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Local SEO Tip: Geo Sitemap Generator

Avatar for John Locke

John Locke is a SEO consultant from Sacramento, CA. He helps manufacturing businesses rank higher through his web agency, Lockedown Design & SEO.

Local SEO, like all SEO, is a constantly moving target. Many local businesses had their search rankings reshuffled when Google rolled out the Pigeon update to their search algorithm in July of 2014.

There are always things you can control search results and some that you can’t. Today, I’d like to focus on one detail that you can control, which is submitting a Geo Sitemap to Google Webmaster Tools and Bing Webmaster Tools.

Why Do I Need A Geo Sitemap?

Search engines are increasingly relying on microdata to get structured information about many things, including businesses and their locations. Two formats that search engines like are RDFa, used by Schema.org and Microformats.

If you are a business owner, rest assured. It is not necessary for you to understand everything about microdata. Simply know that having it in key areas helps search engines get more relevant information about your business, which will help your rankings in local search.

Generate Your Sitemaps

There is a handy Geo Sitemap Generator located at http://www.geositemapgenerator.com. Go there and start the process.

You’ll be prompted to fill out your business location information. This will be used to generate a KML file in the next step. You can add more than one location, or upload these details via a CSV file (Excel) if you wish.

Geo Sitemap KML

To move forward, you must hit the Add Location button. It’s a little confusing why the page was set up this way, but it makes the Step 2 button appear.

On the next screen, you’ll be prompted to enter your website URL, followed by a filename for your KML (the default is locations.kml). You may also add a description and file author. These will be part of the KML file as well. Fill these in and hit the Generate! button.

KML Prompt

A small modal window will open, asking you if you want to Download Now or Get An Email When File Is Ready. The only time you might opt to get an email when your download is ready is if you have fifty or more locations in your file.

Geo Sitemap Generator Download

Download both the KML file and Geo Sitemap. Upload both of these to the root of your website. You can usually do this through FTP or by accessing your File Manager through your hosting admin panel.

Make a note of what URLs point towards these files. You will need this information in a second.

Log into your respective Webmaster Tools accounts, and submit your Geo Sitemap to Google and Bing. You will find the Sitemap link for Google under Crawl > Sitemaps.

Google Webmaster Tools: Crawl Sitemaps

You will find the sitemaps link in Bing under Configure My Site > Sitemaps. If you uploaded the Geo Sitemap to your website root, the URL should be yourdomain.com/geositemap.xml.

Bing Webmaster Tools Sitemaps

What’s going on is we are submitting a XML sitemap to the search engines, but instead of listing web pages, we are pointing the search engines towards the physical location of our business. This will help search engines verify that we are a local business.

Finishing With Some On-Page SEO

The last thing we can do is add some microdata to the HTML of our business website. You’ll notice in the sidebar, there is a widget where you can choose either Schema.org or Microformats microdata, and Copy-Paste that into your website. This could go anywhere you are currently listing locations information, like your footer, sidebar, or contact page.

Local Business Schema.org

Final Thoughts

Each step you take to improve your local SEO won’t rocket you to the top all by itself. But all the little actions put together as a whole, will certainly improve your chances of being found by local customers.

Avatar for John Locke

John Locke is a SEO consultant from Sacramento, CA. He helps manufacturing businesses rank higher through his web agency, Lockedown Design & SEO.

27 comments on “Local SEO Tip: Geo Sitemap Generator

  1. Hi John,

    Thank you for sharing this very informative and helpful information.

    Just a quick question, on http://moz.com/community/q/should-you-geotag-pages-for-local-seo#reply_67188 you mentioned that after running and downloading both the KML and geositemap file I need to go in to edit and remove the geo tag parts. Which specific file do I need to edit between the two?

    I’m a bit novice when it comes to geo tags but would you give me an exact example of a code that I need to remove?

    1. Hello Gilbert. Greetings from NSW!
      It was someone else that made that comment, not myself. The locations.kml is the important file. Here, we use the geositemap.xml to point towards the locations.kml file.

