It’s hard enough getting a site ranking well in Google for one city, let alone several of them.
We should know – we’ve done SEO for companies with over 100 locations across the country. And I’m going to share with you some of the ways that we’ve improved their rankings.
Whether you have 5 stores or 500 stores, these tactics will help you be found where your customers are searching.
Be active in the communities you serve
Before you dive in to local listings and advertising, remember that one of the most effective ways to be found locally is to be active in the community.
The first step to improving search visibility is being known, and known for something good.
That kind of attention will increase the number of people who search for your brand. And that branded search has great SEO value for your whole website.
There are plenty of ways to do this. Here are a few suggestions:
- Donate to those in your communities
- Sponsor a local sports team
- Participate in community events
- Encourage employees to volunteer
You can find more at Inc.,Entrepreneur and Business 2 Community.
Claim and optimize local listings
Google gives searchers the result that is nearest to them, even if it isn’t the best result. When your keyword indicates “local intent,” that effect is magnified.
In fact, Google My Business listings appear in the top 93% of searches with local intent.
What kinds of searches have local intent?
- “day care in Royal Oak”
- “plumber near me”
- “Chinese restaurant”
To compete in search, you must have complete and accurate Google My Business listings. They should feature positive reviews. Of all the steps here, setting up this listing is the easiest.
Google is not the only local listing that you should complete. Claim your listings on Bing Maps, Apple Maps, and Yelp.
Pay attention to what people search in each location
You say, “Coke.” I say, “Pop.” Why? Well it’s probably because we’re from different parts of the country.
Regional differences in speech mean that people search differently online.
When we began our local search campaign for Rainbow Child Care Centers, there was a discrepancy between the term “child care” versus “day care” in web content.
Rainbow Child Care Centers have 120 locations spread across 15 states. We found that what customers actually searched for depended on where they lived.
When we optimized the site, we took it one step further. We researched keywords based on the most popular search term for each city.
Another example of these regional differences is the use of “ATV” versus “4 wheeler”, and in certain regions, “four wheeler”
Knowing what people search for in each location will allow you to better optimize your landing pages and ad content.
Create local content for each location
A well-designed landing page for each location define your business’s role in the community.
What should be included on the location pages?
- Photos and bios of local staff
- Photos of the building
- Details about products and services
- Local contact information and a map for directions
- Deals and special events in the community
When you start advertising, use these location pages as the target for ads with the corresponding locations.
Use location names in search and social ads
Do your ads include the cities where your audience is located?
Consumers want content that is customized to their location.
We’re conditioned to think geographically, and ad text with our town’s name lets us know that we’re getting the most accurate information.
If you have a location in Detroit, use the city name in your search ad text. Use dark posting to include images of Detroit and the surrounding area in social posts targeted to that location.
Using location names in your ad copy should help to improve your click-through rates and conversions.
Build links from regional sites
You can improve the rank of your local content by sending relevant links to it.
This is particularly important when you are opening new locations.
One of our clients, The Big Thrill Factory, opened two family entertainment centers in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area. They were a new brand, with entrenched competition like Dave & Buster’s.
They needed to improve awareness and website authority. So we reached out to regional websites with articles like “Things to Do in Minneapolis.” Authors began mentioning The Big Thrill Factory, and added links to the website.
No matter what industry you’re in, there are plenty of opportunities to reach local audiences and get relevant links:
- Chambers of commerce (their sites typically have directories)
- Local news sites (ditto)
- Local clubs that relate to your product
- Local blogs
- Community organizations
- Local charities
Build these links to the corresponding city’s location page. That will begin improving the page’s search appearance.