Local Pages, Local Search Results, and Local Strategy
We have quite a few brick and mortar businesses as clients. As you might expect, they are always interested in ranking in local search results and curious about what strategies will help them accomplish this. While I’m always up for having these conversations, I thought it might be helpful to put together some strategies in an article for our clients and anyone else who may be interested. So, let’s get started.
Google My Business
I’m starting with the most obvious place to begin, Google My Business. For anyone who is unfamiliar, this is Google’s free local business platform. Google My Business (GMB) listings populate in Google Maps and allow your business to appear in those search results below the map for local search queries. This gives your store an excellent opportunity to be found by people looking for local businesses and also provides potential customers with information such as your address, phone number, and directions to your store.
Spending a few years working within Google My Business myself, I can tell you that you’ll be impressed with the amount of people that see your business listing. To help increase that number, I would recommend you do the following with your listing:
- Verify the listing by with Google through
- Postcard verification
- Phone verification
- Or sometimes via email
- Add as much information as possible to the listing
- Business Category
- Phone Number,
- Business Description
- Products/Services Offered
- Create answers for questions that commonly occur in your line of business
- Make an effort to collect good reviews from happy customers
- Monitor the Insights that GMB provides for additional opportunities
Following these initial steps will get your business seen by local searchers.
Outside of Google My Business are the organic search results. These include the links/results that are not ads and that are not directly below the “map pack.” This is where you want your location pages to appear. Location pages are individual pages on your website that provide information about your different locations. This does not mean creating one page on your website with the addresses and phone numbers of all your locations. You should have an individual page on your site created for each of your locations. If you have 5 stores, you should have 5 location pages. If you have 300 stores, you should have 300 location pages. Make sense?
You may be asking why each store needs their own page if all the stores offer similar products or services. Does creating all these extra pages actually help? The simple answer is yes, but let’s discuss why. Google is looking for THE most relevant page to provide in search results. Having a general page with small pieces of info about your locations makes it hard for Google to determine when that info is good to give as a result. After all, it’s just a general page with extremely basic information. Searchers aren’t commonly searching for basic information about a business. They want to know exactly what your store provides or offers them. For that reason, each one of your location pages will be optimized to include this information. This includes page titles, meta descriptions, headings, and body content (more on this in the next section). When you have an individual page for each location, we can provide much more information making the page a much better result in Google’s eyes.
So now that we’ve created all these individual location pages, what sort of information should be on them? Start with all the obvious info like the store’s address, phone number, and a basic description of your product or service offerings. In the description, be sure to mention the city, town, or neighborhood where your store is located. Also adding intersections, main roads, or landmarks to add some additional context around your location. Lastly, if there are certain stores that offer something that others don’t, this is a great opportunity to include that information as well.
Your page titles should include the city, state, and zip code of the location. The heading of your body content could also include the city and state (i.e. “Store Name” in Denver, CO). Lastly, I would recommend mentioning the city, town, or neighborhood in the meta description as well since those appear in search results as well. Adding these specific pieces of local information on each store page will give Google lots of signals and information to work with and build trust in returning your page as a result for local searches.
Everything we’ve covered so far should surely get your business at least some visibility in local search results, right? Well, maybe. But there is more that can be and should be done if you want to secure better rankings. Right about now is when clients tend to get skeptical, but I cannot recommend this enough. Make an effort to get links from established local business organizations. What does that mean? For a lot of my clients this means having your individual stores join their local chamber of commerce or a regional, industry-specific business association.
Commonly these organizations/associations/chambers have business directories on their websites where they show all the local businesses that are part of the organization. That is where you want to be listed, but don’t make the same mistake I’ve seen many of our clients make. Any business information you submit to these organizations needs to be specific to your local store. Too many times I have seen businesses join these organizations and then provide general business info like the address of the headquarters, a call center phone number that directs calls, or a link to the homepage to their website. While this is still helpful information, it is not the most relevant and will not help your local marketing efforts. If you want these directories to give you a boost in organic rankings, you need to be specific with the information you provide them. Provide the specific address, phone number and, for goodness sake, the exact local page link on your website where users can find information about your local store.
When Google sees your optimized location pages in the directories of well-established organizations, Google can put even more trust in your location as a legitimate business that is making an effort to be involved locally on some level. If you want Google to show your stores some love, then take the time to run through recommendations I’ve made here. It’s a great foundation that will set your stores up for local success online.