SEO & PPC strategies for companies with multiple locations

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Following our recent blog about multi location SEO challenges, in this article we’ll be looking at a range of data-driven strategies we use to maximise the search presence of our customers that have multiple locations – and increase revenue from every area in which they operate.

Here are the strategies discussed in this section:

  1. Multi-location insights
  2. Drive business with localised content
  3. Build catchment areas with sub-location pages
  4. Drive growth through each location
  5. Replicate success for new business locations
  6. Long-term website authority & growth
  7. Implement PPC – and avoid competing campaigns
  8. Win customers without a business premise

Although we can’t name our customers, all of the strategies and examples provided in this section come from real-world campaigns we run for our multi-location customers.

#1: Multi location insights

The biggest asset you’ve got as a multi-location company is access to performance data across every area. Instead of simply working with global data, you can gain insights from several, dozens or hundreds of different locations to spot trends, benchmark performance and differentiate each business location.

Even with the most basic data system in place, you can build a comparative picture of business performance across locations, including:

  • Revenue
  • Average sale value
  • Sales volumes
  • Top-selling products/services
  • Search visibility
  • Keyword search volumes
  • Keyword CTRs
  • Conversion rates
  • Search visibility radius
  • Local customer radius

This isn’t a particularly sophisticated dataset but you can already identify which locations are performing best (both financially and in search) and which ones are underperforming. From here, you can determine why certain locations are falling behind and optimise to improve results.

For our customers, we build a far more comprehensive dataset than the example above to develop a complete picture of business performance, which we can segment for each location or group of locations (top-performers, nearby locations, similar locations, etc.).

From this data, we can identify trends, similarities and differences across locations to understand why performance varies. These insights allow us to learn from top-performing locations, replicate success where appropriate and also understand why certain strategies won’t work for specific locations.

Taking this even further, we can enhance these insights with competitor analysis to measure performance against local rivals. For example, we may see competitors also perform below-average in the same location and, then, determine whether this is simply a low-priority location or whether there’s anything we can do to dominate this particular area.

The next step is to pull in third-party data from external sources to provide more context to our first-party data and competitor analysis. For example, we might compare average sales values across locations with average salary data from ONS to identify locations that have room to promote more expensive offerings.

Or we might pull in historical and average rainfall data from the Met Office for each location and compare this with sales volumes. We can, then, use this data to develop a predictive model that incorporates weather forecasts to predict sales volumes and inform local content strategies and PPC campaigns.

We’ve barely scratched the surface of possibilities with multi-location data but the key point is to make full use of the data you have available. Local SEO is difficult for companies optimising multiple locations but the data you can produce has immense value – so take advantage of it.

#2: Drive business with localised content

Localised content is crucial for maximising search visibility in specific locations. You’ll find this tip in almost every local SEO advice article but we rarely find customers who take this seriously prior to working with us – and the key issue raised is the time and budget required to produce localised content for multiple locations.

What if we told you localised content is generating around 400% ROI for some of our multi-location customers through direct bookings? Yes, it takes time and money to produce localised content for each business location but the returns are more than worth it.

Here’s a quick summary of how we implemented a localised content strategy for one of our finance customers to hit the 400% ROI region:

  1. Create a localised landing page (or set of pages) for each business location.
  2. Insert landing page content from a boilerplate template.
  3. Insert location names, local keywords
  4. Add business location details: address, phone numbers, opening times, Google Maps embed, etc.
  5. Add unique content about the specific location to the page.
  6. Publish regular localised content for each location.

We have found that some companies challenge the idea of producing localised pages because of concerns around content duplication. However, senior Google figures repeatedly tell us duplicate content is OK providing it delivers value.

When it comes to location pages, general information about your business is going to be the same – and this is fine.

We’ve tested this across hundreds of business locations and similar content is not an issue in this situation. The bigger issue with location pages is optimising for local keywords so you can target searches like “best places to eat [location]” and “things to do in [location]”.

#3: Build catchment areas with sub-location pages

Each of your business locations attracts customers within a certain radius and you can use local SEO to target, build and enhance these catchment areas for driving more business to each location.

