Some local businesses operate as part of a franchise system, as a brand licensee, or underneath a corporate structure with many locations across a country or region. As with all other businesses, high organic search engine rankings resulting from search engine optimization (SEO) can be a profitable driver of traffic to your website or blog. All the basics of SEO still apply, but franchises and multi-location businesses face additional challenges. So, here are three key tips for increasing your local pages’ ranks in the local search engine results.
1. Avoid Duplicate Content
Whether your website is part of the corporate site or stands on its own, repetition of company “boilerplate” descriptions can be problematic for search engine rankings. Google and other search engines look for unique content and penalize the duplication of articles or language across multiple sites in order to serve more varied and higher quality search results. Both duplicate content within a website and across websites can be detected.
However, most corporate brands with multiple locations encourage consistency in the language used to describe products and services in order to reinforce the brand, leading to duplicate content. So in order to avoid being penalized, Matt Cutts, head of Google’s Webspam team suggests that multi-location business websites include unique location information along with some localized content and, “they should be fine.”
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To avoid creating duplicate content, you could include references to your location or indicate service areas such as “downtown Metropolis,” or “on the lake in northern Metropolis” in your local page’s content. Other ideas for localized unique content include the history of that location, management names or special offers. For example, “Owner John Doe has been tossing pizza dough in the historic Jones building in Western Suburb since 2005.” Make sure you are choosing 3-5 local keywords to optimize for on your blog or site.
2. Use a Unique URL for Each Location’s Page
To help search engines display the most relevant local results, each location’s web page should have a unique URL that includes a geographic marker, such as the city or state. For example, the Dallas location of a dog groomer could choose a URL like dallas.doggrooming.com or doggrooming.com/dallas. You also want to make sure the main corporate website links to these URLs to drive quality traffic to those local pages. Here are a few other things every website needs.
3. Claim Directory Listings and Social Media Pages
You should claim your local directory listings for each location on sites such as Google+ Local (formerly Google Places), Yahoo! and Bing, and kept updated regularly to get found in local search. Other local directories to consider include Yelp, MerchantCircle, SuperMedia, LocalPages, and Citysearch to maximize your visibility to local consumers.
Another tactic to increase your business’s rank in search results include leveraging social media profiles for each location since having a social media presence is a strong signal to Google that a given business deserves to rank well. Most franchises or corporate brands have issued or are considering policies and guidelines on the use of social media, so check with your corporate office to see what resources they can provide.
ReachLocal has dedicated teams that work specifically with multi-location businesses and franchises to help them grow their business online. If you have any questions or comments about how ReachLocal can help you market your multi-location business, let us know in a comment!