Think of your website like painting a beautiful mural on a wall. If you don’t buy enough paint, the colors won’t be vibrant and won’t cover all the areas they should. You might reach an avid art fan with a half-finished painting, but most people will move on to the completed mural down the street. When you have multiple locations, you don’t want to scatter your paint around to different websites. It’s much better to create one central, vibrant site and cover all your locations under a single label.
At a Google Conference, experts stated that about 46% of searches are local in nature. You might think that means you should have a website for each location, but that just waters down your branding efforts. Fortunately, there are ways to give a nod to each local business in your lineup and still keep your corporate branding intact.
1. Create Multiple Landing Pages
Even though you might have one main corporate website with information about your company, policies and pricing, there is no law about how many landing pages you can create for your website.
It makes sense to create a separate landing page for each location, including keywords specific to that region and location information such as hours of operation, phone number and address. You’ve likely seen this type of page crop up when looking at chain restaurant websites, for example. The menu and the pricing may be exactly the same, but the landing page shows how that location is different.
Kroger does an excellent job of tracking your location and offering selections of nearby grocery stores. When you land on their home page, a pop up asks if you’ll allow them to know your location. If you choose “Allow,” you can then pull up stores and it will offer a selection of locations near where you live. The locator isn’t 100% accurate, but it is within 30 miles of your location and depends on your internet provider’s system. On a phone, the selections are much more accurate than on a PC.
2. Get Mobile-Responsive
The top-performing and most popular websites today need to be mobile-responsive if they have any hope of competing in a mobile-obsessed world. As more and more people use their smartphones to conduct searches for local businesses, it’s vital they can pull up your website and see the information they need on a smaller screen. If your site isn’t already mobile-friendly, now is the time to get it there. It’s one of the top things you can do for your multi-location site to improve it.
3. List a Few Locations
If you have a handful or fewer locations, then you may just want to list them right on your landing page. This shows users they have options if one store’s hours aren’t convenient or they work in another area from where they live and want to pop by on a lunch hour.
You can place your locations on a separate page or serve them right up on your home page. People expect to see location info a little farther down the page, so it’s okay to place them below the fold.
Access Lift Equipment sells used aerial lifts and work platforms. They have several locations across three different states, so they highlight each of those right on their homepage. In big, bold letters, they list the states of Pennsylvania, North Carolina and California along with contact information and address. Since their customers can range across a tri-state area, this shows people immediately where their closest location is.
4. Add a Locations Button
Don’t just add pages for each location and force users to find them through your website’s search function. Google crawls the links on your site, so those pages aren’t going to rank individually if you don’t give Google (and site visitors) a way to easily find the location pages.
Ideally, place something on your home page and within your navigation that helps people find a list of all your locations. They can then click on individual links on a main locations page and find info on each place.
5. Offer a Find Feature
Another thing you can do to highlight locations is to create a find feature on your website. The button might appear in the navigation bar or on the main page of the site and will invite users to “Find Local Store.” The user can then punch in a city or zip code and get a list of all nearby locations. This works particularly well for businesses with a large number of franchises or secondary stores.
Applebee’s Bar & Grill places a call to action (CTA) button above the fold on their home page that simply reads “Find My Applebee’s.” When the user clicks on the button, they can put in their address or zip code and a list of nearby Applebee’s restaurants appears. The system lists the local menu, address, hours of operation and even which features are available at that store, such as to-go order pickup or Wi-Fi.
6. Include a Map
Keep in mind that many people access your site via their mobile devices. For example, a shopper is out looking for a new rug for her dining room and none of the big box stores have what she wants. She pulls out her iPhone and types in a search for “custom area rugs near me” and gets a selection of results.
However, she may not know the exact location where your store is located. A map gives her a sense of direction and hopefully shows other nearby points of interest so she can get her bearings. You can even include a link that offers directions with a single click.
HomeGoods features a map on their store locator. Not only do they mark the store nearest you, but they also offer a couple of other nearby options. They show a detailed map that you can zoom in on and see what other crossroads are near the store. If you click on the red locator icon using your phone, you can also get directions from Google Maps.
Offer Equal Attention
One of the biggest benefits of a multi-location business website is that you centralize all your traffic. You can turn site visitors into leads, but still segment them into lists according to location or interests. You’ll give equal attention to all your stores and all of their landing pages will look the same, creating some consistency for customers who shop at more than one location.
Lexie is a UX content strategist and web designer. She enjoys copious amounts of coffee (with a dash of milk) and walking her goldendoodle. Check out her design blog, Design Roast, and follow her on Twitter @lexieludesigner.