Hello again, and welcome to the third installment of our Local Search at Scale series of articles! As a reminder, this series of articles is devoted specifically to helping large enterprises and franchises tackle the world of local SEO.
The first installment – How to Best Tackle Local SEO as a Large Enterprise or Franchise Business – was an overview of the topic at large and included the top five problems enterprises/franchises often face when trying to boost their local SEO efforts and the top five tips for how they can improve them.
The second installment – How to Understand Where Enterprise Marketing Budgets Are Most Impactful in Local SEO – was a deep dive into why large organizations always seem to have such a hard time understanding why investing in local SEO efforts is so important.
In this installment, let’s focus on why communication at large enterprises presents such a unique challenge, and why it’s critical to overcome this challenge to move the needle with any local SEO effort.
Assemble a Team
Step one when working with an enterprise or a franchise is to assemble your whole team into one meeting. The team should be comprised of anyone that will have a say in local SEO or ad spend. This includes, but is not limited to:
Usually, the President will be accessible and should know what is happening, additionally, they can be your best friend. When things go sideways (and they will) you need an ally that will get others motivated and make things happen fast.
The Brand Manager
The Brand Manager’s involvement is crucial as they usually communicate with franchisees and store managers. If not the Brand Manager, then find out who does this. They will help you to motivate those on the ground. The one taking photos, doing the work, responding to reviews, etc. It’s like herding cats to get the people on the ground to do anything, so if you want something to happen you need this champion’s buy-in.
The Director of Marketing
This is another top ally you need. When the President is not available to help you, the Director of Marketing can step in, and, most likely, the President will delegate to them anyway. They can also be the connecting tissue between all involved parties.
The Director of Social Media
You may be asking yourself, why do I need Social involved with local SEO? Well, the reason depends on the organization you work with. Sometimes the social team will be the ones posting on your Google Business Profile and sometimes they are the ones doing listing management. Either way, they may feel threatened by you, so best to involve them from the start. You are really there to help and they need to know this.
Director of Customer Success
This role is important and easily overlooked. Remember, you are looking at all reviews that come in and analyzing patterns around conversions. Basically, getting into the customer’s head. What you learn should be shared with this team as they can take your findings and improve the business. There may be pushback, but, guess what? Your ally, the President, is there to help them listen.
The Director of Sales
Another overlooked role to involve. They usually hold the keys to footfall traffic data and know where sales come from, but unfortunately getting this info from them is painful. It’s important to have them understand from the start that, as an SEO, your work impacts their world. You will be discovering things they really should know, ranging from customer experience (reviews) to keyword traffic (buyer intent) and more.
The Listings Manager
The Listings Manager role may be part of the marketing team’s work or could be outsourced to a third-party aggregator for citations. They can also be the ones who hold the keys to bulk verification. Regardless, they need to be in the loop since how they react to local SEO requests will impact your work. Will they allow you to add new profiles? Do they have certain naming conventions? Are they using software to manage the source of truth for data? Will they assist you when there are duplicate or closed/moved location issues?
The Online Paid Brand Manager
Ahh yes, the paid team! They can often feel the most threatened by SEOs in general. The nature of the job means that they tend to thrive on instant gratification, and, in my experience, will not usually share footfall traffic data. Also, they know they can lose budget if success is too great in other areas like organic SEO. So, it is advantageous to bring them in on day one so you can help them feel like they are integral to your success. Which they are! Think of all the juicy conversion and keyword data they have.
Accounting needs to be aware of new bills and, more importantly, a process needs to be put in place from the start to get access to funds when they are needed. This usually means creating a loose budget that is pre-approved even if not used completely. If you do not do this, then any decision (as you will see below) can take a ton of time.
The IT Person
You are probably scratching your head here. So yeah… Ben, why the IT guy? What in the world does he have to do with marketing? Well, let me give you one example:
We had a large restaurant chain and, in order to claim a duplicate GBP maps listing and do video verification, we had to make a new email that was associated with Google Workspace. Sounds super simple right? I mean, I can make one in less than 5 minutes. Wrong!!!
