Whether you run a huge corporation with locations all over the world, or you started a small business that has expanded into neighboring towns, centralizing all your operations into one website simply makes sense. Not only will you reduce costs in design and web hosting fees, but customers of one location might be interested in other locations.
Creating a separate website for each location is a bit old school, and designers did use that model once upon a time. But, with modern location tools and the ability to segment websites, it is less troublesome to serve up unique pages for each location while keeping everything on one website. Google is also shifting the way that it looks at keywords, domains and websites so that it is not as necessary as it once was to ensure you use a keyword specific to that location.
When it comes to organizing a global website, there are a number of things you can focus on to ensure the site is functional for the user and the company.
Your first focus when designing a global website should be on the administrative side of the equation. Managers need the ability to quickly and easily log in to the back end of the site and place orders for customers.
Let’s say you are a women’s clothing store with 50 locations in the U.S. and Canada. A customer walks into the store and wants to purchase the shirt they saw on social media, but that particular store doesn’t have the shirt in stock. The manager needs the ability to search other store inventories and see what nearby location has the shirt or if you can ship it to the customer.
The structure of a multiple location website needs to have a certain flow to it. The layout should resemble this:
This way the user can easily find location information. For companies with dozens of locations, you can also add a level for state-by-state listings and then locations within that state.
Hershey is a global company with locations around the world, including their headquarters, manufacturing facilities and even a theme park. Their website is structured to reflect the overall purpose and history of the chocolate company as well as show their global locations. When you hover over the “This is Hershey” tab, a drop-down menu shows choices, including “global locations,” and an explanation about why they have multiple locations.
When you pack dozens of locations on a single page, the user must work pretty hard to get to the exact location they want. While a single page listing all the locations available might work if you only have five to 10 locations, more than that and the site is no longer user-friendly.
If you have less than 10 locations, it makes sense to put them on a single page. If you have more, split up your locations into areas or even an individual page for each specific store.
When you pack all of your locations on a single page, the user has to work hard to get to the exact location they want. While a single page listing all the locations available might work if you only have two or three locations, more than that and the site is no longer user-friendly.
Instead, split up your locations into areas or even an individual page for each specific store. This allows you to target geo-location when running pay-per-click campaigns or targeting specific keyword phrases.
Take a look at how MECO utilizes their main website to highlight the different locations where you can get their water purification solutions. If you click on the locations tab, you are taken to a page listing the locations with a vivid image of the offices there. The complete contact info for that location is listed clearly in a box that stands out from the rest of the page. This simple design works well for the number of locations they currently have.
If you want a specific location to turn up in local searches, then you should utilize individual location pages throughout your site. Basically, you’re creating local landing pages for search engines to index.
However, at the same time, you must be aware of recent Google algorithm updates and how they are ranking pages they feel don’t add a lot of value. If you have a lot of location pages that simply list a store name and a map, Google could penalize your ranking. Instead, try to create pages that tell a bit about the store manager, specials at the store and add some value to that page.
One simple way to get around all the search engine madness and still make your locations searchable by the consumer is to provide a store locator function on your website. This allows site visitors to easily search for a location near them, which can be returned from a database rather than requiring separate pages for each and every store location.
Five Guys uses a simple store locator to pull up information on location by city, state or zip. You can also allow the app to sense your location and give you back the nearest stores. The user gets a map to the right, an address and telephone number to the left, what that specific store offers (such as milkshakes) and an order button so the customer can place an order right then and there and simply pick it up.
Consider utilizing some internal microsites for your locations if you aren’t particularly scared of Google’s algorithms, or most of your traffic comes from other sources. This allows you to target highly refined searches for a certain location specifically. You also can utilize these landing pages in your social media advertising, and create a target audience in that specific place.
Let's say you have a plumbing service and you serve three different cities. In one city, you specialize in corporate plumbing, so you would create a landing page for that location and then under that location you'd have another page explaining how you specialize in corporate accounts at this location.
Consolidating everything into a single site simplifies how much you must keep up with and allows you to push out information to customers of every location at one time. There are methods to offer specific information on individual locations and both pros and cons to creating individual pages. As your company grows, you likely will need to consolidate, so it’s smart to consider these factors now.
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