Complete Guide to Local SEO for Multiple Locations
83% of Americans turn to Google before shopping, and 74% of users want to clarify the address of the nearest store, opening hours, waiting time, product range, and availability of the goods in the warehouse. Even while in a store, 80% of shoppers continue to use their smartphones to compare prices and look at product reviews.
Buyers want to receive the goods. Shopping is increasingly focused on convenience, while brand loyalty is fading into the background. No one will drive across the city if a similar product can be purchased within walking distance. The task of any business today is not just to declare itself, but to show how close it is to potential customers and is ready to satisfy their urgent needs.
For small shops, fitness clubs, beauty salons, or hotels, local promotion is one of the main ways to attract visitors. If you are targeting a specific city or area, everything is more or less clear: follow our Local SEO Checklist and potential clients can easily find you on the Internet. What about franchises and large companies serving multiple states? We will show you how to build a holistic strategy for multiple locations so that each of your affiliates is equally well displayed by search engines and can compete with local businesses.
Analyze Competitor Experience for Better SEO Location Targeting
Before entering a new market, familiarize yourself with its players. The level of competition largely influences the location strategy. The definition of the area covered also depends on the budget that you set for the SEO campaign. Analyze what audience the representatives of your niche are targeting in a particular city, what content they create, how many links they get and from where, and how they arrange their resources. After, you will understand how to gain an audience and stand out from the background of an already established business. Even if giant brands have monopolized global search, you can compete with them for low-frequency searches.
If you have $1 million or more at your disposal, you can safely aim at the large markets of New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco. With a smaller budget, you can try to focus on a specific area where your potential clients live, work, or prefer to spend their free time.
Let’s say you want to open a restaurant in NYC. Trying to invite the residents of the entire city to a new establishment is like firing a cannon at sparrows. It is much more effective to present an institution for residents of Brooklyn, the Bronx, or Staten Island. In the case of Manhattan, geolocation should be even narrower or down to a specific area.
A strategy that has been successful in one city may not work for others. Local markets live by their own rules. It is worth focusing on the number of inhabitants, income level, needs, and trends. For example, a restaurant of the same chain in Chicago can be positioned for residents of the entire Windy City and aimed at the audience of Logan Square, eclectic Wicker Park, or West Loop popular among foodies. The city’s gastronomic life is concentrated within several blocks.
Create a separate page for each region
A separate landing page is required for each city or state where you provide your services. The content on each of them should be unique and useful for visitors. Also, you need to optimize your location using key phrases that are popular in your specific region.
Add interactive maps and text descriptions to the page. This will make it easier for customers to find your office. People appreciate the care, and robots receive additional names for relevant search.
Use unique content for local pages
Analyze the experience of competitors (for more information, see the article – SEO Competitive Analysis). If longreads occupy top positions on a local request, it will not work to catch up with them with a description in several sentences. The optimal length of material in most niches starts at 400 words but can easily reach 2000-4000. Large texts have several advantages. One of them is the opportunity to explain the services that are available in a particular region in detail. You can additionally inscribe any keyword, including rarer ones. Add photos or videos to your text. Don’t forget about Title and Alt tags for images – this is a useful ranking tool for image searches. Read the related article – SEO Images: 11 Perfect Tips for Optimizing Your Site.
Add structural data to get into the knowledge panel
The presence of micro-markup is an important ranking factor. Try to provide robots with data on each branch. Schema provides a type of Local Business structured date that takes the basic needs of brand owners and their customers into account. You can specify the following:
- Physical address and administrative area
- Several points of sale
- Links to pages in social networks
- Working days and hours in a convenient format
- Provided goods and services
- Payment methods: Cash, Credit Card, Cryptocurrency
- The price range in the specified currency
- Rating based on likes and reviews
- The brand with which the product or service is associated
- Relationship of the branch with the global organization
- Date and place of foundation of the company
- Events planned in the division of the company
Read the latest related article – Google Knowledge Panels: The Ultimate Cheat Sheet.
