Running a multi-location business has a unique set of challenges. When it comes to marketing and SEO, those challenges can be magnified across all your locations. Whether your locations are spread across a large metropolitan area or across the country, there are some SEO missteps you should avoid. Let’s take a look.
When launching any business, there are a few key things to consider. Simple things like naming and location can play a significant role in your SEO results. As a multi-location business, you’ve probably already gained some SEO juice for your brand, so naming conventions are less of a concern. However, as you expand, location concerns should be top of mind.
Google doesn’t recognize PO Boxes or virtual offices as public addresses. Each location should have a verifiable address for the local business listing. A home address can be used in place of a commercial location, however location owners should consider potential liability concerns associated with marketing their home as their business address.
Also related to location is the physical place the office is located. If your office is in a suburb of a major city, but you serve that city and want to rank for it, you could face obstacles. It’s important to advise future franchisees about the importance of the placement of their physical office or store and how it can impact their SEO results.
On Your Website
As a franchise brand, you probably already have a great website URL that is short and concise. This is a great first step. Making sure your URL ends in .com, is clear to consumers, is short and easy to type, is important. But past these initial steps, you need to take additional action to ensure your corporate site and local sites are all ranking well.
Much of this strategy relies on content. While it is common for corporate content to be pushed down local sites, this doesn’t help your individual locations gain traction on SERPs. You’ll want to be sure that as many pages on the local sites are customized for each location’s target market as possible.
Eliminating duplicate content helps to ensure neither the corporate or the local sites are downgraded. It also plays to the “rising tides lift all boats” theory. If your corporate and local sites are all ranking for the same keyword, you should see some additional juice across the whole network. It’s also important to have new content regularly added to both the national and each individual local site.
When building your site, be sure that each location’s NAP (name, address and phone number) are listed on each page of the site. This is most commonly achieved by placing this information in the header or footer. A contact us page is a must along with clear calls to action.
At Qiigo, we recommend the phone number always be placed in the upper right hand corner of your site in a clear, bold font that is easy to read. Phone numbers should be click to call optimized on all mobile sites. On each page, there should also be a clear call to action. This can be achieved through phone numbers, forms, and/or closing content with a clear message.
Don’t Ignore Local Listings
Multi-location businesses can’t afford to ignore their listings across the web. Here are a few quick tips on key points related to local listings.
- Keep locations compliant. Each local platform will have their own set of standards. Be sure your listings meet these standards. A completely filled out listing is also key. Don’t leave fields empty.
- Keep NAP (name, address and phone number) consistent across all mentions on the web. From your website to each local directory listing, your name, address and phone number should match as closely as possible.
- Clearing up duplicate listings is important. If there is already a listing for a local office, be sure to either claim it or have it closed down.
- Get all the information right. This relates back to 1 and 2 but also includes clear photos, correctly placed map markers, correct directions, and other key pieces of information.
- Keep an eye on your listings making sure you update any information as things change.
Staying on Top of Reviews
Reviews are one of the most scary and most beneficial things you can hope to get as a business owner. A rave review can lead to more business, while a negative review can wreak havoc. It’s important to stay on top of reviews and respond to ALL reviews regardless of the feedback. Yes, that includes the negative ones.
The more positive reviews you can acquire the better. Too few reviews or a onslaught of reviews that all come in at one time aren’t viewed favorably by Google. It’s best to work your way towards a steady stream of reviews backed by your superior customer service.
As you are acquiring reviews, remember that each platform has a set of guidelines for how reviews are managed. For example, employees or former employees cannot review an employer on Google+. Some platforms, like Yelp, specifically forbid you to ask for reviews. So just be careful that you aren’t’ setting yourself up for reviews to be taken down.
Perhaps most importantly, be sure you are monitoring your reviews and responding. It can feel devastating when a negative review appears. The key is to promptly respond and to take the discussion offline. Encourage the customer to call to discuss the problem and try to come to an agreement. Remember things get lost in translation online, in chat or email, so a phone or face to face discussion is really the best option. Once you’ve resolved the problem to your customer’s satisfaction ask them to remove or edit the review to show that you were proactive and resolved the problem. And, of course, a great big thank you to anyone who leaves a positive review is always a plus!