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Think about the last time you searched online for a local business or service. Chances are, you clicked on one of the first three listings either in the organic search results of the local map listings.
You’re not alone—90% of people won’t go past that first page of search results. Since 87% of consumers have looked for a local business’s phone number or address online and most local searches are I-need-it-now searches, if your business doesn’t immediately pop up, you’re not going to turn that searcher into a new customer.
It’s tough for any business to get at the top of Google’s search results, but it can seem like an impossible feat for businesses with multiple locations. The trick to getting it done lies in local SEO for multiple locations.
We’ve helped hundreds of multi-location businesses successfully get each of their locations on the first page of Google, and below, we’re going to gives you 10 local SEO tips to follow for your own business.
Questions at the end? We’re an email away.
What Is Local SEO?
Local SEO helps businesses promote themselves online to local customers within a geographic area. The goal of local SEO for multiple businesses is usually to get listed in the Google Map listings on the first page of search results. The difference between local SEO and organic SEO is the intent. Google can (pretty well, too) pick out search queries that have “local intent,” meaning the searcher wants search engine results with local companies.
10 Local SEO Tips for Businesses with Multiple Locations
1. Optimize Your Site for Local Search Traffic
The first step towards earning more traffic from your local service area is to optimize your site’s content for local search traffic. If you work with an SEO and online marketing company, they should already be doing this for you (but still worthwhile to double-check!). If not, here are some DIY tips and tricks for a successful local SEO campaign:
- Optimize title tags/meta descriptions – You know, those things you see on search engine results pages (SERPs) that you actually read and click on to take you from Google to another website? Optimizing title tags and meta descriptions for “keyword + your city, state” can go a long way in improving your local SEO.
- Optimize onsite content – Optimizing metadata simply won’t be enough to outrank competitors in your area. Be sure to optimize the content of your website for local search. Mention your service areas in close proximity to relevant keywords to give yourself a better chance at ranking locally. Your content should read in a natural, conversational tone—don’t sound like a robot trying to stuff keywords and service areas everywhere you can.
- Optimize page titles – Instead of naming your page “Furnace Repair,” rename it to “Furnace Repair in Saratoga Springs, NY” (if you’re a heating repair company located in Saratoga Springs, that is!). Try renaming your service pages to “[Your Service] in [Your City], [State].”
- Create multiple product and service pages – You’re not going to rank in the first three search results for your entire service area without targeting each area specifically. Create pages for each town and city you service, for each service you offer.
2. Submit Company NAP to National Directories
For most business owners, NAP doesn’t ring a bell. For SEOs and online marketers, NAP is a critical aspect to a successful local SEO campaign. NAP stands for name, address, and phone number. Your company’s NAP should be listed on every page, without being intrusive to whatever content your visitor is engaging with. One popular way to include this is to list your NAP in the header or footer of your website, as ours is.
You should also submit NAP to national directories like Yellow Pages, Hotfrog, Manta, etc. When it comes to online directories, these are some of the biggest players in the game. So when Google, Bing, and other search engines find your NAP listed on these directories AND on every page of your website, there’s no doubt about where you’re located and how customers can reach you.
Be sure to submit consistent NAP to directories. Format your address and phone number the same across all directories to eliminate errors (e.g. – “Suite 100” versus “Ste. 100” or “500 Main Street” versus “500 Main St.” – pick one and stick with it!).
How to Correct Your NAP Listings
To get specific information for your business, you can use a tool like Moz Local to find out how your business’s local SEO stacks up. Go to https://moz.com/local/search and type in your company’s name and zip code, and Moz will return the listings in its database that match your search. Click on the one that most closely matches your business information, and Moz will tell you what citations you have that are inconsistent, incomplete, or duplicate across the web. (Note: if you search for your name and zip code and nothing comes up, you probably don’t have a verified Google or Facebook listing for your business. If that’s the case, these are the first profiles you need to fix!)
3. Claim Local Map Listings for Each Business Location
If you’re a business with multiple locations, your Google My Business listings will be your lifeblood to getting more customers. In the past year, 64% of consumers have used Google My Business listings to find a local business’s address or phone number. Those listings account for approximately 44% of clicks by Google users.
If customers need directions to your shop or office, they’ll first need the correct address. After submitting your NAP to directories, be sure to claim your local map listing. Doing so ensures customers can find you and see what the outside of your building looks like via Street View in case they’re unfamiliar with your neighborhood or containing location. This includes Google and Bing!
