How to Use Location Pages for Local SEO: A Multi Location SEO Strategy

A Complete Guide To Multiple Location SEO For Chains and Franchises

How to Use Location Pages for Local SEO: A Multi-Location SEO Strategy

Expanding your online presence for local search is hard enough as it is. When you add multiple locations to the mix, things get even more daunting. 

You are faced with decisions about website architecture, URL structure, whether you need location pages or a store locator, and how best to avoid filtering all of your multi-location Google My Business listings.

To help you out, we’ve put together this guide on what multi-location SEO is, common issues, and how to ensure that your multiple locations stay unfiltered and ready to dominate the local 3 pack.

The Importance of Local SEO

Local searches are searches where the location of the result is a relevant factor. For example, if a user is in City A and needs to find a restaurant to eat lunch, chances are that they want the search results to be specific to City A and their keywords would include the likes of “restaurants near me” or “italian restaurant in City A”. 

Though it’s typical these terms don’t always need to have an explicit location keyword modifier, as long as the target of the search is a product or service that’s commonly consumed locally, like food or retail shops or appliance maintenance then an approximate GPS location of the user will be used to determine locally relevant results.

When considering that 72% of customers who conduct a local search visit a nearby store, and over 75% of users don’t typically go past the first page of search results, it’s clear that optimizing for local is beneficial for traffic and sales, if not critical.

The ultimate goal of Local GMB SEO is to rank in the local map pack, which is also known as the three-pack or snack pack. Commonly known tactics  include optimizing your Google My Business listing, building citations, collecting reviews, and crafting locally-relevant content for your website.

Multi-Location SEO Common Issues

Multi-location SEO is the process of ranking your website pages and GMB listings in their relevant locations.

This can get tricky because you have to target both niche and geo-specific search queries without diluting the rank of another store or causing a local filter to be sure you are increasing their visibility in the SERP and driving results, rather than harming their rank.

Below are some of the most common issues that we identify when auditing multi-location SEO campaigns at Web 20.

No Cohesive Multi-Location Strategy

I have worked and consulted with numerous franchise, chain, and multi-location brands, and the top issue I see time and again is the lack of a structured strategy for both current and future multi-locations. 

Your multi-location brand needs a plan.

What website structure will you go with? Are you considering separate sites or subdomains or a single site?

Are you using more than one of the website structures?

Do you even know why you are using the structure you are?

What about the brand’s Google My Business listings? Are the locations planned strategically based on market research? Or did you get a location wherever you had an opportunity to have a postcard sent?

So many growing chains and franchises never took the time to create a plan for their multi-location operations.

They may use a combination of website strategies haphazardly.

They may randomly place GMB listings wherever they could get postcards sent.

They never created a plan and it will eventually hurt their growth. 

You should consider and plan the following:

  • Multi-location website strategy
  • Pros and cons of the chosen website strategy
  • Content and Link strategy
  • Service page strategy
  • Location page strategy
  • The ideal target market for GMB listings
  • Bulk verification strategy
  • Expansion and new locations
  • Viability of satellite offices

Along the same lines as above, not having a growth plan is another common mistake I see being made.

You should be able to answer the following questions without having to think very long (because you have a defined plan):

  • How many locations are you opening in the next 12 months?
  • What’s the next market you are opening?

But if you can’t answer these two questions, you don’t have a multi-location growth plan. And if you are the agency, these are questions you should ask your client and then research and discuss because they are that important.

You’ll want to invest your limited budget in the markets that have the greatest opportunities for your client to succeed. You need to plan your signal creation and watch velocities, especially when dealing with many locations.

You’ll want to provide insight into where the top-ranking competitors are located and where they aren’t. (I see so many locations being opened on the city outskirts or just a ‘few miles outside of town’ only to discover they can’t gain visibility in their main markets because they aren’t actually located within the market’s boundaries.

I see a lot of multi-location websites that optimize their service pages for locations when they should not.

Let me preface by saying, there are some SERPs where this is the norm and competitor parity calls for you to recognize when this is the case.

But many multi-location websites offer the same handful of services for all of their locations or franchises. There’s no need to have two hundred pages titled Drain Inspection + City if drain inspection is one of the handful of services an emergency plumbing franchise offers.

You would mention that the location offers drain inspection on the location page and write a short paragraph about the drain inspections in that location, and possibly internally link to the main (non-location optimized) drain inspection page.

