Local SEO is a gold mine for local business owners. Optimizing your site based on your business’s location can help your business appear in local directories, Google Maps, and climb the ranks in traditional searches.
Most of these strategies are based around your business’s specific location. For example, one step of the process is ensuring that your name and address are appearing accurately and consistently across the web, and one ongoing strategy is to use your city and state in the context of your written content. This presents a major problem for businesses with multiple locations: how do you locally optimize your site?
Fortunately, locally optimizing your online presence is simpler than you might think. I’ve outlined the process in five easy steps:
It may be tempting to split your locations up into multiple domains, and some businesses have tried this as an ongoing strategy. On one hand, it makes logical sense—if each location is different, why not try to rank on each site individually?
However, in practice, this segmented strategy is ineffective. Google’s search bots and individual users may be confused when they see multiple domains for what appears to be one master brand. Even if you need separate information, like different menus, using a single root domain to consolidate all that information still gives you the chance to present those in a segmented format. Using one domain gathers all the authority you would have built in your individual presences and places it into one master hub. Otherwise, you’ll be forced to split your domain authority; for example, if you have five locations, each location would only get 20 percent of its potential visibility if you split them into separate domains.
Even though you’ve consolidated all your locations under one domain, it’s important to differentiate between your locations. Otherwise, Google won’t know that you have multiple locations and your users might have a hard time figuring out the nearest one to them.
The best way to do this is to create a separate page for each of your locations, usually listed in the navigation under “Locations” or something similar. Create a page title that includes each city or neighborhood (as relevant), and write a full body of content that elaborates on the unique features of each location. Be sure to also include the address and phone number of each location on these individual pages. This will clearly demonstrate to Google how your locations are set up, and how they all relate to your master brand.
It’s also important to list all of your locations on your “Contact” page, with the address and phone number for each reiterated.
In the post-Pigeon era, having your contact information clearly segmented for your locations on your site—even when it’s on multiple pages—simply isn’t enough. Google looks to external sources to organize and verify its indexed information, and any inconsistencies on offsite listings of your locations could result in a decrease in your domain authority and rank.
To remedy this, you’ll have to check every local listing or directory site you can find to ensure your information is accurate—and update it if necessary. Common places include Yelp, UrbanSpoon, and TripAdvisor, but you’ll want to look for others, just to be sure. Some directories function differently than others, but as a general rule, you should have a separate entry for each of your locations. If you’re having trouble finding these directories, or want to double check to make sure you’ve hit them all, there are a number of local citation tools that can help you automate the work.
This can be tricky, especially if you’re consolidating everything into one master blog, but it’s important to include content based around each of your individual locations. That means featuring the city or neighborhood of the location in the title and body of each relevant piece.
If you’re having trouble generating topic ideas, look to each location’s recent events. Have they celebrated an anniversary? Have they made new hires? Have they hit a new landmark achievement? Obviously, your content marketing campaign can’t solely focus on your office, but posting these kinds of topics occasionally can seriously help your local ranks when you have multiple locations.
Reviews are critically important for local businesses—the more you have and the more positive they are, the higher you’re going to rank. And, since each of your locations is going to be listed separately on review sites, it’s up to your individual locations to actively cultivate and manage those online reviews. Make sure each of your employees know to encourage your customers to post reviews about their experience. Then, designate a contact at each of your locations to take point on actively monitoring and responding to those reviews. Commenting on positive reviews is a show of customer appreciation, while proactively responding to negative reviews (which will come up from time to time) can help mitigate the situation and show you’re willing to step in and make things right.
Like with any optimization strategy, the setup phase is important but it’s the ongoing work that will make or break your campaign. Make sure you implement a plan that allows for each of your locations to actively encourage and respond to online reviews, and keep your content strategy as present and relevant as possible. Over time, each of your individual locations will rise through local-specific searches, and the authority of your master domain will skyrocket as your individual locations all feed into it.