As an enterprise with loads of day-to-day responsibilities, your brand’s online presence might not be your first priority. That said, it has broad implications on your reputation, customer engagement and bottom line. Most consumers are seeking goods and services near them, and if they cannot easily find your nearest location via local search inquiry, they will likely go elsewhere.
For multi-location brands like yours, managing every aspect of your local search engine optimization in-house ranges from daunting to downright impossible. This challenge is only amplified as Google’s algorithm rapidly evolves, introducing new opportunities and obstacles for local SEO. To stay on top of your local presence, you need to gather a team of experts who can craft an effective local SEO strategy that works with your budget, your current software and your operations.
In our webinar, “Build Your Local Dream Team: Manage Local Search at the Enterprise Level,” Tyler Ludwig, Director of Enterprise Solutions at Rio SEO, spoke with Richard Mastriani (VP of Client Solutions at Performics) and Josef Sperzel (Group Director of SEO at Horizon Media) about how multi-location businesses should approach outsourcing and integrating their local search strategy.
In this discussion, Ludwig, Mastriani and Sperzel addressed matters such as what companies should look for in an agency partner, how agencies might collaborate with IT and internal marketing teams, the unknown or underutilized aspects of local SEO, and what may be in store for local SEO marketing in 2020.
Here are five tips and takeaways in regards to building your local dream team.
1. Focus on Collaboration and Scalability
Every business will have its own approach to local search marketing. The key to crafting a successful strategy is determining which aspects of local SEO require the most attention for your needs and who is in charge of each of these aspects. For instance, certain marketing duties might fall on an in-house SEO or social media team, and portions of data management might be in the jurisdiction of an IT partner. In scenarios like these, you want to find an agency that can easily integrate with your current marketing and IT teams and/or manage different parts of your local marketing and data efforts that are currently lacking.
Your local SEO solutions should also be scalable, meaning they don’t limit or exceed your current bandwidth or budget. Some agencies might mostly work with C-level executives, while others might take a more holistic approach to SEO, so be sure to team up with a partner that speaks to your specific needs.
2. Delegate the Source of Truth for Your Brand
Multi-location brands often struggle to consolidate their information for each of their locations. Franchisees might rely on their own local marketing strategies and stray from the messaging of the broader business. Or, there might be no one directly in charge of maintaining a local listing’s accuracy.
This lack of communication and consolidation can lead to confusion and conflict for franchise owners and local customers alike, as well as harm the business’s overall standings in Google’s search algorithm. Therefore, when building your local dream team, choose an agency that can centralize and prioritize your information.
In some cases, it might be best to make the corporate marketing arm the source of truth for your brand, which trickles down to all local listings. Or, your agency partner itself might be in charge of centralizing this data. The important thing here is communication and integration between your partner and corporate marketing structure.
3. Control Your Q&A Section in Google My Business
Google My Business (GMB) has quickly become an invaluable resource for local businesses and enterprise brands alike. This platform makes it easy for companies to optimize their presence in Google’s ecosystem and engage with online users. That said, plenty of GMB’s features remain underutilized or ignored altogether.
The panelists of this webinar agreed that businesses should pay more attention to the Q&A section of their GMB profile. Failing to anticipate or respond to customer questions leaves the door open for false information, poor engagement and negative consumer sentiment. Quickly responding to customer questions allows you to own your presence and engage with your customers.
4. Work with an Agency to Update Pages Regularly
Relevant, high-quality, accurate content continues to rule the local SEO landscape. Your landing pages and other content inform Google about your business and its authority. Hiring an agency to update these pages and focus on data enrichment can help you stay in Google’s good graces and reach more of your local audience.
As Google’s algorithm has evolved, relevancy has become a greater factor in determining your local search rankings. Richard Mastriani recommends keeping your content highly relevant to your locale and vertical and utilizing proper schema markups for all types of content. Think about how local search users will seek your brand. Speak their language, especially as voice search begins to eclipse text-based searches.
Josef Sperzel brought up an example that illustrates the importance of context when building out pages. He mentioned that in New York City, for instance, users more often search for neighborhoods and boroughs than particular street names. Your agency partner can help you mine information from search results pages to investigate title tags for location-based searches. Sperzel also mentioned that pages can serve more than one purpose. A blog centered on “things to do in this area near this hotel” can target both local searches and a specific brand.
5. Voice and Visuals are the Future
The webinar concluded with a brief discussion on the future of local online marketing for all industries. With a brief anecdote about his daughter’s propensity to speak to her device rather than use its keyboard, Mastriani mused about the growing prominence of voice search for customer engagement as well as Google’s current struggle to monetize this trend.
Then, Sperzel noted that advancements in wearable tech, natural language processing (NLP), and augmented reality (AR) point towards a coming revolution in visual-based local marketing. The future both panelists predict indicates that the work of local SEO agencies will become more important as people become more dependent on immediate, accurate data.
Fittingly, Tyler Ludwig closed with the note that no one does it all when it comes to local search marketing and reputation management. A reliable agency partner acts as the conduit between the brand and the consumer experience.