If you have a multi-location or multi-service area business you’ll need a well set up and maintained local search campaign to get ahead and stay ahead of your competitors. Let’s take a look at the core concepts behind a strong local marketing campaign
Local landing pages
You should have a landing page set up for each of your locations/service areas. From there the optimisation tips are much the same as for targeting any other keyword on page. Make sure you have a snappy title and meta description that use the area name and business type. Make sure your on page content mentions the area and address (if there is one), and uses schema markup plus a map.
You should also be talking about the local area and any ways in which your product/service is different in these areas.
Finally you should only be adding pages for areas where you genuinely operate. You will need to accept that sometimes if you’re not actually located in a given city you may not rank for queries of the type “service (in) city”. It depends on many variables but, as a general rule, check where the city limits are and, if you are not within them, optimise for the area you actually are in….. and feel free to say you’re conveniently located x mins from the city.
G+ verified local pages
You should be making a Google+ local business page for each of these local landing pages. Of course it is very important to fully fill it out and put in the contact details, opening hours & description etc., but for me the main task here is to get that verification process completed.
You may in some cases need to request the postcard a few times and/or contact Google’s support, but keep at it; that verification is extremely important.
Citations & Links
NAP or NAP+W is name, address, phone number and website – or in another words a listing for one of your locations, which we also call a citation.
You need to list each of your locations on the top generic national/international websites (think Yelp, Scoot Network, Freeindex etc). You should then look for highly targeted directories/websites in your service niche, your area or (if you are lucky) both!
I don’t like to use the word ‘directories’ but let’s be clear here: I’m not talking about those sites where you Paypal someone a few dollars to get a few links. I’m talking about listings websites that real people use to find real businesses. If the site looks dodgy, move on – you can overdo this part of the plan. When it comes to citations, quality trumps quantity and sometimes less is more.
Not only should you have the top citation sources covered, but the approach should be consistent. This means you need to dig up and edit old citations for closed and moved offices.
In addition to this you should establish a style guide for your citations. Are you going for “Brand Name” or “Brand Name Location” or “Brand Name Service”? Pick one and use it for each citation for each location. The address probably won’t give you as many issues; just make it as specific as each site allows. For the phone number go with a local branch number where possible, specifically adding the dialling code in. If you’re adding the country dialling code in, do so consistently where sites will allow you. For the website address, where possible add the landing page in, and where this is not allowed revert to the homepage.
Your content needs to form a key part of your local search campaign. You can start out with the basic (and slightly contrived) “Picking a (business type) in (location)”, but you should quickly branch out to local area guides, case studies and events.
You can really make each location into a hub for activity centred around the area. The next progression from here could well be a mini-site for each area.
I used to work in reputation management and, let me tell you, reviews are incredibly important. Put to one side (just for the moment) that you can mark them up with schema markup and maybe get some nice review stars in the results pages.
What we’re concerned about here is social proof; other people like you and have gone out of their way to say it. Other people have had issues with you – it will always happen – but there you are getting involved, being attentive and helpful, so potential customers feel reassured that if they do have a problem it will be addressed in a way they’re happy with.
Alluded to earlier, schema markup is very important in your local search campaign. Schema markup is a standardised way of describing entities – this could be a building, an event, even a recipe – to Google and other search engines.
Take a look through the full list: https://schema.org/. However, for most local campaigns you will need to use the local business, address, phone number and review item types.
Your approach to social will depend on how active your niche is and how engaged your customers are. You may want each branch to run their own profiles as they have the local knowledge and can engage much better than a head office.
Or, for consistency and control of brand guidelines, you may just run one set of accounts to cover all locales, feeding any requests/issues down to the branch as necessary.
I hope this guide has helped you figure out where your local SEO work should be headed. Remember, when it comes down to it, you’re rolling out mini campaigns for each individual location and doing so in tandem with an overall site-wide campaign will really get the ball rolling.
Note: The opinions expressed in this article are the views of the author, and not necessarily the views of Caphyon, its staff, or its partners.