Good morning internet fans, it’s Ryan Perry with Simple Biz Support and I have Virginie Dorn with Business Website Center down in Petaluma giggling on the other side. Good morning, Virginie!

Virginie: Good morning everyone, how are you?

RP: Well, I don’t know about everybody, but I’m doing fine today, I hope you’re doing well.

VD: Yes, I’m having a great week, thank you.

RP: Alright, good to hear. I know it’s not early for you, but it’s still early for me, so. But we are going to talk about businesses that have multiple locations. A lot of time business owners really aren’t sure how to get found. Let’s say you’ve got an office in Santa Rosa and Petaluma as an example, how do you get your business found both locally on the map section of Google, Google Business, and then also as far as the website goes, how do you target? I’m surprised at how many businesses that, even if they don’t have multiple locations, but let’s say they’re based out of Santa Rosa and they want to do business in Petaluma, don’t always understand that if you don’t put the word “Petaluma” on your website somewhere, that Google is simply, it’s a machine.

It’s a mathematical formula, it’s zeros and ones, and as it goes through your website, and it just sees that you’re a dentist in Santa Rosa, as an example, but you want to be found in Petaluma. Well, if you don’t list Petaluma, Google can’t make the association that you want to be found in Petaluma, as an example. So, Virginie what are some tips and tricks on getting your website found in multiple cities?

VD: Okay, so let’s start with a website. It is absolutely fine to dedicate a page for each location and perhaps, I could do a screen share here, let’s see if I can do that. I want to show you one of the clients, actually the two of us are working on, which is Kuvara Law Firm and they have 13 locations in California. Let me see if you see my screen now.

RP: Yes, you’re looking good.

VD: Okay. So, this particular website, they have again, 13 office locations, different phone numbers, different street address, so they actually have real brick and mortar locations. So, what we did for them, we not only did something user-friendly for their visitors where we can go to a page and see embedded maps directly from Google showing how to contact each particular location based on the city of interest, but more importantly, for each location, we dedicated a page which is up to match for that particular city. So for instance, this page here is all about their San Rafael office. So, the text is about San Rafael office, if there were any images, the images would be called “San Rafael personal injury lawyer”, for instance.

VD: Each page is slightly different. Let’s go look at another one, San Francisco. So, they kind of have the same look, but in the text, we made very nice changes, again, mentioning “San Francisco” if we were targeting San Francisco. So, that’s one way to do it. You do, like I mentioned, have to dedicate at least a page and mention the name of the location, otherwise Google won’t know you are in those different cities. So, that’s one way we do it, again one page for each location, the page fully optimized for one’s SEO target in mind.

RP: Alright, and with that being said, are you just copying and pasting each location and just changing out the city name? Is the text identical on each of those pages?

VD: No, we go further. It is important to change the text. There’s going to be, some sentences are going to be similar, but as you can see, this is the Walnut Creek location. If I go back to the San Francisco location, it has different text. So, even though it talks about the same subject matter, the text is different. So, we don’t copy and paste, and there’s no duplicate content, which will penalize you with Google.

RP: Right, and I think that’s an important message for business owners. A lot of times, especially if we’re trying to do things on our own, I think we go, “Oh, this is boring, this is frustrating”, and it’s so easy to just copy and paste. “I just need to get this check box done off my list today, so, I can go on and do other activities in their business”. And just because you do something, doesn’t mean that it’s done right. So, take the time, do it right and hopefully, everybody understands that Google frowns upon, very strongly, upon duplicate content.

Even a lot of times if you’re going in and you’re creating a bio, say on your Google Plus business page, I know a lot of people with just go into their bio page and they’ll copy and paste text from their website into that. So, please don’t do that, we don’t need to go in a whole conversation about duplicate content, but I think it’s really important that people understand, even if something as simple as creating a separate business site for each of the locations, take the time and do it right.

