Local SEO & Listing Management: A Blueprint for Multi-Location Brand Success

A strong local search presence and visibility has always been important for multi-location brands. Google continues to make this increasingly so, with local branded and non-branded terms playing an ever greater role in search results, thanks to the Knowledge Graph and Local Carousel.

Ninety percent of consumers now use search engines to shop locally; these queries are happening from the desktop, on the mobile web, in apps, from maps, and even from GPS and other in-vehicle devices. Each and every internet transaction has a local connection, via the user on a device tied to a geo-coordinate.

Basically, wherever your consumer is – whatever device they're on – you need to be there when they are displaying intent and searching locally for either your brand or your service.

Local SEO and local listing management are two completely different tactics, yet completely intertwined, and the top brands should know that each is critical to ranking individual locations on Google. The search giant ranks multi-location brand websites based on three common sense factors:
  • Best practice on-page validation factors (Local SEO)
  • High quality local landing page user experience
  • Relevant backlinks on directories and IYPs through listing validation.
Local SEO and SEM are time consuming and tedious, though. In order to achieve optimal results at scale, you need to automate processes where possible.

With these factors and challenges in mind, let's explore the steps necessary to deliver the best possible chance of ranking each of your locations for local queries. Crossing each of these concerns off the list is a multi-location brands' blueprint for scalable local SEO.

On-Page Validation or Local SEO Factors

Local SEO best practices are the core foundation necessary for ranking in organic search for local terms. Map rankings can easily improve when pages with localized URLs are attached to Google, Yahoo, and Bing map listings.

Employ these simple (yet high-impact) best practices:
  • Localize title tags (e.g., "Sporting Goods San Diego")
  • Optimize meta descriptions (e.g., "Sports Authority | Sporting Goods Stores San Diego")
  • Implement localized schema markup (e.g., proper item prop for local business name, address, and phone number)
  • Localize URL structure (e.g., http://stores.jcpenney.com/ca/pasorobles/clothing-stores-pasorobles-ca-2755.html)
  • Localize on-page business content (e.g. hours, driving directions, local descriptions, etc.).
If you're still unfamiliar with structured data, get yourself up to speed. Google has increasingly relied on microdata to better understand web content and recommends that webmasters utilize the Schema.org structure.

Although structured data isn't a ranking factor (meaning all other things equal, you won't rank higher than a competitor based on schema alone), it enables the showcasing of rich snippets, which enhances the search user's experience through additional text and images.

Local Search Structured Data

Local Landing Page User Experience

Local searchers fully expect a rich, engaging, and high-quality experience, yet many localized pages fail to deliver. Ironically, a lot of the things consumers are looking for may also help your local pages rank higher, like integrating YouTube, Google Maps, Google+ sharing, Google+ Local links, Google Webmaster Tools, and Analytics.

Make sure you integrate each of the following to enhance the user experience and allow customers to interact with your brand on each of your local landing pages:
  • Separate mobile and desktop optimized experiences
  • Driving directions and maps on page
  • Hours of operation including holiday hours
  • Localized promotions and/or coupons
  • List of products and services available at location
  • Local videos, social media links and social sharing options
  • Links to review sites like Google+, Yahoo Local, Yelp, Angie's List, and others.
The wants and needs of local searchers are fairly simple. They want to:
  • Learn more about you.
  • Interact with your brand.
  • Find you right now and make a purchase, either online or in person.
If you're making it cumbersome or counterintuitive to accomplish any of these goals, you're doing your brand a huge disservice.

Local Listing Management (NAP)

Local listing management offers multiple measurable influences to higher rankings in local search. Linking your map listings to local URLs, managing your NAP (name, address, phone number) in the "local ecosystem" through data aggregators, and managing your local presence on social networks ensures a consistent data fidelity process for ranking higher.

Read more : http://searchenginewatch.com/article/2328576/Local-SEO-Listing-Management-A-Blueprint-for-Multi-Location-Brand-Success