For Multi-Location Businesses, Online Visibility Starts With a Solid Local Search Strategy

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Location pages can be make-or-break for franchise SEO. They may seem simple enough, but one wrong decision on the back end can cost you. Here are three reasons why your location pages might be suffering in SEO and how to fix them.

Did you know 46 percent of all Google searches are for local businesses? According to Google, 50 percent of consumers who conducted a local search on their smartphone will visit the store within a day, with 18 percent of local mobile searches leading to a sale within one day.

Local search and location pages can be a make-or-break strategy for your franchise or brand’s SEO performance and, ultimately, your bottom line. With the proliferation of internet access via smartphones and tablets, the shift toward a mobile-focused consumer base has made local search critically important for franchisees and businesses of all sizes. While it might seem simple, one wrong decision on the back end can cost you big time.

But for multi-location brands who have yet to nail down their strategy, below are three reasons why your location pages aren’t showing up in relevant user searches and how you can fix them. 

1. Your locations are missing their own pages

While it’s helpful to have content about your local stores on your brand website, each location should also have its own landing page. Ideally, a store location should have its own unique, mobile-optimized page that includes hyperlocal content specific to that particular business location.

For example, a national gym will still need location pages catered to each franchise. The Brooklyn location might have different hours than the Manhattan one. To get even more granular, the Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, location might differ from the Williamsburg, Brooklyn, one. From a technical standpoint, it’s incredibly important to build these pages using a subdirectory structure (not a subdomain) so that the local pages themselves can benefit from the organic ranking authority already established by the brand’s root domain. (Example: www.yourbusiness.com/denver/south-broadway)

Root domain ranking authority is a key factor evaluated by Google and other search engines, and pages built on a subdomain (www.mydenverlocation.yourbusiness.com) fail to tap into that important ranking factor, based on their structure and thus fail to perform as well.

It is possible to create a singular page that covers any area or region (NYC or Boston), but you need to consider the user’s perspective. It’s rare that a regional page will deliver the specific information a user is searching for as easily as an individual location page, but a proper metro page that also incorporates a user’s location when featuring location info for multiple businesses can help you rank well in densely populated areas.

This also rings true for social media. Each franchise should have its own Facebook and Google My Business page for users who follow your brand on social media, and those pages should be properly associated with the top-level brand page within each respective channel from a technical standpoint.

2. Your location is hidden or undiscoverable

When conducting a local search, proximity is often the primary ranking factor. Search engines and online directories are often filled with bad data, showing conflicting local listings for a single business, or the listing may not appear at all. If your business listings are poorly managed, or your location pages are only available through a search or location finder on your site, it reduces the chances of Google finding and indexing them. If Google’s algorithm can’t find them, then your customers won’t either.

To decrease the chance of a undiscoverable location, start a solid local search strategy by focusing efforts on managed business listings that also target nonbranded keywords related to your business. Consumers are increasingly searching for terms like “best place to get a massage” instead of a specific brand or business. By ignoring these brand agnostic phrases in favor of searches like “Big Mac,” you’re potentially letting the competition capture those customers and incremental revenue.

3. You have a location page but no details

Fifty percent of local mobile searchers are looking for business information, like an address or phone number, according to Hubspot. Hubspot also states that 71 percent of consumers report confirming the location of a business before visiting it for the first time. If your pages don’t contain key details, like the phone number, address and store hours, you’re deterring people from visiting, and you’re losing out on potential sales.

Additionally, as most shoppers are using their smartphones to conduct research (63 percent of millennials shop on their smartphones every day), a mobile-optimized, responsive website is a must. Features need to be easily accessible and resized to fit any screen dimension. A bad website can turn away even the most loyal customers.

Last, ensure each webpage answers any and all questions a shopper might have. Where are you located? An interactive map, public transport information, driving directions and parking information are all helpful pieces of content. Are your website and corresponding location pages in sync? Do they both have the same information? If you are staffed appropriately for customer service, add a click-to-call option for mobile users so they can connect directly with one of your team members on the phone.

While your multi-location brand might be profitable, strategic local search campaigns and content strategies can add incremental customers for your business and new revenue to your bottom line. In most cases, local SEO for larger companies or brands can be more of a problem of scale than difficulty. But focusing on the key areas above – and creating a culture that puts the online consumer experience at the forefront of your strategy – your locations can stay ahead of the competition and continue to thrive.

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