The Brand Manager created a ticket in their workflow system, which had to be evaluated by another team member. They argued about the feasibility of the new email account (I mean, it was going to cost $5 right??), then it had to go through another team for approval, and then the IT team had to approve the new email. Once that was approved, the accounting department had to agree on how to pay for it. After the $5 was approved, a new ticket had to be opened to start provisioning. All had to be approved by the President, who did not understand why they needed this in the first place. All in all, it ONLY took a month.
However, if IT had been involved in the beginning, the process could have been started on day one.
I highly recommend creating a central area of communication. Make a channel on the business’s messaging app, such as Slack, at the very minimum, and be as transparent as possible.
Organization is Key
We talked about this quite a bit in our last piece, but one of the biggest issues enterprises face is their size. With so many employees spread over numerous departments overseeing various locations, it can be all too easy for big projects to lack cohesiveness. This is why getting organized right from the start is critically important.
Many enterprises follow a traditional business hierarchy, with a board of directors at the top, followed by c-level executives, VPs, directors, and managers. While the directors and managers may be doing most of the work (more on that later), it’s critical that the higher-ups are well-informed of any local SEO plan and have buy-in.
Organizing the data in a way that the both CEO and local marketing manager clearly understand is invaluable. There are numerous reasons why boosting your local SEO is great for the bottom line of the company—make sure they are made clear to everyone who will be involved in the work and overseeing it.
Establish Clear, Attainable Goals from Day 1
All too often, marketing campaigns don’t have clearly defined goals, which makes evaluating their success and proving ROI difficult. This is true for both large enterprises and smaller businesses, too.
One of the first parts of any successful local SEO campaign is to clearly identify the main goals of the organization and how the campaign will accomplish them. Some of the more common goals for a local SEO campaign are increasing foot traffic, generating more inbound leads in the form of phone calls or clicks, improving online visibility, increasing conversion rates, growing sales, and establishing the company as a thought leader in the space.
You should know which are most important to your organization before you make the initial presentation. After all, many times for campaigns such as these, the higher level executives will make a request to their team that the organization needs to increase leads or see more foot traffic.
Understanding your goals before you start will help you organize your efforts and assign specific tasks to the team members working with you on the project.
Speaking of team members, any project—be it about your local SEO efforts or anything else—won’t get very far if the people working with you aren’t sure about what you need them to do. In addition, assigning roles will help team members to keep each other accountable. Just like in school when you had a group project if a member of your group was slacking, you and your team members would nudge them along to do their fair share.
Additionally, with something like local SEO, where there are going to be a lot of tasks to accomplish before success is seen (updating each location website with proper SEO schema, adding photos and posts to each individual location’s Google Business Profile, link building… the list goes on and on), it’s essential that, as project lead, you list all the requisite tasks, cross-reference it with every member on your team, and ensure that each one is assigned to someone who will get the job done.
So, let’s say you’ve done everything right up to this point. You’ve clearly communicated to everyone in the corporate hierarchy what the project is and how it’s going to help boost the organization’s local SEO visibility. You’ve presented the data and have all of your goals clearly defined and ranked in order of importance. You’ve gathered your team members and each of them has been assigned one or more of the tasks that will help you accomplish said goals.
Now what? Do you sit back, marvel at your organizational skills, and hop off on a plane to Hawaii to enjoy a few Mai Tais under the sun? You could, but we would advise against it.
During the course of the project, you’ll need to regularly monitor all key metrics to accurately gauge their effectiveness. You need to be in constant communication—both with your team members who are doing the actual work and the executive team who are eager to see results—about how the project is going. Routinely following-up and constantly communicating with your team will help you avoid major snags during this massive project and head off small problems before they become big ones.
Is your campaign to increase foot traffic not yielding the results it should be by week one, two, or three? Staying in touch with the footfall team at regular intervals will help illuminate why. Are the Google Business Profiles for each location not being updated as often as they should? Weekly or bi-weekly meetings with the GBP team will give you answers.
Establishing regular communication with all team members and following up after key intervals will help maintain that the project goes along smoothly and will increase your odds that you hit your goals.
While local SEO can be complicated (particularly for enterprises), it’s not rocket science to understand that regular communication amongst all involved parties can be hugely beneficial. Get organized from day one, make sure your goals are clear to your team, ensure that everyone knows what they are doing, and have regular contact with everyone on your team—these should be done in order to achieve success and elevate your enterprise’s local locations in the world of local search.