Highlight your business’s global presence
It is important to always stay close to the client. This is the case even if they are going on a business trip or vacation to another city. Most people prefer to inquire about their destination in advance: reading about local hotels, restaurants, entertainment, and services. At the same time, people often choose brands they know, and they are confident in the quality of their service.
The best way to map out multiple locations is to specify them on one page. The easiest way to do this is in a list format with countries, states, and cities. For clarity, you can integrate the map with regional branches. It is even better if it is interactive. When you click on each mark, detailed information is displayed. To make navigation more convenient for your visitors, you can add searches by state, city, or zip code.
Consider geo-referencing URL
One of the best ways to inform search engines about the geographic expansion of your business is to build an appropriate site architecture. The geotagging in the page URL will tell the robots what kind of audience you are targeting.
An address structure will allow search engines to rank pages for specific keywords already at the URL level. Optimize the main page of the site for high-frequency keywords without reference to place. In the “Locations” section, write down brief information about regional branches and put links to the corresponding pages. Use the same logic to design the pages of the next nesting level. For example, from the “Indiana” subfolder, there will be links to offices in Indianapolis and Merrillville. For each city, you need to create pages with the services provided.
It’s always good to think ahead. If you plan to expand to other states, but are still in preparation, you can create a separate subdirectory “Coming Soon”.
Why am I suggesting a subfolder system as a URL structure? Using a separate subdomain for each branch is how to make a local website. This scenario is also possible, but the promotion will need to start from scratch. Google treats each subdomain as a separate resource. Before it goes to the top and starts attracting customers, you might waste enough time and money.
Use a single NAP writing pattern
Set the general format to Name, Address & Phone number (NAP). Use it when you need contact information, such as on the address page and in the footer of the site, on social networks, company directories, outdoor advertisements, brochures, press releases. This action will greatly simplify the promotion of the resource.
200 N Green St, Chicago, IL 60607, USA
200 N. Green Street, Chicago
200 North Green St. 60607 US
It may not matter to your customers how the address is written. All three options are easy to read and represent one point on the map. For Google, the company locations are completely different. This means that the business will have to compete with itself for a place in the search results.
Submit your business to local directories and media
Don’t miss the opportunity to make a name for yourself on all platforms. It’s not just about Yelp, TripAdvisor, or Foursquare. For local SEO, city directories, subject directories, and aggregators are just as important. Registration on small sites does not require significant resources, while you build up the link mass, increase traffic, and expand the space for interaction with the audience.
Connect with local media. No one is interested in reading faceless press releases in a Sunday newspaper. Come up with vivid news feeds, hold events that people want to know more about. Try to get into local ratings and selections. The main task of such publications is to attract the interest of the audience and increase the number of searches on Google. You will increase your business awareness, gain the trust of potential customers, and improve your local search rankings.
It is easier for large companies to declare themselves in a new market. They can enlist the support of influencers, reputable bloggers, and news outlets. In addition, the opening of a branch of a large retail chain or a famous brand is an expected event in itself.
Small and medium-sized businesses have to work harder to build a positive reputation in a new location. Read the related article – Local Sponsorship for SEO: Why You Need It. It is likely that as a result of the marketing campaign, your brand will receive high-quality backlinks and become a full-fledged member of the city community.
Optimize your site for voice search
In 2019, 112 million Americans (40% of Internet users in the US) used a voice assistant on smartphones or home devices. 52% of them do it every day. 71% prefer to dictate searches rather than typing them in, especially if a Google response is required while driving or while shopping.
For 2018-2019, the frequency of each of the searches “Store open near me” and “On sale… near me” increased by 250%, and for “Where to buy… near me” – by 200%. Local requests from mobile devices also increased in other commercial areas: for “repair near me” – by 110%, “insurance near me” – by 100%, “bank near me” – by 60%. According to forecasts in the U.S. and U.K., shopping using voice search will exceed $40 billion by 2022 (for comparison, purchases in 2018 were $2 billion).