But you wouldn’t have individual pages for each of these:

  • drain inspection + city
  • drain cleaning + city
  • emergency plumbing + city
  • toilet repair + city
  • sink repair + city
  • leak repair + city

Plus have a location page for the city.

You would just have a city or location page that mentions all of the services and might internally link to main service pages.

Here’s a great example of a location page that mentions the services each location offers.

And each service on the location page links to a main service page that is not locally optimized. 

The location information in the banner is being displayed dynamically, but the page itself is not locally optimized. It is the same page that every drain cleaning link on every location or city page links to.

Too Many Listings/Not Enough Listings

This issue also pops up a lot. A franchise or chain will have too many GMB listings. Or they won’t have enough for the markets they are targeting.

What? Can you have too many listings?

I think so. 

GMB listings in close proximity to each other, for the same brand, will filter each other ‘at the edges’ and it’s not uncommon for weaker, less-relevant brand listings to filter out stronger brand listings.

It sounds counter-intuitive but it happens. An easy way to see this filtering effect is to use a rank tracker like Local Viking that you can see how nearby listings for the same brand interact with each other.

If you are opening new listings for the sole purpose of gaining maps visibility I would make sure that each listing is ideally placed so as to minimally interfere with every other listing.

Along the same topic are chains that do not have enough listings to target their chosen markets and wasting budget trying to optimize for a location you just aren’t going to rank in because your listing is too far away.

For any mildly competitive local SERPs you should have a listing in each city you are targeting and in very populous cities like NYC and very large cities like Los Angeles you’ll often need more than one listing to effectively cover the metro area.

A Mix of SABs, Hybrids, and Storefront Listings

I often see this issue with smaller regional chains and franchises that are trying to rapidly expand.

Sometimes they end up with a motley collection of GMB listings. Some service area businesses with hidden addresses, a scattering of storefront listings with visible addresses, and some hybrid listings that have both.

These are also usually companies that don’t have a well-developed plan or growth strategy in place. They are just trying to grow and in order to grow, they need more Google My Business listings. And so they start amassing a collection of listings however they can manage to get them. Some could be at a residential address that was hidden, some are legitimate offices, some are spam verified, some might still be using a virtual office that survived all the purges.

You should understand what business type your company falls into it and then plan future locations based on this information. It can help you avoid filtering (overlapping service areas) or help avoid potential ToS violations (having both storefront and SAB listings).

And you should never have any spam listings associated or connected with your main brand.

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It’s a widespread misconception that local optimization only applies to your Google My Business listing when in fact it needs to start with the foundation of your online presence – your website.

We highly recommend creating distinct pages for each location you’re trying to rank in. The general rule is that each location should have it’s own page optimized for a singular location aka a location page.  If you already have location pages, the next step is to ensure that they’re discoverable by search engines. Make sure they’re easily crawlable and indexable so that they can be delivered to users.

Due to internal and external links, the homepage should be the most authoritative page of the website, so be sure to optimize it for the main target location.

In some cases, however,  if the brand only has a few locations and they are local to each other then it may be beneficial to optimize the page for all of them and use it across the GMB’s as well.

Some examples where I would use just the home page for multiple locations include:

A business has 4 locations in Las Vegas. I would optimize the home page for Las Vegas and link all four GMB listings to the home page.

A business has 6 locations in New York City. Even though I would probably build location pages for each for the boroughs of New York, I would most likely link all of the GMB listings to the more authoritative home page since it will be optimized for New York City. And the borough pages would link home using keyword anchors with modifiers such as “car accident lawyer Bronx NYC”.

GMB Listing Issues

Even though GMB is at the center of most local SEO efforts, you’d be surprised to learn that more than half of listings on the platform haven’t been claimed. If you don’t claim your GMB listing, then you won’t have control over how your brand is presented on perhaps the most important business directory on the internet.

The information on your GMB profile is what shows up in the local pack or knowledge graph in the SERP. Having complete and up-to-date information is essential not just for search engines but for potential customers too.

Each location should have its own distinct and fully verified GMB listing that includes the business name, address, phone number, website, business category, attributes, description, photos, and more. Two or more locations for the same brand name using the same street address OR phone number would be considered duplicates and could lead to potential spam and filtering issues.

Most storefront locations already have completely unique NAPs, but the same should apply to service area based listings as well. Even if the visible address is removed from the listing, and unique service areas are added, the GMB will still be registered at the address where it was verified.

