Thank you to Mary Walton for sharing this content with the Acquisio team!
A localized URL is more important than you may think when it comes to ranking and driving conversion. According to a recent Search Engine Land post, 95% of consumers have used search engines to find local businesses, and 69% searched for local businesses at least six times per year. If you want to compete in the local SERPs, you need to make sure that your local customers can find you online.
With this in mind, localizing your landing page, including the all-important URL, is vital for getting the results you want. Here’s how you can target specific areas with your domain to get higher conversion rates.
Types of Local URLs
Using a city specific landing page means that your customer can see that you’re marketing yourself as a local business. It also tells Google that you want visibility in this location. You can even target several areas at once if you create separate URLs for them.
If you’re a multi-national, but still trying to give users a regionally-appropriate experience, country-level URLs may be best. Here are a few variations of country-level URL examples:
Take a look at the page URL in the image above. By placing the words ‘assignment help Australia’ after their URL, they’ve targeted an Australian audience.
Most commonly, businesses tend to buy up domain names with the country URL extensions, like these:
If for some reason your business’ domain name isn’t available using the proper country extension, you could take this one step further, and use the location of your business (or the location you want to target) in the name of your company, and the domain itself. Continuing with the hardware example, you could change the domain to something like www.UKWritings.com and do this for each country you want to target (just make sure the content is unique on each version of your site). Although this strategy is less effective than a country-specific domain.
A Combination Approach
Then of course you can apply combinations of these principles to narrow your audience down by state/province, or by city. Here are a few examples of the local URL combos you could choose from:
It will all depend on how wide you want your audience to be, what domains are available, and your resources. Adding your business locations to your URLs demonstrates a location hierarchy that helps Google match your site with local search queries…which leads to more traffic and more conversions (it’s important to have good content and UX too!).
Speaking of Hierarchy
Hierarchy by Country
If you’re an international business, you’ll likely only want to create a hierarchy by country. Assess which countries your business serves and organize your URLs according to those regions using the suggestions in the previous section. However, there are a few ways that websites serve customers at a country-level that don’t involve changing the URL.
If you need to go country by country you may want to give users a drop down menu on your homepage or create a splash page so they can choose their country as they enter your website. Alternately, site owners commonly automate country selection based on a user’s IP address so they can display the right content for the reader’s country. eCommerce stores will often be catered to your country without you even knowing, showing you the right currency for product prices.
Hierarchy by City
If your business is focused on one country, or if your international business wants to get hyper-local, assess which state, city-level or even sub-city areas your business serves and organize your URLs by region. To do this, you’ll need to pick the areas you want to focus on serving and create the URLs for them. They can be as simple as this:
If you’re looking to focus on a larger area, such as the whole of London, you can create sub areas of London through your URL construction, like so:
However putting all of your locations in the footer section, like Youth Noise did below, is considered keyword spam.
According to Kissmetrics, “If a company serves multiple cities, for example, they may be tempted to list all these dozens of locations in the footer. If there is decent organization, then this may not be a bad thing. However, simply placing raw lists of keyword-rich links in an anchor is plain over-optimization. And it’s risky.”
At the end of the day, your content’s core message will stay the same per region, but will be localized. The localization supports increased conversion rates because people will relate to the business better; however, it could take many forms. Perhaps localization means changing currency at a country-level. It could also mean customizing legal advice per state/province on a lawyer’s website or customizing insurance rates by region based on risk factors like hurricanes. It may also mean changing the language of the content!
Language-Based Location URLs
If you’re servicing areas that have different languages, localizing your URLs is the only way to get conversions. You can’t serve up a Spanish website to Japan and expect to get your highest conversion rates ever. You need to deliver the right content in the right language to the right region.
Remember that there is a difference between multi-location and multilingual sites, but sometimes it is a combination of the two. A multilingual site will display content in two or more languages, while a multi-location site will target readers in several different locations. And of course a combination of the two would display content in different languages based on the cultural difference of the multiple locations being served.
The best way to service multilingual communities is to separate the versions of your site by language and URL. Most companies set up different websites for each language, creating exact replicas by each language needed. Others may choose to have different languages on certain key pages only, but this strategy is incomplete and isn’t going to help conversions from users speaking the second language as much as an entire site in their language would.
If you try and have both languages side by side on the same page, it’s harder for the site to be picked up by search engines. Your content should be easily discoverable by search engines when a customer begins searching for something in their own language.
If you’re cloning your site by language, remember the URL! You can use the URL to specify what language the page is in:
And of course the location-specific and language-specific URL is possible too!
Your Local URLs Lead to Your Content
Now that you have your local URLs in place, you need to create local content to go on them. The golden rule to remember is that the content needs to be useful to your readers.
Keeping content current and relevant is the best way to get conversions. When a reader comes across your site, you want them to find information that they can use right away. If they can, they’re much more likely to buy from you. Localized URLs, good content, and the consideration of your local audience’s needs all work together to get you the conversions you need.
Here’s a few local content optimization bonus tips for PPC landing pages that can take more liberties than the URLs that comprise a website-structure can:
- Localize your domain AND give a call-to-action that describes what the page is about, like www.bakery.ca/en/buy-montreal-bagels-online
- Use location extensions and local area code call extensions to show searchers they are in the right place
- Bid by location to target potential customers nearby
- Get hyper-local with your content and consider the climate! You don’t want to sell winter jackets to Florida
Targeting local audiences by URL takes some thought and analysis. As you can see in the examples used above, there are a few options that allow you to really optimize your website by region.
You’ll need to be selective about the areas you target, and make sure your URLs target them properly. You’ll also need to keep languages in mind, depending on where you’re marketing to and make sure that your content is of the highest quality.
Doing all of this means you’re creating pages that search engines will pair with local searches, that your customers can relate to, that are regionally-appropriate and that have the best chances for local success!
If you’d like more information on local marketing, sign up for this webinar about local marketing and machine learning that Acquisio will be a guest on!
Featured Image: Unsplash/Eduard Militaru
All screenshots by Mary Walton. Taken April 2017.
Image 1: screenshot from essayroo.com
Image 2: screenshot from youthnoise.com