How to do Local SEO for Multiple Locations: 12 Tips
Businesses with stores in different locations can maximize their profitability. Local businesses experienced a spike in online traffic from 19.2% (January 2020) to 28.8% (July 2021). More traffic means more chances of conversions, right?
However, their success hinges on their local search engine optimization (SEO) strategy. And the problem is that local SEO for companies with many locations is more complex. They have to create specific campaigns for each location. This results in higher costs and more room for error if not executed properly.
If you’re experiencing this issue, you’re in the right place. This guide shares with you the exact steps to execute a multi-location SEO. By the end, you should know how to attract your target audience from your local stores. But before we discuss that, let’s first understand multi-location SEO and its concepts.
Multi-location SEO is optimizing your website for the various locations your business serves. It can help you get more traffic from different geographical areas.
Take, for instance, a search for Taco Bell. The national restaurant chain has locations throughout the United States. Let’s say somebody from Clemens, South Carolina, searches for “taco bell near me.” Google shows the Map Pack or (local pack) on SERPs. This contains the three branches closest to them.
Now, a user in San Francisco, California, searches Google for the same keywords. Google will still show the local 3-pack but with different results. This time, it shows Taco Bell branches nearest the user’s city or state.
Ranking your stores for their respective locations increases brand awareness and online presence. It also makes finding them online much easier. Aside from listing your store in the local 3-pack, Google also shows more information about it.
The map shows users how near they are to the store. It also features your branch’s address, number, link to the website, and more. Just as important, it tells people whether your store is open or closed. All these help users decide to choose your stores over the others.
An effective local SEO strategy addresses the major ranking factors search engines consider.
A WhiteSpark report shows the top local and organic search ranking factors you must focus on:
- On-page SEO – Mention the target keywords on elements of each web page. This includes the title tag, URL, subheaders, and others.
- Backlink profile – The number of external sites linking to your website. Google sees local backlinks as a “vote” of confidence in your site. Acquiring high-quality and relevant links will help improve your website’s ranking over time. Examples of tactics are contacting local community websites, blogs, events, and industry publications.
- Google Business Profile (GBP) – This free tool lists your business in Google. Create profiles containing vital information about each of your stores. They help Google determine where to display your listings on local searches.
- Behavioral – Google monitors user behavior into account when ranking websites. Examples include click-through rate (CTR), dwell time, and mobile clicks to calls. These inform Google how your audience interacts with your website and brand.
- Citations – These are the 21st-century versions of the Yellow Pages. You want to list your business on as many relevant online directories as possible.
- Online reviews – People read reviews about your business before purchasing from you. In this case, collect as many testimonials as you can.
They help convince people to buy and boost your rankings. About the latter, Google looks at different review factors. Examples include the number, diversity, frequency, and quality of reviews. These help Google decide where your listing should rank.
- Personalization – This relates to the user’s proximity to the search. Let’s say Chicago users search for local businesses on Google. The search engine will focus on showing stores in the Chicago area on local search. It is less likely to show shops in other parts of Illinois.
To set up your Google Business Profile (FKA Google My Business or GMB), sign in to your Google account. Then go to the Google Business Profile page to add your business. On the next page, enter your business name and category. You will then have to enter the store address you want to list first.
You will reach a point when Google asks you to include areas your service is available. Mention only the areas that the specific store you’re registering for is serving.
To optimize the profile, edit your profile’s business information. Include your phone number and the hours your store is available, among other details.
After setting up and optimizing the profile, repeat the process for the other stores.
Multi-location businesses buy virtual offices and use their addresses in their GBPs. But using these offices for multi-location SEO is against Google’s guidelines. The problem is that they only let you receive physical mail. You can’t operate and conduct business in virtual offices. If caught, the search engine may remove your GBP listings.
Google only allows virtual offices when you have staff present during business hours.
Regardless, drop the use of virtual offices to avoid any potential consequences.
If you’ve already built citations, remember your business name, address, and phone (NAP). The goal is to keep them the same across all directories. This helps Google share the correct information with users on local searches.
Let’s say you could not update your NAP on some of your profiles. This creates NAP discrepancy, resulting in Google featuring the wrong information to users. This means they can’t reach out to you even if they want to.
Use tools like Moz Local to identify NAP inconsistencies in your listings. This allows you to take action by updating them immediately. It also tells you which profiles are incomplete and duplicates so you can address them too.
To beat the competition, you must establish who they are first. Start with your top three competitors. Search for local keywords you want to rank for. Then figure out where each of your competitors ranks for those terms. You can use Ahrefs Keyword Explorer for this task. Scroll down the results page to see Position History. This lets you view the trend of sites ranking for the keyword.
Next, review each of the top three sites using Site Explorer. See how much traffic and backlinks each has. It also shows you the trending traffic from eight years to now. This lets you see which site is currently upswing or the downtrend.
You can get more granular with competitor research. Check the pages of each site generating the most organic traffic. Visit each page to see why they’re ranking high on Google.
Also, check each site’s referring domains under the tool’s Backlink profile. Click on each domain to see which page and anchor text links to your site.
Use the information here to help you build your local SEO strategy later.
Design a logical hierarchical structure for the local landing pages. Make a page for each state and list all cities where your business is available. Then link to the city pages here. The URL structure would look like this:
If your locations are all in the same state, make individual pages for each city you serve. Then create a “Locations” page that lists the cities you’re in, with links to those individual pages. Here’s its structure:
A site whose approach you should mimic is PODS Storage. Their locations page looks like this:
Users can click on the state they want to find locations and get more information for each.
