Local search engine optimization (SEO) strategies can be complicated for any business to implement.
From owning your business listing on Google My Business to paying close attention to your online reviews, you’ve taken painstaking efforts to improve search results for your local area.
But how do you optimize local SEO for multiple locations?
Whether you’re a local food chain with a few locations across a state or an enterprise business with locations spanning the entire country, you will want to ensure each individual business location gets the attention it needs to be successful in a local search.
What is Local SEO?
Local SEO is the practice of utilizing techniques that will help your website rank when people are searching for your product or service within a specific locality. The ultimate goal of local SEO strategies is to rank better for a local audience rather than a national one.
Using these strategies will improve your online rankings in search engine result pages (SERPs) and increase the likelihood that your intended audience will find your location.
Why Does Local SEO Matter?
According to Hubspot, half of consumers who search for a local store via their smartphone visit that store within a day. That’s a fact that can have an immediate impact on any business, regardless of the industry.
For brick and mortar locations, local SEO really isn’t optional in today’s digital world if you are interested in customers finding you online.
How Does Local Search Work?
There are a lot of factors in how Google determines local search results. While it is almost impossible to know for sure how the algorithm works, one thing you can bet on is Google is getting smarter and faster at serving up the best possible results for their users.
You will want to put your best foot forward and make sure you are following Google’s guidelines and playing by the rules.
Another thing to consider is that Google is using the searcher’s geolocation to return useful results. For example, you wouldn’t see results in Dallas for “bakery” if you were searching on your phone from Washington, D.C. That would be a poor user experience.
How to Optimize for Local Search
If you are interested in optimizing for local search, here are seven basic things you can do to get started:
- Claim your Google My Business account if you haven’t already
- Optimize your website with the right geographical keywords that best describe the location of your business
- Make sure you have a contact page with location name, address and phone number (NAP)
- Generate the right Schema for a local business
- Make sure your website is mobile friendly and is meeting Google’s page speed standards
- Optimize your metadata to include enticing title tags and descriptions that users will want to click on
- Get a ton of quality reviews on your listings (Facebook, Google etc.)
How to Optimize Local SEO if You Have Multiple Locations
Optimizing for local search results is no different than any of the above, but there are a few distinct nuances.
Build Unique Location Landing Pages
First, you will want to make sure that you have a specific landing page on your site for each of your locations. Search Engine Optimization experts have a saying that “one page, one purpose” always works better.
By creating specific pages for each location, you can optimize each for local search in those areas rather than trying to get one page to rank for everything.
One important thing to remember, however, is that every page has to be unique and can’t just contain the same content with a different geographical location. When creating these pages think about what makes them unique, like:
- Location name, address and phone number (NAP)
- Descriptive content that’s specific to that exact location, like the staff, the neighborhood, how long it has existed, etc.
- A Google map with the exact location
- Current images of the location
- Special events unique to that location (if you have them)
- Unique testimonials for each location from real customers
Make Sure Site Navigation Matches
When you build these unique location pages, you will want to make sure your URL naming makes sense for each location.
For example, your URL structuring may look something like this:
Or a more realistic example:
All of these pages should be accessible through your main website navigation, or if you have a ton of locations, through a store or location finder.
Additionally, if you operate only a handful of locations, we recommend including a link to the contact page (or location page) for each one from the footer of each page of your website. Again, if you have more than five or more locations, you probably want to go with a location locator page and include it in your primary navigation menu.
Further Optimize Each Location for Local SEO
After you create these individual pages, you will need to create meta descriptions, tags, and other content with location-specific keywords just like you would if you had a singular location.
You will also want to leverage SEO best practices on the page like:
- Having the location in the title (h1 header) of the page
- H2 headers with relevant keywords
- Avoid keyword stuffing by speaking like a user would rather than what you think a search engine wants to see
- Keeping load times minimal
- Adding ALT text to images
- Making sure the content is unique to each page
- Use unique local business schema for each page
Create unique Google My Business Accounts for Each Location
Much like if you had one business location, you will want to claim/create a Google My Business listing for each of your locations to show up on Google Maps. Claiming multiple locations on Google My Business is a relatively easy process because the program enables you to add any new locations you may have or use bulk verification to verify all sites at once.