For example, one of our customers is a growing self-storage company with locations across the south coast and, of course, they want to attract customers beyond the immediate vicinity of their business locations.

So, let’s say a company has a business location in Portsmouth that’s targeting customers within a 10-mile radius. This would cover several sub-locations, including Fareham, Havant, Cosham, Waterlooville and Emsworth.

Now, a Portsmouth-based business wouldn’t necessarily show for people typing “self-storage Fareham” or people in Fareham searching “self-storage near me” – especially after the November 2021 local search update, which made proximity even more important.

To improve search visibility in these areas, you need to create sub-location pages for each area you want to target in your catchment area. Optimise these pages to include keywords like “self-storage near Fareham”, emphasise key selling points (eg: only five minutes from Fareham) and provide relevant information, such as directions from the target location.

Again, you can use the same content from your other location pages and add or change roughly 30% to optimise for keywords and include unique content for the target location.

By adding sub-location pages around your business locations, you build a much stronger ranking for keywords like “self-storage Fareham” and establish your catchment area. Obviously, these are low-volume opportunities, in terms of total search queries, compared to searches like “self-storage Portsmouth”. But they’re also less competitive, high-intent queries that are more likely to convert, especially if you deliver localised pages showing how well your company caters to their area.

Low search volume, high-intent queries are some of the biggest opportunities in local SEO and building a catchment area of sub-location pages is a great way to boost ROI.

#4: Drive growth through each location

Earlier, we talked about the issue of local search stagnation and the importance of maximising performance at each business location. A lot of multi-location companies make the mistake of trying to manage local search with a globalised strategy, which is like taking on all of the hard work of multi-location SEO without any of the benefits.

In strategy #1, we discussed the power of multi-location insights for tracking and optimising the performance of location businesses. Now, you’re going to use these insights to maximise search visibility in each catchment area and sales from each location.

Once you’ve covered all of the essentials and your local SEO gains start to decline, you want to shift the emphasis to differentiating each business location.

Earlier, we talked about using comparative data to identify your top-performing locations and calculate how much room is left for improvement with competitor analysis and third-party data. By now, you should have all the data you need to understand what makes each business location unique from its local rivals.

We did this analysis for the same storage customer discussed above and here are some of the unique characteristics we found about one of its business locations:

  • It was the only one in the area offering 24/hr access for customers.
  • It had more on-site parking than local alternatives.
  • It had a covered loading bay to protect items on rainy days.

With these three USPs, we can ensure these factors are specified on the relevant landing page. This way, when someone searches for “self-storage 24/hr access”, Google ranks the page higher and even shows the user that “24 hour access” is specifically mentioned on the landing page.

Google Business Profile listing showing their website mentions 24 hours access

Analyse your locations and perform competitor analysis to identify what sets you apart and make sure you’re promoting these selling points. You might also want to run some customer research to determine new selling points you could offer for specific locations, such as adapting your opening hours or offering certain facilities.

Aside from differentiating each business location, you’ll also want to maximise the local presence of each business location – both online and offline.

For the same storage company, we implemented the following steps to achieve this:

  • Create localised blog posts for each location
  • Support local businesses (this was particularly important and effective during lockdown)
  • Support and partner with local charities
  • Get involved in local events
  • Be newsworthy – get published in the local press

By building the local presence of each business location, you’re enhancing your search strategy in two key ways. First, you’re building local search signals for each specific location that Google and other search engines detect. And, secondly, you’re building brand awareness through meaningful relationships with the local community.

#5: Replicate success for new business locations

By the time you’re maximising the performance of each business location, you’ve got enough data insights and experience to start driving further growth by opening new business locations.

Building new business locations is a challenge in itself but you drastically improve your chances of success by using your local search data to inform key decisions.

First of all, you can use local search data to identify the best place to open a new business location by analysing search volumes, intent, competition, supply vs demand and a range of other insights.

Map of the UK showing how PPC impressions revealed where to open new offices

Find out how we identified the two most promising locations to open a new branch for one of our clients in this article on data visualisation.

