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May 31st, 2015

Are Domain Names For Individual Cities a Good Idea?

Being found in local search results is a great thing if you are trying to increase your business in your area and surrounding cities. Google gives you a leg up being found in the city where your business is physically located. But how about the cities surrounding your local city that you also service?

Most business's that I handle always want to be found in the cities surrounding their home city. How can this be accomplished?

Probably the best way to be found locally (but outside of your home area) is to create landing pages that are optimized for each individual city that you would like to rank for. What are landing pages? They are pages of your website that people will "land on" when doing a search for the services you provide. For example: let's say I need to rent a dumpster and I live in Holly, MI. I would go to the Internet and enter in search something like this- dumpster rental company, Holly MI. Google will then compile results based on my search criteria and present them in a well ordered fashion, starting with the most relevant (based on their own algorithms). How does Google decide which websites to show and how high in the search results? Well that's a totally different subject but suffice it to say, they have lots and lots of algorithms that compile results based on their own search criteria and what they deem as relevant. Some of them they will let us know while others are kept a state secret. So we use our best "guess" in those cases but based upon current knowledge of how Google works we can usually come up with a strategy that works within Google's framework and get websites to the top of the rankings.

Local Search for Website CreationBut this blog today is not about the importance of landing pages but about putting the specific city name in a domain name. What do we mean by that? Well let's say we own Billy Joe Bob's Plumbing LLC and we reside in Milford, Michigan. Google will impute to us a high ranking for anybody searching for a plumbing company in Milford, Michigan. However, in Brighton, Michigan not so much. So how do we get found in Brighton, Michigan? 

Landing pages is one way. Another way is to put the city name in your domain name. I have found that Google will give you more page rank if the city is in the domain name. So, using our example from above, if Billy Joe Bob wants to be found in Brighton, he can purchase something like this: Brightonplumbingcompany.com. Having the individual city name in your domain name will increase your relevance for any search using that city. Now remember, content is still king in the world of search results so whereas you will get a boost from having "Brighton" in your domain name, the content on your webpage is still the most important factor. 

Think of your individual search results as an accumulation of a bunch of different factors. The main factor is probably page content. Factors such as: page content, keyword density, using specific keywords in general and which ones to optimize, meta tags, title tags, header tags, meta description etc. There are many factors which determine your page rank. Down the list of important factors is having a city name in your domain name. Now, if you have a city in your actual company name then that will be a great factor in your ranking in your home city. Google gives great importance to a company that has a city or state name in it's actual company name. Something like: Michigan Plumbing Company. Every time someone searches for "plumbing company Brighton MI", Michigan Plumbing Company will get some consideration because it has Michigan in it's name and the searcher put "MI" in it's search criteria.

So, is putting "Brighton" in your domain name a good idea? Well, in general I would say, it depends. You will get a boost from having Brighton in your domain name but it depends on how you use it. Remember, content is king and a keyword in a domain name is just one factor (and not the most important factor) in Google's ranking system. If you purchase a domain name with Brighton in the name then the best way to optimize this strategy is to have a one page site that you will land on when people search for a plumbing company in Brighton. That way you can optimize the content with the domain name. Then link your one page optimized city site to your main company website. Google's search bots will follow and index the links between the two web pages and the main webpage content will impute into the one page optimized city site. 

This is one strategy that should be part of a bigger overall optimization plan that works in harmony to get the most from your SEO. Another way to link the two domains together is to redirect one domain to the other. This is not as good as having a one page site optimized for a certain city and linking it back to your main domain name but it will still show a path to Google that the cites are linked. How do you do this? First, you purchase the domain with the city in it (Brightonplumbing.com) then you redirect it to your main domain name (Billyjoebobsplumbing.com). Now you have two domain names for your company but really only one website to represent it. While not having a one page website attached to that second domain name (which is the best way) you will still get a boost from any search that includes "Brighton" in it's search criteria. 

So, to sum up, having a city name in your domain name works great if you are physically located in that city. If not, it still will give you some SEO juice but works best if used in tandem with a one page city optimized webpage. Remember, with there being a myriad of factors involved with a website's page rank, the best strategy to use will include using all methods together to create a well balanced strategy that will get you found on the Internet. One factor alone will not suffice to get your found.

Nuff said for now, eh?

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