Search engine optimization for multi-location businesses is much different than SEO for an eCommerce site, news site, branding site, app of information site.

In this article, we'll offer some pointers about how to do SEO for a multi-location business.

But before we dive in, here are some things you need to understand.

OK, now that you have some background, lets jump in!

Add Local Listings

Start by adding local listings for each location. Fortunately, the Internet gives you plenty of opportunities to do that.

First and foremost is Google My Business (GMB). It's not only a free place to list your business, but it's also owned by the most popular search engine in the world.

So why wouldn't you want to list your business there?

Next is Yelp. That's another one that you can't afford to ignore.

Why? Because it has 135 million monthly active users. It's also a great source for reviews.

Even better, though: you can improve your visibility in the search results with an entry on Yelp.

Bing Places gives you another opportunity to list your business online for free. That's Bing's answer to GMB.

Even if you haven't yet added your business profile on Bing Places, you might find that it's already listed. In that case, you just have to claim it.

If it's not listed, you'll need to create a new profile.

You should get on Apple Maps as well. Remember, iOS is the second-most popular mobile platform in the world. If you want to reach people as they're out and about, you need make your business visible on iPhones.

Next, get an entry on CityGrid, the self-described "only local advertising platform that works for everyone." CityGrid also offers an API, so people who write custom apps could send business your way.

Of course, you should also have a Facebook business page. Make sure to fill it out with as much detail as possible.

Then there's Factual. That company bills itself as "the best location data for mobile advertising."

Also, don't forget to add a listing on Foursquare. Although it's a directory that's not nearly as popular as Yelp, it still offers a great way to increase your online visibility.

Be sure to get listed with Infogroup. You can do that with the company's ExpressUpdate tool.

You should list with LocalEze. Although it's not free, it's a great way to promote your brand online.

Don't forget about a couple of old favorites: YP and SuperPages. They're both online equivalents of the hard copy "Yellow Pages" directories that were popular in previous decades.

Optimize Your Website

Once you've added local listings, it's time to optimize your website for local SEO.

Start by writing unique, optimized content. After all, it's still the case that content is king.

If you find that you're too busy with your business to crank out article after article for your blog, then outsource your writing to a qualified professional. You should hire a ghostwriter, though, so all articles appear in your name.

Also, make sure that your articles are relevant to people in your target market. Optimize them for keywords that likely customers will use when searching for products or services in your niche. Pick the top 3 keywords you want each location to rank for and create a template. For example, say you own a pizza company. You might want to optimize each location for something like:

You can then use this keyword template to optimize all the elements on the page. 

Next, use markup. That's HTML-like code that enables search engines to more easily parse the content of your website.

With markup, you can include details about your business, products, and even reviews. That kind of info will give you a better chance at ranking well.

Also, embed a map. You've probably seen maps on other websites. It's a practice you should imitate because a map associates your website with the location of your business. That's important for local SEO.

Next, update your local pages often. There's evidence that Google favors fresh content so you're more likely to get a good rank if you consistently update your site.

You should also get reviews on your site. Although it's wonderful to have positive reviews on a site like Yelp, it's also a great idea to have them them on your own site as well.

Again, there's evidence that positive reviews will improve your search visibility.

Be sure to use the AggregateReview markup on your page when you include reviews. That way, Google can show your overall rating to its users.

Next, link to your local listings. Use your website as an opportunity to provide backlinks to the citations you've added from the previous section (Yelp, Facebook, Foursquare, etc.). When you do that, you're associating your business website with various listings.

Finally, build local links to your local pages. Find business owners in town who are happy to provide you with a link to your local site. Return the favor by adding links to their sites on your web page.

One More Step

At this point, you have built the major local listings manually, optimized the local pages on your website, starting building links and updating content often. 

You now have an excellent foundation.

The final step in the initial process of local SEO is to use a tool like Yext or Moz Local. While there are other options, and a little overlap with the local listings above, they are still important. Yext covers a little more ground than Moz Local, but it is much more expensive. These tools will allow you to claim the major of your local listings. This will build more links to your local pages and create more citations, which will help your Google My Business page rank and your HTML page.

Wrapping It Up

If you haven't yet optimized each and every one of your locations for maximum search visibility, then now is the time to do so. There is more to know about local SEO for a multi-location business, but this is a great start!