Once you’ve decided where to open your next business premise, you face the challenge of replicating your local search success with the new location. Unfortunately, you can’t copy and paste a local search strategy – you have to determine what will work for the next location, build the necessary pages and optimise a new presence from scratch.

First, you need to put a roadmap together for the strategy, including a time frame and all of the expenses accounted for. How many location pages do you need to create, how much content will you produce ahead of launch and how much is everything going to cost?

Again, the answers lie in your multi-location data and we can use these insights to put together a 6-to-12-month roadmap for your new business locations.

We analyse your existing business locations, competitors and business potential in the proposed location to develop a strategy that will hit your search marketing and revenue goals. This includes a roadmap for pre and post-launch marketing activities, expected returns and all of the costs involved.

For example, we might determine that three months ahead of launch, you need to create and optimise your Google Business Profile, build your location page(s) and publish 3X pieces of localised content to start building early traction.

As the launch date approaches, publishing regular localised content for your most important keywords will lay the foundations of your local search strategy.

On launch day, we would probably start running paid advertising campaigns to generate early traffic while your organic search visibility builds. This would be a good time to start working towards evergreen, in-depth content to earn backlinks for the new location page, which is where you’ll develop long-term website authority.

#6: Long-term website authority & growth

The long-term goal of any SEO strategy is to build self-sustaining growth from pages that continue to generate higher volumes of traffic. To achieve this, you have to build domain authority and this requires quality backlinks from relevant websites.

In SEO terms, a “quality” link points from an external website with a stronger domain authority than yours. To get the strongest signal boost, you want links with optimised anchor text and no rel=”nofollow” tag in the link HTML.

Nofollow links from quality websites are still valuable but you should aim to earn multiple high-quality “do-follow” links each year.

Quality is more important than quantity and earning 2-3 follow links from high-authority websites every year is better than half a dozen from websites with a similar domain authority to yours. Recency is also a factor, which is why it’s important to keep earning quality backlinks every year.

The question is, how do you consistently earn this level of backlinks for local pages?

The only answer is to produce content worthy of earning these links and making sure your competitors don’t steal them from you. This can be challenging with localised content, especially for multi-location companies, but we’ve found a formula of analysis and content production that works.

Here’s the process we ran for our storage customer:

  1. Content quality: Produce high-quality, in-depth content for each business location.
  2. Localised content opportunities: Our analysis found opportunities in detailed moving guides for people relocating homes, including sections on best things to do in their new area, important contact details (local council, police, etc.) and other information to help with the move.
  3. Build content clusters: Publish shorter pieces of localised content exploring related topics to your in-depth pieces.
  4. User questions: Publish shorter, localised pieces addressing the questions your target audience asks in search, on your Google Business Profile, etc.
  5. Internal linking: Build internal links to your location pages from relevant pages and posts on your website.
  6. Update content: Update existing content, expand with more detail and add more value over time.
  7. Audit: Combine pages competing for the same keyword and remove pages gaining no traction.

You have to create the best content for each topic to earn the best backlinks and continue earning them for years to come. This doesn’t happen easily but a content-driven local SEO strategy increases brand awareness and builds the kind of search authority that drives sustained, long-term growth.

With this content-led approach to multi-location SEO, we’ve turned thousands of monthly page views into millions, directing high-intent traffic to some of the most targeted and relevant pages on our customers’ websites.

Again, the returns are worth the investment and the visibility growth translates into business growth outside of search, too. Increased brand awareness means more people know about your business and they’re more likely to do business with you as locations open in their nearby area.

#7: Implement PPC – and avoid competing campaigns

Having the same settings applied across multiple PPC campaigns can cause them to compete against each other and drive up your CPCs. Luckily, with careful optimisation, you can prevent this from happening, even if you’re promoting the same products or services across multiple locations.

To do this, we have to address three factors:

  1. Keyword settings (including match types)
  2. Landing pages
  3. Targeting settings

Now, let’s assume you need to target the exact same keyword across multiple locations so you can’t differentiate keywords beyond targeting location names. You don’t want to change keyword match types, either, because this will affect performance and there are only three match types anyway – so that’s of limited help.