You should use the individual URLs (or pages) you have created so customers can quickly get to the information they want about a specific location.
Here’s a quick recap about Google’s verification process:
- Verify each location using the code Google emails you (will take around a week)
- Post the unique hours for each location (if they vary)
- Choose the same category for each location (assuming they are all the same)
- Add unique images for each location
Generate Quality (and Quantity) Citations
One of the many ranking factors for local business is having quality links going to your website from trusted sources. This has been an important ranking factor since as early as 2005, with some key changes.
First, Google now penalizes websites that purposely spam links. If you ever get a call from an “SEO expert” that wants to sell you 10,000 links for websites to improve your rankings, hang up the phone and block their number. They aren’t selling you a valid solution for your SEO needs.
Instead, focus your efforts on making sure your business listings online are accurate across all the major citation networks.
Here are a few places you’ll want to check:
- Better Business Bureau
- Angie’s List
- Yahoo Local
- Yellow Pages
Each of these locations needs to have the correct name, address, hours and website for each of your locations. Do not, however, add the location to its name if it’s part of a larger franchise (for example, “Optometrists of Nashville,” located in Brentwood, should not be listed as “Optometrists of Nashville of Brentwood”). This would be seen as an inconsistency if that isn’t the actual name of the business and could hurt your local SEO efforts.
If you find any inconsistencies on these listings, you will want to correct them to make sure search engines and customers aren’t confused. This can be extremely tedious and uninteresting, but it could be disastrous if your business is not paying attention to them, especially across multiple locations.
There’s nothing worse than a customer trying to shop at one of your locations only to find out the location they went to is closed, but the one across town is open.
Find New Places to Add Citations
Additionally, you will want to find new opportunities for creating citations across the web, especially within your industry.
Some examples may be HomeAdvisor for contractors or Avvo for lawyers. Chances are, if you think about it, you probably already know what these sites are for your specific industry.
Don’t think this is worth your time? Think again.
Because quality links help build your website’s authority and gives Google a better idea of the types of keywords are relevant to a given business, businesses with an industry optimized footprint on specific industry directories stand a better chance of ranking in Google for industry terms than businesses that don’t.
Build Quality Links to Each Location Page
We briefly mentioned buying links is bad for SEO (and it most certainly is) but that doesn’t mean links aren’t important.
Links remain a major ranking factor and finding ones that make sense for your business is one of the best things you can do to increase your odds of appearing in local search results. In particular, local directories also add credibility, especially if each of your location pages has their own unique backlink profile.
You may want to partner with local resources like Chambers of Commerce, local charities, or host events at your businesses that give you a chance to attract links to your specific location pages.
You could also reach out to local bloggers in the area and see if they are interested in sharing your content or let you promote your business on their site.
Take comfort in knowing you don’t have to become an SEO expert to improve your business’s organic search. It just takes a little time and creativity to find the right places for your business to be listed.
Get Quality Reviews
The last step for using local SEO strategies for multiple locations is maybe one of the most important ones: generate online reviews.
Online reviews are crucial to local SEO because they show search engines and directories the overall quality of a business. Users are less likely to trust search engines if they provide poor recommendations, which means the search engines don’t make money from advertising because users will stop using their service.
This means search engines like Google are more likely to show businesses that have earned positive customer reviews. This doesn’t just mean reviews on Google either. You want to have quality reviews across all consumer feedback platforms like Facebook and Bing as well.
Getting quality reviews (and a lot of reviews) is important for any business, but it’s particularly important for businesses with multiple locations because every location needs to be generating location-specific reviews to improve their individual SEO.
This can make keeping track of your online reviews difficult because you need to have a pulse on how each of your locations is performing in online reviews and making sure you are prepared to respond to negative reviews when they crop up.
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