In today’s digital age, having a strong online presence and a local SEO strategies is crucial for any business looking to succeed. And for large enterprises and franchises, it is even more important as they strive to reach and engage with a wider audience.

This is where local SEO (Search Engine Optimization) comes into play. Local SEO is the strategic process of optimizing a business’s online presence in order to appear prominently in local search results. By targeting specific geographical areas, businesses can attract potential clients in their vicinity and drive foot traffic to their physical locations.

However, implementing effective local SEO strategies for large enterprises and franchises can be a complex task. With numerous locations and varying target audiences, it requires a comprehensive approach that takes into account the unique needs and challenges of these businesses.

In this article, we will delve into the world of local SEO strategies for large enterprises and franchises, exploring the top strategies and techniques that can help them boost their online visibility and drive growth in their local markets.

Highly Intricate and Multifaceted

Local SEO is a highly intricate and multifaceted aspect of digital marketing. There are numerous components involved that are distinct from a standard organic enterprise strategy.

When it comes to franchises and their Local SEO efforts, the situation becomes even more complex due to the unclear ownership of local SEO responsibilities.

Prevalent Perception

To begin with, let’s address the prevalent perception of local SEO as a mere checklist for businesses. This mindset ultimately leads to local SEO failures, primarily caused by the absence of a well-structured plan.

Many businesses mistakenly believe that completing a few tasks, such as achieving certain milestones or implementing traditional SEO techniques, will automatically enhance their local presence. However, this is far from the truth.

For local SEO to yield positive results, businesses need to define their desired outcomes and create a comprehensive and adaptable plan.

While businesses of all sizes can fall victim to this misconception, it is the large enterprise businesses and franchise systems that face the highest risk of succumbing to this mindset.

Exploring the Obstacles Encountered by Enterprises/Franchises while Devising an Effective Local SEO Blueprint

No matter the communication platform, prominent enterprises possess inherent advantages over smaller rivals, encompassing but not confined to:

  • Financial resources.
  • Human capital.
  • Accessibility to industry-specific tools.
  • Expertise in specific domains.

Undoubtedly, these inherent assets provide substantial support; nevertheless, if these aspects are disregarded, the drawbacks of larger companies with more than 100 branches will outweigh the benefits, particularly in the realm of local search engine optimization (SEO).

1. Budget

In discussions with various enterprises and franchises, a recurring concern I often come across is the perception that XYZ’s strategy does not fit within their allocated budget. However, imagine if there was a scalable and seamless solution to encourage local managers and owners to upload pictures to their Google Business Profile (formerly Google My Business).

Implementing such a solution would effectively address a significant issue faced by these enterprises and franchises. In fact, every time I engage in conversations with them, they express a clear understanding of the need for a tool like this.

Nevertheless, the obstacle lies in securing financing for the implementation. Many decision-makers argue that their funds would be better invested in avenues such as AdWords, as they believe most SEO activities lack a direct and measurable return on investment (ROI).

Therefore, the Chief Financial Officer and other stakeholders prefer to prioritize maintaining the status quo and avoiding any potential disruptions that could impact their current favorable performance metrics.

2. Ignorance Is Bliss

In the absence of a clear organizational strategy, it can be challenging to gain the support and agreement of others. This is a common observation in numerous organizations.

When there is a loosely formulated strategy and unclearly defined roles, stakeholders often express uncertainty about the responsibilities and ownership of certain tasks or areas. They may suggest that individuals, like X, Y, or Z, should take charge or make decisions regarding specific aspects.

Consequently, this burden is shifted to another person who shares similar concerns and opinions.

As a result, this cycle perpetuates and persists within the organization.

3. Slow Decision Making

Large enterprises often struggle with adaptability and flexibility, which can hinder decision-making processes. The inclusion of numerous individuals, some of whom are irrelevant to finding a solution, can further delay simple decisions. Additionally, politics within these organizations can complicate matters.

During my experience with a large enterprise, I encountered a situation where the social media team, headed by someone related to the CEO, made decisions regarding local matters. However, this individual never attended meetings, leading to a lack of effective decision-making. Moreover, the only qualified person to handle local tasks was occupied with other digital marketing responsibilities.

Consequently, seemingly straightforward tasks such as claiming local listings or hiring new vendors could drag on for months. This lack of urgency can have detrimental effects. For instance, even changing phone numbers can result in a significant drop in local traffic due to data inconsistencies. In extreme cases, unclaimed and outdated listings have caused a decline of over 50% in Google Business Profile traffic.

