if you run a business that has multiple locations and would like to rank high for all the local searches (e.g. “product city”, “city product” etc…), you need to play your cards right as local SEO is not exactly like global SEO.
Also, since Google+ and Google Places have merged, the landscape has changed quite a bit.
Here are 5 key tips that you should follow in order to start your Local SEO campaign on the right foot and eventually rank high for all relevant local searches:
Have a SEO-friendly page for EACH location
This step is often overlooked and is actually the most important of them all. It is not enough to simply have a “Locations page” that has a nice map with a list of all your locations. As far as SEO is concerned, each location needs its own page!
Ideally, you want to have your local pages hosted within the main corporate website so they can all benefit from your domain’s trust and authority (e.g. www.companyname.com/location/cityname). If you have multiple branches within the same city, you could be structure it like this www.companyname.com/location/cityname/branchname (or /branchnumber).
In most cases, you want all you locations’ pages to be hosted under your main site. However if you are planning to have a LOT of content and dynamic features for each location’s website, you might want to think about opening up a new subdomain for each location (e.g. location.companyname.com) or a whole new domain altogether (e.g. www.citycompanyname.com). Just keep in mind that this might be more work since you are basically starting from scratch and you will not benefit from the authority/trust/age of your main domain.
Have Unique Content + Exact Address displayed on Each Page
Now that you have your structure figured out, make sure you write unique content for each location’s page.
Aim for at least 500 words of content on each page. Add a picture of that specific location if you can with some details of the services/products offered there. Add the name of the manager or contact person there along with the phone number and email and any other information that is relevant to that specific location.
If you run out of ideas on what to write, you could always talk about the city and/or the area where your branch is located. (You just need to feed the search engines something to improve your relevancy score for that city/region)
One more thing, make sure you include the full address of the location on each page along with an embedded Google Map.
Lastly, make sure you are linking to all your locations from your homepage in a natural/intuitive way so that both your users and the search engine robots can find them. (Add the location URLs to the XML sitemap)
Create a Google+ Local Page for Each Location
Google Places is no more. Now you have to create Google+ local page (which is very similar to a Facebook Fan Page) for each location. Again, make sure you select “Local Business” when you create your page, or you will not have all the local options enabled.
Make sure you fill out your Google+ page profile with as many details as you can. Add many photos to your local page too as these will show up right under your Google+ listing when someone searches for your brand name. In fact there is a high chance that your Google+ page is the 1st thing they’ll see in the SERPs when they search for your brand name on Google.
Also, you want to add your location’s direct web page URL. Your Google+ page will allow you to add multiple links, so feel free to add any other links you deem relevant (Blog, Contact Us, Twitter, Facebook, etc…)
Get More Citations for your Locations
Citations are to Local SEO what inbound links are to Global SEO, in the sense that they improve your local page’s authority and trust. Citations are basically listings of your business (name + address + phone) on other local directories such as Yelp, FourSquare, Yellow Pages, etc….
Depending on how competitive your industry is, you might need to create a lot of these! (If you’re a plumber in Saratoga, you can probably rank just fine with just 1-2 citations, but if you’re an Indian restaurant in New York, roll up your sleeves!). Here is a link to an article from Search Engine Land where you can find a list of websites where you can get citations from: http://searchengineland.com/top-50-citation-sources-for-uk-us-local-businesses-104938
Make sure you get citations from websites that are relevant to your niche + physical location. Each country has their own local business directories that you can get citations from. Also, make sure you use the exact same business name and address on ALL sites, as Google will be looking to match the details you provided on your Google+ page.
Encourage Your Satisfied Clients to Leave Reviews
Having a few reviews for each location will definitely help your SEO efforts as it is one of the factors that the Google algorithm will look at.
Whenever possible, ask your satisfied clients to leave positive reviews on either Google or any citation website that they like to use.
You don’t need to overdo this. Just look at your competitors on Google (c.f. all the ones that rank on the 1st page for your main keywords) and see how many reviews they have [on average]. Try to get in the same playing field. If your weakest competitor has 30 reviews and you have only 2, that’s not good.