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A Roadmap for Local SEO for Multi-location Businesses

As a multi-location business that depends upon local customers, are you investing in SEO to help your customers find your website – and ultimately, your business? Do you have time to invest in learning how to implement SEO?

For many franchise owners, the answer is “no.” Therefore, it’s easy to start feeling lost in a local SEO landscape that gets bigger, more complex and more competitive each day.

Here’s some good news: A few smart people, like Sarah Bird, CEO at Moz, recently mapped out the whole picture for search engine mastery at the for Enterprise Customer Insights Summit.

Don’t worry, we’ll share all the good tips and insights in just a minute…but first, let’s just nail down a short definition of what local SEO does for your website and your business:


“Local SEO is the practice of building a strong, local online presence so that your business achieves visibility in valuable, local organic search results.”
- Jared Ray, SEO Strategist

Follow the Leader

Ok, we recognize that everyone could use a little help on this journey, so who do we follow as our guide?

Well, the more things change, the more they stay the same. Google remains the leader in local search. In fact, in a local search landscape that now includes industry icons such as Facebook, Yahoo! and Bing!.. Google still rules the roost. Like, in a big way.


*Source: Google

Are We There Yet?

Now that we know who to follow on this trip, where are they leading us? Google is driving several trends that should direct your SEO strategy into 2019.

  • Mobile first: Google has changed the default indexing mode for all websites as mobile first. In fact, most local searches are now conducted via mobile device. This truly changes the game for website development, as you now must develop a website from the ground up as mobile optimized.
  • SEO is about more than just your website: Success within Google now demands rich, diverse content from multiple touchpoints that your customers can count upon as relevant and credible. “Google is taking the broader picture into consideration and now relationship building equals link building,” said Jared Ray.
  • Gateway to destination: Google is no longer just an intermediary gateway for search– its results are also dominating as the destination in local search. This makes it critical to ensure that the information on all of your digital touchpoints is both accurate and updated. 

As we’ve already noted, there’s no doubt that SEO is growing in potential. In fact, organic content now drives 20X more clicks that paid search.

Does that mean that we can leave our PPC programs on the side of the road? Nope!

So how do we choose between each? We don’t. Your customer does. Online search is a journey for your business, and it’s also a journey for your customers. And different customers are at different points on the journey.

For customers that are ready for conversion (e.g. ready to make a purchase decision), PPC is the ideal tool to have at the ready. It’s short-term and can provide instant gratification for the deal hunter. Think of SEO as the seed you put in the ground, and PPC as the fruit you pluck from the tree. They both have an important role in the growth cycle.

Here’s what it all comes down to: using SEO and PPC together is really your best bet.

And we have the results to show it; check out how a tools and equipment rental franchise leveraged local SEO to increase total unpaid lead volume by 40% month-over-month in this case study here.

It’s All Starting to Click

Let’s get down to it. What does this all mean for your SEO strategy today? Everyone loves a list (especially Google), so we’ve mapped it out for you below. Check it out and chart your next steps: 

  • Technical SEO matters…you should really, really do it.
    • Be fast – the faster the better: You’ve got three seconds for your page to load, or you’ve lost a (potential) customer
    • Be mobile friendly: Remember, Google indexes all websites as mobile first
    • Use schema markup: This is a detail, but it’s a critical one. (often called Schema) is microdata that you can add to your HTML so that the  major search engines can include your page among the best search results. For more info, just click here.
    • Meta descriptions are precious: It’s a classic SEO tool that will never go out of style.
    • Get your business data right: If Google doubts the data, they’re not going to rank you first.
    • The future is secure: We all have a duty to send people to HTTPS:// (the 'S' at the end of HTTPS stands for 'Secure').
  • Build unique, relevant content that answers questions.
    • Does your website have Expertise? Authority. Trust. (EAT) the highest standard is applied to sites that potentially impact Your Money or Your Life (financial transaction, legal information, healthcare, etc.) The standards have really increased. 

Google loves lists:  Adapt your writing style for readability and featured “snippets,” to secure the coveted “position 0” in local search results. Writing in lists help you win the featured snippet.

  • Google is your first impression. Make it count.
    • Get reviews: Remember the importance of credibility and trust? So does Google and so do your customers. Go get em’!
    • Use eye-catching videos and images: A picture is still worth a thousand words. Take advantage. 

“SEO is like your 401K…we should have all contributed a lot more, a lot earlier. It takes time to see the value.”
-Sarah Bird, CEO of Moz

Have questions? We’ve got answers and other useful stuff

We couldn’t fit all the cool content in here, so if you’d like to read Sarah Bird’s entire presentation, you can see it here.

Our mission is built around helping multi-location businesses like yours, so you can start checking out some other helpful articles we’ve written by clicking here.

And if you want to connect directly with someone on our team, we are ready, willing and able to help you out too: just call 855-973-8003 or email here.