Executing Local SEO Across Hundreds of Locations

Hey everyone, Ben Fisher here again. Can you believe it? We’re at the end of our series of articles, which started all the way back in the summer of 2022, that examines all the challenges and pitfalls awaiting large enterprises and franchises when attempting to tackle boosting their local SEO presence. Along this journey, we’ve laughed, we’ve cried, we’ve grown… okay, maybe not, but I at least hope you were able to glean some valuable lessons along the way!

Today, I’ll be looking at one of the last problems you may run into when executing a local SEO effort—making sure the brilliant plan you’ve come up with can effectively be carried out across every single franchisee/location.

However, before we get into those specifics, it should be noted that your first item of business should be coming up with an effective plan that makes sense for your organization. However, since that is a bear of a topic all on its own (and one we’ve touched upon in our previous installments), we’re going to skip that and go right into what you should do once the plan is settled and agreed upon to make sure it is successful across all your locations.

01 – Know Each Local Market

Regardless of whether or not your organization has hundreds of locations across the entire country or just a few in one particular region in one particular state—each location is unique and brings with it opportunities for customization.

While adherence to the overall plan is paramount, it’s also critical that you allow the local team managers the flexibility to make slight changes that will speak to the local clientele (more on setting up the local managers for success will be found in the next section)

Here’s just one quick example—say your organization is running a “Friday Night Lights” promotion where each local franchise will be open a bit later than normal on Friday evening to support the local high school football team and their upcoming game. Obviously, you wouldn’t want the location in Springfield to have anything to do with their heated rivals over at Shelbyville High!

The impotence of doing the research to know all of your local markets can’t be overstated, nor can baking into your local SEO plan the flexibility to adapt slightly depending on the location.

The process of researching your local markets is a fundamental step in crafting a successful local SEO strategy. It’s not just about understanding the demographics or the economic landscape, but also about grasping the cultural nuances, local trends, and consumer behavior. This knowledge allows you to create content that resonates with the local audience, use local keywords that improve your search engine rankings, and offer products or services that meet the local needs.

While it’s important to have a consistent brand message and a unified SEO strategy, each location might require a slightly different approach.

Flexibility is another crucial aspect of local SEO. While it’s important to have a consistent brand message and a unified SEO strategy, each location might require a slightly different approach. For instance, a promotional campaign that works well in a bustling city might not have the same impact in a quiet, rural town. Therefore, your SEO plan should allow for some degree of customization based on the specific characteristics of each location.

Moreover, collaboration with the local teams running each location can significantly enhance the effectiveness of your local SEO efforts. Local teams have a deep understanding of their respective markets. They can provide valuable insights that can be used to fine-tune your SEO strategy. They can also help in executing the local SEO plan, from content creation to community engagement.

Remember, local SEO is not a one-size-fits-all solution. It’s a dynamic process that requires continuous learning and adaptation. Regularly review your SEO performance in each location, gather feedback from locals, and stay updated with the latest local trends. Use these insights to refine your SEO strategy and make necessary adjustments.

02 – Give the Local Teams the Power

Related to item one, it’s important to give the people who are actually doing the work and have a strong connection to each location the power to manage their own campaigns. This can be a somewhat delicate dance—you need to make sure they adhere to the major components of the plan, but you also need to make sure they know that they can adjust some of the minor details in order to make their efforts more effective to the local customer base.

If it is your job to oversee the entire campaign across all locations, make sure you clearly explain to each location manager both A) the things that cannot be altered under any circumstance, B) the ones that they have full autonomy to edit/adapt based on their own judgment, and C) any other items that they will need to consult with you first about.

This communication is vital to maintain brand consistency while allowing for local customization. For instance:

A) could include the company’s logo, brand voice, and key messaging, which should remain consistent across all locations.

B) might encompass local content creation, event promotions, or social media engagement, where location managers can exercise their judgment to cater to their specific audience.

C) could involve larger strategic decisions, like partnerships or major campaign changes, which should be discussed with you first.

