Our previous post on Google’s local search algorithm laid out step by step how to optimize a company’s local Google page in order to maximize rankings in the search engine results page (SERPs). However, companies and organizations with multiple locations and/or providers have a unique set of challenges for local optimization that weren’t addressed. Additionally, many companies with multiple locations only have one website. Local optimization efforts for multiple locations can run into issues with Google if certain precautionary steps aren’t taken.
Google has a vested interest in not promoting spam and Google local listings for multiple locations can appear spammy if optimized incorrectly. Below is a list of considerations that will improve the chances of a local optimization campaign being successful for those companies and organizations with multiple locations and/or providers.
Company Name: Always make sure each location has a unique name. Below are some examples:
Physical Address: It is very important that each account’s address is unique and is physically located in the city the campaign is attempting to rank for if possible. If the geo-targeted keyword phrase isn’t too competitive, Google will display local listings from nearby towns, cities or suburbs in the SERPs. Never use a P.O. Box. Additionally, some organizations may have multiple providers in the same building. When this is the case it’s still possible and recommended to make each address unique. Here’s an example:
Most people’s knee-jerk reaction to adding a suite to a profile when suites don’t actually exist is negative. However, it is critical to differentiate the physical addresses. Otherwise, Google may think the listings are spam because they all point to identical addresses and link to the same website. Also, if someone uses the address to mail something or for their GPS that mail piece will still get there and the visitor will have no problems finding the location.
Phone Number: Always avoid using a toll-free phone number in this field. The goal here is to use an area code in order to signal to Google that a business is indeed local. If possible, it’s recommended that each phone number is unique. Doctors for example, may share the same phone system and phone number while having unique extensions. Avoid using extensions for differentiation when possible.
Linking URL: Rather than linking all of the Google Places accounts to the home page of a website it is recommended to link them to prudent internal pages if unique websites don’t exist for each location. In order to link to internal website pages it’s important to have relevant pages to link to. In the doctor example above, relevant content to link to might be the individual doctors' profile pages on the ACME Health Center’s website. However, if relevant pages to link to don’t exist it’s important to create them while making sure the geo-targeted keyword phrase is included in that page’s content.
Remember, the steps above are recommended in order to convince Google that multiple local listings are not spam and to maximize geo-targeted SERP placement. Also, consider centralizing the setup of the multiple accounts by empowering one person or agency to do all of the setup. This makes editing and tracking the progress on account setup much easier. However, the individual will need to coordinate with someone at each physical location in order to verify the listings via phone or mail. For additional help with search engine optimization download our SEO Cheat Sheet.