If we click on the South Carolina page, you’ll see this:
From here, users can click the city they’re interested in getting a PODS container delivered from.
First, research keywords you want to optimize for your site’s local pages. Find those with low difficulty and high search volume. These help you rank higher on local search and generate the most organic traffic.
To optimize your site pages, mention the keywords in your page’s content. Include them in its title, meta description, and subheadings. You can also mention them in your content. But to avoid keyword stuffing, use related terms instead.
Another issue multi-location businesses have with location pages is duplicate content. There’s a risk of having the same content on all local pages. This is because they’re offering the same services to people. To prevent this issue, write location-specific content on the page. PODS did this by writing about the city people plan on moving to.
This allows you to create unique content for each city page and provide immense value to readers.
There are many ways to gather customer reviews. One is asking them to leave a review on your GBP or other online directories. You can do this in person, via email, social media, or through post-purchase. You could also feature a direct link on the city page where they can submit their reviews.
Make sure to send follow-up inquiries after your initial one. There’s a chance they forgot about it or didn’t have time.
Also, let people know how easy leaving reviews is. Record a short video that shows them the process of writing a review for your business. Send the link to the video in your follow-up messages.
Reply to negative reviews as soon as possible, showing you’re serious with their feedback and addressing their concerns. Then listen to and empathize with the experience of your local customers. Apologize for the inconvenience your brand may have caused.
Throughout the interaction, be professional. Avoid confrontation and being defensive even if the review is unfair. From here, address the issue by providing a solution. Share your number with them if you need a more in-depth conversation about the issue. Then follow up with them with the progress you’ve made about the problem.
The goal is to show your commitment to doing right with customers. Take criticisms in stride and work on making a much better product for customers.
Aside from Google Business Profile, claim your business listing on other online directories. The major ones include Bing, Yelp, and Yellow Pages. As mentioned, provide consistent business details on each. This helps Google show the correct contact information to your prospects.
You can also let data aggregators take care of building your citations. Submit your business information to sites like Localeze, Infogroup, and Acxiom. They will then distribute it to online directories. This way, you don’t have to find the sites and submit them manually.
Over time, track your citations. Use the aforementioned Moz Local to help you find your business listings. Do this whenever there are changes in your business. Then update the listings to reflect these changes.
The goal of your location pages is to turn visitors into prospects. That said, you want them to rank on top of Google for their keywords above all else. To do this, you must build high-quality local backlinks for each.
Some local directories let you include a link to your site pages in your listings. Another way to do this is by sponsoring local events and organizations. Inquire for sponsorship packages that include a backlink to your location pages.
Also, partner with local businesses and organizations. Build relationships with each so you can ask for a link later on. Offer to write a guest post on their site with a link to your desired pages.
First, determine the most appropriate schema markup for your business. Popular ones are the LocalBusiness structured data and the restaurant carousel. Then build one using a schema markup generator. Choose the applicable markup and fill out the fields with your information.
Next, run the Rich Results Test to see how the structured data will appear on Google search. Another test, the Structured Data Testing Tool, ensures the code is error-free. Use both to ensure your schema markup is correct before adding it to your site.
WordPress users can use a plugin to add the schema markup from the site. Enter your business information there and let the plugin do the hard work.
We mentioned that you must create separate GBPs for each of your stores. This allows you to appear on the Map Pack for the respective locations you serve. It also provides searchers in local areas information about your store. If they like what they see, they’ll be your customers.
Your Pie Pizza created Google Business Profiles for their stores to great effect. It’s a national chain of pizza restaurants in 38 locations as of 2017, the chain. There are also more than 50 stores in the pipeline.
Each of their GBPs features location-specific content such as images, reviews, and Q&As. Here’s its Clemson, South Carolina profile:
Now, compare it to its Clarksville, Georgia profile:
Each is a reflection of how people in the area view each store. As a result, it makes them unique from one another.
The first step is researching relevant local topics for your business. Look for questions your potential customers ask in your industry. Use Ahrefs Keyword Explorer to uncover these questions. Filter them based on their search volume and keyword difficulty.
Next, create content and optimize each for their respective keywords. Make your content contextually relevant to your keyword by using Surfer SEO. It collects information from the top-ranking pages for your search term.
Then it shares with you related terms to include in your article. The tool also provides the content structure of the top pages so you can write content like theirs. It consists of the average word count, images, paragraphs, and headers used in the content.
Finally, share your published content on social media. This helps improve its online visibility so your audience can see them.
Install your Google Analytics and Search Console codes on your site. Both let you track your local SEO performance over time. They tell you which pages are getting the most impressions and clicks. From here, identify trends and patterns with your search traffic and conversions. These metrics will help uncover areas for improvement in your SEO strategy.
Also, run a comprehensive local SEO audit for your business. This gives you an overview of your site’s technical SEO. Find issues preventing search spiders from crawling and indexing your site pages. Ahrefs Webmaster Tools is a free tool that lets you spot these problems and more.
From here, determine the most crucial factors affecting your local SEO campaign. Then make changes to these variables based on the data provided by both tools.
On the Map Marketing can execute your multiple location SEO strategy flawlessly. Our company has years of digital marketing experience working with top local brands. The campaign results we have generated through the years speak volumes of our SEO skills.
Contact us now with your multi-location SEO requirements. We offer a free audit for businesses we have a mutual fit with!
Article by Christopher Jan Benitez
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