Search engine optimization for every business is an ongoing strategy that requires constant refining and adjustments overtime in order to generate, and continue building upon your results. And while creating, implementing and consistently improving your SEO strategy certainly doesn’t come easy for most businesses, this is particularly true for those with more than one storefront and an objective to get found by their individual local audiences at each location.
But instead of walking you through a general how-to guide, sometimes it’s best to start with the major don’t-do’s. So, that’s where I’ll begin: here are the top three most common SEO mistakes made by multi-location businesses (and how to avoid them).
- Not creating pages and resources for each location
Store locators are extremely important applications for any business with multiple locations, but they are not always so great for search engines and people who use them.
For example, let’s say a sporting goods store with 100 locations only has a single store locator page. That page needs to carry the weight of every location query related to our sporting goods store (baseball glove NYC, hockey equipment San Jose, etc.). In terms of relevancy, it might not be the best fit for a specific search based on an area, especially if the store locator isn’t search engine friendly.
Ranking for queries like [sporting goods store Philadelphia] is going to be tough to rank for using a page that contains all locations. Instead, it’s much more effective to build a page specifically for the Philadelphia metro area and other areas we serve.
- Sample URL: /Philadelphia-sporting-goods
- Page title: Philadelphia Sporting Goods – My Sporting Goods Shop
Now that we’ve created something highly relevant to the queries of potential customers, let’s optimize! We’ve got the location and target keyword in the page title and URL (and we’ll write some really awesome content for the page, too, right?).
Next, create a unique Google Plus Page, Yelp page and other local citations, so search engines will link back to our new page specifically instead of to our home page or locator page – helping you generate more quality traffic for each location.
Last, embed a Google map on each page and be sure to include locally relevant information, such as phone numbers and – most importantly – the address.
Now that we have pages for each location, we can use each page as a launch pad for locally-driven content to help us improve rank even further. Discuss local events, serve as a resource to tourists, and tap in to your community at large by making your local pages interactive.
- Not utilizing social media to its fullest
Twitter, Facebook, Foursquare and other social media services allow business owners to create pages and accounts for each location individually. While you should definitely have a brand account for each, consider creating more and building up a following for every location.
As with our citations, each social profile we build for each location should link back to the appropriate page on the site. It’s good for users, which makes it good for SEO, too.
- Manually Creating and Verifying More than 10 Business Locations
We know that adding our businesses to Google Places is important, but some business owners claim their headquarters or primary store, and leave it at that. It can be tedious to claim, merge and verify Google Places for business, but there’s an easier way.
Following these steps, you can upload and verify more than 10 businesses at once! As noted in the previous steps, be sure to link to each local page you build instead of to just the main home page.
If you found these tips helpful, click here to download our free SEO eBook and learn how to improve your website today so you can get found by more qualified prospects, at each of your business locations.
All the best,
Chris Countey is an SEO & Analytics Manager at Stream Companies, a Philadelphia area advertising agency.