Work with reviews
No matter how beautifully you describe your business, people trust other people more. 82% of all users read reviews of local brands, and among buyers aged 35-54 years, someone else’s experience turns out to be important in 93% of cases. We all prefer to keep updated on the latest developments. 48% of users pay attention only to the reviews left in the last 2 weeks. In their opinion, they reflect the real level of service.
It is enough to collect at least 5 opinions from real customers. The likelihood that a potential customer will use your product or service will grow by as much as 270% compared to the company’s products without comments. Companies in the top 3 local search results of Google collected an average of 47 reviews, and brands in 7-10 positions – 38.
Encourage customers to share their opinions as often as possible – 76% of people are willing to meet a business that is interested in feedback. You can ask to leave a review during the purchase process or remind about yourself a little later via SMS, phone call, e-mail.
The most in-demand platforms where people want to share their product experiences are Google, Facebook, Yelp, TripAdvisor, and the Yellow Pages. You can also take advantage of the potential of sites that are popular in a specific region or global forums such as Quora.
It is important not only to collect reviews but to respond to comments online. Take the wishes of customers into account in order to provide service at a higher level. People want to know that their words matter – 97% of users read not only reviews but also responses from a brand.
Set up Multiple Locations on Social Media
Facebook Multiple Locations Manager helps you add stores and service centers to the map and edit points. Locations can be designated manually or by uploading over 10 addresses to the table.
Next, add hours of operation, phone numbers, and other important information about each physical brand space. This data will be available to all Facebook and Instagram users. You can also set up an advertising campaign, attracting potential customers in a given radius.
How to set up Google My Business
Local search results stand out from the classics. Google displays advertisements at the top of the page, offers an information block, followed by organic search results. Local SERP is formed by:
- Google Map with markings of GMB registered companies that are in the top 3 positions for the current search.
- Cards with detailed information about these companies, buttons for going to the site and planning a route.
- Filter panel by rating, price, opening hours, last visit.
Signing up with Google My Business does not guarantee that you will rank high in local search. It has its own ranking rules. Try to provide as detailed information as possible. This will help the search engine to respond to relevant queries in a relevant way. The location of the website also affects the results of personalized search results. The priority is given to companies near the user at the time of the search. The higher the rating and the more reviews, the higher Google will rate the company.
Enter the correct category
The choice of a category must be approached as responsibly as possible. This is the main criterion for ranking in GMB. The rest of the account settings depend on the category. Analyze how the main competitors are positioning themselves. Use the same category as the leader of the top 3 local search results. It remains to add a list of services, location, phone number, website, and send your account for moderation. The procedure can take from one day to several weeks.
After the official confirmation in the account, you can specify additional categories that increase relevance for local SEO.
Expand the full range of services provided
Indicate in a separate block all the services that your company offers. You can choose them from the list or add custom options. Don’t forget about the textual description of the business. A couple of sentences are enough. They explain why people should become your customers.
Remove duplicate data
There must be one GMB account for each physical company location. Duplicates scatter the attention of users. They are unlikely to figure out which account is official. Duplicates can contain incomplete and even erroneous information. The address and phone number may be inaccurate, and the category may not match the actual business activity. Such data is useless to potential customers, and strategically harmful to SEO campaigns.
No one is immune from the appearance of duplicates. You could enter data yourself and successfully forget about it. Cards could have been created by people who used to do local SEO, your clients, and even competitors.
Highlight any nuances that might be useful to your clients. Indicate the days and hours when they can visit your branch or contact the manager. Do not forget to mark the holidays/seasonal changes and check the work schedule during the quarantine.
GMB allows you to get leads directly from local search. Restaurants can add a table reservation option. Beauty salons, medical centers, lawyers can link to the appointment form.