Regular check-ins and open channels of communication can help ensure that everyone is on the same page. Use these meetings not just to monitor progress, but also to address any concerns, share best practices, and celebrate successes. This can foster a sense of teamwork and shared ownership of the campaign.

Moreover, provide ongoing training and resources to the location managers. This can empower them to make informed decisions and feel confident in their roles. Remember, their local expertise is a valuable asset to your campaign.

Clear communication, regular check-ins, and ongoing support are key to successfully managing a campaign across multiple locations. By striking the right balance between consistency and customization, you can create a powerful local SEO strategy that resonates with each unique market.

03 – Make Sure Your Branding is Consistent

Consistency is one of the most important elements of a successful branding campaign, and it’s just as vital with a local SEO campaign. This might seem to be in direct opposition to the previous point about giving local teams the power to customize elements of the campaign, but the core branding ideals should never change.

Odds are good that if you work at an enterprise-level organization, there is already a well-established style guide that everyone in the marketing department is intimately familiar with. But in case you don’t have one, or if you don’t have high hopes that everyone involved with the project is as familiar with it as you are, the main elements that should (likely) never be changed are the logo, the typography, the overall brand voice, and the color scheme.

Try your best to make sure the local teams read up on your brand guide, and be sure to put the above items in the “things that cannot be altered under any circumstance” category we highlighted in the previous section.

By fostering open communication and encouraging creativity within the framework of the brand guide, you can create effective local campaigns that strengthen your brand image.

Ensuring that local teams are well-versed with the brand guide is fundamental to maintaining brand consistency across all locations. The brand guide serves as a blueprint that outlines the key elements of your brand identity, such as logo usage, typography, color palette, and tone of voice. It’s a reference tool that helps local teams align their efforts with the overall brand image.

However, understanding the brand guide is just the first step. It’s equally important to ensure that the guidelines are implemented correctly. Regular audits can help check for any discrepancies and rectify them before they impact your brand image.

Moreover, encourage local teams to ask questions and seek clarification if any part of the brand guide is unclear. This not only ensures that they fully understand the guidelines but also fosters open communication and a collaborative work environment.

Remember, while the brand guide provides a framework, it doesn’t restrict creativity. Encourage local teams to infuse their unique insights and ideas within the boundaries of the brand guide. This can result in innovative campaigns that resonate with the local audience while staying true to the brand identity.

A thorough understanding and correct implementation of the brand guide are crucial for maintaining brand consistency. By fostering open communication and encouraging creativity within the framework of the brand guide, you can create effective local campaigns that strengthen your brand image.

04 – Take Advantage of Technological/Automated Solutions

There are so many tools that you (and your various teams) can and should be taking advantage of that will save you time and effort when it comes to local SEO. We are not going to be covering AI (artificial intelligence) in this particular section, but it is worth noting that while this area is still very new, there are already some exciting ideas, possibilities, and examples of people leveraging the amazing power of AI to boost their local SEO presence. For now, however, let’s focus on the more traditional technology tools.

If each local franchise or location has its own website, be sure everyone is using the same content management system (CMS) to save time when updating content across the entire organization. You probably already are, but using a unified customer relationship management (CRM) platform will help manage inbound customer requests and gauge success as you go. And we’ve talked before about the importance of regular posts/content on the various Google Business Profiles for local SEO—look into solutions that can automate GBP posts for you to allow synchronicity across all locations.

Incorporate marketing and SEO tools to streamline campaign management and implementation processes. Utilize content management systems (CMS), customer relationship management (CRM) platforms, and automation tools to ensure consistent content distribution, customer engagement, and data tracking across all locations. This enables centralized control while allowing for localization as needed.

05 – Continually Monitor Performance

I’ll be brief here—it’s important that you regularly check in on the performance of ANY digital marketing campaign. As you likely are aware, your higher ups are likely going to be looking for a near-constant evaluation on ROI—if you can’t show them the effectiveness of what you’re doing, you likely aren’t going to be doing it for very long.

