How to do local SEO for multiple locations

Local SEO is important for any business with a physical presence, but what about companies with multiple locations? Instead of optimising for one store, you have to build visibility for every location and bring them together as part of the same brand. Essentially, you’re managing local SEO strategies for every location, but with the added complexity of keeping them all consistent – a serious workload for any one business.

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Why is local SEO for multiple locations important?

As a business with multiple locations, you need users to find the closest one to them when they’re searching. For search engines to show the closest branch to users at any given time, every location needs its own search presence.

For starters, every business location should have a dedicated page on your website. Each location also needs its own Google Business Profile, directory listing, etc. – but we’ll cover all this in the next section.

First, let’s take a moment to talk about local SEO ranking factors. We’re not going to cover them all, but Google specifies three key factors for local searches:

  1. Relevance: How well your local Business Profile matches what the user is searching for.
  2. Distance: How far each potential search result is from the location term used in a search.
  3. Prominence: How well-known a business is – including links, articles, directories and reviews.

These aren’t the only things that matter for local SEO, but they apply to all of the steps we’re looking at in this article.

10 steps to optimise local SEO for multiple locations

Keeping local SEO ranking factors in mind, let’s run through a 10-step process for optimising local search for multiple locations.

1. Understand your competition

With competitor analysis for multi-location SEO, you may have different competitors in each area. Even if you’re not competing with certain rivals in every location, analyse their entire multi-location strategy to determine their strengths and weaknesses.

  1. Identify your local search rivals ranking for the same target keywords.
  2. Analyse their target keywords for opportunities you’ve missed – and any that your rivals have overlooked.
  3. Analyse their local rankings – including positions and placements (local pack, Maps, etc.).
  4. Estimate competitor distance to the most population areas in your target location.
  5. Review competitor Business Profiles – look for gaps in their profile and differentiators in their opening hours, facilities, etc.
  6. Analyse their websites and take notes from their local pages, localised content, schema markup, etc.
  7. Analyse their backlinks & citations to see where they’re getting links and references.
  8. Review local engagement – how engaged are your rivals in the local community (online and offline)?

Pay attention to details and always consider the value to customers.  Something as simple as closing an hour later or offering in-store pickups for online orders could make all the difference.

2. Create a Google Business Profile for each location

For multi-location SEO, every business premise needs a complete Google Business Profile. The easiest way to do this is to log into Google Business Profile Manager and click Create group.

Google business profile - where to create a group

Once you’ve named your group, you can start adding business locations. Click the Add business button and you’ll see two options: Add single business and Import businesses.

Select Import businesses and you’ll be asked to submit a spreadsheet containing all of your business info. If you haven’t completed your spreadsheet yet, you can download a template.

You don’t need to complete every field in the template, but you should provide all of the relevant info you can for each location:

  • Location code
  • Business name
  • Address
  • Locality & sub-locality
  • Latitude & longitude
  • Primary phone & additional phones
  • Website
  • Primary category & additional categories
  • Opening hours
  • Opening date  (if not already open)
  • Logo photo (URL)
  • Cover photo (URL)
  • Other photos (URLs)
  • Google Ads location extensions phone number
  • Amenities
  • Payment methods
  • Place page URLs & menu link (url_menu)

When you’re done, click Select file in Google Business Profile Manager to upload all of your business locations. If you’re submitting more than 10 business locations, you’ll have to request bulk verification.

Once every location has its own Business Profile, make sure you keep each profile up to date: opening hours, new facilities, posts, etc. Take a look at the following articles for further guidance:

3. Create a location page for each business premise

Your website also needs a dedicated location page for each business premise. Every location with a Google Business Profile should have its own location page, and each location page should include the following:

  • Location in the URL
  • Location keyword in title tags
  • Location in meta description
  • Location keywords in headings and main content
  • Name, address and phone number (NAP)
  • Opening hours
  • Facilities (parking, toilets, disabled access, etc.)
  • Unique content – don’t say the same thing on every page
  • Unique images, videos and other visual
  • Internal links to relevant pages
  • Google Maps embed

Create a “locations” category page on your website to group all of your location pages together. If you have a lot of locations (10+), add a location finder to your website.

In the Google Business Profile for each location, link to the relevant location page on your website – don’t link them all to your homepage.

4. Optimise for local keywords

Local keywords are important for two key purposes: optimising your location pages and creating localised content (more on this in the next section). As a multi-location brand, you need to make sure you’re targeting the right keywords for each premise. This starts with understanding the different types of local keywords your audience uses.

