For multi-location brands, location pages are a fundamental component of a comprehensive local search engine optimization (SEO) strategy. These pages serve as vehicles to help local consumers find the information they need to contact your business and make a purchase. This could be information like physical address, phone number and business hours, as well as details on the products and services each location offers.
For SEO purposes, fully optimized location pages can improve your brand’s ranking in both the local map pack and organic search results.
But, optimizing these pages isn’t easy. Google is constantly updating their algorithm, meaning the SEO strategy you employed yesterday could be obsolete today.
Each day, Google usually releases one or more changes designed to improve our results. Some are focused around specific improvements. Some are broad changes. Last week, we released a broad core algorithm update. We do these routinely several times per year….
— Google SearchLiaison (@searchliaison) March 12, 2018
With that in mind, we’ve provided some updated best practices to help your brand create and optimize webpages for each of your locations. In this post, we’ll cover:
- Best practices for location page content
- Technical SEO best practices
- External SEO factors impacting your location pages
Note: we’re focusing on local SEO-specific tips, but overall SEO best practices like mobile friendliness, site speed, etc. still apply to location pages.
Download our free infographic for 10 tips to optimize your location pages
Best practices for location page content – optimizing for users
To fully optimize your location pages, it’s important to populate them with in-depth content that is unique, relevant to potential customers and easy to navigate. Keep reading for a few tips to help you build out that content.
Include up-to-date NAP data on your location pages
Make sure consumers can find you by providing the location’s NAP data:
- N – Business name
- A – Location’s address
- P – Location’s phone number
For extra credit, embedding a Google map with the location’s geo-positioning can help improve search engine rankings and help users find your store. According to a recent study, 17 percent of top-ranking local pages have embedded a Google map on their landing page.
List your hours of operation
Driving to a business to find out it’s closed isn’t a great consumer experience. Make sure that doesn’t happen by letting consumers know when you’re open by adding business hours to your location pages and updating them for any seasonal changes.
A picture is worth a thousand words
Hopefully you can move past the tired cliche because adding relevant photos and videos can do wonders for location pages. Photos and video help improve search engine rankings (especially if you include alt tags to describe the images to search engines) and they enhance the user experience by providing consumers visual inspiration to buy your products and services.
Add product and service descriptions
You don’t necessarily need a specific product or service page for each location, but you definitely need to make sure consumers know what you sell. You can use your location pages to feature and describe specific items or product and service categories (ideally accompanied with images and/or videos).
Guide consumers to conversion
Ideally, visitors to your location pages shouldn’t have any trouble figuring out how to convert. Include strong calls-to-action to encourage consumers to complete specific actions like calling your business, getting directions to your location, requesting a quote, etc.
Going beyond telling visitors how to convert, you should also make sure the content is easy to navigate. All other elements equal, pages that have key information organized in a logical and intuitive fashion are more likely to earn conversions.
Technical SEO Best Practices – Optimizing for search engines
Dominating local searches takes more than just in-depth content, you need to make sure search engines know what that content means. Don’t get me wrong, search engines love content, but if they can’t figure out what a page is about, they can’t determine if it will help a searcher answer a specific question.
Luckily, there are ways you can help search engines crawl, index and understand webpages. Before we dive into what those are, let’s first dissect what we mean by each of those actions:
Website crawls: To determine which sites go in their results, search engines start by crawling a list of web addresses from previous crawls and from sitemaps provided by webmasters.
According to Google, as “crawlers visit these websites, they use links on those sites to discover other pages. The software pays special attention to new sites, changes to existing sites and dead links.”
Website indexing: For webpages to end up in search results, search engines need to find them during one of their crawls. From there, they index each page based on its content. Again, let’s turn to Google for some additional detail:
We take note of key signals — from keywords to website freshness — and we keep track of it all in the Search index. The Google Search index contains hundreds of billions of webpages and is well over 100,000,000 gigabytes in size. It’s like the index in the back of a book — with an entry for every word seen on every web page we index. When we index a web page, we add it to the entries for all of the words it contains.
Reading a webpage: Search engines are getting more intelligent by the day. But, they’re not sentient just yet. This means that even if they can read text and numbers on a webpage, they might not know what they’re reading. For example, look at the following sequence of numbers:
800 555 1234
Most of us humans would see these 10 digits with that grouping and intuitively understand it’s a phone number. A search engine, however, might not. To make sure search engines can identify key information and understand your website, make sure to include the following technical SEO elements.
Title tags act as just that for your page – a title. Use these tags to provide visitors and search engines a concise description of your location pages including the name of the business, the geo-location of the store and the main service and/or product.
Meta descriptions haven’t directly impacted search rankings for some time. However, search engines often show descriptions in the preview snippets for organic search results, so it’s important that this copy entices users to click through to your site.
The way you structure the URL of a webpage can have a significant impact on local search engine rankings. For location pages, the best practice is to use the parent domain (www.example.com) along with the location page (www.example.com/city-state).
Header (H1) tag
Header tags are like a secondary title to communicate a page’s content to search engines and users. H1 tags should be placed as close to the top of the page as possible and should include geo-modifiers and targeted keyword phrases.
Schema Markup is a shared semantic vocabulary of tags (or microdata) that you can add to the HTML of your location pages to help search engines read and understand web content. These tags allow search engine crawlers to identify text as essential local business information like:
- Local business type
- Areas served
- Reviews and aggregate rating
- Business hours
- Product details
Separate from the content and technical elements on your webpages, there are a number of external factors that can influence your location pages’ rankings in search results.
Local citations are any mention of your business locations on the web. They are any combination of your company name, phone number, address, zip or postal code and website address.
There are two main forms of citations:
Structured Citations (i.e., local listings): Your business information (NAP) on a business listing directory. Example sites for structured citations include:
Unstructured Citations: Your business information (NAP) on any other site that’s not specifically a business listing directory. Common examples where you’ll find unstructured citations are blogs, magazine/newspaper sites, wikis, etc.
It’s important for multi-location businesses to have a program in place to manage the accuracy and consistency of local listings and other citations across the web. Citation Signals (directory/aggregator NAP consistency, citation volume, etc.) were the fourth most important factor for local map pack rankings and the fifth most important for organic local rankings, according to Moz’s 2017 Local Search Ranking Factors.
Having a stable of positive reviews can significantly impact your locations’ performance in search engine rankings. Review signals (quantity, velocity, diversity, etc.) were the fifth most important factor for local map pack rankings and the seventh most important for organic local rankings, according to Moz.
Make sure your brand is monitoring and replying to reviews across locations. You should also encourage customers to leave positive reviews.
Backlinks are links coming into your website. Incoming links to a website are considered to be one of the most significant ranking factors in Google’s search algorithm (if not the most important) because they represent a vote of confidence from one site to another. And, the higher quality domains linking to you, the more valuable the link.