      The generator is also handy for putting together Schema and Microformats for on-page formatting.

      Hope this clears things up.

  2. Hi Tim:

    Not 100% sure what your specific scenario is; let me know if either of these is what you are asking.

    If you’re using schema markup in your regular HTML, like in your footer, you can style that however you need to, and it won’t affect how Google crawls it, just like the rest of your site.

    If you’re just uploading a KML or Geo Sitemap to your website and telling Google where to find it, the public won’t really see those, but I believe you’re asking about using Schema markup in your footer. You can style that with CSS in your style.css file, but I wouldn’t mess with the HTML schema markup itself.

    Let me know if that makes sense or answers your question.

    1. That was my question…about styling the HTML in the footer.
      Just making sure that inserting a wouldn’t affect the way that it sends the data to Google. Appreciate the response.
      Tim

  3. Hi John

    Great article, thanks for the very useful info!

    Just 2 questions though:

    1. When I try to submit the sitemap to Google search console, I get the message that the file I enter refers to a HTML-page and therefor it is not accepted. Do you have any idea what I’m doing wrong?

    2. A question about META’s for local SEO: My company is located in a small village. However, I don’t want to be only found at keywords I use in my TITLE-tags such as “copywriting Kessel” (I’m a writer and copywriter, for the Dutch-speaking market only so don’t worry I’m not a competitor ;)) but also at e.g. “copywriting Lier” or “copywriting Berlaar” (these are 2 neighbouring villages) => So my questions is: How do I best do that AND must I mention the names of all the villages and towns where I want to appear, in the META-title or META-description? So MUST I write “copywriting Lier” in the META’s if I want to be found there? Or will I be found in Lier anyway when people Google for “copywriter Lier” even if I don’t use these tags?

    Hope you understand my question!

    Many thanks already for your help!

    Kind regards
    Jasper

  4. Hi Jasper:

    Thanks for reading. When you submit your sitemap to Google, make sure it is in an .xml format. It should be at the root folder, so the domain pointing at it looks like this: http://yoursite.com/geositemap.xml.

    For my own Geositemap, the markup looks like this:

    
    <urlset>
        <url>
            <loc>http://www.lockedowndesign.com/locations.kml</loc>
        </url>
    </urlset>
    
    

    Here’s what my .kml file looks like (also at the root folder):

    
    <?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
    <kml xmlns="http://www.opengis.net/kml/2.2" xmlns:atom="http://www.w3.org/2005/Atom">
    <Document>
    <name>Location for Lockedown Design.</name>
    <atom:author>
    <atom:name>John Locke</atom:name>
    </atom:author>
    <atom:link rel="related" href="http://www.lockedowndesign.com" />
    <Folder>
    <Placemark>
    <name><![CDATA[Lockedown Design]]></name>
    <address><![CDATA[9635 Gerber Road, Sacramento, CA, 95829, United States]]></address>
    <description><![CDATA[Lockedown Design is a Sacramento web design company that develops effective business websites and e-commerce websites, specializing in WordPress design and development for established businesses, startups and entrepreneurs.]]></description>
    <Point>
    <coordinates>-121.338041,38.482618,0</coordinates>
    </Point>
    </Placemark>
    </Folder>
    </Document>
    </kml>
    
    

    I hope that helps you figure out what may be going on with your sitemap submission to Search Console.

    For the second part of your question, if you want to be found for specific searches, you should base each page on your site around one keyword phrase. This means include it in the title tage, meta description, and body content.

    If you have a WordPress site, the Yoast SEO plugin will help you focus each page.

    I’m not a fan of making geo-based landing pages in 2015 (as in, “your city + your service”), because it can sound too robotic and unrealistic. There are many pages like this on the web that don’t reflect how people really talk, which I know you’re aware of.

    But what may be a better idea is making pages that describe how you’ve helped specific clients in those cities, and then use your geo-specific search phrase on those pages, working it into the story.