Additionally, when working with multi-location SABs be careful not to allow any service areas to overlap between the listings as this may cause one or more to be filtered from the search results. Check out Google’s own GMB guidelines if you want to learn more about what you can and cannot do with your listings according to TOS.

Inconsistent Name, Address, & Phone Number

Ensuring NAP consistency is a simple yet surprisingly effective way of improving your rank.

While Google is getting better at crediting brand mentions to the right entities, we all know the algorithm is still far from perfect so if each location doesn’t have a consistent name, address, and phone number used it could cause some NAP citations to go uncredited towards local prominence.

With multi-location SEO, the risk and impact of inconsistencies exponentially increase as signals may get mixed between locations.

This risk becomes more apparent when you consider bulk verified chains are required to use the exact same GMB listing name across all locations, so the phone number, city, and zip code becomes the prime elements by which Google has to identify one listing from another. 

Duplicate/Low-Quality Site Content

I am a huge believer in providing quality signals to the search engines and your location pages are no exception. One of the most common mistakes made with multi-location websites is reusing the same basic content across all locations and only swapping out the city name, state, etc where mentioned.

I know many local SEO’s that will say there is no duplicate content penalty for local SEO, and they are correct. But what there most definitely is, is a Panda filter and if you have too many low quality pages you can receive an algorithmic filter.

And while a few duplicate location pages may not affect you negatively, there’s a reason why mass page builders went out of fashion four years ago, multiple spam pages just don’t index or rank like they used to.

All pages on a site should always have a high percentage of unique content and I strive to make sure none are less than sixty percent unique.

When creating a content plan be sure that you’re providing all of the info that users need for that location. The more value the page has, the more likely you’ll get higher SERP rankings.

A Lack of Local Elements

Location pages should include information about the targeted area, services offered in that area, and sub-categories of those services. Word count can vary greatly depending on the niche and competition level but should be based directly on what the top-ranking competitors are doing.

Always try to include local elements such as your operating hours, contact details, driving directions, and anything else that users normally search for.

Although you’re peddling the same brand, think of the things that make each of your stores stand out from the rest. This includes information related to the area (e.g. history, landmarks), an embedded map, events that are unique to that location, and the like.

It’s obvious that on-page optimization is a must for Local SEO, but are you optimizing the right page? And how do you optimize for more than one location?

In this section, we’ll lay out the six stages to optimizing your online brand and helping search engines deliver the right location to the users searching for it.

Planning Your Approach

Before you can begin to optimize your website, you’ll need to lay the foundation of your local SEO strategy first. This involves researching your keywords, planning the site structure, and understanding what the top ranking competitors are doing.

Keyword Research

Like most search engine optimization, in local SEO you start by finding keywords that you want to target. This is called your semantic core.

Once you have a shortlist of keywords, you can then create different variations for the various locations you want to target. Then, choose your main keyword for each of your locations.

The ideal main keyword is a keyword that has a high search volume and high buyer intent.

You want a keyword variation set that will drive online traffic, but also a keyword that will drive phone calls or deliver shoppers to your store.

Site & URL Structure 

After you select the top target keywords, it’s time to build out the structure of your site. Figure out your main pages aside from your home page, contact page, and about page and ask yourself, “what kind of information is my target audience looking for the most? What content will drive the most views and visitors to the site?”

Then, group those ideas in a way that’s intuitive for the user – usually this is by topic, but you can structure it any way you want as long as it’s logical, simple, and consistent.

Your location pages – one for each store or area that you want to target – will naturally be grouped together for this and your URLs need to reflect your site structure. If you only have a few locations, this is relatively easy. You can have each page directly under the locations category, like so:

Site structure URL structure
Locations > Brooklyn locations/brooklyn
Locations > Manhattan locations/manhattan
Locations > Berlin locations/berlin

Alternatively, for only a few locations it might be beneficial to skip the location folder altogether and simply write your location page URLs like this:

Site structure

URL structure

Locations > Brooklyn


Locations > Manhattan


Locations > Berlin


But if you have more than a dozen local pages, you might want to add even more subcategories to make navigation easier. For example, a business that operates in multiple countries could implement this hierarchy:

Locations > [Country] > [State/City] > [Exact Area]

In practice, that could look like:

