Enterprise SEO

At Local U Advanced in Baltimore, Mary Bowling with Optimized! gave some great insight on local search for regional and national businesses. If you have any clients that run multiple locations you’ve probably experienced many different issues that traditional mom and pop shops don’t. Or you may have found that no work has been done at all. According to Mary, only 60% of national brands are actively managing local business listings.

A common problem with bigger brands is that their websites are more focused on selling new franchises rather than focusing on digital marketing. There are other major hurdles you may have to overcome like:

  • Your company brand has hundreds of locations all with different owners. In these cases, cooperation is a massive challenge
  • Issues editing the main corporate website or implementing practical on-site optimization changes

Leverage your local operators

Who know’s the business better than the boots on the ground? Nobody. If you have to write 1,000 unique descriptions for your sandwich shop, chances are you won’t get very far. Use your local operators on the ground to generate this content for their location. If you’re working with many locations you can focus on the easier ones first. This will produce some quick wins for the client and also show you the areas that will require greater effort.

Another reason leveraging local operators can be very effective is that they are the ones who might join the local chamber, participate in local events, or sponsor local charities  All of these are potential citation building and link building ideas that you can read more about here. By leveraging these resources you can provide bi-weekly guidance and coordinate your efforts to be much more effective. So here are some of the tactical tips you can start implementing today.

Tactical Tips on Local Optimization for Bigger Brands

If you’re in the insurance industry you may also have representatives selling your product instead of a company name.  In this case you could consider a second website like Progressive did for it’s local agents. Taking this approach will allow you to support the local operations under your brand, and on a branded website to boot.

Organizing your locations

We have all seen fancy zip code searches and other methods that provide a great user experience for finding the locations nearest you. While it’s important to please the users you also have to make sure that the search engines can crawl your content. By keeping a link on the home page or all pages in the site navigation you can easily organize your content from the top level. Mary recommended using something simple such as State > City > Neighborhood .

An example of this is: www.yourbrand.com/locations/state/city/neighborhood

Make sure you also implement breadcrumbs for easy user navigation and internal linking.

To maintain consistency, an easy way to optimize these pages for each location is to use the following structure for on-page SEO:
Page title: State, Category, Brand Name
h1: Brand Name, Category, State

Each location should have it’s own page with unique content around that location. It should also include a Google Map embedded onto that page. This will allow for customers to easily map the address and find what they’re looking for.

You can also use text links for SEO purposes and be sure to include all of these in an easy to crawl HTML sitemap. It’s important that PageRank is passed down to each of these pages. You should of course also be submitting a XML Sitemap to Google’s Webmaster Tools, and Mary still recommends submitting the KML sitemap as well.

According to David Mihm, a few high quality links will do the trick in some industries. If you need more internal links you can consider having a section on your location pages titled “Nearby Locations” and you can link to other nearby locations.

Photo Optimization

Potential customers will be looking for location based photos. By making sure that you have your local operators uploading photos of the local location, storefront,  staff, etc. you will add a personal appeal. Joel Headley from Google also mentioned that you should always upload your photos when adding them into your Google Plus or Google Places pages. This can help them get verified faster or in some cases instantly.

This information should put you in a good spot to start optimizing your larger brand on a local level. Mary’s tips make this process a lot more manageable because you’ll be leveraging local resources. When taking on a big project just remember how you eat an elephant. One bite at a time!

March 12, 2013 | Local SEO

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