For Local SEO, Take A Tip From Travel
A national brand’s homepage should be the gateway to localized information, driving audiences to the location that makes most sense for them, writes Galileo Tech Media's Joseph McElroy.
The travel industry has mastered the local search game: Surf nearly any hotel chain’s website, and you’ll find localized pages for each property. These site-specific pages cater to locations independently, and they feel more like a personalized website rather than a page inside of a national brand’s site. This differentiation is essential to mastering SEO for local business.
A national brand with multi-locations must manage a national presence while maintaining each storefront. Striking a balance, especially in the digital realm, can be difficult. But neglecting local sites online in favor of the national brand is a massively missed opportunity. A national brand’s homepage should be the gateway to localized information, driving audiences to the location that makes most sense for them.
If I’m looking for a place to stay in Fort Lauderdale, Marriott’s national homepage does nothing for me. But the sub-site for Marriott’s Fort Lauderdale hotel is a plausible match, and perhaps even the hotel I end up booking. Search engines seek to answer queries with the best possible “answers,” and local locations will do best when they have a web presence that caters accordingly.
Multi-location businesses, such as retailers, can gain a lot by mimicking the tactics utilized by the travel industry. To master this approach, start with the following:
Create a hub for each business location
The Fort Lauderdale example above demonstrates that a national website is just one piece of the puzzle. The travel industry has mastered this concept. Most hotels have a national website (like Marriott‘s here), that serves as a gateway to each property. Then the AC Hotel Denver Downtown has its own hub within Marriott’s site, populated with property-specific information, as does the Austin Marriott South.
Any business with multiple locations, particularly if they’re broadly located, should manage — and curate — independent webpages for each location. These sites can, and should, live under the umbrella of the national brand’s URL, but operate as a separate vertical. This is a simple concept, but one that is overlooked by even some of the largest brands.
Take Sur La Table, for example, a kitchen-ware retailer with locations across the country. As the site currently stands, the “Find a Store” link directs to a page with a search query. The results populate by location address, and a link for “Class Schedule” appears under each applicable store.
A sole store locator page is a missed opportunity to use the national website to drive local traffic. Each store should have its own individual pages and sub-pages, filled with deeper content. These pages would serve as a hub for customers looking to visit the SoHo location rather than the San Francisco location.
Populate those hubs with local content
Once created, local “hub” sites can include a range of store-specific and community information alongside product specific pages. Content, in this case, is important in both quantity and quality. Community-specific content will make pages relevant for local searchers, and the quantity of that content will register the pages with search engines like Google. There should be a minimum of five sub-pages and 1000 words for each store specific-hub.
In addition to content population, local SEO strategies for optimization are also important. Tactics like performing research for local keywords, creating local SEO-friendly URLs and optimizing title tags, meta descriptions and ALT tags with local keywords are important. Additionally, linking to relevant local businesses, removing or fixing broken links, and addressing bounce rate are small adjustments that can make a big difference.
In the case of Sur La Table, local content could range from site-specific cooking classes to community events, local promotions, community integration and store sales. Taking a tip from hotel sites, which cater to the local community of the location, an integration with community events like a farmer’s market would also be appropriate.
Tap store or location managers to manage these pages
Local pages will thrive only if they are authentic. This requires a local knowledge base and comprehension of the local customer and what they’re looking for. What may intrigue a potential customer in New York may not have the same impact on a customer in Arizona. Local SEO must take this into account.
Store managers and local staff are a good resource for this content. Pull from the experience and knowledge of on-site staff to make a store’s hub as authentic and engaging as possible for the local community.
Travel sites are notorious for populating “Things to Do” content on their websites, touting the local community in which they operate. This not only helps to promote their own business, it helps them rank higher in search queries regarding that area and local activities.
SEO can be a strategic asset for multi-location businesses, but only when local content is engrained in the execution. The travel industry has implemented this strategy quite well, and can serve as a valuable blueprint for other businesses seeking to achieve similar inbound results. Local success in the digital realm is possible, as long as its built into the strategy.
**Joseph McElroy is the CEO and founder of Galileo Tech Media, which provides managed SEO and content marketing services.