The Online Marketing Company
Victoria & Vancouver SEO

Google Local Multi Location Setup & Structure Bad-Assery

Google Places | 5 Sep 2012

mutiple location google local
Have you ever wondered how to structure a site that hosts multiple Google + Local profiles? Or rather, when such a setup is or isn’t viable?

Sidecar: No way am I typing “Google+ Local” again in this post. Henceforward, on my blog, it will be GL. Deal with it.

Most of my posts are fueled by an overwhelming amount of questions about a particular facet of SEO, most usually Google + Local.

Over the last 2+ years I have worked with more variations than I care to know about. There are 3 that have been consistently successful. For the sake of simplicity, I will break them down into my three most common categories: Corporate, Small-Medium Biz & Publisher.

Corporate

Typically speaking, big business (i.e. Macy’s) will use their home page in their GL profile. This is the super-easy option. The majority of your PR typically sits on your homepage, which will translate well in your local rankings.

I however, prefer a second option. If I worked with Macy’s, I would build out a separate landing page for each location. The URL would be stuffed, a map embedded, NAP, keyword rich content—the works.

You could appeal to so many pieces of the local & organic algo that otherwise would have been missed; trumped by aesthetics and such. In my experience, this leads to better rankings and far more traffic.

Unfortunately for Macy’s, it is too late. To change (for example) every local directory which points at their home page would be an absolute nightmare. For the individual building a business that will one day rise to the size of Macy’s however, I would strongly consider this option.

Small-Medium Business

Let’s assume you are a small/medium sized business and you have a total of 4 locations.

Most often I would throw all the addresses in the sidebar or footer. I’d have them appear site wide.

A business of this size will most likely not have a SUPER authoritative domain, so we must be more conservative with where we allow PR/link juice to flow. As such, the example above would likely be overkill—especially if you are in a competitive market and have to push these 4 extra inner pages up organically.

Instead, keep it simple and stick to using the home page in your GL profiles.

If you are an eager beaver and have a bit of budget to throw around, I would build out an inner page/landing page for each city. For example: mydomain.com/Vancouver-Auto-Body-Repair. As long as these pages are well-optimized, they will grow with your domain authority. The end game would be ranking these pages alongside the GP page.

Publisher

I define a publisher as an affiliate or lead-generation operation. A local SEO example might be a fellow who builds a website or multiple websites, ranks them for legal service terms, collects leads, and then sells said leads. Alternatively, he could be an affiliate who forwards traffic from his GL page (w/ affiliate link) to a dating site like Match.com.

I’ve seen dozens of different variations in dozens of sectors like: legal, health, real estate, bail bonds, escorts, movers, etc. Such an operation falls well outside of GL’s guidelines, which brings me to a different option: multiple sites.

You could go the corporate, multiple inner page route, BUT you end up with all your eggs in one basket. If Google catches you outside of GL guidelines, it very likely will ban your domain, addresses, etc. from GL. Use one domain and you show Google all your cards. Too many times I have seen the castle fall down. It’s heartbreaking.

Instead, I would advise you to grab a hosting account at Arctic Hosting and go domain shopping. Pick up EMDs or semi EMDs in all your markets and get to work.

This way you face less risk of losing your investment before you’ve had a chance to cash in. I would recommend checking out this post from the folks at Microsite Masters. It contains good information re protecting your neck when you have a ton of sites like this.

On the local SEO side of things, my best advice would be to NOT group your GL listings. Use one Gmail per listing. This is smart, not paranoid.

EDIT: I should mention, I have used this setup many times for small/medium size businesses who are sporting lots of virtual addresses/mailboxes.

Got any questions about any of these three options? Bring ‘em on!

Thanks for reading : )

Related posts:

  1. How to Use Google Apps to Setup a Free Email Account with Your Domain
  2. It’s Just…there is someone else…Google+ Local – Goodbye Google Places
  3. Google+ Local Pages are Indexed: So What?
  4. Google Places Page Optimization: Google Local in Review
  5. Ranking Organically and in Google Places on Page 1

9 Comments

  • Aaron

    Great, publicly teaching people to spam google maps/google+local?!? Screw you for going after the fast buck while the hardworking legitimate SMBs suffer.

    • Adam Steele Adam Steele

      Hey Aaron –

      Fair grievance.

      Unfortunately, there are many niches where the only way one can succeed is by fighting fire with fire. Much of my readership are SEOs who too have clients in such niches.

      I hope that you swing by my blog again as there is a lot of great GL info for SMBs. Legit info ;)

      Thank you Aaron.

  • Erin

    Hi Adam,

    Very interesting post. I might even try Artic Hosting though even on Godaddy when you buy a new hosting program they usually supply a completely different hosting ip.

    My question to you is this: I imagine that everyone lately has experienced a Google tsunami which out of the blue destroys their hard worked on listings.
    Even the careful who have opened up listings under different names and domains and hosting accounts have experienced at times a complete wipeout of every listing that had to do with a specific category.

    It seems that after finding a listing which somehow does not follow the guidelines they know exactly where to look to find its sibling listings.

    My question to you is how do they know where to look? Do you have an opinion on this?

    • Adam Steele Adam Steele

      I remember when I was working in compliance for an affiliate network, we had all kinds of crazy tools that would look for ppl logging into multiple accounts from the same IP or accounts created on the same IP or ANY similarity in inputs…the list goes on and on. This company made a few million a yr…IMAGINE the tools Google has!

      Though, one must also take into account the volume that they need to manage.

      It is my feeling that if you are careful, you stand better chance of slipping through, because they just can’t stop everyone. Look at organics. Penguin put an end to LOTS of sites, but the REAL spammers I know…the good ones…were hardly touched.

      I often poke fun at myself for being so paranoid as an SEO, but in some cases, it’s the only thing keeping my client’s listings from being removed.

      Hope that helps : )

  • Erin

    Thanks Adam for the answer. I actually appreciate these type of blogs. Do not let people give you a hard time for telling things like they are.

    I have known cases where legitimate businesses get hit by Google penalties and those legitimate businesses should have a right to know what they can do to avoid getting hit by these sort of penalties.

  • arroway

    I’ve been recently approached by a client to build out microsites for their 70 locations across the country – and I’m frantically trying to figure the best practices here…..

    As an *example*, let’s say this was a client whose core product was countertops.

    They want:

    dallascountertops.com
    chicagocountertops.com
    tampcountertops.com

    They want each site individually hosted, and individually maintained by each location – content will include contact info, location info, promotions (managed by each individual location), etc.

    However, of course there will be some content that will be the same (product descriptions) – I’m terrified of duplicate content!

    Thinking of creating main site to host shared type content (product descriptions) and then individual domains for each city as microsites – but is this a good practice? It’s a good paying client – they don’t mind paying for each microsite (iit’s what they WANT) – but I want to also ensure they get good SEO (ultimately, they want folks in dallas searching on those key words to get a “dallas” only site that doesn’t feel “corporate” with location links – they want those users to go to dallascountertops.com and get to know that particular location/company.

    Suggestions?

    Thanks

    • Adam Steele Adam Steele

      Sounds like a thick project!

      When you surpass 50 or so sites you certainly are safer to think SEO hosting. Good SEO hosting.

      If the client has money to throw down, the microsite option would be a favorable route. It will be pricey though! You don’t want 70 5 page sites – won’t last long.

      I would consider contacting the folks at thelinkbuilders.com – they specialize in Microsite creation and could pump this project out for you real quick.

      Sorry for the late reply and I hope I have been helpful.

      Adam

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