Site structure URL structure
Locations > USA > New York /locations/us/ny
Locations > USA > New York > Brooklyn /locations/us/ny/brooklyn
Locations > USA > New York > Brooklyn > Coney Island /locations/us/ny/brooklyn/coney-island
Locations > USA > New York > Brooklyn > Prospect Park /locations/us/ny/brooklyn/prospect-park
Locations > UK > England > London > King’s Cross Station /locations/uk/london/kings-cross
Locations > UK > Scotland > New Town /locations/uk/scotland/new-town
Locations > Germany > Berlin /locations/germany/berlin
Locations > Germany > Munich /locations/germany/munich

Here are a few examples of a great multi-site structure that was well-researched and performs very well in the local SERPs for brands with a high number of locations across the United States.

Still skeptical about building out multiple location pages? Here are some additional benefits to consider:

  • Each landing page can rank separately in the SERP. So if someone searches for your New York locations, they might see the New York landing page in the results. If they search for Brooklyn, they’ll be shown that landing page instead. This lets you target way more keywords and broaden your reach.
  • A detailed site structure is a future-proof site structure. If your business grows and you add more locations, you won’t have to do a complete restructuring to accommodate the new stores.

Keep in mind that this is just one way of structuring your website. No matter what method you choose, just make sure that you stick to one consistent system.

Website Navigation

Navigation serves two purposes: to help users find their way around the site, and to help search engines discover (and index) new pages.

With that in mind, you’ll probably want to add your location content categories to the main navigation, where they are most visible to users.

Alternatively, the pages could be placed in the footer of the website but remember that if you have more than just a few location pages, it’s better to drop just one link to the main location page (/locations) rather than a link to each.

Some sites integrate a store locator function into their navigation menu, and even dynamic menus based on the location selected.

Some sites with multiple locations integrate a store locator function into their navigation menu and even use dynamic menus based on the location selected.

Competitive Intelligence

Look into top ranking businesses in the target areas.

What keywords are they targeting?

How do they structure their websites? 

What does their Google My Business listing look like?

What directories are they on?

After all, how are you going to compete for a higher rank in the local SERP if you don’t know what your competitors are doing?

Understanding why the competitors are so successful with their SEO goes a long way in replicating that success for your own client.

That being said, be warned that you should never copy the competition outright as this can hinder your own efforts – but you can typically learn a lot from what they’re doing and identify important gaps to fill.

Optimized Local Content

Now that you know where the pages are going, you need to optimize them so that search engines are able to differentiate between them and crawl the necessary info.

There are countless factors that play into on-page SEO, but when looking at the content structure we will focus specifically on the meta titles & descriptions, headings, photos, and (of course) the content itself.

Meta Title & Description

A good meta title describes what the user (and Google) can expect when they visit the page and should incorporate your main keyword since search engines use this feature to better understand your content. The title should also be enticing and clickable with a max of about 60 characters, as it is also one of the first things that users will see in the SERPs.

For location pages, you can stick to a format that includes the main product or service that you offer (which is, more often than not, part of your main keyword), the store location, and the business name.

This way, you establish both geo- and niche relevance for your location page.

Here are a few examples, but typically your best example to use would be the top ranking competitor:

Best tacos in Columbus, OH | The Taco Mill

Car Titans – Affordable rent-a-car in New Orleans

The meta description goes hand-in-hand with this and is the snippet of text that appears below the title on the search results page – here you have 160 characters to summarize the content and encourage users to click on the link.

It’s best to include a couple of keywords, as that will not only help Google categorize your content better, but it also helps users figure out if your content answers their query. Round it off with a convincing CTA (Call to action), and you’re good to go.


Your heading tags have a significant impact on your ranking. Like your title tag, the headings send critical ranking signals to search engines, so you’ll want to incorporate a main keyword variation into your H1, and make sure that it contains the location as well.

We recommend sticking to one H1 tag per page, and information should be organized in a hierarchical format according to importance (H1 > H2 > H3).

H2s and H3s have a lesser impact, but they’re still important for organizing the content on the page. They also give more detail about what the page is all about. Generally, an H2 is a subtopic of the H1, while an H3 is usually a subtopic of the H2.

This is not a hard-and-fast rule, however. And many pages have an H1 immediately followed by an H5, which is in turn followed by an H2. This is because many site designers also use heading tags to dictate format and layout. H1s are usually the largest text element and H5s are the smallest (next to the body text, that is).