Account-Level Suspensions

Furthermore, failing to address compliance issues with Google Business Profile can lead to account-level suspensions. Let me share a real story as an example: a franchise had inconsistent naming conventions for each franchisee and was using home addresses instead of following Google’s guidelines. In January, I initiated a conversation with them about bringing their business directories into compliance. However, this conversation dragged on for eight months and involved six different departments. Ultimately, the CFO rejected the idea.

Unfortunately, in the eleventh month, 75% of the franchise units experienced an account-level suspension, resulting in two months of lost revenue and some franchises going out of business. This could have been avoided with a relatively inexpensive solution.

It is crucial for large enterprises to prioritize adaptability, efficiency, and compliance. Failing to do so can lead to unnecessary complications, revenue loss, and significant challenges that could have been prevented.

4. The “Bystander Effect”

An absence of well-defined roles within a marketing team, combined with a large number of individuals, can result in the diffusion of responsibility and a culture of blame-shifting. This is particularly evident in the realm of review management, where the “Bystander Effect” often takes hold.

Determining who should shoulder the responsibility of responding to reviews can be a challenging task. Should it fall to customer service representatives, store managers, or regional managers? The truth is, there is no definitive answer. However, it is crucial to select someone and ensure that the task is completed, while also clarifying the specific responsibilities involved.

It is worth noting that franchisors face a distinctive challenge when it comes to assigning responsibility. While enterprises may encounter this issue to some extent, franchisors are more likely to grapple with it due to their involvement in one of a limited number of franchise systems.

a. The franchisor controls marketing.

An exceptional yet desirable scenario arises when the franchisor assumes full responsibility, which effectively addresses concerns related to sluggish progress, financial constraints, and unclear roles. This centralized decision-making process ensures that all crucial determinations take place within a single entity.

b. The franchisor sets up the GBP and hands it off to the franchisee.

The responsibility of marketing is then assumed by the franchisee, leading to a myriad of challenges including discrepancies and lack of uniformity. Moreover, franchisees frequently face difficulties in taking proactive measures due to their primary focus being on managing their franchise rather than on marketing strategies or local search engine optimization (SEO).

c. Franchisees share a marketing pool.

One highly commendable system that I have had the pleasure of encountering entails the existence of a dedicated fund specifically allocated for franchisees to allocate towards their marketing efforts. This system allows franchisees the autonomy to make well-informed decisions, while concurrently providing them with a convenient marketplace of esteemed vendors, handpicked by the franchisor.

Consequently, franchisees are rewarded with exclusive percentage discounts for choosing any of these esteemed vendors, thereby facilitating a mutually beneficial relationship between all parties involved.

5. Scalability

One of the primary challenges that needs to be addressed is the high volume of tasks involved in local SEO. To illustrate this, consider the Google Q&A feature. If we take into account 100 locations, with an average of 3 questions per month, and allocate 5 minutes per response, it amounts to a total of 25 hours per month.

This estimation, however, only takes into consideration a small aspect of local SEO.

Fortunately, there is some positive news. By developing a well-defined plan, it is possible not only to overcome the aforementioned obstacles but also to create a successful and scalable local SEO strategy.

The Initial Crucial Steps

In order to delve into effective local SEO Strategies, let’s not overlook the initial crucial steps:

Essential Digital Marketing Objectives: Establishing the desired outcomes for local SEO success is paramount.

These objectives often encompass various aspects such as:

  • Boosting physical visits to your establishment.
  • Enhancing visibility of store locator pages.
  • Maximizing Click-through Rates on Google Business Listings
  • Driving sales, generating quotes, and obtaining form submissions.
  • Encouraging phone calls and obtaining driving directions.
  • Monitoring the number of calls made to your store.
  • Attaining new links and achieving noteworthy PR victories.

Establish a Clear Roles and Responsibilities

In order to effectively embark on local SEO, it is crucial to establish clear roles and responsibilities within the team.

  • Begin by clearly defining the specific tasks and responsibilities of each team member, along with the timeline for completion.
  • Ensure that the necessary documents, resources, and SEO tools are provided and regularly updated to facilitate smooth progress.
  • Develop a comprehensive outline of workflows, specifying the desired outcomes and objectives at each stage.
  • Empower your team members with flexibility and decision-making authority, allowing them to adapt strategies and tactics as needed.
  • Lastly, allocate a budget to support the team’s efforts, enabling them to implement effective local SEO strategies and campaigns.

Effective Strategies for Optimizing Local SEO for Large Businesses and Franchise Chains

Discover the top-notch local SEO practices that pave the way to achieving your business objectives. Unveiling five key strategies, each section has been meticulously dissected to provide you with powerful insights and practical advice.

Basic Practices

Typically, it is advisable to incorporate these measures, considering them as a fundamental starting point in most situations. However, certain areas lack a clear foundation, hence I have provided a list of actions to avoid instead.

