How, When & Why to use
Location pages are necessary for every brick and mortar location associated with you business regardless of whether or not you expect customers to come into your store/office. This is because brick and mortar locations send a trust signal to Google that your business is legitimate, accountable and trust worthy. However, if you have a business that does count on customers walking in your doors, then location optimization should be at the top of your SEO priorities list. If your business has multiple locations, each location should have its own page, and that page must contain unique and original content that follows all of the recommendations found in the static content recommendations, while also being optimized for every area, city and zip code that the location serves. However, if your business only has one location, it is important that you DO NOT create lots of different location pages that are thinly optimized for different locations. Those are considered “doorway pages” and are against Google’s guidelines, therefore using that strategy can actually get your site banned from Google. Google Webmaster Support
Features and Functions
Written Content: Location pages should talk about the unique features and staff of each location and how that location ties into and supports the surrounding community. It is important for any local business to create a relationship with the surrounding community by giving back to the local community in some way, and this is great fodder for the unique and original content that should be found on this page. Remember that you want the page to feature 500+ words of original content and be optimized for the area names, cities and zip codes where the business serves.
Photos & Video: The page should feature pictures and video of the store/office/building, the staff and the staff participating in any of the community give-back programs that you are including on the page.
NAP & Map: The name, address, phone number and a map should all be included (along with http://schema.org/Place mark-up on all applicable data. The page should also include driving directions and a welcome video if possible.
Ratings, Reviews and Testimonials: For any service related and food related businesses, the reviews and ratings are usually the deciding factor as to whether a new customer will try you or a competitor. Search engines look for reviews and ratings (that include the proper code mark-up) and reward pages that include this information with higher search results. Also, search engines may include ratings and reviews information as “rich snippets” on the actual search engine result page, immediately influencing visitors and increasing click through rate for your listings and increasing the likelihood that people will come into your location.
Local Business Listings: A big part of optimizing a location is having well optimized local business listings that are optimized with consistent Name, Address and Phone information, along with any other applicable data allowed by each local business listing directory. Google+ Local pages are the most important pages to optimize, followed by Yelp, Yahoo Local, Bing, and roughly 75 more. The best service that you can use to optimize all of your local business listings is Yext.com with Moz.com/local as a close second.
Everything we reviewed at the beginning of this course in the lessons on the basics of content optimization should be applied, along with:
- The SEO Checklist for Static Content should be applied to any written content on the page.
- Schema.org/Place markup should be added for any location information.
- Schema.org mark-up should also be added to any images or video on the page.
- Ratings and Reviews: Search engines show reviews and aggregated ratings for local businesses in search results, but only if those reviews and ratings exist. Therefore, this is one of the most important things that a local business can work on getting.
Marketing, Link Building, Social Engagement, Citations and References
Once your location pages are live on your website, it is critical that you support them properly with off-site strategies.
- Make sure that you have optimized local business listings in all of the top local business directories. This can be most easily accomplished with services like Yext.com or Moz.com/local.
- Get reviews. Use one of the online reviews management tools. To gather and post good reviews to your local business listings and on your website.
- Make sure that your social profiles are posting about each location and that each location is somehow engaging and incentivizing customers and fans to like your social pages and post something nice about the local store on various social networks.
- Contribute to your local community in some cool way through a “giving back” program and use that to gain some community notoriety and some press.
- Get other local businesses, bloggers and publications to talk about your local store and the community give back stuff that you have been doing, with a plug for your products/services and a link or two back to your website.
- Write blogs, articles and press releases about your location on a regular basis, optimize, syndicate and link build through those and make sure to include links back to your location pages on your website as well as your top local business listing directory profiles (Google+ Local and Yelp).
- Do some good ol’ link building to your location pages.
- Make sure that the location pages are included in your HTML sitemap and your XML sitemap.
- Consider linking to your location pages from your global navigation bar and/or from your primary global footer.