Okay, let’s talk about suburb pages for a minute.
Firstly, before getting into this I want to warn you that this really isn’t a sexy topic at all. Infact building out multiple suburb pages for local SEO is about as interesting as elbow skin.
It’s boring, it’s repetitive, and if you’re not careful, you’ll be going cross eyed whilst swigging out of a Vodka bottle before bedtime.
Secondly, I will say that for those of you who are trading online and interested in attracting local customers via search – suburb pages matter, and they matter a lot.
Unfortunately when it comes to building suburb pages and ranking them in Google, most people screw this up big time.
So grab a cuppa and a Tim Tam, and let me show you how to do this properly.
What the hell’s a suburb page?
So if you’ve never heard the term before, you’re probably thinking “What the hell’s a suburb page?”
In the SEO world, a suburb page is a page that’s built specifically as a means of capturing search activity based around one particular suburb. Of course, you wouldn’t want to just rank in Google for a suburb for no reason, but you would want to rank a suburb page if its tied in with a product or service you’re selling.
For eg, if you’re providing carpet cleaning in Terrigal, then chances are you’d like to rank in Google for the search “carpet cleaning Terrigal” or similar variations of it.
Suburb pages allow you to do just that.
Suburb pages are an extremely effective way of capturing highly targeted leads, or more importantly – local customers in search. This may not mean much for you if you’re selling a product or service that isn’t location specific, but for tradespeople especially – such as carpenters, tilers, plumbers, and electricians it can be incredibly powerful.
What you need to know before getting started
Before you go about creating hundreds of suburb pages on your site, there’s something you need to be aware of.
Suburb pages are considered by Google to be a bit naughty.
Infact Google refers to them as “doorway pages”. They’re also referred to in the industry as “landing pages”. Whatever you want to call them, you’re really not supposed to be building them as Google doesn’t like it. But let’s face it, there’s a lot of things that work well in the SEO space that Google doesn’t like.
I’m not suggesting that you intentionally start breaking the rules, but to me, so long as you’re helping the user and providing value, then I don’t see a problem with it.
BUT, you need to be sensible. If you screw this up, you’re going to make an absolute mess of your site. Follow the instructions I give you here and do EXACTLY as I say, and you won’t have any problems.
Oh and by the way, if you’re interested in what Google has to say about doorway pages, you can read more here.
Planning is essential
Before getting started, I want you to have a good hard think about your intended strategy, because as I said above, this is where just about everyone screws it up.
Simply saying “I want to rank for every suburb in Sydney” is not a strategy – it’s stupidity.
You’ll need to have a good think about which suburbs in particular might bring about the best conversions, the most profit, and which suburbs make sense for you – especially if you’re a tradesman. You don’t want to be driving 2 hours the other side of Sydney because you didn’t think ahead.
Infact, what I highly recommend is creating groups of say 10 suburbs at a time, and prioritising them as you go. So to begin with, you’d pick out 10 suburbs you’d like to rank for, start with those then roll more out over time.
Don’t just start blasting dozens of suburb pages out at random.
Don’t forget what I mentioned above about site/content/suburb page ratio. You don’t want to have a 6 page website with 900 suburb pages hanging off it.
Be sensible and plan.
Content, content, content
When it comes to content, there’s a few things I want to touch on that are really important.
They are –
- Creating great, highly informative and useful content is vital
- Always use natural language, intended for readers and customers, not just search engines
- Long form content matters
- Be aware of keywords, but don’t become obsessed
Let me explain.
Creating great, highly informative and useful content is vital
Now, this is seriously the most important factor of this whole exercise – quality content. If you think you can just slap together a few pages with rubbish content and rank, think again.
You’ve got to think ahead. You’ll want to create pages that rank for the long term. If you’re going to do this, do it right. The last thing you need is someone outranking you in a few months because you got lazy.
High quality content, even for this purpose is essential.
Always use natural language, intended for readers and customers, not just search engines
This revisits what I said above about keyword stuffing or over optimisation. Don’t be stuffing the suburb name into your content every 3rd word. You’ll want content that reads naturally. Content that readers appreciate. Content that resonates with potential customers.
In other words you should be thinking about what readers and customers want – NOT thinking “I hope Google likes this page!”