VD: Yes. And another idea following this, is if you do have several offices and some of the offices are quite large on their own, you might want to do a mini-website for that location. So, if you have a San Francisco office and you have a dozen employees, okay they do provide the same services as your San Rafael office, again a mini-website with an optimized URL, perhaps “sanfranciscolawfirm.com”. And again making sure you don’t do the duplicate content, but it’s a standalone website, it doesn’t have to be very deep, it could be four to six pages. That would also boost your ranking for that location. So, that’s another idea people can do.

RP: Right, exactly. And typically, when I’m talking to the business owners about this exact question, it really boils down to, for me, is population density. Around here, we’ve got… You can get up into Clear Lake and Clear Lake for me is Timbuktu. It’s out. It’s far away. There’s not a lot of population, and if you did have representation in Clear Lake and San Francisco, think from a business owner point of view, where’s the money at? Invest the extra time, the extra effort and really push your resources where the people are at, and if you’re in a location that’s much smaller, then maybe having a mini-website isn’t the right solution for that location, but in a larger location, it would be.

VD: I agree, and most importantly, when people look for services and they are in a small town, they tend to actually type in the bigger town name. So, in our county, we have very small town like Cotati, very cute, but people in Cotati actually will look for services in Santa Rosa because it is the hub of our county. So, the same applies across the nation. So, again, targeting the high density area, you’d better opt for SEO and also for getting more exposure to more people.

RP: Right. Definitely. Okay. So, let’s say… That’s a great example of somebody that has multiple locations. Besides actually having core content about each of the locations, what other tips and tricks, I mean, from a content point of view? We all, hopefully, we all know that if you want to be found, Google loves content. They love relevant, fresh content. So, from a month to month basis, what can people do in order to help improve their ranking for each of their locations?

VD: Good question. Two other possibilities. Of course, blogging and having a blog optimized for a particular location, trying to push each month, a new location. Again, reminding Google that you do have an office in Timbuktu or some odd place. But also, Google Business which is the Google Map, making sure that you do have the tag on Google Map for each unique location. And nowadays, you can do that even with the same phone number. It seems like the last few weeks, Google is becoming a little kinder about it. As long as you have different street address for each location, you just need to make sure you have a marker on that Google Map, so people can find your location there. So, again, blogging about it, which I know that’s your area of expertise, and making sure you are placed on Google Map for each city.

RP: Alright, and we mentioned Google simply because Google is King Kong, so we always want to play in Google’s backyard but Google is also referencing other local search directories. So, don’t… Again, this is where you gotta really think long-term. If you plan on being in business for five, 10, 15, 20, 30 years, then it really does pay to do things right, and besides Google, yes, you want to be in Google. But you need to be in Yahoo’s directory. You need to be in Bing’s directory. Then you get into the other local search directories such as Yelp. You need to claim, and these are all accounts that you actually have to claim, and that typically requires an automated phone call. So, if you want to claim a Yelp account or a Google account, typically what it is, it’s an automated phone call that verifies that the phone number you’re listing in your business location is a real phone number and somebody answers it, and that’s how you claim it, and it does take some time and energy. But if you don’t do it and your competitor does, guess who has a better chance of being found faster, quicker, and easier? It’s gonna be your competitor.

VD: Yes, and there are so many directories nowadays, so try to focus on the most important one. As you mentioned, Yelp is very important for service-based companies like restaurants and bars. You just have to do the work. It takes a lot of hours away from your core competencies, so we always recommend hire someone to do the work because they’ll do it faster, they’ll do it more efficiently and they will do it right. If you create or claim your listing on Yelp and you do it wrong, it’s gonna be very hard to fix the errors you made especially when you have multiple locations. It gets very tricky. So, you do want to hire an expert for that.

RP: Correct.

VD: And in the directory, local directory, I know you and I were meeting with some chambers lately, but being on the Chamber of Commerce for the locations of your choice, it’s very important. Google really pays attention to that nowadays.

RP: Right. And just to clarify is that, as an example, if you have a Google Plus business account, and you’re not being found in the Google Business Places, the maps section, on Google search. If you’re a dentist in Santa Rosa, you type it in and you’re not in that map section, if you’re not a part of the Chamber, we always recommend becoming a Chamber member because it adds more value in Google’s eyes and it could be that deciding factor that pops you into that listing. And what’s really nice about the map section for business owners is that: One, you don’t have to have a website. We always recommend that you do have a website, but it’s not required, and typically, when you look at… If you do a Google search, that search result at the very top are ads. Typically, if it’s a local search, a dentist, auto-body, auto repair, attorney, it’s gonna be that map section right below and then even below that then is your natural or organic search results. So, being found in that map section is very important these days.

