Marketing experts agree that local search factors are becoming increasingly important to search ranking results. Take Google's announcement, as noted in Think With Google, that "near me" searches have increased 34 times since 2011 and nearly doubled since last year.
You have likely diligently designed your website to highlight what you believe are the key components: geo-relevant content, business hours, and your business's name, address and phone number (NAP). But if you have multiple business locations, how are you managing your local listings? Despite your best efforts, as Search Engine Land points out, factors ranging from nondiscoverable location pages to NAP inconsistencies can cause you not to show up in local search. With that in mind, here are six key factors to help you get strong local visibility for all of your business locations.
- Local Focus
Google's Matt Cutts has been saying it for years: It's better to have a dedicated page for each store location. Create location-based subdirectories on your website, and give each location its own unique URL. This will better cater to users looking for specific local information than a single page. You can also use subdomains to piggyback each store onto the value of the root domain.
- Local Content
When you add locally focused pages to your site, make sure you include location-specific content to avoid duplicate content penalties and to provide a more hypertargeted and focused user experience. Is there a special event happening at one location? Blog about it. Is there a community road race or street fair scheduled near another location? Write about it on that location's page. Also make sure you're using locally focused landing pages in your paid search, and link to any local clients you work with and press for any local events you're involved in. The more targeted content you produce, the better.
- Local Listings
Set up a Google My Business account to make your business visible in Google products like Search, Maps and Google+. Get into local directories, and make sure your paid search listings are geofocused. People are much more likely to click on your ads if it's clear that you provide what they want in their area.
- Consistent Thumbprint
Your NAP is your thumbprint, how search engines and customers alike find you. Entrepreneur highlights how crucial it is to make sure your NAP is clear and consistent across your location page, directories and Google My Business. You don't want to confuse Google or your customers! Use only your official business name (don't stuff keywords in there!), and make sure your stores' addresses, phone numbers and domain names are consistent in content and format with the root domain, social accounts and presence across all media.
Managing your citations can be hard work when you have multiple local listings, such as Yelp, Yahoo or Yellow, but you can work with your digital marketing expert to keep these up to date. Consistency is key — use one phone number per location, update names when you rebrand and delete citations for closed or relocated stores.
Include reviews in your local page listings. Segment the reviews by location, and feature them on their respective location pages. Reviews from Google My Business are shown in paid adverts, so encourage happy customers to leave good reviews, and work with your digital marketing partner to get five-star snippets in your Google search results.
Your local search strategy can be become unwieldy if you're managing multiple business locations, but by getting granular with your targeting, focusing on geo-dedicated content, keeping your citations updated and ensuring you showcase good reviews, you'll soon find you're ranking high in local search results.