If you’re a business with a storefront or an office that gets customer foot traffic, then local SEO is very important for your overall SEO strategy.
Consider that, according to The SEM Post, location-based search queries make up almost one-third of all mobile searches. These are people looking for local businesses and other services in their immediate area. That’s a huge amount of search traffic focused on finding something in a localized region.
What could all of that local search traffic mean to your business? According to WordStream, quite a lot of new customers. In a recent report, they stated that local searches result in consumers visiting a business 72% of the time. If your business isn’t optimized to place high in the rankings for local searches, you’re leaving a lot of money on the table.
And if your business has multiple locations, local SEO becomes even more critical, though somewhat more difficult. You’d like all of your locations to place well in local search listings and ideally show up in the first group of businesses displayed. To achieve this you need to apply several strategies and be consistent in their application. We can show you how.
Create Separate Pages On Your Website for Each of Your Locations
If you’ve ever performed a location search on a large retailer’s site you’ve seen this strategy in action. Each location near you is returned, including a link to a separate page, loaded with information specific to that location, like its address, hours, departments, and more.
This is how every business should structure their websites. Even if your site doesn’t feature a robust location search feature, and most small businesses don’t need that, you should still build a distinct page for each of your locations, with as much relevant information about that location as you can provide.
This is important because we’re talking about LOCAL searches. If all your website has is one page with all of your locations listed on it, you’re watering down Google’s ability to serve location-specific listings to potential customers. They don’t want information about all of your locations. They’re only interested in getting information about the locations near them.
Consider the situation where a consumer searches for “Thai restaurants near me.” If you’re a local chain of Thai restaurants and your site doesn’t have a separate page for each of your restaurants then Google and the other search engines will have a harder time parsing out the specific information it needs to satisfy the searcher’s request. As a result, you’ll wind up lower in the returned listings than you’d like.
Offer Customers and Search Engines a Lot of Quality Information
The more location-specific information you can provide search engines the better you’ll do in local searches. Search engines appreciate it when websites provide thorough details and they reward that with higher search rankings.
Consider providing this type of information on each location page:
- The location’s name and address
- An embedded Google map
- The location’s phone number
- The location’s hours of operation
- The manager’s name and other relevant staff, with images
- Descriptions of how to find the business
- Interior and exterior images of the location
- Customer comments and reviews specific to the location
- A meta title and description specific to the location
Search engines reward websites that provide quality answers to search queries, and the more good information you provide, the more search queries you can answer and the better you’ll do in local searches for all of your locations.
Centralize Your Locations Under One Domain
You want to have separate pages for each of your locations, but you never want to have separate domains. It’s likely you’ve seen examples of this in your own local area.
Imagine a hardware store chain with three locations. They might own the domains:
This may seem like a good idea because consumers get location-specific information right in the basic URL, but this is actually a mistake. Over time, domains can accumulate search capital (see Moz’s Domain Authority measurement), which helps them place better in search rankings. If you have a separate domain for each location then they build that capital separately, and can’t contribute to each other, or to an overall Domain Authority score.
Instead, you want all of your locations to fall under your main domain. In the above case, Davis Hardware would want to purchase davishardware.com and place each location page under that domain. This way each location can benefit from the accumulated search capital of the overarching domain.
Set Up Your Location Page Hierarchy Properly
Once you’ve designed distinct pages for each of your locations, you want to make it as easy as possible for search engines to find the localized information you’re providing. This means creating a uniform, intuitive page hierarchy.
Let’s assume for a moment that your business has offices in a few neighboring states. Maybe you’re a regional accounting firm, with locations in a few cities within each state. To set up an SEO-friendly page hierarchy you’d structure your pages this way.
- com/locations would list all of your locations, separated visually by state and city, with links to all.
- com/locations/maryland would list all of your Maryland locations, including the cities they’re located in. You would have a separate state page for each state where you have locations.
- com/locations/maryland/baltimore would list all of your Baltimore locations. You would have a separate city page for each city where you have locations.
- com/locations/maryland/baltimore-4522-greenmount would be the location-specific page for your 4522 Greenmount Ave., Baltimore MD location. You would structure the name of each location-specific page with a geo-specific name like this example.
Organizing your pages this way makes it easy for people, and more importantly, search engines to find and parse your location pages and is key in placing better in local search results. Whatever hierarchy structure you use, make certain it’s applied consistently.
Claim and Set Up Your Google My Business Listings
This last step assures that all of your location-specific pages link up to Google My Business listings for each location. You’ll need to sign up for Google My Business if you haven’t already. Then you’ll create listings for each of your locations. Google provides a lot of good information on how to optimize My Business listings here. Follow these guidelines in their entirety.
You’ll want to add the location-specific URL for each of your locations to that location’s My Business listing. This helps Google link the information from both. Then be sure to fill out the profile for each location completely. Don’t leave anything out. Google favors complete information so don’t give it any reason to choose your competitor over you.
With multi-location businesses, consistency is extremely important. You don’t want to confuse Google unnecessarily. Don’t name your business “Speedy Accountants” on some of your location pages and then include the location in the name, like “Speedy Accountants of Baltimore” on other pages.
Keep Your Website and Your My Business Listings Current
If your hours change, correct them quickly. If you move buildings, update the information everywhere. It’s important that your online presence accurately represents your offline presence.
There is much more to multi-location local SEO than we can fit here, but this article gives you a great starting point. Use these tips and build from there. In no time you’ll be dominating local searches for all of your locations and your business will be primed to grow like it never has before.