Let’s move onto the “meat” of your optimization – your content. Creating content for your local pages is always going to be tricky but you have to come up with unique content on every page.

So how do you do this without thinning out the content too much? Repetition cannot be avoided completely as after all, it’s the same brand on the same website that likely offers the same products/services across multiple locations. Maybe even with the same operating hours.

But there will always be something unique to write about each location. Some examples of information to include would be:

– Address – Phone Number – Reviews

– Unique Services or Products – Staff – Photos/Videos

– Driving Directions – Local Attractions or Landmarks – Contact Info

When you think about it, there are fewer similarities and more things that make each location stand out from the rest.

Remember that you don’t want your users to merely consume the content – you want them to act on it. This is why it’s crucial to have at least one call-to-action on your local page. Whether it’s “buy now”, “see offers”, “sign up for our newsletter”, or something else, the important thing is that it’s visible. You can have multiple CTA buttons if you want, but be sure not to overwhelm the user.

Map API Embeds, Driving Directions and GMB Places Rmbeds

Both driving directions and maps are essential elements of a local SEO strategy because they push location relevant signals. An embedded map with your pinned location is a great way to tell Google where your business is located, and users will have an easier time locating your store if you have the Google Maps widget attached to the page.

As of 2018, the Google Maps API is no longer free to use and they now charge websites $0.50 per every 1000 page loads. Don’t worry though because if you have a high-traffic website you’ll be granted a $200 credit every month, which means that most businesses won’t have to shell out any money for the map embed. This is just to prevent spammers from adding a map to every single page on their website to increase their location signals.

If you only add the embedded map, below-the-fold, to your essential pages (e.g. location pages, potentially your contact/about us pages), and defer the loading, you can reap the benefits without significantly slowing down time to contentful paint.

Many times I prefer embedding the GMB Places listing directly rather than using the Google Maps API.

Contact Info

Technically, this still falls under “content”. But your contact information is so fundamental to local SEO that we’re going to shine the spotlight on it for a moment.

Every location page should have a contact section that lists that location’s name, address, and phone number (NAP). Each NAP should remain consistent and accurate, no matter where it’s found on the web because a consistent NAP ensures that your business gets credited for every online mention, which in turn increases your chances of ranking.

Other important contact info should be added as well when available. You can also add your business’ email address or a link to a contact form in this section of the page.

Optimized Images

A long wall of text might provide a lot of information, but it’s not exactly enticing to users. Break the monotony of the page by adding images or graphics to your local pages.

Most photo galleries include pictures of the storefront, products/services you offer, and any employees/staff working at the location. You can even add photos of the city or neighborhood itself, especially if you talk about nearby landmarks or attractions. On the user’s side, this can enhance the article and retain reader attention.

On the search engine’s side, however, it’s not as simple. As sophisticated as the algorithm is, it’s still not able to understand images well enough on its own. If you want Google and the others to know what the image is pertaining to, you need to tell them through the metadata on the image.

Instead of a default file name (image1.jpg) try renaming it to something more descriptive. For example, if it’s a photo of a bowl of fruits, fruit-bowl.jpg would be a good file name. You should also geo-tag them for local relevance and optimize the alt-text so that, if the image can’t be displayed for one reason or another, users will know what the context of the photo is.

Although this isn’t specifically for local SEO, keep in mind that images impact the page speed and loading time. Don’t add too many to a single page and minimize the file size where possible.

Making Your Page Crawlable

Amazing, optimized pages are virtually useless if search engines cannot discover them. If they can’t discover them (or parse them), Google won’t know if your content answers a specific search query.

Let’s walk through some of  the different ways you can help search engines find and understand your content.

Internal Links

Internal links – or links from your content to other pages on your website – are essential for seamless website navigation. A user could be browsing through your blog and want to learn more; an internal link encourages them to explore further.

Then of course there are the search engine benefits to consider as well. Crawl bots commonly discover new pages by following links so proper internal linking  can speed up the crawling and indexing process, which means that you can rank in the SERP much faster. Your local landing pages need to be linked from and linked to to create an internal silo.

When thinking of pages to link to, prioritize relevant content that you referenced  on the page. For example, if you mentioned another location, you can link to that store’s page – or if you talked about client testimonials, you can link to a case study.

