Multiple location local businesses have a unique advantage over the large nationals when it comes to everything digital. They have the opportunity to base their entire website around a specific product or service within a given market. National brands will hardly ever mention their local market and in some areas, can find it harder to be relevant.
At a time where the way people search online is changing, the local advantage is even more relevant. In 2020, 63% of Google search volume comes from mobile devices in the US with over 3.5 billion searches being processed. It is imperative to have a focused local website that is easy to find, navigate and use.
This post will look at some of the ways that businesses with multiple locations can optimize their local search engine optimization (SEO).
Wait, what’s SEO?
It’s worth just adding a quick reminder of what we mean when talking about SEO. In short, it is the practice of getting high volume quality leads to visit your website, using numerous tactics and channels. People often associate it with ranking at the top of Google search results but it is much more than that (worth nothing that Bing, Yelp and Apple Maps all exist as search engines too but Google has an 87% market share in 2020).
For example, I might get thousands of visitors coming to my site because I advertise free lunches. If visitors soon find out that there is no such thing as a free lunch, they will soon leave. SEO is all about attracting visitors with relevant and high-quality content that is honest and trustworthy.
Local SEO goes a bit further. It is a strategy to optimize your online presence so that it attracts business from local searches. With the market influence of Google, you will put the vast majority of effort into that channel.
If you visit Google and search for “coffee shops near me”, you will notice a map appear at the top with all the businesses in range of your current location. This is where you need to be for local SEO to be effective.
If I don’t have a brick and mortar retail store, what’s the point in local SEO?
As we’ve already said, the majority of Google searches are now performed on mobile. That means, a high proportion of people searching are probably on the move. Almost every device is location enabled so whether you have a physical store or not, optimizing SEO across multiple locations still ensures you can be found. Even if somebody isn’t necessarily looking for a local business, if you are optimized for it, you have a far greater chance of appearing at the top of search results.
Potential customers also like the fact there your business appears to actually exist in a location. It adds an element of trust to your offering that virtual retailers cannot always offer.
General Hints and Tips
Before diving into your local SEO strategy, it’s important to remember some of the fundamentals of solid website design and digital marketing.
Optimize for mobile
We are in the midst of a mobile revolution. If customers are searching for your site that way, you need to make sure it is responsive when they reach you. Reports say that 61% of mobile users are more likely to contact a local business with a mobile site. That doesn’t mean just making a copy of your desktop site available to mobile users. It should be adapted to the right resolutions to look perfect every time.
Google has a Mobile Friendly Testing Tool that can be used to check your site.
Content is still king!
No matter how strong your SEO game is, the content of your website is still the key to success. There is nothing more frustrating for a potential customer to visit the top ranked site on Google, only to find it doesn’t meet their needs. Always make sure you add quality content.
Hint. Customers want to hear about the products and services you offer and not just how great you think you are. Tell the customers what’s in it for them to stay on your website.
Think about local keywords
In the same way that you need quality content, make sure you have quality keywords. The advent of AI has meant Google can quickly spot and blacklist businesses who just needlessly stuff words into their advertising. Make sure you do thorough keyword research and find those that are relevant and competitive within the target market.
Backlinks and influencers
One of the most powerful SEO tools is still to get verification from others about how great you are. Traditionally, this meant just getting your link posted on as many other sites as possible, but times have changed. In the world of social media, getting follows, shares and likes have become critical as part of an SEO strategy.
The more supporters you have, the more you are talked about and the higher you will rank in search engines.
You’ve got the basics right so let’s move on the optimizing local SEO
Here are some of the steps you can take to start optimizing your local SEO across multiple locations.
In 2020, arguably the most important part of your SEO strategy is getting your Google My Business page right. As we said at the start of this article, if you don’t appear when customers are near your location then it will become very difficult to be found. Bing Places and Apple Maps are also useful but won’t get anything like the kind of traction that Google can achieve.
It is very simple, you just visit Google My Business and add all your details. This is not a place to try to shoehorn in keywords, just follow the step by step instructions. If you operate a virtual business, enter your home address or the address that is primary to your business services. You can add multiple locations at this point for everywhere that your business operates.
All sorts of information can be added to your listing such as photos, categories and individual services that you offer. The more that you add, the better chance you have or ranking in Google My Business.
You should also review any websites where you have citations. For example, you might have an address listing on Yelp, Thomson Local or TripAdvisor. Each of these should be consistent so it is worth doing an audit check.
It goes without saying that Facebook and Instagram pages, YouTube channels and Twitter accounts can all add to your local presence. Pages should be set up for each individual location if possible.
Multiple Local Landing Pages
If you are serving multiple locations, you will want to set up a different landing page for each of those. This allows you to optimize the SEO for each location separately with the appropriate keywords, content and addresses.
The structure might look something like below:
Following a format like this is good practice and far easier to track is platforms like Google Analytics.
Europcar is a great example of doing this well. They have separate landing pages for each location where they offer car rental. The formatting of their links is completely standardized and structured for SEO purposes
It is important you base your SEO around the primary location of the homepage. For example, if you are a Wedding Planner from New York, make sure that is clear within your keywords. Naturally, make sure you put the address of each location on the page and the relevant contact details each time.
Unique information for each page will include:
- Location Speciﬁc Keywords in Your Meta Data (tags, descriptions, etc.)
- Business Hours, Address, Phone Number, etc.
- A speciﬁc URL for each page
- A Separate Google My Business Listing for Each URL (make sure they are veriﬁed with Google)
- Separate Backlinks for Each Page (when possible try for location speciﬁc backlinks)
Great content ideas for your individual landing pages include:
- Location speciﬁc stories and history about the area
- Current events within the area
- Customer reviews and testimonials
- Write-ups and mentions of the business in local media
- Local charities the business has worked with
Optimize the content on each of your local pages
Having landing pages is the first step but then you need to optimize what is on them. The obvious action is to add location specific keywords to the page.
The best way to do this is to localize your schema markup. This is simply structured data such as the name of the city or local landmarks in order to target location specific keywords.
This strategy doesn’t necessarily improve your overall search engine rankings. But it does greatly improve your chances of being included in the results when someone searches locally. And that’s really what we’re after here.
A popular method of generating localized content is to speak with other businesses or local press. If trusted sources start talking about your business in their area, it gives you a degree of kudos around that location. You could even go a step further and create a separate blog for each of the local sites to promote the unique content.
SEO Never Sleeps
The tips in this post will get you started with optimizing local SEO across multiple locations. However, it is important to remember that the process never stops. Google and other search engines are always changing their algorithms and the way consumers use the internet continues to evolve.
Once you get everything in place it will be important to stay up to date on the latest SEO optimization methods. And most important will be to keep up with the latest updates for search engines like Google and Bing.
And one ﬁnal thing to consider, once these standard practices are in place, is social media.
For instance, setting up a separate Facebook or Instagram page for each location will increase your chances of showing up in the search results.
If it’s appropriate, you could even experiment with a YouTube channel. After all, YouTube is the second most popular search engine. And most business owners are completely unaware of this fact.
Furthermore, new influencers and public figures are always popping up who could help with your strategy.
Keep up with the latest news in all of your locations to ensure quality SEO optimization practices.