As a local business with multiple locations, you’ve got a lot of marketing decisions to make. How will potential customers know your products or services are available in their area? What type of marketing tools are best for your local business? (hint: it’s not going to be the same tools that the corporate overlord in your industry uses) And finally, most local businesses aren’t rolling in dough, so what areas should you dedicate your marketing budget to first? We’re going to give you expert advice based on our own experience & strategy we’ve used for clients with multiple businesses.
Google Business Profile & Google Maps
Google Business Profiles (formerly known as Google My Business) are essential for local businesses to be found online. A Google Business Profile is used to manage how your business shows up across Google products, like Google Maps and the SERPs (search engine results pages). Chances are, your business might already be online, but its profile is sitting unclaimed. Make sure you claim or create a Google Business Profile for each of your physical business locations.
Here is an example of our Google Business Profile in the SERPs:
And our business in the map pack:
As I said before, your Google Business Profile is your key to communicating essential business information to Google products. Why is this important? Well, 97% of users use Google to search for local businesses in the United States. That’s HUGE! If your business isn’t being seen on Google, or *gulp* your business’s information is inaccurate, you’re missing out on one of the biggest marketing opportunities and possibly giving potential customers inaccurate information.
Once you’ve listed or claimed your Google Business Profile, there are multiple opportunities you should take advantage of:
- Completely fill out your business information. Don’t skip over any sections. This includes adding accessibility features, amenities, service options, and more. This should be revisited periodically.
- Respond to all reviews. This shows Google you’re active and engaged with its users.
- Add photos and images of your space, products, and/or services.
- Post to your GBPs weekly, again, this shows Google that you’re an active contributor.
- Finally, add common FAQs to your profile. Asking: “How do I return an item with a warranty?,” “How much does it cost to ship your products?” “What should I expect after contacting you for an appointment?” Even if your answer is “It depends” – say that!
Local SEO with Location-Rich Content Additions
Since the dawn of SEO, there’s been an age-old struggle between writing content for robots (Google) and writing content for users. Marketers have many opinions about striking a balance, but we’ll give you ours. In our eyes, users are the ones who decide to purchase your product or service. If you don’t prioritize compelling website copy for them, it won’t matter if they stumble upon your website or not. Sometimes, sneaking in location keywords on your website can still be user-friendly. For example:
- Add your business addresses to the footer of your website.
- Take the subheading “Equal access to recreational opportunities creates a healthy and thriving community.” This can still be user-friendly when rewriting this to “Equal access to recreational opportunities creates a healthy and thriving community in Boise and beyond.”
Designated Location Pages
Because you should really only target 1-3 keywords per page, it can be hard when you have 2+ locations served. Some of the best SEO results we’ve seen have come from creating location pages for areas served. Pro tip: adding reviews to these pages that mention the location is a great, user-friendly way to sneak more keywords into your website copy.
Take The Bouqs Co. for example. They’ve got their “local” webpage here:
When you scroll down to the bottom of the page, you’ll see these linked location pages:
When you click on one, like “Seattle,” it will open to its own page with keyword-rich text and targeting. This is a great way to increase your keyword-targeting bandwidth with multiple business locations.
Schema markup, or structured data, is the language search engines use to read and understand the content on individual web pages. Adding schema markup to your location pages is a great way to show web crawlers that your business has multiple locations. This can be done in a few ways. Take our website, for example. If you run Redfox Visual’s homepage through Schema.org’s markup validator, you’ll see a list of markup on the page.
The following schemas have been found:
- Local Business
For businesses that have multiple locations, we’d recommend the following:
- Add organization & service schema to your homepage.
- Organization schema will provide information about your business, and service schema will list out all of the areas served.
- Add local business schema to any location pages that have another physical location. For example, if you have a storefront in Boise, Idaho, and a storefront in Meridian, Idaho, you would add location schema to both using each individual address. If you have location pages without physical storefronts, you could add service schema to these pages instead.
Image Naming Conventions & Alternative Text
Say you’re Broadcast Coffee– a coffee shop based in Seattle that recently expanded to Bosie, Idaho. On their website, they have pictures of each storefront. Including location keywords in the image names would be helpful for their content. Similarly, alternative text can be added with local keywords. Alternative text is mainly used to help screen readers communicate information, but marketers have found a way to strategically write good alt text while adding local keywords.
Take this image of Broadcast Coffee’s Boise café.
Here’s an example of an image name and alternative text we would use.
Image name: broadcast-coffee-café-interior-boise
Alternative text: The inside of Broadcast Coffee café in Boise, Idaho. A bright and airy space with wood accents, coffee merchandise for sale, and a pink espresso machine.
See how we seamlessly integrated a few local keywords? Now picture that for the Seattle location and beyond. This will help Google differentiate your various business locations.
Directory Checks & Backlinking
While Google is king for online searches, some people still browse through online directories. Even though this number might be dwindling, the importance of being listed isn’t going anywhere- yet! That’s because Google weighs directory backlinks as a ranking factor for local businesses. Making sure you have the correct addresses and business information for each of your locations lets Google know your business is legitimate. The “link juice” from these backlinks also weighs as a ranking factor.
Organic Social Media
Local businesses have a great opportunity to reach more potential customers, increase brand awareness, and build long-lasting relationships with their customers through organic social media. Depending on your business type (and where your customers are), organic social media can be an extremely effective marketing strategy. Here are some of our top recommendations:
- Do you host events at your business location? If so, creating Facebook events and providing your storefront address can help others learn about your business.
- Only create accounts that you feel equipped to manage. Dormant social media accounts do more harm than good.
- To start, don’t create separate accounts for your business based on areas served. If you have one storefront in Boise, and one in Seattle, we recommend keeping your social media accounts under one brand. If you do a lot of outreach and events that are advertised on social media specific to each business location, you could have regional or location-specific accounts once you grow large enough. Take SheJumps for example, which has separate Instagram accounts for each region of their business:
Google Ads are great for promoting local businesses in location-based search results. You can specifically target regions that you’d like to appear.
Our Expert Opinion on Allocating Marketing Budget
For local businesses, search engine optimization (SEO) is the single most important tool in your marketing toolbox. Not only is SEO intent-based (meaning people are already looking for what you have), but it has tons of potential for reaching a wide audience. Whether someone is searching for your business or the product or service you offer, showing up in the SERPs is critical for local businesses with multiple locations.
We hope this small guide gives you insights into what your business can do to be successful with multi-location marketing. Our team at Redfox Visual has experience in SEO, website analytics, user-friendliness, and conversion rate optimization.