Good Idea or Bad? Build a Secondary Site to Rank in a City You're Not Located In

John Tabita

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Jan 16, 2013
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25
I hope you all can help. I have a sales rep whose strategy has been to sell the client a secondary website with a different “geographical focus” so he appears is a local search in a city in which he's not located.


Case in point. A computer repair company in Heath OH (population 10,300) already has an existing site,but wanted to appear in a search for computer repair in Newark OH (population 48,000) five miles away. To achieve that, we built a second 3-page site and put 'Computer Repair | Newark OH' in the title tag and H1—even though the Heath address is listed on the site. Mind you, this site did not include any SEO other than on-page.


Based on what I know about local search, and conversations I've had on this forum and others, my stance has been that this is not industry best practices, that you can't “target” by location with local search, and that legitimate companies do not engage in this practice. The rep's position is that he did this regularly at Yellowbook, his former company, and that it works.


As an example, in a search for 'computer repair newark oh' you see that the site I'm referring to appears in the #9 and 10 position on page one.


I'm prepared to eat crow and admit I'm wrong. But I'm looking for clarification on what I've been told compared to what I'm actually seeing. Moving forward, is my rep's strategy valid and one that we should adopt? If not, can you give me a valid argument that counters the results I'm seeing?


Thanks!
 

Colan Nielsen

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Jul 19, 2012
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Hi John,

If it was me, I would only build one site for the business and create optimized location pages for all the other areas that the services are offered in.

This would allow you to target your efforts and build one fantastic site, versus splitting your efforts over two sites.

There are benefits to doing it both ways, but this is certainly the route I would take.
 

Linda Buquet

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Jun 28, 2012
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14,440
Totally agree with Colan. One strong site with location pages is best. Just be sure not to have the same cookie cutter content with just the city changed.

As far as best practice to target other nearby cities - I think it's just fine to do in organic.
It's tougher to rank in a city you are not located in, but not impossible.
 

John Tabita

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Joined
Jan 16, 2013
Messages
25
Thanks for your replies.

Problem is, the customer has an existing site he wants to keep. So the rep sells the idea of a secondary site with a "different geographic focus." I've been fighting this approach with the position that, as you said, it's difficult to rank in cities you're not located. Yet, in this scenario, it was quite easy. All it took was some minor on-page optimization. So we're not splitting our efforts over two sites; we're putting very little effort into one.

Here the other thing. Since the client has the existing site he happy with, when we build the "secondary" 3-page site, and it winds up doing better than his original site, the thinking is (from a sales rep's perspective) that next year, we'll be able to win that customer away from his original provider and upgrade him to that "one fantastic site" Colan eluded to.

If that's the case, I'm going to have to back down off my original stance and allow this to become standard practice. So if that's truly a bad idea, how do I convey that to upper management when they are confronted with evidence to the contrary?
 

Laustin1878

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Sep 27, 2012
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There is no one size fits all approach. My thought has always been to create one "monster" site/resource and harness the authority from 1 domain (by internal linking and sub folders). This allows you to focus your optimization efforts on one site instead of 2 separate sites. Just because you create a "secondary" website, no matter how many pages, doesn't mean you will simply start ranking for another city. You will have to optimize the second site in order for it to start ranking.

The second question would be, are you able to create enough unique content to not trip duplicate content filters on the secondary site?

Third, I'm sure you would be inter-linking these sites no? Are they going to be on different IP addresses? If it looks like manipulation, you will have wasted your time.

Fourth, I recently read up about this and sub-domains may be an option instead of a new site, although they are treated the same. The perk of a new site or sub-domain is if your efforts have a negative impact on the site, it won't be related to the main site therefore, will not have an impact. If you use sub-folders and something goes afoul, you run the risk losing everything. Here is a good article I found on the subject of sub-domains: Subdomain or Subfolder in a Post-Panda Web - WhiteFire

Just remember, more sites = more content = more work = more SEO.
 

Tony

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May 23, 2013
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I think we all deal with this client question and, to me, explaining why one site is just fine can be an exercise in beating your head in to a wall. No matter how many different ways I explain it, and show examples of single sites ranking well for a variety of areas, more often than not, I get "Yeah, but...".

Targeted local sub-pages can rank just fine. I have a regional client that I've had no problem getting top 2 or 3 organic rankings for town and cities that make up the service area of 75 miles and 3.5m people. Write good, useful pages and you might be surprised, especially for that sized target area (I know the Heath/Newark, OH market very well. I'm in Columbus.).

As the others have pointed out, one, solid site can become a regional, authoritative site. One nice thing I've noticed, post-Penguin 2, is that where my localized pages were ranked very well, the root domain is now also ranking well. More often than not, I'm seeing the results paired up. Sometimes, the root is ranked above, others the localized page is.
 

Laustin1878

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Sep 27, 2012
Messages
419
Something that may add to the discussion and help the OP with their decision, what have you all found to be important and included on pages you are trying to rank locally, in terms of content (in a sub-folder or sub-domain world)? How do you tactfully include target cities and related information? What type of information do you include on your targeted local pages?

May fit better in a new thread but could be tied in to this discussion.
 

Linda Buquet

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Jun 28, 2012
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14,440
Here's another reason not to do multiple sites.
Warning: Multiple Websites Cause Problems with Google+ Local


Something that may add to the discussion and help the OP with their decision, what have you all found to be important and included on pages you are trying to rank locally, in terms of content (in a sub-folder or sub-domain world)? How do you tactfully include target cities and related information? What type of information do you include on your targeted local pages?

May fit better in a new thread but could be tied in to this discussion.
Great question Luke! This post has some great ideas from Phil.
16 Tips for Creating UNIQUE City Landing Page Content
 

Laustin1878

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Sep 27, 2012
Messages
419
Thanks for the link to that post and ensuing article Linda. Definitely a good read and exactly what I was thinking could be beneficial to this post.

No matter how the OP approaches it, my main point to ask that question was to highlight that a cookie-cutter approach to separate sites and/or pages is no way to go. Google will catch on eventually. Also, I was hoping to highlight that you may not need to create a separate site just to target other cities. I can't help but mention it again that it will be an entire new site to SEO. From a business, money making perspective, you get more business from the client. You now have to prove yourself even more than you are now.

Good luck and let us know how you tackled this situation.
 

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