Local SEO is becoming more and more important for businesses looking to cater to a potential online audience of millions who might be trying to search for them.
Whilst this is relatively straightforward to manage in terms of a single store and driving footfall, businesses with multiple locations have a much more difficult challenge to centralise all of their local SEO efforts and ensure consistency throughout their locations listed online. You may have experience of this already, especially if you have had to manage multiple store accounts on your own.
Managing a Google My Business page can be relatively straightforward, but if you happen to have more than 10 physical stores, things can get a little complicated. This can become even worse if every single manager is running their local SEO strategy differently.
To lend a helping hand, we have listed 5 essential tips on how businesses with multiple locations can tackle their local SEO strategy. Learn how to optimise your efforts and turn a complex task into an easy ongoing project. This will make sure you don’t fall into the trap of having to go over every store listing with a fine tooth comb down the line.
1. Optimise (or create) store pages
If you have one main website representing your brand but have multiple locations, the best course of action to take is to create dedicated store location pages. These should contain as much relevant information about that store as possible.
Your store location page should include at the very least:
- Basic Contact information – the name, address and phone number of the store (NAP)
- Directions – an embedded google map that will allow customers to easily find the physical location of the store.
- Unique Content – even if each store sells the same products or offers the same services, you still need to ensure the content is unique and not duplicated
- Structured Data – ensure that the structure you are using is the same across each store page, displaying important information clearly
Furthermore, you should also include ‘near me’ search terms as these will capture certain search habits of customers looking to find your store locations quickly.
2. Create local SEO guidelines
The key for multiple locations is consistency. So this can happen effectively, the creation of a set of local SEO guidelines will assist you in making sure that each store is represented in the same manner. Here are a few pointers to start you off:
- Make sure the brand name is the same across all locations
- Descriptions should reflect individual services and be consistent with company values
- Location-based keywords should be included to capture searches from local customers
- Make sure each store has the same opening hours if that is company policy, or make them unique depending on requirements
- Each store should claim their GMB listing as well as Facebook, Bing and other sites that are applicable to them
The creation of in-depth guidelines will mean that even if the responsibility of updating store pages and listings is shared amongst a few people, they will still remain consistent and clear to customers wanting to find relevant information immediately. In this way there should be less chance of errors occurring.
3. Centralise NAP information
If you have successfully created guidelines that will assist store managers, or have nominated members of staff to manage their own local SEO strategy, the next step is to make sure that you have one centralised document or spreadsheet.
This will be the master version of all your store details and can be kept up to date on a frequent basis. By using Google Docs or another shared file it will be even easier to collaborate and ensure that if store information changes for any reason that everyone is aware.
Communication should be clear to indicate if there is a change of address or any other important details, as this change will need to be implemented on any and all business listings linking to the store.
4. Highlight differences in stores
It’s not enough to just have one person replicating information for each of your stores – each store should be as unique as possible in order for it to be found by local customers.
Do your stores provide different services at all? It is worth being explicit about which services are provided by individual stores, even if they are all the same.
Even if you have multiple stores all providing the same products and services, there will still be information unique to each store such as directions, location, opening hours, and local information (such as landmarks or places of interest). These should be included as a priority to set an individual store apart from the rest and to raise appeal to locals.
5. Acquire online reviews
As part of your local SEO strategy you will need to frequently check for any reviews or changes made online that refer to your business. This can be from customers leaving reviews on a GMB, Bing or Facebook page, all of which might not always be positive.
Reviews are important as they lend credibility to your business and show that others have already had a positive interaction or experience when visiting a store. It show new customers that you can be trusted as a business and gives a positive first impression to those searching online.
A diligent individual in charge of dealing with the store’s local SEO should respond to reviews as much as possible, showing an interaction with customers whether it is good or bad. This can be seen most clearly on TripAdvisor when a hotel manager responds directly to the customer.
Replying to reviews, albeit even the negatives ones shows genuine compassion and diligent customer service. Consumers are more likely to return if they feel as though there is a genuine connection with the business.
Make sure to check the following sources for reviews on a frequent basis:
- Amazon (if applicable)
Depending on which sites are the most suited to your business, try and encourage loyal customers to leave reviews when possible, especially after a positive interaction or experience. This should be filtered down to employees working on the shop floor and only requested in appropriate situations.
If you have multiple stores to manage and are thinking of putting a local SEO strategy in place, make things easy for yourself by monitoring business listings on a frequent basis rather than leaving them to go unchecked.
We would recommend performing the following actions as a matter of urgency:
- Create store pages with updated store information
- Create local SEO guidelines and
- Create a centralised NAP document with all stores listed – make sure it can only be edited by a select few
Ongoing actions include:
- Delegate tasks to a team depending on the amount of stores you need to manage
- Respond to reviews as soon as possible, especially negative ones
- Update store information using centralised NAP document and keep track of changes
- Make sure sales employees encourage customers to leave reviews following a positive interaction
Alternatively, make sure you have a digital marketing agency that can manage your multiple locations for you, and have the expertise to make changes that will improve your chances of being found by local customers. Get in touch with Tecmark for further advice.