Essentially, a number of organizations tend to only perform the minimum requirements and either perceive themselves as finished or deliberately ignore further actions.

You can refer to the specific stages mentioned below, such as Local Link Building, Review Management, and Citation Management, for practical illustrations.

Competitive Edge Practices

Implementing these strategies will distinguish your business from competitors, primarily due to the fact that the majority tend to adhere to conventional methods.

1. On-Site Local Search Engine Optimization

Basic Practices

  • Incorporate the city and state details into the title tag of each store locator page for better visibility in search engines and search rankings.
  • Ensure that search engines can index your store pages and make sure important mobile elements like clickable phone numbers are easily visible.
  • Apply local Schema markup on all store locator pages to enhance search engine rankings, understanding and visibility.

Advanced Techniques That Require Continuous Management & Planning

a. Develop and execute a comprehensive strategy for local content opportunities.

One effective approach to distinguishing numerous store pages that are alike is by incorporating these strategies either on a blog or directly on store locator pages. It is not imperative for the content to solely revolve around the products you offer.

In fact, it is recommended to center the majority of the content on topics unrelated to product sales. Instead, focus on creating valuable and informative content that caters to the needs and interests of your customers or target audience.

b. Adopt a methodical and unwavering approach towards incorporating fresh content.

Potential content options encompass exclusive visual content featuring your store, compelling videos, detailed profiles highlighting store managers, and relevant local city information pertaining to your business.

c. Make a plan for ongoing content production.

The focus of discussion revolves around various types of content such as blog posts, white papers, case studies, social media profiles, GBP, and other forms. It is imperative to strategize and develop localized content that resonates with the specific tones and characteristics of different localities.

An effective approach to crafting distinctive store pages involves incorporating concise, localized paragraphs for each location. By doing so, we can provide a personalized touch to our content and cater to the unique preferences and interests of diverse communities.

2. Google Business Profile is a valuable tool

Basic Practices

  • Establish and furnish a comprehensive Google Business Profile.
  • Ensure accurate NAP (Name, Address, Phone) details for each store.
  • Display an enticing storefront image for every location.
  • Choose two to three pertinent business categories for incorporation within your profile.

Advanced Techniques That Require Continuous Management & Planning

a. Invest in a tool like GatherUp or GradeUS.

The assortment of tools offered is equipped with a range of enterprise-oriented functionalities that empower managers to promptly receive notifications whenever a user shares their feedback.

Alongside numerous other local management features, these tools enable managers to effectively stay updated and respond promptly to online reviews or customer reviews.

Additionally, we have developed a set of generalized templates which service representatives can utilize as a reference while addressing customer feedback, ensuring consistent and informative responses.

b. Develop a monthly planner incorporating invaluable functionalities such as Google Posts, Product Posts, and Google Q&A, for enhanced usability and convenience.

To ensure effective utilization of Google Posts, it is essential to define a set of parameters encompassing their frequency, content selection, and the incorporation of non-stock imagery. By establishing clear guidelines, businesses can optimize the impact of their Google Posts, thereby enhancing their online presence and engagement with their target audience.

It is imperative to determine the appropriate frequency at which Google Posts should be published, ensuring a consistent flow of valuable information without overwhelming users. Furthermore, selecting the right content for publication is crucial, as it should align with the brand’s message, objectives, and resonate with the intended audience.

Equally important is the sourcing of non-stock imagery, which imparts authenticity and uniqueness to the Google Posts. By adhering to these guidelines, businesses can effectively leverage Google Posts as a powerful tool for effective communication and engagement in the digital landscape.

c. Upload images on a weekly basis, preferably from the location.

It is highly recommended to regularly upload images, preferably captured from the specific location, on a weekly basis.

d. Adjust the operating hours of the store to accurately reflect the closure timings and unique hours of operation during holidays.

Managers utilizing Google Business Profiles now have the convenient capacity to efficiently upload multiple modifications to store hours. Typically, this feature is overseen by corporate authorities when they operate business listings, or alternatively, through the utilization of a listing provider such as Yext.

e. Create an environment where a thorough examination of the competitive market within the Local Pack

It is highly recommended to frequently monitor the rankings of important and relevant keywords in your local area by utilizing efficient tools such as Local Rank Tracker, MobileMoxie, or Local Falcon. These exceptional tools offer the advantage of assessing local rankings without the need for adding a location modifier while conducting organic searches, for instance, searching for sushi restaurants specifically in Austin.

f. Report spam on Google Maps.

Report individuals who engage in excessive promotion of their business on GBP. Typical offenders engage in practices such as overuse of keywords or including location details directly in their business name.

g. Append unique UTMs to your local directories and GBP.

