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Four steps to producing great geographical content


Four steps to producing great geographical content

Businesses that have several locations across the country, such as retailers, should be aware of how people use search engines to find the services they offer. Usually, they Google the product or service followed by where they live, such as “office furniture Liverpool” or “plumbers Ellesmere Port”. Since Google likes sites that are rich in content and text, it therefore makes sense to have a page about every location on your site.

If you have 400 or 500 locations though, how do you say something different about each one? Can it be done, or are you going to end up producing content that’s at best boring and repetitive, at worst duplicated?

At Engage Web, we’re often asked to write location pages, and it can be a challenge, but with a methodical approach, we’ve found a way to do it and keep each page fresh, helpful and unique.

1. Make the most of local knowledge

Obviously, the best way to make sure your content has a reliable local focus is to have it written by somebody from the area. At Engage Web, because we have writers all over the UK (as well as several in the US, Canada and Australia), we do this where we can. It’s not always possible, but if we have to write about Leeds, for example, it makes sense to ask a writer from Leeds to do it.

Fortunately though, as long as you do your research, it is now possible to be a local expert on just about anywhere. Google Maps can show you how to get to a location, what’s nearby, how far it is from a train station and even (thanks to Street View) what the road and parking facilities look like.

It’s an excellent tool, but remember that it’s not 100% reliable. For example, if you go just about anywhere in the Wirral, Google Maps will tell you you’re in Birkenhead because it’s the nearest big town, but the likes of Heswall, West Kirby and Thurstaston are very different towns to Birkenhead. Being from the Wirral, I’ve noticed writers making this mistake, which shows that sometimes there’s no substitute for real-world local knowledge.

2. Write as though you’re from the area

Even if your local knowledge is accurate, it can sound very distant and robotic if written from the perspective of ‘there’ instead of ‘here’. Take this sentence, for example:

“Jack’s Fishing Shop in West Eastville is located on Bridge Road, opposite a Shell petrol station and near a pub called The Red Lion.”

That might be accurate, but you can tell it’s been written by someone who isn’t local and is looking at Google Maps. Try something like this instead:

“Here at Jack’s Fishing Shop in West Eastville, we’re easy to find. We’re opposite the Shell petrol station on Bridge Road and not far from the Red Lion pub.”

Just changing ‘a’ to ‘the’ alone makes it a lot more personal. It gives it much more of a local touch, conveying familiarity with the location and acknowledging that the reader is likely to know the area too.

3. Tell them something useful

Consider what you can tell readers about the location, and whether it’s relevant and in keeping with your service. For example, if you’re a dentist, is it appropriate to point out that there’s a sweet shop up the road that patients can visit while they wait?

We recently had to write a batch of location pages for a repair centre, and what we had to ask ourselves was what sort of local amenities people might find helpful. This is bearing in mind that they will be without a car, perhaps in an unfamiliar part of the town.

The sort of information we ended up mentioning included:

– Shops and cafés (it’s inevitable people will get hungry and thirsty while waiting for their car to be fixed)
– Parks and play centres (anyone who has children with them will be glad of a nearby place to keep them entertained, plus any outdoor space will probably be a welcome alternative to the dark and fumy surroundings of a garage!)
– Cinemas and museums (again, a way to pass the time, especially with kids)
– Local public transport links (a lot of people are lost without a car. Advice on trains and buses will be welcomed)

Not so helpful would be the likes of hospitals, funeral directors and estate agents, as these aren’t places you’re likely to pop in to while doing something else with your day. We also had to be careful when mentioning pubs, as for obvious reasons, a vehicle repairer can’t be suggesting that people go for a few pints before driving their newly fixed car home!

4. Use keywords smartly

Keywords are still useful to attract search engines, but use them naturally. Don’t shoehorn phrases like “mortgage advice in Chester” into sentences – consider just using both your service and location in the same sentence.

For example, instead of:

“We offer mortgage advice in Chester that is the best in the city.”

A much more succinct sentence is:

“We provide Chester’s best mortgage advice.”

Google is pretty clever and will pick it up.

Locating help

If you’re looking to get your site ranking for local searches, and offer useful information to visitors, why not speak to Engage Web?

John Murray
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