We’ve touched upon this before in previous installments, but whatever your Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are, you need to be monitoring them constantly. You might be looking for increased foot traffic, a spike in inbound calls or emails, or even just to start outranking a single competitor for a single keyword—whatever it is, check in on the status of your goal(s) constantly. This will give you ammunition when your bosses are looking for good news and help you stay ahead of any potential roadblocks or bottlenecks in the campaign.

KPIs serve as a compass, guiding your strategy and helping you stay on track towards your goals.

Monitoring your KPIs is an essential part of any successful SEO strategy. These metrics provide valuable insights into the effectiveness of your efforts and help you identify areas that need improvement. They serve as a compass, guiding your strategy and helping you stay on track towards your goals.

For instance, if one of your KPIs is increased foot traffic, you might monitor local search rankings, website traffic from local search, and online-to-offline conversions. If you’re aiming for a spike in inbound calls or emails, you might track metrics like call volume from online sources, email click-through rates, or lead conversion rates.

Regular monitoring allows you to spot trends, measure progress, and make data-driven decisions. It enables you to adapt your strategy in response to real-time data, ensuring that your efforts are always aligned with your goals.

Moreover, constant monitoring provides you with tangible evidence of your campaign’s success. This can be particularly useful when reporting to higher-ups, as it allows you to demonstrate the value of your work with concrete data.

Constant monitoring of your KPIs is not just about keeping track of your progress. It’s about using data to inform your strategy, demonstrate your value, and ultimately drive your campaign toward success.

06 – Encourage Communication

Making sure all of your teams are in communication with each other is another topic we’ve covered before, but it’s important enough to go over here since most communication breakdowns in enterprise-level campaigns occur between the locations themselves.

Regular contact with all key players across all locations will help not only make sure that everyone is still on task and no one is falling behind, but you might also learn that one of your franchise locations has experimented on something and it’s seeing dramatically positive results. Things like that are worth sharing, and making sure everyone is in constant contact with each other will reduce the likelihood of things falling through the cracks.

Conclusion

Well, I hope this Local Search at Scale series has been useful to you. In my (many) years of SEO experience, I can say that executing a local SEO campaign for a major enterprise is one of the more challenging undertakings. Between making sure everyone is on the same page, to getting buy-in from the corporate executives to finding out what you should focus on, and everything in between—it’s a lot!

However, with a solid plan in place from day one, a streamlined method of communication between all involved parties, and helping each individual location thrive by providing them with the tools they need, enterprises can effectively make a huge impact on their bottom lines by devoting the time and effort that local SEO deserves.

Indeed, managing a local SEO campaign for a large enterprise can be a complex task. It requires a deep understanding of both the global brand strategy and the nuances of each local market. It also demands effective coordination among various stakeholders, from corporate executives to local teams.

However, the challenges are not insurmountable. With a well-thought-out plan, clear communication, and the right resources, you can navigate these complexities and create a successful local SEO campaign. The key is to start with a comprehensive plan that outlines your goals, strategies, and KPIs. This plan should be flexible enough to accommodate the unique needs of each local market, yet consistent enough to maintain a cohesive brand image.

Communication is another crucial element. Regular check-ins, open channels of communication, and a collaborative work environment can ensure that everyone is aligned and working towards the same goals.

Lastly, empowering each location with the tools and resources they need can help them thrive. This could include training on the brand guide, access to SEO tools, or insights on local market trends.

In conclusion, while executing a local SEO campaign for a major enterprise can be challenging, it’s also an opportunity to make a significant impact. By investing time and effort into local SEO, enterprises can enhance their visibility, engage their local audiences, and ultimately, boost their bottom line.

Ben Fisher
Ben Fisher is a Google Business Profile Diamond Product Expert, and an experienced veteran in SEO and social since 1994. He is also a contributor to the Local Search Ranking Factors Survey. He’s the co-founder of Steady Demand, which works with agencies and businesses to maximize outsourced Local SEO and Social Media. He can be reached on Twitter at @TheSocialDude or @SteadyDemand.

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