A thorny issue in SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) is how to optimise a website in order to rank in the search engine results for multiple suburbs of a city, or at least a region of the city eg SW Sydney and its suburbs. And, how to do it in White Hat fashion, not Black Hat which can lead to a Google penalty. Then I read some articles which made it much clearer:
One way, used by a number of websites I’ve seen, is to use multiple Landing pages – or what Google calls Doorway pages. These are basically duplicate pages other than the name of the suburb, aimed at getting entries in Google’s indexes and attracting traffic to the site.
Google says in its article:
“Doorways are sites or pages created to rank highly for specific search queries. They are bad for users because they can lead to multiple similar pages in user search results, where each result ends up taking the user to essentially the same destination.”
Google asked a number of questions just over two years ago to enable you to determine whether you are using doorway pages. One trio of questions exemplifies the thrust of their statement:
“Do these pages exist as an ‘island?’ Are they difficult or impossible to navigate to or from other parts of your site? Are links to such pages from other pages within the site or network of sites created just for search engines?
The above comes from an article by Barry Schwartz who said Google would be issuing a “rank adjustment” (aka a penalty for transgressors).
In an excellent post, John Romaine explains how you can build suburbs into your site – producing pages which are informative and enabling your website to get through the Google gate. But remember: what’s good for Google is good for searchers.
The bottom line of what Google states, John Romaine says, and what I’m saying is that your site content must be informative, well-written and use keywords naturally. This means no “keyword stuffing” including no stuffing the suburb name in every 4th word.
An example of what I’m talking about is if you are an electrician living in Bondi, Sydney, and you service your home suburb plus the surrounding Eastern Suburbs. We’ll call the Eastern Suburbs a Sydney region as are the Inner West and the Western Suburbs for example. His URL structure would look like:
home / eastern-suburbs / bondi
home / eastern-suburbs / waterloo
It’s starting to look like a lot of writing, isn’t it? Firstly there’s the home page: a generic piece of content introducing prospects to your site. Then there’s the eastern-suburbs page with its own content. Then there’s content for each of the suburbs…in the case of the Eastern Suburbs, that’s 20 suburbs. But remember: you cannot just duplicate a page and change the suburb name.
The aim here cannot rationally be to cover every suburb in Sydney (about 637 in total). If you want to cover Wollongong, where there are 110 suburbs, you might possibly make it.