Location specific search by end users has increased significantly over the past couple of years. In fact, according to a reliable survey, more than 90% of web users searched Google to find a local business last year. This is certainly great news for the business owners as they are getting an opportunity to penetrate the local markets, but what about big brands having stores across the nation?
While it may seem that a company should get better ranks if it has multiple stores in different states, the reality is quite the opposite. If you have a beauty salon in Los Angels only, then it is easier for Google to find you, but when you own a salon chain and your salons are located in dozens of states, things start to become complicated.
However, that does not mean Google is acting ignorant when it comes to big brands. The problem is with the website admins and SEO professionals who often fail to take care of multi-location businesses.
Today, I will discuss some serious issues which are damaging local SEO of multi location businesses.
Problems with the website:
Your website is the first thing that Google scans to get an idea of your business and thus, businesses with multiple locations must focus on it seriously. One of the biggest mistakes that companies make is that they don’t create separate location pages in the site. For example, if you have one restaurant at New York and another at San Jose, then there must be 2 separate pages in your site to describe the specialties of these two restaurants.
Similarly, if you hide the location pages and people need to use the “search” tool embedded in your site to find the regional shop locations, then it will affect the ranking.
Poor quality of the location page can also reduce your chances of getting good rank for local searches. For example, if you don’t mention when your shop opens and closes, whether you operate on Sunday, your shop phone number etc. then Google will hardly give attention to you. It is crucial to mention all the details of your business in each location page. For instance, if your San Jose restaurant remains close on Sunday, but the New York branch is open 24×7, then it must be mentioned. Otherwise, people will get disappointed and write bad reviews.
Providing wrong information in Google My Business:
Don’t give any random name to your company while listing your business in Google. Make sure that the business name is the exact brand name of your company, not keywords. For example, a Chinese restaurant named Red Dragon should enlist itself as “Red Dragon” not “best Chinese restaurant in London”.
Since you have shop/restaurant across the country, the addresses must be mentioned clearly as well. Your phone number should be a local number that connects with the right restaurant. Don’t mix up phone numbers because customers will be unhappy if they try to contact a store in Texas and realize that they have reached the California branch.
Choose the most suitable business category and the website address should be correct. Basically, you must give area specific URL while listing in Google My Business to help Google understand where your shop is based.
Citations must be done consistently: Since you have shops across states, for each specific location, the phone number must be the same in location page, Google My Business listing and citations.
When you close a store or change the store location, then citation becomes out of date and thus, must be updated immediately. If you change your brand name, then listings in business directories must be changed immediately; otherwise even an already established company with nationwide recognition may lose customers.
No local content: You may ask “what is local content?” Local content means area specific content that ties your business with a particular area. Here is how you can generate local content.
If you have satisfied customers and they write testimonials in your site, then link the review with the writer’s LinkedIn or Facebook profile. Similarly, if you own a B2B business, make a list of clients for each location page and link with their sites to help both customers and Google understand the area where a particular store is located.
A gallery of photos that highlights the local areas and festivals is also a great idea. You can also post content about the incidents happening in your locality. For example, if you have 2 stores, one in Mumbai and another one in Kerala, then you can post content about Ganesh Chaturthi in Mumbai store page and Pongal related content in Kerala store page to connect with the local customers.
Ignoring reviews: When you have 5-10 shops all over the country, Google needs to know what customers think about each store you own and the best way to convince world’s most powerful search engine is to get reviews for each store from the loyal customers. You should request your customers to write a few words about your business in Yelp and Google My Business listings to earn the attention of Google.
Local SEO for multiple location businesses is a bit complicated, but not impossible. Follow the suggestions mentioned above and when people will search for your business related keyword from different cities, your site will pop up on the SERP.