SEO Essentials for Multi-location Brands

SEO Essentials for Multi-location Brands

Optimizing the website of a single-location brick-and-mortar business for the local search results can be a challenge—but it’s significantly more complicated when doing so for a business with hundreds or even thousands of locations.

A successful multi-location SEO strategy involves knowing how to hit that all-important target—getting into the Local Pack of Google Search listings. To get there, you’ll need a team mining relevant local data, as well as skilled content writers and marketers who know how to apply that data directly to your location landing pages.

A recent study from SEO consultancy group Wiideman, entitled ‘Optimizing Location Pages to Rank in Google’, showed a 107% lift in rankings when using localized or ‘hyperlocal’ content on each location’s dedicated landing page.

Creating Hyperlocal Content for Your Location Landing Pages

When you’re dealing with dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of locations, the content on your landing pages can become so repetitive that Google may not consider these pages to be unique.

On this topic, Google states, “As a result (of duplicate content), the ranking of the site may suffer, or the site might be removed entirely from the Google index, in which case it will no longer appear in search results.”

The cost of this is that your location pages are less likely to get indexed in search engines because they’ve been flagged for duplicate content.

This is where hyperlocal content comes in. You’ll of course want to include unique name, address and phone number (NAP) info. But it’s also got to go further.

Here are some examples of hyperlocal content additions that can set your location-based landing pages apart.

Specific location attributes

These could include driving directions, number of parking spots available, nearby landmarks or points of interest (like parks, museums, and stadiums), the history of the neighborhood, and any specific amenities, such as WiFi, delivery, takeout, and more.

Interior and exterior images of the property and patrons

Add these to your landing pages and also to your Google Business Profile (formerly Google My Business) listings. Pro tip: Include local keywords (such as the name of the city) in both your image file name and alt tags.

Videos of property

Give users an opportunity to experience stepping into each specific business location. You can go one step further by creating testimonial videos from happy customers… just ensure they’ve signed a waiver granting usage.

Google 360 virtual tour videos

Hire a Google-certified photographer to capture this special footage. Virtual tours can be a great local landing page addition and they also provide imagery for Google Street View.

Other Critical Ranking Factors for Location Landing Pages

Improving landing pages for multi-location brands requires honing in on the most significant factors proven to positively affect search engine rankings. Here’s a recap of the Wiideman study findings:

Focal PointAverageRank vs Non-Rank Dif%
Hyperlocal ContentNo107%
Custom Location ImagesNo84%
Location-Specific Social LinksNo50%
Directions LinkYes16%
Page Size (MB)3.0214%
Open Now Status EmphasizedNo10%
Page Fully Loaded Time8.0010%
PageSpeed Score1.957%
Native Reviews Featured0.044%
Hours ListedYes2%
Coupon AvailableNo0%
Location-Specific Video ShownNo0%

Creating Engaging Location Images

One common challenge that enterprises and small businesses face with GBP is image dimensions. The recommended image resolution is 1,200 x 900 pixels, and no more than 1MB in size on websites.

It’s wise to utilize team members with expertise in image optimization. Consider giving this task to someone who has studied film, is proficient in image sizing, or is experienced with Photoshop or a similar editing platform.

Image Upload Considerations for Multi-location Businesses

For multi-location businesses with hundreds of locations or more, building image assets increases in difficulty. This is due to how time-consuming this task is, combined with the conflict of getting images approved by the business managers or marketing department. Although this task will take time, it should still be included in your strategy. 

Below are examples of successful campaigns using original images, correct sizing, relevant tags/keywords, and that have been fully optimized to scale for multi-location brands:

Photo Views 6.43k vs 3.9k

Photo Views 165k vs 75.3k

Photo Views 615k vs 55.1k

Localized imagery can increase views for business locations—Wiideman saw a 75% lift, and has flanked competitors in Local Pack rankings through the use of new visual elements for customers.

Google rewards a positive user experience, so you’ll want to target image optimization that’s uniquely helpful when compared side-by-side to competing local pages.

Citations and Social Media

Citation Growth

Combining your citation building and social media efforts can be one of the most effective tasks for brands with multiple locations.

Being accurate with data by making constant improvements appears to make a difference with ongoing keyword rankings. A regular pattern of updates seems to be more effective than one-time ‘set it and forget it’ improvements.

The top key directories for citations—such as Yelp, Bing Local, Yahoo! Local, and TripAdvisor—are important for enterprises. However, so are local placements that most multi-locations often lack the resources to support, such as your_city.org/directory.

Pay Attention to Smaller Directory Opportunities

Wiideman also conducted a study of 1,700 restaurant chain locations to understand intersecting directories, and to find unique opportunities for submission and syndication. Approximately 200 new directories were discovered that could consume a bulk feed of listings nationwide. This takes a mighty effort with communication and outreach, but few competitors will make the effort so it can give you an edge.

Think of niche opportunities (for example, law firms might use lawyers.com), and consider finding opportunities to earn placements in regional and city directories in the target area. It’s also a good idea to research the business address on Google Maps to discover neighboring businesses to collaborate with.

BrightLocal offers a way of filtering directories that businesses should be listed on, which can help to boost local rankings through the creation of highly-relevant citations.

Fully Optimize Your Google Business Profile Listing

To fully optimize your GBP listing, you will want to start with the info tab. From here, you can work your way through the relevant sections. If you need further guidance, then we have a post dedicated to GMB optimization

Google Business Profile Optimization

Google currently appears to give ranking preference to businesses and large brands offering the most information. This includes focal points such as opening date, onsite dining, and online consultations.

For multi-location brands, owners will naturally be from different backgrounds, and this can provide more unique information to share. For example, the business might be owned by military veterans, be Black-owned, or Latino-owned (Latino-owned is a new feature on Google Business Profile).

Take Advantage of Google Posts

Google Posts are an amazing tool that most multi-location brands aren’t using! You’ll gain additional exposure by taking 15 minutes to create a Post that includes a relevant photo, coupon, image, or video.

Working with a third party, or leveraging the Google Business Profile API, can help make the posting process easier for marketers working with more than a handful of locations.

Make the Most of Your Multi-location Efforts

Building a presence on Google Maps and succeeding at local SEO can be a challenge for multi-location businesses. This is especially true if you’re not organized or don’t have a strong strategy and capable team behind you.

Inspiring buy-in for scaled content and off-page visibility can elevate brands above the competition by maximizing the potential for solid local content. 

We recommend learning from other team members and industry peers, and reading online case studies to see if these resources can support your overall multi-location SEO strategy. Also, keep a close eye on reviews—they’re one of the driving forces behind some of the best-ranking brands in the world.

Research takes time but it’s worth the effort. Taking shortcuts could cost some enterprises millions in missed revenue from organic search. As cliché as it sounds, SEO isn’t a sprint, but a marathon.

Hanzel Carcamo
About the author
Hanzel Carcamo is the Project Manager & Local SEO at Wiideman, where he manages over 10,000 locations for enterprise brands and small businesses. His expertise involves everything Google Maps-related and strategizing on this and next year's latest trends.

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