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Multi-Location SEO Campaigns & Websites

Earning Local Visibility for Enterprise-Scale Brands

Posted in: Search | Web Design

When it comes to search engine rankings, there are a few Google intricacies that can put multi-location organizations (MLO) and multi-state operators (MSO) at a disadvantage. Without a website and search engine optimization campaign that are specifically engineered to represent a multi-unit organization, an MLO’s chances of wide-ranging Google rankings are slim.

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A website homepage naturally has more SEO value than its subpages

No matter how many services you offer or how many locations you have, you’ve only got one true homepage. Your individual shops will compete for positioning on Google with other organizations whose entire website is dedicated to one local market. While your homepage will tell Google “we offer A, B, and C in locations D, E, F, G, H, I, J, K, L, M, N, O, and P,” a smaller competitor will have their entire homepage sending clear signals to Google about their presence in “location G” only.

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Google is built to differentiate “local” searches vs “non-local” searches and leaves no room in-between

46% of all search results include a map, indicating Google assumes the searcher wants to find a company nearby or a business serving a location included in the query. This would apply to anything like “24-hour plumbers near me” or “exotic car rentals in Las Vegas.”

If you have a wide service area (e.g. a multi-county roofer or far-ranging cannabis delivery service), your most relevant search terms will still fall under “local” search. Google will still use proximity of the searcher to your physical location as one of their key ranking factors.

Think about the difference between what pops up for “pizza delivery” versus “iPhone cases.” For the latter, Google automatically assumes you aren’t looking for a local electronics store. Search results will belong to major e-commerce websites like Amazon and Apple.com who ship products worldwide. For pizza, Google knows that is a localized product and returns a list of pizzerias near you. Even though Amazon can mail a frozen pizza to your house, Google recognizes that “pizza delivery” has a local intent and only shows local businesses on page 1.

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Google Business Profile is a big deal

In the “pizza delivery” example, you might see a local Pizza Hut appearing in search results. Pizza Hut has over 19,000 restaurants and their headquarters is in Plano Texas, but Google knows their location near you sells pizza and can deliver it to your address. Previously called “Google My Business” or “GMB,” Google Business Profile is one part of the secret sauce for massive chains like Pizza Hut who appear in local rankings around the country. Building a profile on Google for each individual location should be one of your first steps in setting up a new store.

  • The name of the business can include the location, but do avoid getting spammy! A good rule of thumb is to use whatever name is on your storefront signage. If “TacoLu Saint Louis” is written on the front door, it’s okay to include in your GBP.
  • In your location profile you can designate a service area and tell Google exactly where your business delivers/services off-site customers.
  • Each location you set up should have business hours listed and kept up to date around holidays and any other special circumstances.
  • Google also allows you to post current offers, respond to reviews, schedule events, and even message back and forth with potential customers.
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Create or Maintain Local Business Listings for Each Location

Just like Google’s Business Profiles, there are key directories and listing sites that will (A) Help bring traffic to your locations and (B) Reiterate to Google that you have a location in that area. Yelp is a common directory that works for most all types of businesses, but you should also look for industry-specific directories and ensure your locations are listed on those as well. Be sure to use the same exact NAPW (name, address, phone number, and website URL) for every listing you create or update. Discrepancies in NAP like “123 S Main St #52” vs “123 South Main Street Suite 52” can confuse Google and put a damper on your rankings.

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Support Each Location with Dedicated Space on Your Website

If your business has more than a handful of locations, simply listing them out on a “contact us” page is not enough for users and certainly will be insufficient for Google to see you as a legitimate operator in each of your geos. At Range Marketing, we specifically build our enterprise websites in a way that gives each location space to welcome online shoppers. We often find that each location has some of its own personality and nuances that deserve space on the website. For the sake of customers and search engines alike, it is important that the website clearly separates each branch with it’s own imagery, written content, menu/services, business hours, coupons/promotions, and address or service area. As an owner of the business you probably look at your website knowing “Location #5 doesn’t have delivery” and “Location #6 isn’t open on Sundays,” but does your customer?

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Simplify the User Experience for Location-Specific Traffic

A common point of frustration for users of poorly constructed multi-location websites is having to re-select their location over and over. Whether your site uses location detection, URL strings, or just a button to show users their local store’s information, that should only happen once. Clicking on something like “order now,” “send us a message” or “store hours” should never require the user to re-select their local store. Using a well-constructed MLO/MSO website should feel like the site already knows what you’re looking for. Thoughtful design goes a long way in customer satisfaction.

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Don’t Use “Virtual Office” Locations.

Google has a strict no-tolerance policy about gaming their system and creating fake locations for the sake of rankings falls within that category. Companies offering a mailbox for the sole purpose of verifying an address on Google can put your business in jeopardy of blacklisting. Every day Google gets a little bit better at detecting fraud and you don’t want to see your traffic drop to zero over a penalty.

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The Backend of Your Website Needs Proper Structured Data and Schema

A basic HTML file gives your browser a set of instructions for how text and images should appear on the page. However, basic HTML doesn’t explain the meaning behind that content. On professional website projects, it is a best practice for developers to use additional code (called “Microdata,” “Structured Data,” “RDFa,” “JSON-LD,” and “Schema”) to add context to the text and images.

  • A one-location website can often rank pretty well without proper markup because Google is pretty good at guessing what the content of a webpage refers to. They can typically tell that “logo.png” is a logo and “18001112222” is a phone number.
  • For multi-location businesses, the stakes for correct data markup are much higher. If you have 25 stores that each have two phone numbers, a unique street address, different business hours, and a different Facebook page, there is a very good chance Google will mix up some of that data if it was added to your pages with incorrect or missing markup. Not only can that hurt your rank positioning, but when your business appears in search results there may be incorrect information listed under it. Google may show the business hours for a different location and send customers away from a store that is open!
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Avoid “One Size Fits All” Platforms

At Range Marketing, we often see new clients come to us with an old website they had built years prior. Their old sites are almost always built on some sort of starter template or drag-and-drop builder, which became dramatically undersized as the business grew. One of the unfortunate aspects of DIY and “no-code” website platforms is that no one is looking at the backend and configuring aspects like the Microdata in the way that best fits your business. Those sites often come with baked-in “support for SEO” and “Schema markup,” but if you dive into the source code, those elements might actually be further confusing Google.

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If you have questions about websites and SEO for enterprise-scale businesses, give us a call!

We work with businesses of all sizes, including massive chains of location-based stores and service areas. Correctly implementing an MLO/MSO campaign is something that requires a high level of proficiency with coding, well-crafted internet marketing, and data-driven decisions regarding site architecture and markup. Don’t be afraid to ask for help!

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