Don’t forget that other pages on your website need to link to your local pages as well. This is extremely important, not just for crawling and indexing, but also for passing link equity from your high-performing pages. For example, if you have a resource page that’s ranking well and has high authority, you can pass some of that “link juice” to your location pages by linking to it.

Another way to implement internal links is by using breadcrumbs. Breadcrumbs are a “trail” or navigation path that shows you where you are on the website, and how that page relates to other content on the site. Through breadcrumbs, it’s clear which pages are the “parent topics” and which are the more specific subtopics.

Schema Markup

Schema markup, also known as structured data, is a way to categorize information so that search engines understand what type of data they’re dealing with. So what does that mean?

Say that you want to include your phone number on a page: 123 456 9780. To us it’s obvious that it’s a phone number, but to search engines it’s just a string of numbers. To help Google understand that it’s a phone number, you would implement schema markup.

Schemas are added to the HTML code of a page and there are many different types of schemas – more than 800 in fact, with over 1300 properties. The information that you mark up can be displayed as a “rich result” in the SERP, which goes a long way in making it stand out from the other results on the page. It also helps Google deliver rich snippets if someone searches “[your business] operating hours” or “[your brand] address” so make sure all the basic info is added at a minimum.

You don’t have to structure each type of data on the page, but it also helps Google deliver rich snippets if someone searches “[your business] operating hours” or “[your brand] address” so at the very least, you should include the basic local business information.

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Finally, the last step of this stage is to update your sitemap and submit it to search engines.

A sitemap is a file that contains the most important URLs in your site – the URLs that you want Google to crawl and index. Therefore, when you update your website with new location pages your sitemap needs to reflect that.

If you have a particularly large or new site, updating your sitemap can spell the difference between a ranking page and a page that doesn’t even show up in the SERP.

After making sure that the URLs are up-to-date, the sitemap can be submitted via Google Search Console or Bing Webmaster Tools. It probably won’t index immediately, but more often than not it’s faster than if you’d left it to the crawlers.

Creating A Local Presence

When we talk about local SEO, we’re talking about controlling how your brand is perceived across Google’s different properties. We’re also talking about trying to get your GMB listing ranked in Maps for your target keywords.

This next stage is all about the GMB and how you can set up & optimize specifically for multiple locations, but for further details on ranking a GMB (multi or single location) check out this updated guide to ranking in the 3-pack.

GMB Listing Optimization

Google My Business is Google’s business directory. Your GMB profile can show up in one of three places – the local map pack in search, Google Maps result pages, and the knowledge graph when someone searches for your business directly.

Bulk Verification

There’s a convenient way to verify multiple locations at the same time through the bulk upload option. Instead of claiming each listing separately, you can fill out the fields in the spreadsheet and submit it to GMB (Google My Business) – this is ideal for franchises and chains with ten or more locations.

When you finally have control over your listing(s), the next thing to do is to optimize them.

According to the GMB guidelines, your business name on the listing should accurately reflect your business name in the offline world.

So if your business is “Pet Supply Hub”, it shouldn’t be “Pet Supply Hub – Pet Store” or “Pet Supply Hub 24/7 Store”, etc.

To pass bulk verification every listing needs to be named the same, without any modifiers.

So there’s a trade-off if you currently use any modifiers in the listing name, you’ll lose the relevance from the name which can affect your local ranking but gain the ability to open and launch new locations faster and without the hassle of waiting for a postcard to arrive.

To prevent a spam filter or suspension, brand formatting should be kept consistent, no matter where it appears on the web. For example, if a city name or keyword is not included typically in the branding of each location across the website, socials, citations, etc then it should not be added to the GMB listing name. This is actually against Google’s TOS and can result in the suspension of the listing.

You also will need to choose business categories for the listing. If it’s the same brand across multiple locations, you should use the same primary category across all locations (this is also a requirement for bulk Google My Business verification). You should always do competitor category research first to be sure the selected categories correspond with the target terms and try not to have secondary categories that are unsupported by content on the website and location page. Diluting your secondary categories has been shown to on occasion prevent the GMB listing’s knowledge graph from displaying for branded queries.

If you feel the need to add additional secondary categories, then be sure that there is plenty of relevant content on the site to support whichever categories you add.

Then, you can fill out the rest of the profile. For the website URL, you can link to your website’s home page or to the location page for that store. Make sure that each listing accurately reflects the correct address, operating hours, and attributes, and for storefronts, the map pin should be precise as well.

