Local SEO for new physical locations

Opening a new business location can be an exciting yet chaotic time.

As a local SEO expert, you want to do everything possible to hit the ground running and get the new location visible immediately. This requires coordination across teams and channels while keeping some key local ranking factors in mind.

This article covers tips for preparing and executing local SEO strategies when your client opens a new physical location, including:

  • Critical tactics like optimizing online listings, websites and citations.
  • Best practices for aligning your efforts with paid search, social, PR and other marketing initiatives leading up to opening day and beyond.

Local SEO: Setting the groundwork

Marketers should optimize a client’s onsite and off-site presence to reach people in local markets.

Once you have the business details, plan tactics to reach your client’s target audience and engage potential customers effectively.

Google Business Profile: Set an opening date 

Google Business Profile (GBP) is fundamental to any local SEO strategy. Once the location’s details are live on the website, you can set up GBP next.

For GBP, there’s the opportunity to set an opening date to share when the business will open. This will make the profile eligible in search results and allow potential customers to engage with the business. 

With the future opening date set in the backend of GBP, start optimizing the profile by:

  • Adding all relevant information.
  • Uploading photo.
  • Creating a post calendar that can be used to announce promotions or events leading up to the grand opening.

To do this, all you need to have is the year and month for when the business is scheduled to open.

Once the data is entered and the profile has been verified, the profile will start showing on Google 90 days before the scheduled opening date, along with a message to inform users that the business is opening soon. 

Sample GBP with opening datae

Yelp has a similar process for letting users know when a business plans to open soon.

However, Yelp recommends that a business add its opening date to the “From the Business” section or add “Opening Soon” to the business name to convey the message. 

Dig deeper: How to manage and optimize local listings for SEO

Websites and local landing pages

Your client’s website is a vital channel to share information about the business.

  • From a digital perspective, it’s the main way to tie everything together and drive users to become potential customers. 
  • From a local SEO standpoint, you’ll want to get the website ready to capture organic traffic and potentially start ranking for local queries. 

The website should include valuable information about the business, such as where it’s located and the products or services that will be offered. 

For a business that isn’t open yet, include messaging that states when it’ll be opening or a “coming soon” message. 

This should be displayed promptly for users above the fold to avoid any confusion. Other areas to utilize “coming soon” or “opening soon” messages could be through on-page content, title tags, or meta descriptions. 

Another benefit of launching the website before opening is that now there’s a way to start collecting potential customer information. For a location opening soon, consider including a website form for users to sign up for updates or enter information for a promotional offer.

Additionally, for any location page, always include unique information regarding that location to avoid duplicate content.

While this can be difficult before a business opens, think of unique ways to gather details about your client’s new location, such as adding an owner bio or introducing new team members. 

Keep in mind that on-site SEO is never just a one-time project.

Once the business is opened and you go through the QA process to ensure that all information is correct, develop new ways to add content and highlight the business, such as getting photos or parking details on the page.

Additionally, as you build out a content strategy, it can be beneficial to add unique information about the business, like team bios, event information, or FAQs, to avoid duplicate content against other locations on the website.

Sample website - Coming soon messageSample website - Coming soon message

Dig deeper: Optimizing local landing pages for search: 8 best practices

A good starting point for building local backlinks to a website is through citations like GBP and Apple Business Connect. 

Also, look into partnerships with nearby establishments and where the business can be listed in directories (i.e., the shopping center where a business is located). 

Being listed in local directories or niche publications can help connect your client with a new audience.

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Developing a comprehensive grand opening strategy

While local SEO is crucial for businesses, it’s just one part of a comprehensive marketing strategy. 

Businesses can connect with consumers by sharing consistent messages across various channels and platforms to reach diverse audiences. 

As marketers, we should consider the big picture and align strategies with our clients’ goals. A holistic approach often strengthens marketing channels more effectively than staying siloed.

Paid search: Get in front of your target audience

Paid search is a powerful tool for increasing brand awareness in new markets. It efficiently targets the right audience by leveraging collected emails from web queries. 

These emails can be used for remarketing or to create lookalike audiences, reaching individuals who share interests in your client’s products or services.

With a paid search strategy, you’ll have the opportunity to:

  • Reach new people whom you haven’t gotten in front of through other channels.
  • Continue to market to audiences that have already shown interest in your client by visiting the website. 

Organic efforts build a digital presence, but paid campaigns amplify reach.

Running diverse campaigns with targeted messages ensures each audience receives relevant information based on their place in the customer journey, whether discovering the business or aiming to re-engage for conversion.

Sample PPC adSample PPC ad

Social media: Share updates and build followers

Start building an audience and showing off the business’s personality through social media marketing. 

This can include sharing updates about the construction progress via Instagram Stories, TikToks, and Meta posts to give followers an exclusive look into the business and help build some anticipation around the opening. 

Some companies will giveaways to followers or share exclusive offers to entice people to engage with the profile and keep up with the information that’s shared over time.

Many chains and multi-location companies have a local presence on social media with dedicated groups or pages for individual locations. 

Ensure that you stay consistent with the business name whenever possible and provide users with a way to navigate your client’s website or contact the business.

With paid social efforts on Instagram or Meta, you can re-engage with audiences that have already visited a website via another channel through targeted campaigns that include eye-catching graphics, videos or offers.

This can be another way to get in front of users and lead them to a conversion action or sign up for a promotion.

Sample business IG postSample business IG post

Dig deeper: 11 tips for using social to become an authority in your niche

Email marketing: Build customer lists

Many businesses want to start interacting with customers before they open. For some, this can be done through promotional offers or by getting people to sign up for informational newsletters. 

Where customers come to the website via organic search, a paid ad, or clicking on a link from an announcement online, make sure there is a form filled out to capture customer information. 

If these people have gone to the website and filled out their information, they want to learn more. Once the email list grows, create a comprehensive email marketing plan to build a relationship between your client and the audience. 

Use email campaigns to send special offers, information about grand opening events, or a newsletter to share updates.

Even if some of the audience doesn’t convert right away, this is an opportunity to nurture leads over time through efforts like drip campaigns and personalized emails. 

PR: Spread the word out

With a new business coming, this can be a great chance to partner with PR teams.

If the team has planned press releases or announcements, ensure that a link to the website is included in that communication. 

This doesn’t have to be limited to press releases. There are also opportunities to get grand opening events listed or ribbon-cutting ceremonies promoted.

Depending on the business, the business owner can also do interviews with publications or news outlets to share the story of the business. 

These are opportunities to earn links and grow awareness about the business. Also, don’t be afraid to ask for a link when a story gets picked up on an online publication. 

Final stop: Opening day and beyond

We’ve finally made it to opening day – what an exciting time! 

Some quick reminders for marketers on launch day to ensure all publicly available information is accurate:

  • Update messaging from “Coming Soon” to “Now Open.” This includes social media posts, ad copy, metadata, web copy, or anywhere else as necessary.  
  • Check that local listings indicate the business is now open and that information like hours are updated.
GBP - recently openedGBP - recently opened

Developing an integrated local promotion plan and building visibility early can help maximize awareness and drive traffic as soon as the doors open.

With the right preparation, your hard work will pay off with a successful launch and a strong foundation for getting the new business spotted locally.

Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.

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