VD: Yes, and maybe today we can share one little tip about that. Once you have claimed your listing on Google Map and you don’t see it appearing, maybe you’re a therapist, so there’s quite usually a lot of therapists within an area. Just make sure you invite your friends, your colleagues, your customers to write positive reviews about you on Google Plus. That will boost your ranking on Google Map fairly easily. So that’s one thing that can help.

RP: Right, definitely. Alright perfect. And the other thing we touched upon at a little bit more in depth last week, but if you missed last week’s conversation, when it comes to local search, make sure again if you have multiple locations, make sure every search directory has the multiple locations and one of the ways you can double check where you’re at right now is, moz.com has a local search and if you go on there, you can type in your business name and zip code, it’ll give you a list of businesses that it feels are similar. If you have multiple business names in there for your business, at the same address and phone number, then you already have duplicate content issues. And again, Google really doesn’t like duplicate content. But click on one of those and it’ll actually let you know which directories you’re in, if there’s misinformation.

One of the things that I recently discovered is when I started my Facebook business account back in probably 2009 or so, in my business name I put “SEO support” because I knew that it was a title tag that was gonna carry weight and I wanted to be found for SEO. Well, the problem is, is that, that is my business name in all the search directories so now, because I put “SEO support” after my business name, just on Facebook, it doesn’t match all the other directories, and that’s actually hurting me. So I went to go change that on Facebook and actually had to go through a manual review. I had to send in a utility bill with my business name on it and address to prove that I really am who I say I am just to get my business name changed, so that kinda goes to show, make sure that you set things up correctly ’cause it can prevent a lot of headaches down the road.

VD: That’s interesting to do that. In a way, it’s kind of good to do that so it washes out all the non-real business out there.

RP: Right. Alright Virginie, well our time is up. So business owners, if you have multiple locations, we gave you a couple of tips and tricks. One that we didn’t get a chance to really talk about too much, it’s really simple, is just make sure on your website, if you service multiple cities, put those multiple cities in the website. Typically I like to do it down in the footer of your web page, “locally serving Santa Rosa, Rohnert Park and Petaluma”. I’m not a big fan of stuffing where you put 50 business names or 50 cities down at the bottom. If it’s done tactfully, really target the large metropolitan areas as Virginie was talking about and as she showed you is if you have multiple locations, brick and mortar locations, it’s very simple, it really doesn’t take that much time to create an individual page for each city. And then lastly make sure that you’re checking your local search directories. Start with Google first, you know, play in their backyard. It’s gonna give you the best bang for your buck and make sure that each of your locations are listed there, and then make sure that you cross reference all the other local search directories: Yahoo, Bing, Yelp is a big one and make sure that the information is consistent across the board. Is there anything I missed?

VD: No, I think that’s a lot to chew on, so I hope someone has got some ideas from our conversation today.

RP: Yeah, definitely. And it should give you a lot of homework. If business owners out there… If you have questions, feel free to leave a comment below, let us know, and Virginie or I will definitely make sure to respond to your questions or comment. Virginie, as always, I appreciate your time today.

VD: Thank you.

RP: Alright, take care.

VD: Bye.

About Ryan Perry

Ryan Perry has taken his 10+ years of business ownership and hands-on marketing skills and focused them on online marketing. In April of 2009, he started Simple Biz Support with an emphasis on Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Ryan is propelling local business websites to the top of Google, Yahoo and Bing resulting in increased market exposure and revenue for his clients using a variety of internet marketing tools including blogs, article submissions and video. Additionally, Ryan speaks and vlogs (video blogs) about internet marketing, educating business owners how to effectively use various SEO tools and techniques to promote their business on the internet. Ryan currently resides in Santa Rosa, CA. Connect with Ryan on Google+