Creating content using natural language is always the best way to do this.
Long form content matters
For region pages I usually work around 1,000-1,500 words.
Suburb pages I work around at least 750 words.
I do this for a number of reasons –
- Long form content is proven to perform better in search
- We want to take advantage of our competitors laziness, because chances are they’ve just slapped up a crappy page with 200 words of sloppy content
- I want to maximise immediate ranking potential. I often see long form pages rank first page, simply through good onpage and quality content alone.
Be aware of keywords, but don’t become obsessed
The last thing you’ll want to be fussing over is technical SEO. Factor in keywords, but don’t let that consume your efforts. Remember, people first.
Now of course, you’ll want to ensure you put target terms in your title tag, meta description tag and throughout your content, but keep it in check.
There’s so many clowns in the SEO space giving advice like “put the keyword at the top of the page”, “bold your keywords”, “work to at least 5% keyword density”.
F*ck all that, it’s bullshit.
Use some common sense. Always publish useful content that helps readers.
I’ll show you how to implement your keywords in a sec. It will take you two seconds, and you’ll be done.
Understanding page hierarchy and URL structure
Now that we’ve covered all that, let’s now take a look at your URL structure.
The first thing you need to understand is how we break this down.
You’re going to have two page types –
- Regions. These pages will usually always be a city but they can also be an “area”. For eg “Northern Beaches” For now, lets just keep it simple and say, city name. If you start tying to be clever, you’ll over complicate things and make it more difficult than it needs to be.
- Suburbs. Pretty self explanatory. These will be your suburb pages.
The next thing you’ll need to take into consideration is site structure, because this ties in with your URLs.
If we implement the two page types as mentioned above, we end up with something like this –
You can see I’ve got the city as the main region page, followed by the actual suburb.
So for example, let’s say you’re a plumber in Perth and you’re wanting to rank for the following suburbs –
- Alexander Heights
- South Lake
You would set your site structure like this –
No nonsense, no keyword stuffing, no nothing. Just nice clean URLs that make sense.
Building our main region page
Okay so the first thing we’re going to do is create our main region page. Always create your main region page FIRST. I’ll explain why in a second.
As said above, your main region page is more than likely going to be the CITY you want to focus on. Now if you do what I say here, you’re going to start ranking for suburbs BEFORE you’ve even created a single suburb page. I’ll explain how in just a moment, but before doing so, I want you to take a look at the example of a main region page I’ve created below.
As you can see, there’s quite a lot going on here.
Let me explain what it all means.
Starting from the top.
- Keyword rich breadcrumbs. I always implement breadcrumbs as they give you the opportunity to add relevant keywords that tie in with navigational elements. Google loves breadcrumbs as they’re designed to help users navigate your site. Breadcrumbs are also reflected in the search results.
- H1 tag using target keyword in conjunction with city and state names. In this example, I’m targeting “plumber Perth”, so I’ve added that and complimented it with “Western Australia”. On main region pages it makes sense to add the state as sometimes there will be a city or region that shares the same name with another located elsewhere. For eg there’s a Melbourne in Florida, USA.
- Call to action. This is critical if you want customer enquiries. If you’re not using calls to action you’re wasting good traffic.
- Useful relevant introduction. This should act as the general introduction about your business and the area you service For eg, I might say something along the lines of “ABC Plumbing based in Perth, provide high quality residential and commercial plumbing services etc etc”
- Keyword rich images. I always start every page with a keyword rich image. In this case I created an image and gave it the file name ‘plumber-perth.jpg’ and put it at the very top of the page. This is key. Additional images that are embedded throughout the page share similar, but more importantly RELEVANT file names. For eg ‘perth-plumbing-services.jpg’. One thing to note is that I always add title tags to my images, which allows you to add additional keyword rich terms.
- H2 header tags. Throughout the page, I’m using additional relevant terms. Note that I’m not simply stuffing the page with “plumber Perth” over and over and over again.
- Useful high quality content. Throughout this page, I’m adding highly useful, relevant, helpful information that might tip customers over the edge and have them picking up the phone or sending an email enquiry.
- Content formatting. This might seem trivial, but people consume information on the web differently than they might reading a magazine or book. Always present your text in small paragraphs, and dot points where possible. This allows users to “skim” over your content and take in the information they might be looking for. Don’t put up big chunks of text that go on and on. Break it up into small sections that are easy to take in.
