Why do some city/services pages rank organically and others do not?


giannid

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So I had a website built about a year and a half ago and have worked with 4 different SEO experts and finally gave up on finding someone who really knows what they're doing. So after researching the web, I've started to make some progress on my website and have some first page organic rankings and at the top of the map pack in my local city and a few others. I've achieved most of this from on site optimization and some blogs I've written. I'm no SEO expert but am self teaching myself and learning as much as I can. I own and operate a small construction company and don't have a ton of money to spend on an SEO agency. I've spent quite a bit of money on SEO with really no return on my investment. So I have some local city/service pages that are ranking well organically and others are not. Some of those happen to be cities that my business is not located. Seems like I have most of my pages set up alike without any duplicate content and targeting my keywords and cities. I just can't seem to figure out why some are ranking and some are not. I'm starting to think it's some off site work that has been done to point to those pages?
 

Colan Nielsen

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It's impossible to say without analyzing the actual pages. If you share them here you will get some great tips.

Thanks
 

giannid

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Ok, here are some of my pages and some notes on each

Basement Waterproofing | Foundation Repair | Chagrin Falls OH
This page ranks organically on page one of google search from the town if you type in, " basement waterproofing." This is a pretty competitive field and there are some big companies that I'm ranking on page one with. Strangely enough, this is a pretty generic page that I built and not even one of my specialized basement waterproofing pages I created for various cities. If you look at the slug it doesn't even mention basement waterproofing. I do have a basement waterproofing chagrin falls,ohio page for this city that does not rank. My business is not located in this city.

Basement Waterproofing | Basement leaks | Mentor Ohio
This page also ranks on page one google organic search. This city is larger than the one above and is probably even more competitive. This is actually a basement waterproofing city service page that is meant to rank for this service in this city. Put a little more effort in this one and seems to be doing ok.

Concrete & Basement Waterproofing Contractors | OH | DiFranco
This is my home page and ranks well for the search term, "Masonry contractors," when searched from the city of Mentor. This is not a high competition service for this city but this page doesn't rank on page one for many other cities I offer the same service in.

Stamped Concrete | Decorative Concrete | Chardon Ohio
This is one of my city specific service pages for, "stamped concrete," for the city my business is located. When I google this from my business location, my company is nowhere to be found on the first 5 pages and I'm not in the map pack. There are other contractors that are on page one and on the map pack which none of them are located in the city my business is in. One of the other contractors that is in map pack and page one organic is located almost an hour away. This bugs me as I can't even rank for this service in the city I'm located. This is a pretty competitive service.

So these are a couple of examples. I'm trying to figure out what makes the pages rank in relatively competitive markets so I can get some of my other pages to rank organically also. Unfortunately I've had a lot of hands on my SEO in a relatively short period of time. I'm not exactly sure what was done for off page work other than some citations and garbage links. Trying to do most of this myself now and I'm having some luck but definitely want to try and get in more organic searches and in the map pack. Any help would be appreciated. Thanks.
 

SEOExpertBrad

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How long have they ranked for? They look very spammy to me. I'm on mobile, so I can't provide much useful information. Just be careful, google doorway page penalty.

oh man that footer..... your seo isn't sustainable long term. But, I've seen worse from professional "SEO's".
 

giannid

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Chagrin Falls has been ranking for a while, maybe 6 months or more. Other ones are within the last few months. Yes, so called professional SEO's. That's why I'm working on it myself now. Any help would be greatly appreciated.
 

giannid

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I didn't realize individual city/service pages were considered doorway pages. It seems like most contractors in my local service areas use these types of pages unless the business only specializes in a single service. My business provides many services and that unfortunately takes a lot more work to be visible in local search. I know another contractor that has four different websites, one for each service. That seems like a lot of work.
 

SEOExpertBrad

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Four different websites, 1 for each service is against google policy. Unless each business has a unique address/license.

City pages can be done within google guidelines ( a bit of a gray area IMHO), they take work and unique content. In the end, Google wants your pages to add real value to surfers, not be loaded with zip codes, footer links, and copied content.

I am sure others here can address this much better than I can. While I still have local SEO clients, my current focus is e-commerce/global companies.
 

UKSBD

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Construction businesses are always tricky because you as an umbrella service are competing against the individual service providers.

For instance a construction business may provide carpentry services, groundwork services, electrical services, decorating services, etc.

Individual carpentry business will outrank you for Carpenter in City, Individual Electrician businesses will outrank you for Electricians in City, Individual decorators businesses will outrank you for Decorators in City, etc.
 

giannid

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You are completely right UKSBD. I've found that out awhile ago. I get some rankings in some services but none in others. The contractors that offer only one service in their website's have a lot more juice for that individual service. I take what I can get but it's a struggle. Guess that's why I'm here.
 
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Having four different sites, one for each service, isn't against Google policy. Having 4 local profiles, one for each service, is definitely against policy though. It's still a terrible idea to divide into multiple websites like that though. Each site individually accrues it's own authority, four sites quadruples your work, with literally no added benefit. The only reason I would ever recommend a client have multiple sites for multiple services, is if they had multiple demographics they served, and they didn't want to dilute their brand by advertising both categories of service next to each other. You could engender more trust with sending potential clients looking for product package photography to a site that features nothing but that.