The Google My Business description should be a summary of what the business does. It’s a great way to explain to potential customers what they can expect from you.

Don’t forget to add real photos and videos to the listing, check out the guidelines for more information on photo/video requirements as well as the different kinds of visuals that you can add to your profile. When you add a photo to your listing, make sure that the metadata is optimized and geo-tagged.

Local Citations and NAP Mentions

One of the most important local ranking factors is the quantity and quality of your online NAP mentions. Citations are any mention of your brand’s NAP on the internet. This can be divided into structured citations, which are citations on a business directory like Yelp or GMB, and unstructured citations, which are any non-directory mentions on blogs, news articles, or social media posts.

Imagine that every citation you have is a “point” towards your business. The more “points”, the more popular Google thinks you are, the more popular Google thinks you are, the more they will display you in the search results. Plus, having mentions on relevant sites increases the likelihood that someone will learn about (and visit) your business.

However, not all citations are created equal. Citations from major business directories tend to carry more weight than citations from personal blogs or web 2.0 sites. A spammy citation can even harm your rank if search engines think you’re trying to game the algorithm by amassing a bunch of low-quality mentions.

You don’t need a listing on every possible directory, but you do need to hit the major ones. This includes Facebook, Google My Business, Bing, Yelp, Better Business Bureau, Yellow Pages, Angie’s List, Foursquare, and ExpressUpdate just to name a few. We have seen great success from our national citation service that specializes in submitting to the most authoritative platforms for each country.

We also recommend getting listed on industry or niche-relevant directories. For example, if you’re a medical practitioner, you may want to have a citation on WebMD’s doctor directory. This helps you rank for industry terms and related search queries. Do a couple of manual searches for the top keywords, and do your best to get the business listed on any directories that rank on the first 2-3 pages.

There are also local business directories for your town, city, state, or region (such as a local Chamber of Commerce)  – get citations from there to add geographical signals to your brand and get a leg up on the competition.

No matter where you decide to build your listings, the most important thing is that your NAP (and other business information) is consistent. Any inconsistencies could result in a citation not being properly credited to your brand, which could in turn affect rankings (Just in case you missed that the first few times we mentioned it).


Although there’s quite a debate in the industry as to whether or not review rating directly affects GMB rankings, reviews are an integral part of any SEO strategy.

A whopping 97% of consumers read business reviews, and more than 85% trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation from someone they know. Having plenty of positive reviews and a good rating is critical if you want to convert people into customers.

There are known SEO benefits to reviews as well. A high rating signals to Google that you are a trusted brand, which means that you’re more likely to show up in the local SERP. Also, note that your rating and the number of reviews are displayed prominently in the three-pack.

Reviews are even more so important for multi-location brands because reviews are always location-specific – a customer’s experience at one store won’t accurately reflect the experience at another, so you have to collect reviews individually for each listing. Just be wary about offering anything in exchange for a review (e.g. free items, discounts, etc.) because that goes against Google’s guidelines.

When you have a system for collecting reviews in place, the next step is to monitor them. If you only have a few listings, you can check on them individually. But if you have more locations – or if you want to monitor reviews across multiple platforms – you might need reputation management software to help you out.

A business should also respond to all reviews, good and bad. If someone leaves a positive review, be sure to thank them for their review and encourage them to come again. You may be tempted to sweep bad reviews under the rug, but replying to them demonstrates that you’re ready and willing to address the problem, which goes a long way towards building goodwill with your customers.

Improving Your Multi-Location Strategy

The thing about SEO is that it’s always growing and changing – what worked yesterday may not work tomorrow. Plus, you’ll want a way to monitor your progress, identify what you’re doing right, and improve where you’re lacking. But what can you use (besides a typical rank tracker) to see progress?

This stage is all about working with your tools, interpreting data, and using those insights to refine your local SEO strategy. For this, you’ll need access to Google Analytics and Google My Business Insights.

Google Analytics

Google Analytics is a powerful tool for tracking your website performance.

Through the dashboard, you can see how many people have visited your site, where they are clicking from, what keywords they’re using to find your content, and which specific content brings in the most traffic.

You can even set up goals for your page like phone calls, appointment bookings, and contact form submissions.

The most important metrics for organic SEO are usually phone calls and form-fills as these most closely represent a lead for your business.

You can also implement urchin tracking modules with Google Analytics to track website and appointment URL clicks from your GMB listing inside of your Analytics dashboard.