    If you have a solid site, and build your basic SEO, you should place high in search results for anyone looking for your services. I don’t know the detailed geography of your area, but I would focus on ranking high for the largest city near you, first, and a lot of the geo-specific searches for smaller towns will be taken care of naturally. I’ve found that many people searching from towns even ninety miles away start by searching for results from the largest neighboring city.

    Thanks,
    John

  5. Hey John,
    Thank you so much for an excellent article. My question riffs off of the last remark. Is it possible to create a .kml file for a service area or is the service area solely to be described through Geo-signals (as you say writing relevant, engagement content to that service area + relevant location-based reviews). Just wanted a point of clarification before I submit the .kml file. Thanks again for a lovely article. Cheers, Margaret

    1. Hi Margaret:

      I think I know what your ultimate goal is here. You want to get business for a specific geographic service area. If you’re near a big city, then there are probably a lot of smaller cities around that main city. If your business is not located in the center of the main city, you’re trying to boost your business for that region, not just the neighborhood city you’re in.

      So, you still should submit a KML file. The KML tells Google where your business is located. If you have more than one location, you’d include these on your KML also.

      You’ll want to make sure you have your business information accurate on all the aggregator sites (Facebook, Google, Foursquare, Factual, Neustar, Yelp, Infogroup, Yahoo, etc). The name, address, and phone number need to be an exact match on all these sites, and you should have no duplicate profiles for your business on these pages. I use Moz Local and Yahoo Small Business for these. You can read more about this here: https://www.lockedowndesign.com/citations-for-local-seo/

      You’ll want to make sure you have a Google My Business profile, so people can leave reviews for your business. Customers have to go through Google Maps to get to reviews now, so be aware of that.

      On your Google My Business profile, you can set your service area radius. I would set this to expand to cover the metro area you are trying to cover. Instructions on doing that are right here: https://www.lockedowndesign.com/set-service-area-on-google-my-business/

      Lastly, make sure the title tags of your site pages contain the city or service area you’re trying to be found for. Write relevant case studies and stories about the region / city on your site. Google gets ideas of what your site is about as a whole by seeing what words are in your site as a whole. If you have a Google Search Console (formerly Google Webmaster Tools) account for your site, look under Google Index > Content Keywords to see what words Google is finding most often.

      Hope this helps answer your question, Margaret! 🙂

  6. Hi ZipShip team:

    If you are trying to rank in Google locally in Pune, I would add the Geo Sitemap, get a Google My Business page and add the local address there, add the headquarters address to Google Maps (with your local pin code and service area), and add your headquarters address to your website somewhere.

    If local rankings in Google, Bing, and Yahoo are not relevant for your particular business, you may skip adding the Goe Sitemap.

  7. Hi John, I have a question, after installing the Yoast SEO plugin(free), how can I create a geo sitemap, add it on my wordpress.org website and submit to Google or Yahoo?

    What Yoast creates is a XML sitemap. Do I need to turn it off and create another separate page for geo sitemaps? I want it for a specific local service in my city, Chandigarh. Kindly illustrate, if possible, thanks in advance.

    1. Hi Vikas:

      There is no need to disable XML Sitemaps on Yoast. Follow the instructions in the article above, and generate a KML file with your locations, and a Geo Sitemap as XML.

      Upload both of these files to the root of your website. If your website is vikas.com, then the new sitemap you would be submitting to Google Search Console would be at vikas.com/geositemap.xml.

      Google can crawl both the Yoast sitemaps and your Gesitemap XML files.

      To submit your Geo Sitemap to Bing / Yahoo, log in to Bing Webmaster Tools. Find the site you wish to submit a Geo Sitemap for and access that profile.

      You can submit a sitemap for Bing under Configure My Site > Sitemaps.

      Where to Submit sitemaps in Bing Webmaster Tools

      Thanks,
      John

    1. Hi Ali:

      The Geo Sitemap gives Google more information, but they grab a lot of the information from Google My Business (GMB) listings and third party sources as well.

      – John

  8. Thank you for sharing the information about local sitemap generation and can you share more information about this. How to generate the Geo Sitemap? What are the exact requirements?

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