You can always turn a bad idea into a good one if you nail the process of adapting that idea to your own particular situation.
Google guidelines basically provide you with these top recommendations:
- locations pages must not be linked from the footer.
- location pages shall not be part of the conversion funnel.
- location pages must be prominent in the real world.
- Avoid using templates or the same content with only the location name changed.
The Areas We Serve Page
This page will provide all the links to your targeted locations. They way you do it and in which context will depend on the nature of your website and brand.
You need to let Googlebot to find this page so you better link it from a good one. I have seen websites that link to this page in the homepage footer, but only from the homepage. In other words, this footer link will never appear on an inner page footer.
Also I have seen people linking from the main menu to this page like “serviced areas”, “areas we serve” or “surrounding suburbs”.
Another popular location is under the services page, and some people even create a link from the about us page.
The Location Pages
So you end up with a number of location pages your client want to rank for?. Here is were “a bad idea turned into a good one” skill, will pay off.
You need to create pages that ideally provide an offer tailored to the location needs. For example, rural vs urban, aged infrastructure vs new developments, etc. In my opinion, this approach requires a lot of research and with clients wanting to rank for more than 20 suburbs this is not feasible all the time.
Another way to make the content unique to each location is by providing users with data that the business own. For example, number of orders or quotes provided in the las 30 days, enquiry response rate, work done, galleries, any other information that it is owned by you or the client and that will provide to local residents a good source of reliable information that you and only you can provide.
Sometimes people like to put maps, but do this on a meaningful way, not just throw a map in there to eat space.
Some locations will be suitable to some services others will not be suitable for the same services, list the services that really are necessary for those locations.
The User Experience
The way you do the location or areas we serve pages must always be subordinated to the user experience.
A link here or there will not disrupt the way users perceive your brand and the way your brand is communicating with them through the website. However, the information you provide will. It is up to the user to click a certain link and you shall not deceive the user by providing poor information or information that does not convey with the purpose of that link and the overall value the website provides.
If an user sees a link in the main menu pointing to “areas we serve” you better be up to the user expectations. If this “areas we serve” link is within a great context, design or among other useful menu links you shall provide the best possible content and that’s is a good user experience.