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Founder at M16 Marketing and a Forbes Agency Council member, Don is a leading marketing technologist on a mission to create success stories.
How many locations does your business have? Local search engine optimization (SEO) involves honing a business’s brand and website to rank for online searches performed in specific locations. Not all businesses, though, serve customers in a single location. Some of them serve customers in over a dozen locations. If your business has multiple locations, you’ll need to take a different approach to local SEO.
Build a geo-optimized landing page for each location.
You should build a geo-optimized landing page on your business’s website for each of your business’s locations. Geo-optimized landing pages are business-related web pages that focus on a specific location. Whether your business has two or 20 locations, you should build a geo-optimized landing page for each of them. When Google crawls a geo-optimized landing page, it will associate your business with that location.
Follow these tips to build effective geo-optimized landing pages:
• Highlight your business’s products or services.
• Create unique content for each geo-optimized landing page.
• Include keywords targeting your business’s locations in the content.
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• Include location-based keywords in the addresses of your geo-optimized landing pages.
• Optimize meta titles and descriptions with location-based keywords.
• Design a call to action (CTA) that encourages visitors to contact your business.
• If your business has a physical address for each of its locations, mention the addresses at the bottom of your geo-optimized landing pages.
Stick with a single domain.
While you can build multiple geo-optimized landing pages — one for each of your business’s locations — you should stick with a single domain. Using multiple domains can backfire. Search engines view domains as separate and unique websites. If you use multiple domains, you’ll end up with multiple websites, some of which may contain duplicate content.
Sticking with a single domain eliminates the risk of duplicate content while also making it easier for search engines to crawl your business’s website. They won’t have to crawl multiple domains. Search engines will only have to crawl a single domain that encompasses all of your geo-optimized landing pages.
Generate a basic sitemap.
You should generate a basic sitemap for your business’s website. While a sitemap is useful for all forms of SEO, it’s particularly beneficial for local SEO involving multiple locations. A basic sitemap will guide search engines to all of your geo-optimized landing pages.
Sitemaps are computer files that contain structured data about a website. They can be basic or advanced. Basic sitemaps only contain page addresses, whereas advanced sitemaps contain additional information like the frequency at which the pages are updated, the relative priority value of pages, the date when the pages were last modified, image licenses, video thumbnails and more. For local SEO with multiple locations, a basic sitemap will suffice.
After generating a basic sitemap, upload it to the home or root directory of your business’s website. You can technically place it anywhere on your business’s website. The deeper it is, though, the harder it will be for search engines to find. And if search engines can’t find your basic sitemap, they may fail to crawl your geo-optimized landing pages or other pages on your business’s website.
Build offsite citations for each location.
Don’t forget to build offsite citations for each of your business’s locations. Offsite citations are listings for your business that are published on other websites. According to a study conducted by the local SEO firm Bright Local, they are the sixth most prominent local SEO factor.
Offsite citations use different formats, depending on where they are published. Most directory websites consist of a business’s brand name, address, phone number and website address. Building offsite citations for each of your business’s locations can lead to higher rankings for sales-driven local searches.
Add all locations to your Google My Business listing.
You can optimize your business for multiple locations in Google My Business (GMB). GMB, of course, is Google’s marketing platform that it offers to local businesses. It’s essentially a multichannel directory compromised of local business listings. Google displays these listings in its search results and in Google Maps. When a customer performs a local search or uses Google Maps, he or she may discover your business’s GMB listing.
Assuming your business already has a GMB listing, you should add all of your business’s locations to the platform. To add a new location to GMB, go to your account dashboard and select the “Manage Locations” tab. From there, you should see a blue-colored button labeled “Add Location.” Clicking this button followed by “Add Single Location” will bring up a page where you can enter information about the new location.
If your business has more than 10 locations, adding them manually may prove to be time-consuming. Fortunately, GMB has a bulk location submission tool. Instead of “Add Single Location,” click “Import Locations.” You will then be prompted to download a spreadsheet file. After downloading the spreadsheet file, add the requested information about your business’s locations to the cells. Lastly, upload the newly completed spreadsheet file back to GMB. Google will use the information in the spreadsheet file to create new locations for your business.
Keep in mind that Google will require you to verify each of your business’s locations. Only after verifying a location will Google show your business’s GMB profile for searches and Google Maps queries involving that location.
Local SEO for multiple locations requires a different approach than for a single location. Multiple locations mean that you’ll have to optimize your business’s brand and website to rank for searches performed in several locations. You can optimize local SEO for multiple locations by building geo-optimized landing pages, sticking with a single domain, generating a basic sitemap, building offsite citations and adding all of your business’s locations to GMB.
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Author: Don Dodds, Forbes Councils Member