In your case, these aren't doorway pages. Doorway pages are made to provide a paper-thin amount of content, ranking, and then giving users an immediate link to the 'real' page you want them to be on. These pages on the other hand, have a number of outgoing links, full site navigation, phone number and contact form, etc. They aren't doorway pages. They're still pretty similar though, and light on unique content. I noticed you have a different page for each service area and each service... that's a terrible idea. You've got literally dozens of almost identical pages plugging up your site. I've seen rankings improve on sites just from culling the waste. Look in GSC, see if any of those pages are actually getting any traffic or exposure, and delete all the ones that aren't. Phil wrote a great article on this, you can read it here. His suggestion is the right one. Don't maintain any more pages than you can actually do a proper job with.

For the above pages, it looks like the text is all unique (at least among each other, I didn't run any duplicate content tools or anything) but you could still improve the pages. Here's a thread with some great ideas. . The more relevant, unique, useful content, the better. If you optimize it for what the customer might expect to see, you'll be in good shape. Testimonials from clients who hired you for that specific service, before and after photography, potential building code, legal, or logistical challenges for each individual service, all that stuff is great.

I'm also not a fan of huge footers with a billion zip codes and cities and suburbs. That was a great strategy back in like, 2002, but best you can hope for now is that it won't cause you any trouble. It's certainly not going to help you. One of the ways Google breaks down organic results now, is with local specific results. You'll find people doing a search for 'basement waterproofing' will see a similar spread of sites all around your local area. I saw this article recently with an interesting fact:

For example, while restaurant-related searches have grown by double digits over the past two years, those same searches that include a zip code qualifier have declined by over 30%.
Optimizing for all those little niche geo keywords isn't where your big gains are going to come from anyway.
 
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giannid

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James, all very good information and thank you. Originally when I had the website built, the developer created all the city/service pages I have as duplicate pages. They were all the same minus the name of the city. My site was loaded with duplicate content. In the last year, I've rewritten most of the city/service pages that are important to me. I'm still working on some of the pages and it's an ongoing upgrade. Also want to do more internal linking with them eventually. The other ones I added canonical tags to so I'm not hit with the duplicate content penalty. Deleting them was an option but I was concerned about broken links.

The city/service pages and zip codes in the sidebar was the ideal of my last India based, "SEO Expert." He told me these city/service pages all need to be listed on the front end of the website or they have no chance at all in ranking. He had also the ideal of adding the zip codes, which from one of the articles you included above, seems pretty irrelevant.

So it seems like the recommendation is to get rid of the city/service pages listed in the footer and ditch the zip codes? Would be nice to put my google map in the footer so it can be displayed on all the pages.
 
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Yeah, that's what I'd recommend. There's a lot of SEO tricks that are pretty outdated at this point, a giant block of zip codes is definitely one of them.

A map's a good idea. I'd suggest doing it this way so it links correctly with your listing. It's a little tricky to style or get it working with a responsive layout (let me know if you want the code, I can post it) but that's probably a better way to use the space.
 

giannid

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Is there any truth that if these city/service pages are not listed on the front side of the website, they can't rank as easily?
 
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I mean, a little common sense look at larger websites lets you know that's not exactly true. How many articles does New York Times link to from their home page? how many are ranking for various keywords?

A much more nuanced perspective, is that internal links are one of the important ranking factors. But internal links alone won't rank anything, and pages are perfectly able to rank well without any internal links at all. Imagine an orphaned page (no links to the page from anywhere in the website) was referenced all over the web as an important resource. Do you think Google would rank the page?
 

fiswebdesign

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Most likely the reason that some pages rank well while others do not is inbound links. There is a LOT more to SEO and Local SEO than just on page optimizations. Do you have Schema markup, proper H, ALT tags? Content on each page should be no less than 350 words and have a good internal linking structure to other service pages.

Do you have all the social media pages and do you post on those on a regular basis? How many inbound root domains do you have coming to the site home page?

What type of onsite errors do you have?

Doing the SEO yourself you are only going to be able to get so far. There is a LOT of ongoing work that needs to happen on a daily, weekly, monthly basis. Content promotion, blogging, social engagement, and promotion.

You have to ask yourself if doing all this reading, learning, trying to rack your brain on why this or that isn't working is worth it and the best use of your time. As a business owner with a career in a specific field that is where you should be focusing your time and not on SEO and marketing. This stuff should be left to the experts. Sorry, you have had a bunch of bad apples in SEO, they're out there, but that just means that you hired the wrong people for whatever reason, maybe budget? Buy cheap, get cheap, right? Isn't that what you would say about your competitors to your customers.

What do you charge an hour? So, now how many hours have you spent trying to work on the SEO and Marketing yourself? That's how much you spent that you thought you were saving, but it's actually more than that because you could have been spending that time with family, friends, etc.

If you can commit as little as $1,500 a month then you can get a decent amount of professional SEO work.
 
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I suppose the follow up question to, "Why do some city/services pages rank organically and others do not?" Is to ask what questions do the ranking city/service pages answer that the others do not?

It isn't just about keywords, content length, and whether or not you have optimized tags. A lot of it will come down to whether you answered the main questions the user has.

This could be anything from the products/services offered at the location, who works there, what have other people said about the business (testimonials/reviews), is this the closest business to me, etc.

If the design looks shotty, then people will bounce. If the page doesn't answer their questions immediately, then people will bounce. Low time on site + high bounce rate could mean an issue on the page. If you're getting a lot of phone calls, then it might not be as troublesome.

Anyway, start with the basics and make sure you're providing the most value to people through the content. After that, get into the nitty gritty details of tag optimization, internal linking structure, and link building.

You can spend hours working through everything else, but if the content still doesn't answer the questions people have then it's wasted effort.

Study what questions the ranking sites answer that yours does not. Build up from there.
 

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