Add visual content. GMB photo cover cards get more clicks. Potential customers want to know what to expect from visiting your place. They need high-quality photos and videos. Custom content will be added to them later. The impression depends on you before visiting the location.
Update information periodically, add new photos, correspond with clients. Google monitors profile activity. This also affects rankings.
Make your business stand out from the competition with GMB attributes
In the “Attributes” block, you can demonstrate the strengths of your company, social responsibility, convenience, and advanced functionality of the branches. The list of attributes depends on the business category. Hotels can warn about mandatory reservations, offer family rooms, long-term stays, and additional activities such as bike rental, diving, horseback riding. There are also generic attributes that can be applied to any type of business: “Black-owned”, “Women-led”, “NFC Mobile Payments”, “Wheelchair Accessible”, etc.
Choose only those attributes that correspond to the real state of affairs. It’s not worth embellishing. To verify the data, Google contacts visitors and asks to confirm whether you really have parking spaces for wheelchairs, contactless delivery, or the possibility of visiting with pets.
Keep in touch with customers
To make local SERPs as relevant as possible, Google regularly asks visitors to rate locations, and they willingly leave reviews. In your account, you can track interactions with your profile: stars, comments, subscriptions, clicks, calls, reservations. Now you have quick feedback and know the wishes of customers. In addition, you can send notifications to customers about discounts, menu changes, or other special offers. Thus, showing how important customers are to you.
Is it Possible to Use Local SEO Without Offline Affiliates in the Region?
You can only rely on organic search without linking to Google My Business. Create high-quality content, manage key searches correctly, and indicate georeference in URL and meta tags. Thus, you can rise to the top for the query “Family Restaurant in Chicago“, but the benefits of local search without official confirmation of the region will remain unavailable to you.
Don’t use virtual offices for GMB promotion
The basic requirement for registering with GMB is that the company must have a physical office where customers can go. Alternatively, employees can provide field services. Google seeks to provide users with the most relevant information, and at the same time protect them from fly-by-night sites and scammers.
The use of fictitious addresses should not even be considered an idea. The trick will unambiguously reveal itself and entail reputational losses, negative customer reviews, and pessimization in search engines.
Add a postal services map
Be honest with your customers. If you do not have a physical representation in the region, you should warn them about it. Suggest an alternative interaction. Many transport companies and delivery services allow you to integrate the map with their terminals on the site. If there are no ready-made solutions, create a map with your offices yourself. Such information will be useful for clients, increase trust in the resource, and allow the use of key searches for a specific region.
Optimize pages based on toponyms
For better ranking in local search, geo-dependent low-frequency queries are used. Designate the region of interest in the landing page URL, title, description, and H1 heading.
It is desirable to distribute key phrases with geolocation evenly and naturally in the text. Avoid spamming. Use synonyms or slang names for the area. Semantic search algorithms are getting better at grasping context. If you use the phrase “the Windy City” in the page description, Google will know perfectly well that this is about Chicago.
Consider local specifics
When you cannot confirm the connection with the region using the map, prove it. Locals and search engine crawlers will treat your page with great confidence due to the mention of regional characteristics. These can be thematic LSI keys, additional toponyms, expressions and memes characteristic of the area, references to important events, sports clubs, and popular characters.
Thanks to extended snippets, the site becomes more visible in the SERP, and users can form an impression of the resource even before clicking on the link – the CTR indicator grows. Provide as much detailed information as possible such as rating, city, phone number, and time. These will help customers communicate with a consultant and place an order. Read more in the articles – What are Rich Snippets? and How to Optimize Featured Snippets Google to Increase Traffic.
Take care of backlinks
The more quality links leading to your site, the better. For local promotion, focus on links from resources registered in the region you are interested in. These can be news portals, yellow pages, local forums, or social media groups. This will expand the target audience of the project, and emphasize the geographic referencing. For more information on the topic, see the article – Build High-Quality Backlinks in a Scalable Way in 2020.