Domain Name Best Practices: The Do’s and Don’ts For Multi-Location Dealerships

Having multiple locations can throw a wrench into your online strategy when it comes time to buy domains. Do you buy a different URL for each city? Do you populate each URL with fresh content?

Luckily, there are a few options for you, and there are best practices for whichever option you choose.

3 Ways of Dealing with Multiple Dealerships

  1. Unique URLs for each location: brand-city.com
  2. Subdomains for each location on one main domain: city.brandname.com
  3. Geo-Targeted Landing pages on one main domain: brandname.com/city/

Before you choose an option and build domains, subdomains or pages, check the following necessary items for each location:

  • A physical address of each dealership
  • A local, unique phone number for each dealership
  • Optimized and non-duplicated content for your geo-targeted keywords

Best Practices for Option One: Separate Domains for Each Location

If you want your separate dealership locations to get found online, it’s best to have a unique, crawlable URL for each dealership. For each domain, you can include a hub page that links to all your stores, as well as a main URL for your brand.

Example:

If you’re an auto group with Ford dealers in Southern California:

Main URL: Brand-NameFord.com

  • LosAngelesFord.com
  • SanDiegoFord.com
  • OrangeCountyFord.com

Now that you’ve created your unique URLs, you need to properly optimize for each location.



DO:

Create unique, location specific content for each site targeted to that city or region, and optimize the meta data and H1 tags by focusing on the exact location

If you carry a different brand or service for each location, optimize for that brand only.

DON’T:

Duplicate content across all URLs, or target brands or services that specific location does not offerd.

If you create a page to serve as the hub for all these locations (brand.com), create an HTML sitemap for the search engines. The sitemap will help the engines to discover those pages and crawl them. For queries of brand + city, Google will find the specific page, but it won’t rank as highly without the help of the sitemap.

Tip:

For each unique URL, include a page for “Our Other Locations.” Link to your other domains—this will also create a path for search engines to recognize these pages and locations exist.

If you have many store locations, consider the best practice to be:

  • Making a domain for each store that features the dealership’s name, address, phone number, hours, amenities, etc.
  • Making an HTML sitemap to point to those pages with regular HTML links.

Best Practices for Option Two: Subdomains on Your Main Site for Each Location

Subdomains are useful whether you have two locations or ten—they serve to optimize for both brand and location.

Example: losangeles.forddealer.com

  • sandiego.forddealer.com
  • orangecounty.forddealer.com

Similar to a unique URL, the subdomains should be populated with the following unique and keyword-targeted content:

  • Location-specific content targeted the subdomain city
  • Brand-specific content for that location
  • Name/Address/Phone Number unique to each location

If you’re implementing a link building strategy along with your geo-targeted content strategy, remember to find local, niche sites or blogs and point the links to their relevant subdomains, not the main site.

Best Practices for Option Three: Geo Landing Pages for Each Location on Your Main Site

Creating landing pages on your main URL, brand-name.com, is a strategy that allows for specific geo-targeting without having to manage multiple sites or subdomains.

Example: www.forddealer.com/los-angeles-ford-dealer

A benefit to landing pages like these is if you’re a smaller dealer without the budget or resources for a multi-site CMS or content strategy, most systems will support this URL structure of directory folders.

Best Practices for Optimizing Multiple Locations—No Matter What Option You Choose



  1. Create unique content for each city that targets your services and location. Make sure you’re not duplicating across your different domains.
  2. Optimize your domains, subdomains or landing pages with geo-specific meta data and descriptions.
  3. Have each dealership’s name, address, and phone number displayed clearly on their pages and no others. Only show your alternate locations as links.
  4. For unique domains and subdomains—set up Google Analytics profiles for each and track them separately. For landing pages, create custom dashboards for each location.
  5. Create Google+ pages for each location and display the unique URL/subdomain/landing page on each page.

As the search engines become more sophisticated to physical locations, choosing a multi-location strategy will become more important. Following the best practices outlined will contribute to your geo-targeted web presence no matter how many areas you serve.

Want more SEO tips and best practices that can better your dealership today? Download your copy of this free eBook, and learn how to generate more traffic for your website, improve your current SEO campaigns and outrank your competition.

All the best,

Kelly

Kelly Ayres is the SEO Director at Stream Companies, a full-service Philadelphia area advertising agency.

Kelly Ayres

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