Today’s post is all about managing local search engine optimization (SEO) for multiple locations. Read on a greenhorn’s guide to local SEO, and how to avoid some common mistakes franchisors make when trying to optimize individual franchise locations for Google’s Local Search.
Local SEO 101
When you search for products and services, Google’s Local Search algorithm will automatically list nearby businesses at the top of the search engine results page (SERP). The listing includes an interactive Google map, contact info, picture, and rating out of 5 stars.
Google Local Search results are free and organic, and it’s not that hard to climb the ranks, provided you have the SEO skills. You can buy your way to the top, but your listing will include the green “Ad” icon, so users will know you paid to win.
For example, a search for “pizza near me” shows off Pizza Nova’s marketing budget:
Typically, Google auto-displays the top-3 local options, as determined by the business’s proximity to the user, rating, and search relevance.
Naturally, everybody wants into the top 3–with exceptional visibility and features that go above and beyond the usual SERP listings, it’s a very valuable position. Users can navigate to a full list of nearby businesses by clicking the “More Places” button, but they tend to trust the top results here, in the same way that people rarely navigate beyond the first SERP.
Local SEO is all about getting your brand name into that coveted top-3 position to increase the visibility of your brick-and-mortar business. Local SEO involves lots of research, creating citations, building reviews, managing the online reputation, leveraging social media networks, engaging local audiences, and creating rock-solid, locally relevant content.
Managing Local SEO for Multiple Locations
If you have a recognized brand, you probably expect that your website and business listing will appear in these local searches. Even more so for franchises that have dedicated national marketing budgets.
But that’s not always the case. The franchisor’s website shows up in the SERP, but that doesn’t help single-unit owners trying to attract local business. Many aren’t even listed in Google Local Search, let alone the top-3.
And with 92% of consumers using the internet to find a local business in 2014, according to a BrightLocal study, that’s a big problem.
So how do you approach managing local SEO for multiple locations?
It’s a complicated subject that’s best discussed in real-time. You can contact our team for a free consultation where we can address your specific questions about managing local SEO for multiple locations. But in the meantime, these are some common problems:
- Your website might have issues. Your website is the center of your online marketing universe, and even minor issues there can hurt your ranking power. Like most things in life, managing local SEO for multiple locations requires a strong foundation. You need to get the basics right, and we can help you do it.
- No location pages dedicated to individual units. Some franchisors cram them all into a single “directory” page, which is a critical error.
- Duplicate content used for multiple location pages. Repurposing content is okay, but fresh is best.
- Non-discoverable location pages (i.e. those only available from a search or branch finder, and which cannot be navigated to from the homepage). Google won’t be able to crawl and index non-discoverable pages.
- Poor location page quality. For example, failing to include locally relevant information, business address and hours, links to other parts of your site, testimonials, maps, and so on.
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