Likewise, your landing pages are basically the same, except for the location names and the additional localised content you’ve added.

So how are you going to differentiate these campaigns and prevent them from competing against each other?

Well, the third and final option is to make sure the targeting settings are different in each campaign and you can do this for a multi-location strategy by applying targeting settings. Yes, you can target locations with your PPC ads but, more importantly, you can exclude specific locations to prevent campaigns from competing against each other, no matter how similar they are otherwise.

If this doesn’t solve all of your internal competition issues, take a look at our guide to managing PPC campaigns that compete against each other for more guidance.

#8: Win customers without a business premise

If your business doesn’t have a fixed location, you can face several challenges when building a multi-locational search presence. Whether you take the service to your customers (plumber, roofer, etc.) or you deliver them at other venues (events, catering, etc.), you face the same problem: optimising for locations where you have no business premise.

You can’t replicate the same type of local search presence as a company with physical business locations but you can take lessons from strategy #3 where we talked about building catchment areas with sub-location pages.

For example, one of our customers is a locksmith that covers quite a wide area. So we’ve created more than 2,000 location pages for its website for different locations. That might sound like an unmanageable workload but – just like in strategy #3 – we can automate much of this process.

Remember, duplicate content isn’t an issue for location pages, as long as the content on each page is relevant and accurate. So here’s a review of the process we used to produce 2,000 location pages for one customer:

  1. Keyword analysis: We analysed every target keyword for “locksmith [location]” and compare against competitors.
  2. Opportunities: This keyword analysis revealed 300 location keyword opportunities our customer was missing.
  3. Prioritisation: We analysed search volumes of all 300 keyword opportunities to determine which ones were worth optimising for.
  4. Page creation: With a total of 2,000 location pages to create, we automatically generated every page from a boilerplate template.
  5. Local keywords: Inserted location names and localised keywords where relevant.
  6. Business details: Added the relevant business details to each page, including the address, phone numbers, opening times, Google Maps embed, etc.
  7. Localised content: Added unique content about the specific business location and the local area – aiming for approx 30% unique local content.
  8. Postcode targeting: Aside from location names, we created location pages for key postcodes in London for searches like “locksmith SW1”.
  9. Inbound links: Earned inbound links for location pages with the same content strategy from strategy #6.
  10. Scale up: With a search presence established in key locations, we expanded the catchment area with sub-location pages, as in strategy #3.

By the time we reached stage 10 of the process above, we’d built a search presence across 2,000 locations for a business with no physical presence in those areas – and, now, we’re expanding into sub-locations.

By expanding the catchment area of each location, we start targeting more of those low-volume, high-intent opportunities that drive ROI. Crucially, most of the process above is automated – including most of the analysis and page creation – allowing us to build an entire network of local visibility in a relatively short space of time.

Need help with your multi location search marketing?

We have years of experience helping multi location businesses with their SEO and PPC. If you’d like to chat to our experts, contact us on 02392 830281 or submit your details below.

Marie Turner profile picture
Marie Turner

Marie has a varied marketing background, first starting out in advertising in 2008 at creative agency HSI London as a runner. After a gaining a degree in Broadcasting in 2013, she worked in the radio advertising industry managing Group M Content Solutions ad campaigns for Coca-cola, Universal Pictures, Paramount Pictures, Disney Retail UK, Unilever, Johnson & Johnson and more across the 8 national radio networks at Global Radio. She then sidestepped into SEO after finding her calling writing online content whilst working in radio and joined in 2017 as an SEO Executive. She then spent 3 years contributing to Amara’s highly successful organic channel managing the SEO Outreach and Inbound team, and part of the UK Search Awards’ nominated Best In-House Team 2 years running. She has spoken at Brighton SEO and often speaks at Tech SEO Women and other UK SEO and marketing conferences. She relocated to Hampshire from Essex in 2019 and now lives in Southampton with her boyfriend and cat, Percy. She loves running, drawing portraits, nature walks, live music and watching Star Trek. When she’s not doing SEO at work, she’s doing SEO on her food blog.

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