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Dealing with many localized landing pages with crappy content?

7:59 pm on Sep 4, 2018 (gmt 0)

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joined:Jan 28, 2007
posts: 19
votes: 0

Hi guys,

First I want to say thank you to all of you guys because Webmaster World is the place I made my first SEO steps back in 2007. So one big THANKS to everyone for making this place the best SEO resource out there.

During the years I have specialized in the local SEO - building and optimizing websites which are targeting local services + Location. Now I have a client with a very specific SEO issue which I've never faced before. The client is a local service provider which is targeting local keywords, e.g. "Keyword + Local Area" ( Plumbers in Chicago, Plumbers in Las Vegas..) and has over 200 similar location specific pages.

The problem is that the previous SEO has added crappy content to all of these location pages - most of them have spun content and only Area Name and few other keywords are changed. As you may guess these location pages doesn't rank very well in SERP's and doesn't offer a real value to the users (Google has specific algo. targeting these type of location pages and classify them as doorway). So I have no doubt that the crappy content needs to be replaced by high-quality, location specific content which will add value to the users.

But what I'm not sure is:

1) should I delete the old location pages (including URL's) and add fresh new pages with high-quality content

2) or to keep old URL's and just replace the entire content on these URL's? (because most pages already have backlinks pointing to them)

3) or maybe is better to start over - tell him to buy a new domain, create new pages with quality content and 301 redirect everything to the new domain?

I'm asking these because you know that investing in 200+ high-quality pages is an expensive project and if we just replace the old content and that doesn't help, that investment will be lost.

P.S: All location pages are indexed by Google but doesn't rank very well ( 2ond and 3th page on SERP's). As someone may say about lack of good links, I want to state - the site has more quality backlinks then most of its competitors and ranks pretty well for main keywords, just the location pages doesn't rank well.

Waiting for your replies guys,
10:01 am on Sept 5, 2018 (gmt 0)

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WebmasterWorld Senior Member keyplyr is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

joined:Sept 26, 2001
votes: 891

Hi Kriss,

I had very good results on a smaller site with a similar issue.

I would keep the domain. Replace the bad with good content and give the pages new names, using 301 redirects to keep the backlinks.

The new page names won't resolve any existing ranking issues alone, but should force reindexing and *may* speed up a ranking update.
10:09 pm on Sept 7, 2018 (gmt 0)

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WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

joined:Jan 4, 2002
votes: 2

Hello Kriss,

I agree with keyplyr.

My business site has all-original, high-value content on each page, so my experience would be different from yours. However, for what it's worth, I have successfully replaced useful, engaging content with even better content using the same page and ranking has not been negatively affected.

For those with content issues, you can place a cheap ad in...uhhh...well, that very well-known classified ads site that a guy named Craig started...but I won't mention the domain. :) Anyhow, under Gigs > Writing & Editing, mention what you need in the way of original content, what field (plumbing?) and say you need X-number of words. Either state what you will pay or ask them to quote a price (which is what I do). Then go have a beer as writers from around the country contact you.

Don't hire anyone immediately. Give it a few days. In my experience, those who charge the most tend to answer first. When I'm shopping for a writer, I can usually get a great article of around 1,200-words for $75. The invoice must say that YOU own the rights in exchange for payment. Some charge less (I am looking for quality, not shoddy and cheap) and some quote unnecessarily stratospheric prices. Those characters can go hustle someone else.

Regarding quality info on SEO and Webmaster World, after firing a few SEOs in the late '90s and early 2000s (including a very prominent one), I learned how to do it myself right here. WW has been my browser's start page since around 2002.

Good luck to you.
7:34 pm on Sept 18, 2018 (gmt 0)

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WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

joined:July 29, 2007
votes: 113

If you're talking about 200 virtually identical pages each with a different city name I would focus on creating one good page about the local service and let the others all go 404. It's OK to have one page about widgets and to say "Areas we serve: here, there, that place, yourtown etc.". In my experience 301 from a crappy page to a better one doesn't help the better one, I would only do this from any page you see good backlinks to(google's console will show you these).

200+ city names is going to sound like spam if you try to include them all on one page. Thankfully you no longer need to have the name on the page to rank for it. If you say "we serve Alterac county" google is fairly good at knowing which town names are within Alterac county.

You can verify this yourself. Find one of your best pages and look up the keywords it ranks for in your google console. The best pages rank for many hundreds of keywords, and often thousands, but most of those keywords and keyword phrases aren't even on the page. Google knows what you're talking about more than it has in the past.

I believe Matt Cutts once put out a video about this specific issue, local companies with gateway pages based on location, but the pages were all essentially the same other than the city name change. He said don't do that.

Something else to consider. If someone searches for this service from 200 miles away they are likely to see the local business ranked much higher than someone looking for the same service from 2000 miles away. Google does some rank adjustment for local based on distance. Again, you really do not need to have a page about every city served.

Let us know how it works out and which route you go. Definitely get rid of spun content, lol, asap. Also, if allowing 404's scares you, which it shouldn't as these are natural and even expected over time(events that have passed, etc), go with a meta noindex until things settle.

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