“I have one website for my three or more business locations. Is that OK for SEO?” That’s a classic question for any business with an online presence. And an extremely important one too. Let’s tackle it:
Local SEO with multiple business locations from the same business has historically been approached as simply satisfying Google’s “NAP” requirements (name, address, phone). In other words, if you have more than one business location and don’t want Google or Google Maps to get confused (and hurt your search rankings), you’re told to just make sure all of your business names, addresses and phone numbers match across your locations’ webpages, social media accounts (like Facebook, Twitter and Google+) and online listings like the Yellow Pages or Yelp.
So it’s just that simple right?!
Well, no. And it’s too bad that more articles on the web that show up for “multiple business locations and SEO” say that it is. Filling out your NAPs gets pretty complicated when you have multiple businesses in multiple cities, or maybe multiple businesses in one city, or maybe one business with a service area of multiple cities. Sound complicated yet? Well, it is.
At CBC Digital Elements, we’ve identified the three different types of scenarios when it comes to multiple business locations and local SEO, which, as one might expect, makes it much easier to tackle and fix problems related to any search results, rankings, and business listings across search engines like Yahoo, Google and Bing. Then, we offer a few fixes once you’ve figured out which situation best suits your problems.
We’ll explain using three different geo locations in the Triangle area (Raleigh, Durham and Cary) and a common business with a lot of locations, McDonald’s. Here are your three different potential “Multiple Business Locations and SEO” scenarios:
- Multiple Locations / One City – 3 McDonald’s serving Raleigh
- One Location / Multiple Cities – 1 McDonald’s serving Raleigh, Durham and Cary
- Multiple Locations / Multiple Cities – 3 McDonald’s, 1 serving Raleigh, 1 serving Durham, and 1 serving Cary
You can see the general issues across all three scenarios a business owner might face with her or his marketing. Should each location get a Google+, should each get its own page on the website? Should each location get its own Facebook page and social accounts? These are the questions marketers and business owners have to answer, and we’ll be honest, there’s rarely a clear-cut solution. It’s a classic case of the 80/20 rule (about 20% art with 80% science).
The first key, however, to deciding the best way to inform Google and search engines of your businesses local activities and business information, is to simply understand your landscape, which can be as simple as finding out where you fit in the 3 scenarios we listed above, and doing some thinking on how people will be searching for those businesses in those areas.
For geographical locations, cities, towns and regions (both formal and informally named) you’ll need to be aware of your specific area and search terms. In some locales, people might always search with the biggest city in the area as a local term (like searching “pizza in Dallas” even if they live in a nearby suburb or town, for example. So if all of your pizza joints are in Dallas, they probably don’t each need their own pages/accounts.) If your business is in the Bay area, you’ll want to look at how the locals there search. Is it by their city? Is it by their neighborhood?
One business in the Raleigh-Durham area, Green Dream Beds (an organic bedding and mattress company), is firmly located in Durham, but wants to heavily service the Raleigh area through Google/Google Maps as well. It’s vital for them to correctly have their local SEO content plan in order and across all of their social media accounts. They decided to create an individual location page for Raleigh users, use their main homepage as their “Durham” page, and they decided to keep one social media account on each platform for their business — since they only have one set of name, address and phone, or NAP. This is likely their best bet for selling mattresses with local search engine optimization.
Associated Urologists of North Carolina is an interesting case because they have multiple locations in different areas, but they tend to be in the same general region. Plus, they have a sister website (NC HiFu) for a certain procedure that they perform. While they might want separate social account for each location, how would their sister site play into this? They likely would not need extra accounts for just the one sister site.
Thomas, Ferguson & Mullins is a law firm in Durham that also likes to do business in Raleigh. Should they have accounts for each city? Should those accounts each link to the same homepage? Or should their Raleigh accounts link to a Raleigh page on their website? Also, Homes by Dickerson is a multi-region/city home contracting builder with only one physical location.
For another example, if both of your locations are in the same city, and will have identical search terms, then you likely only need one Google+, location page on your website, and social media accounts for that location. However, if you have three locations in areas with people who like to search specifically for their city/area, you might want to set up those extra accounts for each location, and of course have your NAPs line up across all pages and accounts.
Much of this analytical and competitive information can be found in Google Keyword Planner and Google Analytics or Google Trends. And it never hurts to see what your competition is up to. Google My Business will naturally be an extremely important tool to make sure Google has all of your businesses locations.
Business owners and their marketing teams or SEO agencies will have to create a specific plan of action for their specific situation in their local area. But as we’ve shown here in this blog, by knowing and understanding which of the general multiple business location scenarios you fit into, the easier it will be to organize your SEO campaigns around the actual search traffic coming from your region.
Contact us here at CBC Digital Elements with any questions or additions to this SEO topic of Digital Marketing.