Utilize the powerful capabilities of Google Analytics to conduct a detailed examination of website traffic. While GBP seamlessly delivers data within its own interface, I have discovered immense value in integrating this data into GA reports.

h. If GBP messaging and quotes/booking/ordering is accessible, activate it.

Next, the responsibility for this feature needs to be determined.

To facilitate the process, consider utilizing tools such as Podium that assist in scaling operations. (Additional suggestion: Explore the possibility of enrolling in Local Service Ads, if accessible.)

3. Local Link Building

Basic Practices

  • It is essential not to overlook local link building, even if you have numerous locations or concerns about its limited influence. Numerous major corporations tend to neglect this aspect.
  • While this may not be an easily expandable practice, it plays a pivotal role in the triumph of any local marketing strategy. It can contribute significantly, potentially up to 15%, to your overall success.

Advanced Techniques That Require Continuous Management & Planning

a. Many companies actively participate in community initiatives

To optimize your public relations efforts, it is crucial to conduct a comprehensive evaluation of all upcoming promotional events and establish an effective outreach strategy to secure valuable backlinks. Engaging with your local community is a key aspect of this process.

By sponsoring events, offering support to other businesses, and organizing networking gatherings, you actively contribute to the growth and prosperity of your area. As a result, numerous beneficiaries will willingly provide backlinks to your local branch store page.

However, in certain cases, a gentle reminder may be necessary to ensure that all potential link opportunities are fully utilized.

b. Many companies often focus on large-scale strategies

Avoid getting caught up in the national perspective and feeling overwhelmed by the extensive range of locations under your management.

Instead, begin with a small approach and systematically develop a framework for handling additional locations.

Moreover, when you achieve triumph in a specific local market, empower the respective manager to serve as your internal supporter.

c. Establish an comprehensive framework for local managers/owners to adhere to.

Discover various avenues for financial support, educational grants, skill-enhancing workshops, enlightening conferences, and potential media coverage options.

4. Citation Management

Basic Practices

  • Establish a Google Business Profile to enhance your online presence.
  • While numerous businesses rely on automated tools for store citations, it is crucial to avoid adopting a “set-it-and-forget-it” approach. While automated citation tools are valuable, they require ongoing attention and should not be treated as a one-time checklist item.

Advanced Techniques That Require Continuous Management & Planning

a. Utilize Yext or Moz Local platforms efficiently establish, authenticate, and enhance business listings

These versatile resources are ideal for enterprises managing a network of more than 100 stores. Their functionality extends to optimizing brand mentions, rectifying duplicated information, rectifying inaccurate data, and safeguarding online visibility.

b. Allocate specific personnel to proactively oversee and refresh data.

It is crucial to continually strive for enhancing the listings, as occasional challenges are bound to arise. In the event of encountering questionable content, it is vital to have individuals who can confidently navigate and make prudent brand decisions.

c. Generate references for platforms like TripAdvisor, Yelp, or other platforms.

It is advisable to identify sources that are not generated automatically using tools such as Moz Local, along with exploring local citation possibilities such as the Chamber of Commerce.

5. Reviews

Basic Practices (To avoid falling into common pitfalls!)

  • Embrace customer feedback as a valuable asset and actively seek it out.
  • Develop a systematic approach to addressing customer reviews promptly and consistently.
  • Implement a comprehensive strategy for proactively soliciting reviews from customers.
  • Respond to all reviews, regardless of their sentiment, to demonstrate attentiveness and engagement.

Advanced Techniques That Require Continuous Management & Planning

a. Prioritize timely review management.

A significant majority of customers, as high as 78%, prioritize recent reviews when evaluating a business. Furthermore, an impressive 69% of customers show a higher inclination towards choosing a business that actively engages with and responds to existing reviews.

b. Ask all customers to leave reviews (without incentives).

Managing reviews can be achieved through the utilization of an internal customer relationship management (CRM) system or automated tools such as GatherUp. Acquiring reviews is a straightforward process of numbers. The higher the number of review requests made, the greater the number of reviews received.

c. Respond to all reviews, good and bad.

When encountering occasional bad reviews, negative reviews or positive reviews, it is essential for businesses to consider their response as it greatly influences the perception of potential customers. Reflect upon the impact your response may have on the feelings and opinions of other consumers who come across it.

In Conclusion

Local SEO strategies are crucial for large enterprises and franchises looking to dominate their local markets and reach a wider audience. By implementing these strategies, businesses can improve their online search visibility, attract more customers, and ultimately drive revenue growth.

With a strong focus on local SEO, businesses can build a strong online presence and stay ahead of their competitors. So, don’t wait any longer and start implementing these strategies to see your business thrive in the local market.

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