Multi-Location Local SEO - Are Your Locations Competing for Visibility on Google?

Linda Buquet

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<img src="http://marketing-blog.catalystemarketing.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/LocalSearch.jpg" alt="LocalSearch" width="45%" />​

Since Pigeon landed I've been hearing complaints more often about brand searches in Google showing only one location, even though there may be 4 locations in the city.

But the other problem that comes up is that Google typically is not going to show the same business more than once in the 7 pack. So a search for "City + Auto Repair" is likely only going to show 1 out of the 4 locations in the 7 pack.

So what's a multi-location or franchise business to do??? How do you keep the other locations happy, if one is getting the majority of the Google love?

Here is a thread over at MOZ Q& A where Miriam Ellis gives a great response.
Then I weigh in with another idea too.

<a href="http://moz.com/community/q/franchise-business-in-competition-with-itself#reply_277105">Franchise Business: In competition with... itself! | Moz Q&A</a>
Below is just a partial snippet - so click the link above to read the full post.

Kevin Rogers Cobus asked:

I manage SEO for a franchise business that has multi-point markets like Toronto, where several locations are competing with one another for visibility.

...Put effort into giving visibility and ranking priority to one, another one gets upset.

... It [Google] tends to select one of four locations for a given multi-point market for the brand, which makes three out of four franchise owners upset.

Anyone run into this before? I'm just trying to balance out the effort so that each of the locations gets equal visibility, but alas I have no control over what Google decides to display as the authoritative result for the geographical area.

Looking for suggestions on how to manage client expectations and explain this issue properly...

Miriam Ellis Owner at Solas Web Design replied: (Below is just a partial snippet.)

...But, if the competition is for non-branded phrases (tires, muffler repair, oil change, autobody shop, etc.) then it does seem to me that Google seldom shows the same brand twice in the same pack, at least in the US. Not sure if this is different in Canada. For example, if I look up 'tire shop' Google shows me 7 different businesses in the pack - there are no repetitions of any brand within the result.

So, this scenario your client is in is almost guaranteed to result in unequal treatment of the businesses ... with one important exception you should consider discussing with the client.

One of the most important developments that's been growing in Local SEO over the past few years relates to how the user has become the new 'centroid' of search, particularly in mobile local results. What this means is that if your client has one tire shop at one end of Toronto, and a second at the other end, there is a very good chance that the user will be shown the result that is physically nearest to him at the time he performs the search.

Given that this phenomenon clearly now exists, the strategy I would be recommending to the franchise would be to market all branches with equal effort and then, step back and leave it up to Google to parse which location is nearest to each given searcher. This will be the best any business can do in this situation...

Linda Buquet replied:

Wow, excellent response Miriam and right on!

The other thing you might want to consider is getting more rankings for long tail queries for each location by actively incorporating neighborhood SEO. So each location tries to get more rankings for neighborhood and other regional queries to help compensate for the fact they may not rank for KW + city.

I think there have been several posts about this, but here is one I found for you from SE Land:
Is Your Local Business Ready For Google's Neighborhood Algorithm?

So typically to get a client ranking, you do comprehensive SEO. However if all 4 locations are your client and you are working equally hard on all of them, but Google is only going to pick one... How do you set expectations with the client? How do you explain it to the franchisees that aren't ranking? How do you try to make things equitable for all?

Above are a couple ideas that will hopefully help! Head to Moz to read the whole thread.

Be sure to check out our #multi-location hashtag if you deal with multi-location businesses. I believe it's the biggest collection of posts and resources on this topic.

Have you been in this situation?

What did you do? What other insights do you have to share???

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JoyHawkins

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Great points there! I have found corporate initiatives that try to equally satisfy all locations never really end up satisfying the franchise business owners because to them their business is all they care about whereas corporate cares about all the locations. They also view each other as competition. It's a tough battle to keep everyone happy!
 

armstead

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Jan 29, 2015
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One thing about the Search Engine Land article you quoted in your comment, Google reversed their "descriptors in the business name" decision.

According to their Guidelines for representing your business on Google, you cannot used a neighborhood or city unless it is part of the business name.

The rest of the tips are very helpful though.

My company is looking to take on a fairly large company with over 60 locations in several states. They have Google+ pages for all of them but have several in one major city in the south owned by the same franchisee. I will definitely be using some of those tips to try and help them rank a little bit better and fix the mistakes.

Thanks for the article though.
 

Linda Buquet

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One thing about the Search Engine Land article you quoted in your comment, Google reversed their "descriptors in the business name" decision.

According to their Guidelines for representing your business on Google, you cannot used a neighborhood or city unless it is part of the business name.

The rest of the tips are very helpful though.
Thanks armstead, I'm very aware of that guideline and helped publicize it for Google.

That article and my suggestion are for optimizing your website for neighborhoods.
 
Joined
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Hey Linda!
Haha - this was actually funny for me. I started reading your post and I was thinking, "Gosh, I know I just had a Moz Q&A thread on this very topic." Lo and behold, you saw it! :cool:

I really like your additional suggestions, too. Isn't it interesting, Linda, how hyperlocal emerged as a hot topic back in 2008 - at least, this is when I remember Matt McGee launching HyperLocalBlogger? A couple of years later, the term became one I was seldom encountering. Fast forward to 2015 and I have a feeling hyperlocal is about to end up in the middle of everybody's radar in Local once again. I really like the neighborhood algo concept - it feels friendly to me.

Thanks for your kindness in featuring my Q&A response in this thread.
 

Linda Buquet

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Thanks Miriam,

Hope you don't mind me sharing your QA thread as long as I sent them back there to read the whole rest of the thread. Just thought it was a timely post and loved your thinking and your reply so wanted to share it to more folks that may be struggling with this issue.
 
Joined
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Mind? Absolutely not! I am flattered, Linda. Thank you so much - and extra thanks for all of the super things you cover here. I must send folks to your forum every day!
 

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