Everyone knows that local SEO is important for small businesses. But what about enterprise? Do large organizations need to care as much about it – or at all?
It’s pretty common knowledge by now that a solid understanding of local SEO is one of the best ways for small businesses to pull in new customers. The numbers make a pretty compelling case, after all. Studies by groups like Think With Google have found that somewhere around 80% of searches today are carried out with local intent, while Google itself has established that shoppers are 83% likelier to visit a store if they’re able to check an item’s availability beforehand.
So, yeah. Local search for small businesses? It’s pretty important.
But what about larger organizations? What about expansive chain outlets; sprawling corporations with a presence in every one of North America’s major cities? How does local search come into play with them?
The short answer is very, very well. While smaller retail outlets may only have a few stores in a few towns or cities, retail corporations generally stretch out across entire countries. What’s more, they have the advantage of brand recognition – everyone knows full well what Wal-Mart is, or Pizza Hut; they don’t recognize names like Bob’s Books or The Golden Dragon Restaurant.
Factor in how much of search is now local, and it looks like a pretty sweet deal, doesn’t it? By catering directly to customers in each of their locations, businesses can enjoy a significant upturn in revenue. Unfortunately, there’s one minor problem.
Most large brands haven’t quite figured out how local search works yet – if they’re even aware of it at all.
Big Business’s Rocky Relationship With Local Search
Brands that ignore local search are unwittingly cutting themselves out of a vital step in the purchasing process. The fact that search is growing more local should be taken as a sign by these disconnected organizations – an indication that they need to work out a way to cater to each of their local stores. Some, like Boston Pizza and Best Buy have managed this quite well.
Yet others still fumble – hard.
“These brands and franchises still struggle when it comes to local SEO,” writes Jared Del Prete of Search Engine Land. “They benefit from regional exposure and brand recognition. They usually have deep pockets and the digital clout to outrank smaller brick-and-mortars. Yet still, they fail to achieve their potential.”
“It turns out there are two core issues that many retail enterprises struggle with: mismanaged data and inaccurate profile listings,” he continues.
In short, the issue is that there’s simply too much data for big brands to reliably manage. It’s one thing nailing down the store hours, special offers, images, Google Places data, URLs, and contact information for a single store. It’s another entirely having to do it for twenty stores, or one hundred, or several thousand. Small wonder, then, that so many big brands mismanage local data – something which leads to scores of frustrated customers.
Outdated profiles, inaccurate listings, missing information; these are all cardinal sins in the realm of local SEO. Yet many big brands commit them with regularity – and most of those that do have no idea how to stop. What can be done here?
Solving The Local SEO Problem
How can large enterprises manage their vast digital footprint to provide local consumers with accurate, up-to-date information? How can they compete with smaller businesses that only have a few pages to manage at most? The solution, I think, is threefold:
As a general rule, if there’s a tool that lets you make the process easier, you need to use it. Organize your brand’s information with a cloud platform, and see if you can utilize some form of auto-localization software. While you’re at it, seek out tools that’ll allow you to quickly identify duplicate listings and submit new locations to directories.
- Manual Verification:
Require the owner of each franchise or chain to manually validate all of the information about their stores with Google My Business and Google Places. Take great care to ensure there are no duplicate listings – if there are, you’re going to need to remove them.
- A Page For Each Store:
Give each individual store its own page, where the store owner can post regular updates about special offers/deals, changes to store hours, and other pertinent updates. You’ll need to have someone occasionally check each of these pages for quality, of course; just to make sure that the store’s properly representing your brand.
It’s a common misconception that local SEO is something only small businesses need to worry about; it isn’t. No matter how large your organization, there’s great value to be gained by tapping into local search results. Keep that in mind, and update your marketing – otherwise, you’re missing out on a potential goldmine.