Explicit local keywords

High-intent local queries often include the primary keyword (brand, service, product, etc.) and a location qualifier – either the specific location or a phrase like “near me”. Eg: “thai restaurant london”.

Implicit local keywords

People don’t necessarily include a location keyword when they search for something in the nearby area. Imagine someone searching for “locksmith” after a break-in or “24hr plumber” during a pipe leak. These keywords imply local intent and, in some cases, urgency – so make sure you’re not overlooking implicit keywords.

Informational local keywords

Informational local queries often include additional qualifiers, so instead of simply searching “thai restaurant london,” the user might search for the “best thai restaurants in london”.

5. Create localised content

Localised content reinforces your local presence for search engines, but it also caters to the needs of local audiences. Keyword research reveals the informational queries you need to address and you can also create localised content to showcase your participation in the local community.

Develop a localised content strategy for each location and strive to deliver real value to local audiences.

  • Publish blog posts for informational local queries (and keep them updated)
  • Create location-based guides
  • Add localised FAQ sections to your location pages
  • Host, sponsor and participate in local events (cover them on your blog)
  • Run local promotions, competitions, surveys, etc.
  • Add light-hearted, conversational references to local landmarks
  • Cover and respond to relevant events in each area
  • Publish content on local third-party sites

As always, include location keywords in the right places: title tags, headings and the main body of content. Don’t force them in or create localised content for the sake of it. Come up with as many legitimate reasons to create localised content as possible. Being an active business in every target location is the best way to create legitimate content opportunities.

6. Build your internal linking structure

Internal links help search engines understand the structure of your website and the relationship of pages. More importantly, they help users understand the structure of your website and navigate it.

With the right website structure and internal linking system, you can reinforce the importance of pages and relationship between them by adding more internal links. You can do this in blog posts, landing pages, location pages and any new, relevant page you publish. For multi-location SEO, internal linking is particularly important as it groups and connects location pages with the rest of your site.

Earlier, we talked about creating a “locations” category page to group and connect all your individual location pages together. This establishes the structure and relationship of your business locations. Now, you can reinforce this relationship by linking to location pages from your localised content. This content includes local keywords, local NAP details, local backlinks and unique content relevant to the location.

7. Use schema markup

Schema is the primary markup used for structured data in Google Search. Structured data adds descriptive code to your pages and content, helping Google understand them and rank for the most relevant queries. Google also uses this data to show listings in useful formats for users.

For example, using the Local Business Schema markup, Google can show local business listings in the Knowledge Graph, including useful information like opening times, directions, ratings and actions for phone calls, appointments, etc.

Schema local listing example

There are three key benefits to using structured data:

  1. Help Google understand the content on your pages
  2. Increase CTRs with rich results
  3. Help users complete actions faster

Using Schema markup increases your chances of showing rich results in the SERPs. Aside from standing out visually, rich results provide more contextual information (such as sitelinks or review scores), helping users complete actions faster.

Rich results lead to higher conversion rates but they can also shorten the distance between first clicks and conversion actions. For example, Google might show sitelinks in your result, including a link to your “locations” page – so users can find their nearest branch faster.

Sitelinks local seo costa coffee example

8. Obtain local backlinks for each location page

Backlinks are one of the most important ranking factors for any online presence. The key difference with local SEO is that – aside from high-quality backlinks, in general – you also need to obtain local backlinks for your location pages.

Earlier, we explained that Google prioritises relevance, distance and prominence in local rankings. All backlinks and citations boost prominence but local backlinks also add relevance for each specific business location.

Here’s a quick action plan for earning local backlinks:

  1. Analyse your competitors’ link profiles
  2. Create profiles in local directories
  3. Guest post on local publications
  4. Participate in interviews for local publications
  5. Be a newsworthy brand in each local area
  6. Press release about relevant news
  7. Reach out to local content creators
  8. Run local promotions, competitions, surveys, etc.
  9. Partner with other organisations in target areas
  10. Chase up citations and request backlinks

You’ll often find publishers link to your homepage and this is great for your overall search presence.  You can always reach out to linking websites and send the intended URL, but this relies on them putting in the work. Ideally, you want linking websites to use the right URL from the beginning. So, be as active as possible with local partnerships and develop relationships where you can control the URL used for backlinks.