- High resolution images. Highly optimised, (keyword rich) eye pleasing images increase engagement, and help build trust with the customer. They also give the content “depth” so that its not just boring text on the page. They can also take a very boring subject matter and make it a bit more interesting.
- Suburb list. My suburbs list as explained above. Try and present this in alphabetical order so its easy for the user to find their suburb, and list them in columns like I’ve done if possible. Otherwise you end up with a big long single list and it looks ridiculous.
- Final call to action. This is where you ask the reader to do something. Call, email or buy a product.
A few key points
I mentioned the importance of creating this page first, and for good reason.
What I’ve done here on our main region page is basically just “listed” all of the suburbs this particular client services as regular text. Nothing fancy at all. There’s a HUGE benefit to doing this because Google is smart enough to crawl the page, index the information and show it for relevant searches.
This is great, because it will allow our site to start performing for suburbs of interest, before we’ve even created pages for those suburbs.
Pretty cool right?
You can also see that some of the text is highlighted in blue. These are actual suburb pages that I’ve created that link to the suburb page from this main region page.
This is great also, as it means we can simply “roll out” our suburb pages as we go, whilst still giving ourselves an opportunity to perform for pages we haven’t yet created. It’s also useful from a customer point of view too, because chances are they might see their suburb listed and send an email enquiry or pick up the phone.
In terms of the SEO markup, I’d simply add something like this –
- URL – http://www.domain.com.au/perth/
- Title tag – Plumber Perth | Perth Plumbing Services | ABC Plumbing
- Meta description tag – Perth plumber ABC Plumbing for all plumbing, gas fitting, heating, drainage needs within Perth and its suburbs. Call us today for a free quote.
That’s pretty much it.
Building our suburb pages
Now that I’ve shown you how to go about creating your main region page, our suburb pages are pretty much the same – however there are a few small differences.
Before outlining those differences, take a look over the example I’ve created below.
Obviously our suburb pages are quite similar to the main region pages, except for a few minor differences.
Those differences are –
- The H1 tag for your suburb page would of course include the target keyword, suburb name, and city name (eg “plumber Hamilton Hill, Perth”)
- Less content. As I said earlier, I generally tend to keep suburb pages down around 750 words. That’s usually sufficient.
- There’s no suburbs listed (obviously)
A few key points
Now I’m sure if you intend on creating 50 odd suburb pages, you’ll be tempted to simply reuse the same template over and over again to save some time – just changing the suburb name each time you go.
DON’T DO THAT.
Every suburb page MUST BE 100% UNIQUE. You cannot just change a few words around on the page and leave it at that. You’ve got to change up the pages so they are 100% unique in every way. This is absolutely vital, otherwise you’re going to be at risk of a Google penalty.
Yes it’s time consuming and yes it’s repetitive and yes it’s boring, but if you’re going to do it – do it properly.
In terms of the SEO markup for our suburb pages, I’d simply add something like this –
- URL – http://www.domain.com.au/perth/hamilton-hill/
- Title tag – Plumber Hamilton Hill | ABC Plumbing
- Meta description tag – Plumber Hamilton Hill – ABC Plumbing provide gas and plumbing services within Hamilton Hill and the surrounding suburbs of Perth. Call for a quote.
Remember, keep it simple.
Oh, and don’t forget to LINK back from the main region page (suburb list) each time you complete a suburb page. You want that main region page linking to each suburb page that lives beneath it.
Getting your pages ranked immediately
Here’s something that I thought I’d throw in as a bit of bonus, and I know you’ll love it, but what if I told you that your suburb pages could hit the first page of Google within a matter of minutes after you’ve finished building them?
Open up Webmaster tools as you finish each suburb page and use the “Fetch” feature. Push the request through Google and I bet your pages will hit first page almost immediately.
As I said, suburb pages aren’t sexy by any means, but they work. For local tradespeople especially they are a really powerful way of getting highly targeted local customers via search. The tricky part is ensuring you take the time to build them properly without being tempted into taking shortcuts.
If you’ve found this article useful or if you have any questions, post them below and I’ll answer them for you.