When designing a website for a company with many locations the biggest thing to consider is how to get the locations’ relevant and unique information to the customer as efficiently as possible.
What sets each location apart? Here are some examples:
- Distance from home/current location
- Address and how to get there
- The location’s hours
- Reviews for a location
- What, if any, unique goods/services are offered
- What specials or deals are offered
- Information on staff for this location
- Exterior and interior design of the location
- Parking Information
- Local media coverage about that location
Google Search shows results from Google Business first and it has multi-location management tools built in. You can include location-specific information like physical address and a unique URL for each location.
There are two methods of structuring multi-location URLs. Option one is for each location to have a distinct domain (ex. baltimorebusinessname.com & newyorkbusinessname.com). Option two is for each URL to be related to a root domain (ex. Businessname.com/Baltimore & Businessname.com/Newyork).
Advantages of Distinct Domains
Option one is helpful if each location maintains its own distinct brand or you want to have a strong degree of separation for each individual office.
Advantages of a Structured Central URL.
Most chain companies will go with this option because it provides a number of advantages for companies under one unified umbrella. Rumor has it that Google prefers this method and that it will give businesses a slight advantage over those who don’t use it.
Separate websites, with separate branding is difficult to maintain. Updating a unified brand on the same domain is much easier for developers, and thus cheaper.
Example URL Structures:
Baltimore.MainBusinessName.com (subdomain but related)
There are two common navigation styles for multiple locations; filterable maps or branching geographic pages.
Filterable Map User Flow
- Arrive at the location page
- Accept permission to use background location
- Auto find closest location or type in zipcode
- Locations organized by distance, and the main location info should be displayed (address, phone number, hours, location URL link).
- Additional sort functionality may be needed if each location provides only select services.
Branching Geographic Method
Example URL: MainBusinessName.com/Maryland/Baltimore/HarborStore
Each location is broken down within geographic subpages. At the top level, you would have a page with a list of states. When the user clicks on that state, they get a list of cities. When they click on Baltimore for this example they would get a list of citywide locations, one of which would be the Harbor Store. This method works well as an expansive addition to website navigation menu, allowing customers to navigate to their stoor quickly. It’s not uncommon to see both a filter map page and a geographic menu navigation used at the same time.
Creating a custom post type in WordPress CMS for multiple locations is a common way to generate and manage many location-landing pages. Sharing access with local managers allows them to take over some of the management to make changes when they happen and run featured promotions!
In summary, my recommendation is to create a landing page for each location containing the information that makes that location unique. Use a logically structured URL and connect with Google Business features. Take advantage of filterable maps and branching geographic menus. Last but not least, give local managers the control to make changes to their location’s landing page.