The importance of individual location pages continues to grow for all franchise and multi-unit businesses. In my last article, I discussed the details of why and how ranking matters for long-term visibility and success.
There is a natural extension between local listing management and SEO service offerings that can be leveraged to grow existing clients. With algorithm updates placing more significance on local optimization of business information, having a fully optimized local landing page is a necessity both for organic ranking and local listing ranking. By optimizing the local business pages and building authority on the brand’s domain, we can enhance local listing management while also growing organic non-branded traffic and conversions from the website through an SEO program.
However, whether you use a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) solution or a more manual approach to building location pages, the end goal isn’t creation. It is to develop, maintain, and optimize these pages to ensure visibility and utility for local searchers. Your brand’s location pages aren’t going to eclipse competitors on the search results page by their existence alone.
Let’s take a look at three tactics you can employ post-launch to continually improve location page performance.
Site Structure & Internal Linking Best Practices
Writing the location pages to the sitemap is a basic first step, but it is often overlooked. It’s important to ensure the site map is accurate and optimized so search engines can easily find and crawl all local pages. Then, audit your existing internal linking to ensure links direct to the correct new location pages. Also look for additional cross-linking opportunities between existing high-ranking pages and the new location pages.
Ensuring the optimization of meta and structured data is critical on every page of the site, including the local pages. Title tags are one of the constants used by search crawlers to understand the content on the page. Enticing meta descriptions can aid in higher click-through rates (CTRs) from search results pages, driving more qualified traffic to your site. Also, consider testing your PPC ad copy in page descriptions to drive higher CTRs. H1 tags should be used as another indicator to the content on the page and additional H2-H6 tags could be used to break up content into easily digestible chunks for readers.
It’s debatable whether or not schema and data mark ups aid in higher rankings, but proper coding can certainly help search engine crawlers “understand” the content on the page. Leverage Schema.org to identify different markup options that are relevant to your website and industry. Your first step might be to make sure your address and additional location information is wrapped using the correct location schema.
You may also consider regional pages. These pages group the stores into pre-defined regions for two purposes: providing a better user experience to searchers looking for a variety of location options and also capturing traffic using regional search terms. Depending on your local marketing campaign structure, these pages can also be utilized for metro-level paid search landing pages.
Creating location subpages is another effective strategy to optimize for a specific service keyword that also includes a geo-modified phrase. For example, if you are a Colorado company offering oil changes, not only would you want a page for “oil change Denver”, but also a reviews subpage, optimized for the popular phase “Denver oil change reviews”.
Rich Content on Local Pages
The most critical element for a successful local page is the accurate name, address, and phone number (NAP). Local listing management services can help maintain and distribute this accurate information over time. However, a number of industry signals indicate the growing importance of rich content on local pages.
The more relevant information, pictures, videos, and customer testimonials you can have on each location page, the better. Localized directions to the store featuring landmarks and neighborhood nicknames are also helpful. The real challenge lies in executing this at scale for hundreds or thousands of locations.
If you have a CMS with gated access you may allow individual store owners to upload their own content that the corporate marketing team can ultimately review and edit prior to publishing to the location page. The same system can be utilized to preview customer reviews on location pages before publishing them. This allows you to have some control over what’s being said about your business but also allows for unique and valuable content on local pages.
In an ideal world, each location page (or at least regional page) would have its own blog to consistently produce fresh, localized content. But again, the issue is scale. A functional compromise is a single corporate blog that includes many articles on regional and local store topics. For example, along with posts on national industry news and project tips, a home improvement chain could include interviews with individual store owners, new store announcements, store events or regional project suggestions with links to the relevant location page(s). Don’t forget to also include the social sharing buttons, Google Webmaster Tools and analytics tracking code implementation.
Community Outreach, Backlink Audits, & Reciprocal Linking
No website is an island. The more natural connections you can forge between your site and other high-quality sites, the higher your search ranking is likely to be (without resorting to black hat tactics that can get you penalized and provide a bad user experience). Consider encouraging thought leaders to write engaging and informative articles on the industry and reach out to influencers and publishers as part of a wider public relations effort. Articles like these generate social engagement, establish your brand as a thoughtful voice in the industry and of course, provide a quality backlink to your site.
Conduct a backlink audit to see which of your pages are being linked to from outside sources. External links are an important ranking factor and you can make them work harder for you (and create a better consumer experience) by having them connect to the most relevant local page. For example, if the Kalamazoo Chamber of Commerce has a link to your main corporate page, contact them and request the link go directly to the Kalamazoo location page.
You can also bridge the online and offline worlds by encouraging local store owners to take their community affiliations online by developing relationships with these local partners. For instance, if the Fargo location sponsors an annual 5K, be certain there are links to that event on the location page. It can be a bit of a grey area in SEO to ask for a link to your site, but when genuine community bonds exist between a brand and local non-competitive businesses or non-profits, linking between web assets is simply the digitization of a legitimate relationship.
The creation and implementation of your location pages is just the beginning. A full-scale, effective local marketing strategy includes ongoing recommendations for optimization based on analytics insights, usability testing, SEO monitoring, and community engagement. Posting any location pages is better than ignoring this powerful strategy, but without cultivation you’ll never see the performance these pages have the potential to produce.