I prefer having the team set-up Google Data Studio reporting to better visualize the Google Analytics data and it makes it easily presentable for client reporting too.

GMB Insights

Unlike Google Analytics which combines both organic and local SEO tracking (using UTM parameters), GMB Insights is strictly for your listing.

The dashboard lets you see your data at a glance and manage multiple locations easily. From there, you can check what keywords people are using to find your business, which platform they’re using (Maps vs search), and what actions they’re taking on your listing.

Unfortunately, the GMB dashboard only lets you review the most recent months worth of data, so if you need to view more than that or if you would like to have the ability to compare month-over-month, and be able to access up to sixteen months of historic GMB insight data, we would recommend a Google My Business management and reporting tool like Local Viking.

Use these tools wisely, and you’ll have more than enough information to tweak your local SEO strategy for better rankings.

The Multi-Location SEO Best Practices Checklist

To sum it up, here’s a recap of everything we covered in the guide:

  • Research high-traffic, buyer intent keywords. You’ll want to combine a niche keyword (ex. formal dresses) with a location modifier (ex.. near me, your city/state).
  • Categorize and structure your local content so that it’s intuitive for both users and search engines.
  • Make sure your URLs are simple, consistent, and reflect your site structure.
  • Make it easy for users to navigate to your local content by adding links to it in the main navigation bar or the footer of your website.
  • Find out how your competitors are pushing local content, and use that to make your strategy better.
  • Create valuable, unique, location-specific content for your website. Each location/store can have a page. Do not copy-paste large chunks of text!
  • Embed a map of your store or driving directions on your location pages.
  • Add your name, address, phone number, and other pertinent contact information on your location page.
  • Break up long walls of text with images. Geo-tag them and add keywords to the metadata for additional relevance.
  • Drop internal links to other related content on the site. You should also link to other location pages and external authority content.
  • Implement schema so that search engines understand what type of data they’re dealing with.
  • Add your location pages to your sitemap, and submit it to search engines for crawling.
  • Create a separate Google My Business listing for each of your locations.
  • Ensure that the name and business category are formatted accurately and consistently for all of the stores.
  • Add relevant photos to your GMB listing, making sure that they are optimized and geo-tagged first.
  • Build citations on the top general, niche, and location-specific business directories. Make sure your NAP is consistent no matter where it appears.
  • Collect, manage, and respond to reviews on every platform – especially the negative ones.
  • Build backlinks to your business by partnering with local organizations, hosting events, and reaching out to local bloggers in your community.
  • Use tools like Google Analytics and GMB Insights to track campaign performance and refine your local SEO strategy.

Additional Tips for Multiple Locations

Here are other things you can keep in mind to maximize your local SEO efforts:

  • Optimize your website for faster loading times. Page speed is a ranking factor, and it directly affects the user experience. The faster your website loads, the more likely it will show up in the SERP, and the less likely users will bounce off the page.
  • Host all of your location pages on a single domain. Having different websites for different locations splits the ranking signals. The only reason to consider using separate domains for your multi-locations would be if independent franchisees are allowed to have their own company-branded websites.
  • Although optimizing for keywords is important, be careful not to over-optimize. Keyword stuffing is frowned upon by search engines and makes your content less readable.
  • Create hyper-local content not just on your website but on your GMB listing as well. Use GMB posts to talk about store-specific events, discounts, sales, and more.
  • Always double check your map pin, even if the address listed is correct. An inaccurate map pin can harm your SEO and make it more difficult for customers to find you on the ground.
  • Ask and answer questions on your GMB listing. This acts as your de facto FAQ section, clarifying for users what they need to know. Plus, they’re a great way to incorporate more keywords into your listing.
  • Make the most out of niche-specific GMB attributes and features. For example, restaurant listings allow their users to book a table, see the menu, and more from the profile itself.
  • Don’t neglect your organic SEO! Your organic rankings have an impact on your local rankings.

Multi-location SEO is a little more difficult than local SEO for a single business. 

There are more considerations at every stage from location pages and URL structure to potential filtering issues because of overlapping service areas.

Brand dilution and keyword cannibalization can present major obstacles.

But if you forecast your total locations, follow a consistent process, and plan out your expansion strategy correctly you’ll build a viable and thriving multi-location brand that will dominate the local SERPs, organically and in maps.

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