Duplicate content – The most common issue faced by multi-location businesses is how to fix duplicate content. If you are in low competition areas it may not hurt you so much, but if you have a multi-location business with for example 200 locations having the same content with just the city and state changed you are not going to see the results you want to see. You need to have unique content and that can be really hard to get when you have a copywriter that has to get 200 variations of the same content.
Identify ways to make content unique that can be either user or business-generated. You can do this by:
- Showcase existing reviews from top sources like Google My Business, Yelp, Trustpilot, etc.
- Add a Q/A section on the page where customers can ask questions and you can provide answers to them.
- Add an FAQs section with questions and answers based on data from Google people also ask.
- Send questionnaires to small business units. This will help create unique content in the words of the local store owner. Include questions like:
- Common problems faced by local customers.
- Challenges you face on a daily basis.
- Store working hours.
- Payment options accepted.
- Most popular brands, and product lines available at the store?
Insufficient/inconsistent citations – Imagine a scenario where your customers are on a top citation website and are looking for a product or service within your niche and you are not even listed? Alternately, you are listed but the information shown is incorrect.
- Build new local citations – Having a Google business profile is just the beginning of local SEO. You need to create other citations to top citation websites in your business niche. This sends trust signals to search engines and helps your business touch base with potential customers.
- Ensure citations are accurate and are consistent – Having an accurate name, address and phone number (NAP ) helps potential customers reach out to the business. A consistent NAP helps search engines understand your business and reward you with increased visibility.
Use free listing management tools by Yext, Moz, BrightLocal, and SEMrush to identify opportunities to build new and correct inconsistent citations. Based on the free scan results from the tool of your choice you can then choose to:
- Build new citations yourself – This can be done by your in-house team or you can hire an SEO agency to do the needful.
- Paid citations building and cleanup plan – Choose a listing management tool and pay as you go depending on the scale of your business and the number of new citations to create or existing inconsistencies to fix.
Pro tip – To quickly build top citations I recommend choosing the paid option for 25-30 websites suggested by the listing management tools at one time. You can tick or untick the citation you want to build or fix and you pay as you go. To build business niche citations, I would suggest using tools like Ahrefs, and SEMrush to identify websites where two or more of your competitors have citations but not your business.
Manage Google My Business at scale – Having individual location owners manage their own listing can get tedious for multi-location business owners. In addition, having to create multiple pages under multiple accounts by multiple resources can be an inefficient and time-consuming process. Having to verify multiple locations can be a challenge. Additionally, in case the name, address, or phone number is inaccurate or needs correction then it will need to be verified again.
Import business – Under “Add Locations” there is an option to “Import Business”. You will be provided a free downloadable template where you can add your business data for all your business locations in one spreadsheet. This way you can ensure that all information you enter in the CSV is consistent and once the information looks good you can upload the spreadsheet to the owner’s Google business profile. After the upload is complete you will now be able to see the multiple locations in your profile at once.
Bulk verification – For multi-location business owners, Google provides a “bulk verification” feature where, as the name suggests, you can verify more than one location in one go rather than having to verify each location separately. After you have imported your multiple business locations spreadsheet in Google my business, you will be prompted and see the option on your screen for bulk verification.
Also read: Google documentation
You have just landed your first multi-location business client. What are the top three things you should focus on?
As an SEO person ensure you have these three things optimized and most things from a local SEO standpoint will be covered:
- Audit google my business – To ensure information is updated, accurate, and complete.
- Audit location-based pages on the website and services related to the location pages – If your google my business profile is complete and there is nothing more that you can do then location page content is the next priority that is most likely to impact your visibility in search engines.
- Online reputation – Once your google my business profile is complete and your content is optimized as well as it could possibly be then online reputation is one key factor that is impacting your ability to convert.
Pro tip – If Google cannot crawl your website doing local SEO is pointless. Run a technical website audit to ensure there are no crawling and indexability issues.
Locations in multiple geographies – Businesses can have multiple locations not just limited to one or more cities but also spread across different countries and languages. Alternately, your client does not have a physical store address but wants to serve the world. How do you tackle this situation?
- Create location pages where there is a physical store – This way you can ensure you have the top three aspects covered name, address, and phone number.
- If you do NOT have a physical store and you want to target the country – The best option would be to create locations that have only a physical name, address, and phone number. If that is not possible, your next best option is to create a service area business however, your address will not appear thereby limiting your visibility in local maps and other businesses that actually have a store location in the target geo. Prominence and proximity which are key factors on which local pack, map results are based, also go against you in this case.
- URL structure – It is ideal to create a consistent URL structure that follows a logical flow i.e. global > country > state > city > individual location. Depending on your use case you can tweak this. For instance, if you have multiple locations in one city then you can create only the parent city and location pages. There is no need to create the global, country, and state pages in this case.
- Hreflang tags – This helps search engines deliver the right page to the right region and to the right person when done correctly.
- When your business targets multiple regions, you have multiple location pages, then you should create hreflang tags.
- When you have one location page in more than one language, for example, a service page in English and Hindi for people in India, then to ensure that English speakers are not served the Hindi variant of the same page, you should create hreflang tags.