instincts are correct. This is not a good strategy.

Mueller explains the SEO implications of following through with this plan, and explains various ways it can be done better.

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See his advice in the sections below.

First Consideration: Google Crawls From One Location

The first thing to consider when targeting multiple cities or states with the same website is Google only crawls from one location.

That means dynamic geo IP redirects, as Gail’s client proposes, would not help Googlebot find the different landing pages.

Mueller says:

“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.”

While redirecting visitors based on their IP address may work in practice, it’s not optimal when it comes to Googlebot crawling.

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Second Consideration: Do Not Redirect To A Noindexed Page

The second, and more serious, consideration of the plan proposed by Gail’s client is what happens when redirecting to a noindexed page.

Mueller explains this would cause the site’s homepage to drop out of search results:

“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.”

Again, this plan might’ve worked for human visitors, but would cause major problems as far as SEO is concerned.

Here’s what Mueller recommends doing instead.

Mueller’s Recommendations For Targeting Multiple Locations

Instead of redirecting visitors to pages based on where they’re located, Mueller says it’s better to offer visitors links to relevant pages with a dynamic banner.

“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.”

Another way of handling this situation, Mueller says, is to dynamically swap out some of the copy on the homepage based on visitor location.

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Instead of multiple landing pages for different states, you could set the homepage to display different text for visitors that pertains to where they’re located.

Mueller explains:

“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.”

Mueller clarifies that there’s nothing wrong with creating individual state landing pages if Gail’s client chose to go that route instead.

It’s not a great idea to create landing pages for every city in every state, but having landing pages for each state where a business is located is okay.

“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.”

Hear the full discussion in the video below:

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Featured Image: Screenshot from YouTube.com/GoogleSearchCentral, January 2022.





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SEO

How Data Is Reshaping The SEO & Digital Marketer’s Landscape

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How Data Is Reshaping The SEO & Digital Marketer's Landscape

There is a new data revolution happening, and it’s sweeping across the industry so quickly that many SEO and digital marketers are struggling to make sense of the insights and intelligence at their disposal.

To utilize this opportunity, marketers need to evolve their mindsets and use technology to analyze multiple data formats and understand the new opportunities it can bring.

SEO marketers of today and digital marketers of tomorrow will need to extract, structure quickly, and manipulate data to drive the most critical business outcomes.

Data has always been mission-critical to digital decision-making.

The Economist, back in 2017, declared it the world’s most valuable resource.

Fast forward to today and the future, and we can see that the exponential growth of data fuelling this revolution is staggering.

According to the IDC, the amount of digital data created over the next five years will be greater than twice the amount of data made since the advent of digital storage.

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Think about that for a second!

Flash drives, for example, were introduced in 2000.

This means that in the next five years, marketers will have to analyze and make sense of 2x the data created in the last 22 years!

The Data Revolution Means More Sources & Complexity For SEO

The data revolution has gone on for some time now, and it’s changed our concept of what counts as “data,” rightfully so.

In the past, we thought only numbers mattered.

But, in this new digital world where everything is converted into ones and zeros, data is broader and contains text, audio, and visual information – all bits waiting to be processed!

  • Machine-based and human-generated data are growing at a rate of 10x faster than conventional business data.
  • Machine-created data is increasing exponentially at a 50x the growth rate. This data revolution is primarily marketing-driven and consumer-oriented who are “always on.”
  • In just the last 18 months, the volume of site processing data we have been generating at BrightEdge has increased by 11x!
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As a result of these increasingly demanding trends, SEO and digital marketers need to adapt and become more like data analysts and scientists in approaching the extraction of structured data insights and business intelligence – without adding more manual work.

Fortunately, SEO is well-positioned to take advantage of this new data revolution.

  • Increasing your keyword universe – More keywords mean more data points to look at with reporting and fuelling insights. While focusing on conversion rate metrics is very important, it wouldn’t be possible without opening the scope of your audience and getting more people in the door. SEO has drifted away from writing for a primary dedicated keyword and is now way more advanced with advancements in search engines like Google’s understanding of intent of searches through RankBrain and BERT.
  • Increasing your search footprint – will also help you discover unexplored of informing your future content strategy or ideate new keyword ideas. However, sometimes you might miss the boat, like the transition of Content Management Systems slowly turning into “Experience Platforms” as they offer more functionality to meet the needs of today’s webmaster or marketer.

Read More On SEJ

Data Is The Currency Of An Accelerated SEO & Digital Age

By 2025, Worldwide data will reach 175 zettabytes.

But unfortunately, the human brain can’t process, structure, and analyze all that data.

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So technology engines have to help, and digital marketers should be the driver.

There is a massive opportunity for companies that can utilize data to create more engaging experiences.

A recent study showed that 95% of business leaders recognize this as their biggest growth lever over the next three years, which means there’s plenty at stake here!

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Robust data analysis ensures decisions are evidence-based and have more accountability.

Drawing on existing and new data sources to fully integrate business acumen and analytical skills into decision making, sourcing, managing, and analyzing large amounts of unstructured data will ensure continued use and success.

SEO began with data and has evolved.

From the introduction of real-time SEO in 2019 and Page Experience Updates in 2021, SEO’s future lies again with data and the creation of intelligent systems. Here marketers can leverage combined data sources that structures data for them.

As a result, they can achieve business objectives and stay ahead during all data and digital transformation stages.

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Technology & AI Are Helping SEO Evolve

Advancements in technology and, in particular, AI and Natural Language Processing has meant that SEO and digital marketers can become data analysts without having to become an actual data scientist.

This is key to unlocking structured insights from your company’s big data to make more precise predictions about what is coming next based on existing information.

Digital marketers can evolve, understand key trends, and learn in new areas such as:

  • Predictive modeling of future trends and forecasting based on multiple types of data.
  • Real-time identification of opportunities and intelligence.
  • Digital research at scale with both historical and real-time data.
  • Leveraging automated visualizations for various stakeholders.
  • Improved data security and compliance.
  • Market and business intelligence at a macro level.
  • Consumer behavior at the most granular level.

SEO and digital marketers can learn critical skills such as statistics, data analysis, data visualization, and strategy.

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AI, NLP, and machine learning are helping them do this without needing expertise in computer programming and software applications.

What digital marketers must do is combine their communication skills and analytics skills with stakeholders who cannot think outside of the advertising box.

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Data Analysis & Intelligence As Competitive Advantage

The application of technology will be the driving force behind the next generation of data analysis technology.

Therefore, SEO and digital marketers of today should learn how to better utilize insights from data analysis.

It’s becoming more apparent that the marketing platforms of tomorrow will require the capabilities of data analysis and science infrastructure at their core.

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The future of marketing will blend technological know-how, business sense, and an understanding of data analysis.

The next generation of SEO will touch all components of marketing, from video, email, and voice, to digital performance of content.

SEO and data science will converge into one evolved discipline that drives omnichannel acquisition and democratizes data.

Marketers who embrace this new era of SEO will be well-positioned to succeed in the years to come.

Data is reconfirming its role as the new competitive advantage, and as SEO and digital marketers, you must evolve if you want to be part of the future.

More resources:


Featured Image: ra2 studio/Shutterstock

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