There are a few things we know to be absolutely true in the world of SEO – Links are important, keywords help everyone find you, and if Matt Cutts ‘recommends’ some SEO advice, you’d be wise to listen.
If you’re not familiar with Matt, he’s part of Google’s Search Quality group and last week he delivered a very important bit of SEO advice for small business owners. If you’ve ever wondered how to best handle multiple business locations, Matt gives you your answer in a new post entitled SEO Advice: Make a Web page for each store location. Well there ya go.
If you want your store pages to be found, it’s best to have a unique, easily crawlable url for each store. Ideally, you would also create an HTML sitemap that points to the web pages for your stores (and each web page should have a unique url). If you have a relatively small number of stores, you could have a single page that links to all your stores. If you have a lot of stores, you could have a web page for each (say) state that links to all stores in that state.
Many times, small business owners don’t make pages for each of their locations. Instead, they’ll use an uncrawlable drop-down or simply use one page for all of their locations. According to Matt, this makes it really hard (if not impossible) for Google to identify and server individual store locations for users. As a searcher, you probably know how frustrating it can be to do a search with local intent and then be directed to a company’s main page, instead of the specific store you were looking for. To get around this, Matt suggested small business do two easy things:
- Make a web page for each store that lists the store’s address, phone number, business hours, etc.
- Make an HTML sitemap to point to those pages with regular HTML links, not a search form or POST requests.
You can also take this advice when creating Google Place page profiles. Create a profile for each individual location and use the location name as the page URL, not the URL for the main site.
Outside of simply being good for SEO, this is great advice to increase the usability of your Web site. We want to get away from directing people to our home page, because that’s often not the page they’re looking for. By creating pages for your individual locations, you give users the information they’re after. Include the hours, location and directions for that store so that users find it when they do a search. And of course, when you create the pages, make sure you include them in an HTML site map so that Google can easily find them and serve them to users. It’s all part of helping people find the information they’re actually looking for.