Local SEO can be tricky enough for any business, but throwing multiple locations into the mix adds a whole new layer of complexity.
Whether you’re a local chain with footprints in a few nearby cities or a major brand with hundreds of stores across the country, you want each one to receive the online visibility it deserves.
It’s certainly worth the extra effort. Hubspot data tells us that half of consumers who search for a local store via their mobile visit that store within a day. In addition, 60% of mobile users use their devices to find local products and services. And, half of local-mobile searchers are trying to find business information, like a phone number or address.
Use this guide to optimize your business locations for local search so you never miss a customer.
Step One: Create Location-Based Web Pages
You likely have a website for your company as a whole, but you should also dedicate specific pages to each of your locations.
Placing all your business information in a single landing page doesn’t do you any favors in the SEO department. Rather, when you create individual pages, you’re better able to optimize each one for local search.
This popular South Carolina restaurant gives us a great example of an individual location page:
It’s important you don’t make every location page identical. However, you should include some specific information somewhere on every page:
● The location name, address, and local phone number (NAP)
● Content that’s specific to the location, such as a food menu, staff/manager names, awards, announcements, or other news
● A Google map detailing the precise location
In addition, each location webpage should have its own unique URL, ideally with the name of the location. You can also include additional pages that are specific to the location page so that the URL structure reflects the value of the location.
It might look something like this:
To complete your location webpage optimization, you should create meta descriptions, tags, and other content with location-specific keywords.
Take it a step further by including local business schema for each page to include your business hours and other data in search results. You should also create an XML Sitemap that helps Google crawl your new pages.
Step Two: Leverage Google My Business Listings Per Location
Once you create individual URLs for each location on your website, you can create separate Google My Business listings for your locations.
You can link the individual URLs to the listing so customers are taken directly to the location’s unique web page.
To do this, you’ll need to follow Google’s process:
● Verify each location (this can take up to a week)
● List the unique hours for each location
● Add location-specific photos
● Choose the same category for each location (e.g. restaurant, bar, pet store, salon, etc)
The process can take a while, especially if you have dozens or hundreds of locations. Google will send you a unique code for each location, which arrives via mail. The code is used to verify the business’s location and can take several days to receive.
Step Three: Create Consistent Citations
Consistency is key in optimizing multiple locations for search. Google will look at your business’s name and other details as they appear on multiple channels. Any inconsistencies could dock you in the SEO department.
Look at your listings, website, and other outlets to ensure your NAP looks the same throughout. Your name should not be location based (e.g. McDonald’s of Southside), as this represents an inconsistency.
Here are a few places you’ll want to check:
● Yahoo Local
● Yellow Pages
If you find any inconsistencies, you should take time to correct them.
Moz Local and Manta offer citation tracking tools that can help find any inconsistencies and help you resolve them.
Step Four: Encourage Reviews for Each Location
While it’s important to get good reviews for your company as a whole, it’s also important to generate location-specific reviews.
Once you’ve taken the time to create individual Google My Business listings for each location, you can encourage visitors to leave reviews. These star ratings and user comments are displayed directly on your Google business listing for others to see. The more reviews (namely positive ones), the better chance you have of attracting customers to a location.
Reviews are crucial to local SEO because they send a strong signal about a business’s legitimacy. People leaving reviews indicate the location is still open for business and reflects the information on the listing.
The downside of encouraging reviews per location is that they’re not easy for you to manage. You need to have a strong grip of each of your locations (this can get messy the more locations you have) and be prepared to respond to reviews customers leave.
This is a big advantage single location businesses have, since they can usually respond quickly to negative reviews to make amends and leave a personal impression. But that doesn’t mean larger businesses can’t also take advantage of the practice. It just takes a little finessing and organizing on your part.
Step Five: Build Backlinks to Your Location Pages
Backlinking is powerful in SEO. For businesses with multiple locations, you want to build backlinks to your individual pages just as much as your main website.
To do this, you’ll want to partner with local resources like Chambers of Commerce, local charities, or other partners that will link to your location-based webpage.
Hosting events, sponsorships, and creating local content can also help attract local backlinks that can give you an SEO boost.
Putting It All Together
When you complete each of the five steps for each location, it will be surprising if you don’t see results. Just remember that it can take time to move the needle. You likely won’t see immediate success overnight.
However, if you’re diligently asking for reviews and managing your online presence for each of your locations, you’ll enjoy an SEO boost in your local market that will be hard for others to beat.