Check out this complete guide to optimizing your Google My Business listings »
4. Add Schema Markup Language to Your Site
Schema markup language is universal website coding added to your website that is recognized by all major search engines. Adding Schema provides a major benefit—Schema tells search engines exactly what your web page is about. This ensures your business’s information is read exactly how you want it to be for search engines and provides more accurate local search listings on SERPs.
Visit schema-creator.org to easily create Schema markup language for your business.
5. Submit Company NAP to Local Directories
Just like submitting your company’s NAP to national directories, submitting it to local and more niche directories can go a long way towards optimizing your site for local search. Register and claim your business with:
- Your local Chamber of Commerce
- The Better Business Bureau (BBB)
- Other locally-based online directories
- Industry-related directories
6. Get Backlinks from Other Local Companies
Perhaps the most important of our 10 tips for a successful local SEO campaign is getting backlinks from companies in your area. Backlinks—when someone links to your website from theirs—are some of the most valuable SEO ranking factors. Getting backlinks from authoritative, well-known companies in your area can prove to be a worthwhile tip for improving your local SEO campaign.
Sponsoring a fundraiser or helping out with a local event? Alert the media! Send out a press release letting the community know how you’re involved. Chances are a news outlet or two will pick it up and link back to your website.
Partner with other companies in your area? Get them to link back to your website, but be sure to never pay other companies for backlinks or engage in any other black hat link schemes that may get you penalized by Google.
7. Get Reviews from Local Customers
When you want to add a patio to your home, won’t you want to work with the best stonemason in your area? But how do you know who’s the best?
Read reviews, of course! Getting online reviews from customers within your service area lets other prospective customers know how good you are and that you can be trusted. This goes a long way towards establishing yourself as the authority in your city. For contractors (and any other company) we recommend getting reviews on:
- Angie’s List
- Home Advisor
- And as many more as you can!
After completing a job, send a follow-up email with direct links to your company profiles and directions on how to leave a review or simply leave directions with your client before saying goodbye!
8. Make Your Website Mobile-Friendly
In 2015, mobile search surpassed desktop search—meaning more people are researching products and services from their phones than ever before. Be sure your site is built on a responsive framework. Now, 57% of all US online traffic comes from smartphones and tablets, and 57% of users say they won’t recommend a business with a poorly designed mobile site. If that’s not enough to convince you, Google also ranks mobile websites higher in the search engine results.
If you don’t have a mobile site your mobile search results will be suppressed by Google, resulting in lower organic traffic for “near me” searches and geo-based searches from a mobile device. Not having a mobile-friendly website is essentially saying, “No thanks, I don’t want to have a successful local SEO campaign!”
9. Build Local Content Silos
(Image courtesy of Search Engine Land)
How do you appear in multiple city searches with one website?
Content silos, that’s how.
A content silo is just like a regular website, but targeting one specific service area. Each silo should have its own area-specific phone number, address, and local website page.
Take a look at content silos we built for a document scanning company in Atlanta, also offering document scanning in Virginia. As you can see, the silo (Atlanta, GA location) looks the same as the Virginia silo, but with an Atlanta area code and office address. Its content is Atlanta-focused and its URL structure is also formatted differently, using www.modernimageusa.com/atlanta/”page-title“/ in order to keep any link juice and authority already established by the main site while clearly differentiating its service area from its Virginia location.
10. Have a Well-Optimized Website (Overall)
Overall, having a well-optimized website (including everything from site structure to content) improves your SEO value and will prove itself in a successful local SEO campaign. Ask your SEO company and webmasters to double-check that your website is optimized for:
- Your website needs to be secure – Data breaches and hacked consumer information have been big topics of discussion recently—and your website visitors know this. If your website has any place where users can fill in personal information (even if it’s just a phone number and email address) it needs to be secure. Google also gives preference to secured websites in the search results.
- Your website needs to be fast – Website visitors need to see something happen on your site in under three seconds. If not, 40% of them will leave and go to another website. Even a one-second delay can cause a 7% reduction in conversions.
- Your website needs an optimal user experience. – Once your page loads, users form an opinion in 0.5 seconds. They expect to be able to find information easily and quickly—especially from a mobile device.
Need Help with Local SEO for Businesses with Multiple Locations? We’re the Experts.
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About The Author: Betsy is Blue Corona's Digital Content Manager. When she’s not directing Blue Corona's corporate digital content campaigns she’s urban exploring with her wife, diving into the latest marketing trends, or teaching horseback riding lessons. Twitter: @educatedbets
View more blogs by Betsy McLeod