What should you put in the “Website” field of your Google Places page: the URL of your homepage, or of one of your location pages? You know it can affect your rankings. Which one do you pick?
I suggest you use your homepage as your landing page, whenever possible.
There’s debate over which page to use. This great thread on Linda Buquet’s forum shows that.
It’s a trade-off:
On the one hand, the homepage URL (AKA root domain) usually has the most page authority – from any links the site has earned. Most of your links probably point there.
On the other hand, a location-specific page by definition does a better job of “targeting” (I hate that word) the city you’re in. You’re talking about one city rather than several.
From what I’ve seen, the “authority” of the homepage seems to pack more punch for rankings.
Why? As I mentioned, my best guess is that it’s because the homepage usually has the most link juice. Or maybe it’s because most businesses’ “location” pages are thin on content or over-optimized – to the point that maybe Google dings them. I don’t know.
What I do know is I’ve seen the homepage URL work time and time again for multi-location clients, and for business I stumble across “in the wild.”
I also know I’ve had a couple of clients whose rankings were nowhere until we switched the URL – on the Places page and in the citations.
I didn’t always err on the side of using the homepage as your landing page. For a time, organic rankings and Google Places rankings could be mutually exclusive. Google’s setup was such that if your homepage had a page-one organic ranking, and then you used your homepage as the landing page for Google Places, you’d lose your organic ranking if you started ranking in the Google Places “7-pack.”
That’s not the case now – thank goodness. At least at the moment, you can have your homepage rank organically and serve as your Google Places landing page.
You may have other concerns about using the homepage:
1. You’d find it hard to make the homepage title tag relevant to multiple locations.
2. You feel that having the name / address / phone (“NAP”) info for multiple locations on the same page might hurt rankings.
For the title tag, just do the best you can – in terms of getting city names in there. In my experience, it’s more important to make sure your main service(s) are in the title tag; Google knows where you’re located.
Speaking of Google “knowing” where you’re located, I’ve never seen any bad effects from having multiple blobs of NAP info on the homepage.
One last thing I’d like to mention:
Please use your discretion. If you’re ranking well already, you should probably leave well enough alone. Don’t go changing your landing page URL everywhere if you’re #3 and want to move up a couple positions.
The best situation in which to take my advice is (1) if you’re just starting your local SEO effort, or (2) if you’re not ranking well and you feel like you’ve tried just about everything else.
What’s been your experience? Which type of landing page has worked – or not worked – for you so far? Leave a comment!