9. Manage your citations

Citations are also a key signal of prominence for local SEO. They’re not as valuable as quality backlinks, but they’re generally easier to earn and their value stacks up if you build a large profile of citations. Citations include any online (text) mention of your brand or business name, but that’s not all. Local citations can include any amount of business info (name, address, phone number, description, etc.).

Once again, as a multi-location business, you want to generate local citations for each target area (as well as brand citations, in general). First, you can start building citations yourself in controlled locations:

  • Bing Places for Business
  • Apple Business Connect
  • Meta Business Manager
  • Review platforms
  • Directory listings
  • Business data aggregators
  • Industry-specific listings (eg: the Digital Agency Network, TripAdvisor)

Next, branch out your citations by seeking guest post opportunities on publisher websites that allow you to create author profiles. The more business info these profiles contain, the better.

The key thing is to be 100% consistent with your business details (especially NAP). Use a citation management tool to keep track of citations, detect inconsistencies and flag up any duplicate, fraudulent or problematic citations.

10. Showcase & manage your reviews

Customer reviews build a stronger reputation for search engines and new potential customers – a boost for rankings and conversions. As a general rule, you want a positive average score (3.8+ stars) and a high volume of reviews.

Volume is crucial because half a dozen reviews don’t tell search engines or people much. People are far more likely to choose a business rated 3.8 stars from 300 reviews and a 5-star business with five. Recency is also important, so you want a regular, healthy supply of customer reviews.

Likewise, the content of your reviews (and how you respond to them) is often more important than the scores themselves. As long as red flags aren’t cropping up consistency (messy hotel rooms, food hygiene concerns, etc.), you can normally turn negative reviews into a positive by dealing with them appropriately.

Manage negative reviews

Don’t panic when you get negative reviews – this is a natural part of managing your online presence. Take this opportunity to show new potential customers how good you are at dealing with issues and negative feedback. Keep calm and follow these five steps:

  1. Evaluate the review
  2. Confirm it’s genuine
  3. Respond quickly
  4. Resolve the issue
  5. Tell customers they can change the review score

For more help on managing customer reviews for local SEO, take a look at these articles:

Measuring the success of your local SEO strategy [200]

Optimising for local search is great, but you need to know your strategy is getting results. Depending on your marketing goals, you want an analytics system capable of answering the right questions:

  • Are people discovering your business in local search?
  • Are local searchers visiting you in-store?
  • Are local searchers calling your business?
  • Is your Google Business Profile generating web traffic?
  • Is local search traffic converting – online or offline?
  • Are customers leaving reviews?
  • Which locations are performing best (and worst) in local search?
  • Which locations are generating the most revenue from local search?

No single analytics platform can answer all of these questions. That being said, Google Business Profile includes a solid reporting system that provides valuable insights for every location.

google business profile reporting

You can see which queries users use to find your business in local search and monitor the following insights:

  • Visits to your Google Business Profile
  • Requests for directions to your business location
  • Clicks to call you from your profile
  • Website clicks from your profile
  • Messages via Google Business Profile
  • Bookings
  • Booking clicks
  • Profile interactions
  • Product views
  • Menu engagement

Obviously, some of those insights are specific to certain business types, but you get an idea of what Google Business Profile can do. That’s a good start, but it doesn’t give you the full picture, especially for multiple locations. To get the full picture for our customers, we pull data in from several sources, including Google Business Profile, Google Analytics, Google Ads, CRM data and plenty more.

By building a complete picture of multi-location SEO performance, we can do a lot more than measure their local search strategies. We can deep dive into business performance and help them uncover insights that drive growth – eg: identify the most profitable areas to open a new branch or new product lines they should sell.

Find out how we improve the performance of multi-location businesses in this article on SEO and PPC strategies for companies with multiple locations.

Need help managing your multi-location local SEO strategy?

Managing a local SEO strategy at scale is often the biggest challenge for companies with multiple locations. We can help you make local SEO manageable for every business location. To find out more about our local SEO services, call us on 02392 830281 or send us your details and we’ll call you back.

Josh Wilkie profile picture
Josh Wilkie

Josh is an SEO specialist who joined Vertical Leap at the beginning of 2022. He studied journalism and was a reporter for a local newspaper before moving into digital marketing to combine his passion for the written word with his love for all things data-led. He believes content is king and that the key to success in this highly competitive landscape is to be uniquely useful. His main passion outside of work is skiing and he spent six winter seasons in the French Alps.

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