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SMX Overtime: Here’s how multi-location brands can manage their local listings



During my “Local presence management for multi-location brands” session at SMX East, attendees asked questions about review rankings, duplicate listings and pages and local franchise challenges so I wanted to take the time after the event.

1. I see a lot of companies with a small number of reviews ranking higher than other local companies with 100s of reviews. Both are local. If reviews are 75% why would a company with 5 reviews outrank a company with 100 reviews?

Some multi-location businesses that have fewer reviews than another multi-location business may still rank higher for a few reasons.  The first is proximity or location. There are certain categories where the proximity of the business to the searcher trumps reviews. In other categories this might come down to expertise and authoritativeness. Both are largely dependent on the content and source links found within the Google My Business profile itself. All in all – there is not a one size fits all answer to this question that applies to all categories. However, what is clear is that the trustworthiness of your brand – as seen through your ratings and reviews does matter both as a top ranking factor and as a key factor consumers use in determining what business to ultimately visit.  

2. How do you identify the rogue or duplicate listings or pages? What platform can programmatically do this?

The first step multi-location businesses can do to prevent rogue listings or pages is to claim all local pages. By claiming all local pages, multi-location businesses will be able to manage the content that is being shared on its pages and monitor ratings and reviews.

With some listing management solutions, there are “duplicate suppression and deletion” programmatic functions that find potential duplicate listings or unclaimed pages and gives you a chance to merge these into the official listing/pages or delete them.

3. How do you attribute inbound calls to local pages without using a trackable phone number? We’ve been told that Google frowns upon multiple phone numbers for one location, but then we lose tracking and location management software is not free.

Multi-location businesses can attribute inbound calls to local pages through the help of a local listing management solution. Most solutions are able to give you reporting on “clicks” to the number or “click to call.” In today’s digital world, most consumers search for businesses on their mobile devices and simply click on the number or an icon to initiate the call. These actions can be tracked with no tracking phone number needed with different solution tools.

4. Do you encourage your franchisees to reply to reviews/get more reviews on Google or Facebook?

It is ideal for your local franchisees to reply to all reviews on Google and Facebook. The local franchisees are aware of what’s going on at the local level, so they would be the best people to reply. If corporate wants to have oversight on these responses, there are tools that can help so a reply to reviews don’t publish until approved by corporate or another designated party.

As far as encouraging more reviews on Google and Facebook, it’s okay as long as the local franchisees aren’t incentivizing or gating the reviews. An example of gating reviews would be to ask consumers to leave a review if they had a good experience but respond via email to management if there was something they were unhappy with. This is frowned upon by both Google and Facebook. The same goes for incentivizing. Multi-location businesses are not able to do anything to incentivize consumers to leave a review. Providing a five dollar gift card to consumers who leave a review is an example of this. With that being said, it’s still encouraged to increase awareness for reviews.

5. What are your recommendations on making multiple GMBs for the same location? With proximity limitations and a service area business, do you create multiple pages for multiple towns?

It is not recommended to make multiple GMB accounts for the same location. Google actually advises against this. One of the biggest reasons GMB accounts are shut down is because the addresses for the locations are not correct. 

Unless you have different business locations that serve different areas, you should stick to one GMB profile. The best thing to do is to create one GMB account and optimize that page. Your multi-location business can then aggregate more reviews on that page as well. Breaking up your business with different GMB accounts could be confusing to consumers. In addition, with multiple GMB accounts, you are diluting other ranking factors, like ratings and reviews.

6. When you talk about responding to reviews on GMB and FB, are you also saying it’s imperative to respond to positive reviews? If so, is it important to respond with more than a simple “Thank you!”?

When speaking about responding to reviews on Google My Business and Facebook, it is important to respond to as many reviews as possible. The percentage of reviews a multi-location business responds to has become a ranking factor on Google. We understand that it can be difficult to find time to respond to all reviews, so if that isn’t realistic, make sure to focus on critical reviews first.

After critical reviews are answered, replies to positive reviews can come next. It’s always good to respond to positive reviews if possible. While “thank you” is an okay response, adding in personalization goes a long way. Even if you just use the person’s name, that can add value without being too time-consuming. In a perfect world, responding to all reviews, both negative and positive, would be a priority.

7. How do you deal with managing Google Posts at scale for a multi-location brand?

Although Google has a great dashboard for single location businesses, it can be more difficult for multi-location businesses. There are other technologies out there that can help manage Google Posts across 100s or 1,000s of locations. SOCi (my employer) is one of them.

There is an exception, though – Google does not allow this feature for chain businesses. If your multi-location business is indicated as a chain, you will likely not be able to use posting technologies for mass posting within Google. The reason for this is Google wants posts to be localized. In the past, Google found that it lost authenticity when it allowed mass-posting for chains. This again emphasizes the importance of localization when creating content.

Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.

About The Author

Monica Ho is CMO of the leading social and reputation management platform built for multi-location brands – SOCi. Prior to SOCi, she served as Global CMO at GroundTruth (formerly xAd, Inc), where she helped grow the business from an early stage start-up to an award-winning global brand. A 20-year veteran of digital marketing, advertising and research experience, Ho has received numerous accolades and awards including being ranked one of The Most Powerful Women in Mobile Advertising (three years in a row) by Business Insider and one of the 100 most influential North American B2B tech marketers by Hot Topics.

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Google Search Console now lets you export more data



Search Console users can now download complete information (instead of just specific table views) from almost all reports, Google announced Wednesday. Data can be exported as a Google Sheet, Excel or .CSV file.

Source: Google.

Why we care

Being able to export your Google Search Console reports makes it easier to analyze and manipulate the data using other tools. It also provides you with the option to join datasets, perform more advanced analyses or just visualize the data a different way.

More on the news

  • Downloaded Enhancement reports include the list of issues and their affected pages, a daily breakdown of your pages, their status and impressions from Google search. When downloading a specific drill-down view, details describing the view are also included in the exported file.
  • All Performance data tabs (Queries, Pages, Countries, Devices, Search appearances and Dates) can now be downloaded with one click. The data will include an extra “Filters” tab that shows which filters were applied when you exported the file.

About The Author

George Nguyen is an Associate Editor at Third Door Media. His background is in content marketing, journalism, and storytelling.

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Google Images to replace dimensions overlay on image thumbnails



Google Images will soon replace the dimensions information you see in the image search results, as you overlay your mouse cursor over a specific image thumbnail. Google will replace the dimensions information with product, recipe, video, and soon, licensable labels based on the query.

What is changing? Here is a screenshot highlighting the dimensions section of the image thumbnail in Google Image search:

By the end of this week, a Google spokesperson told Search Engine Land, the image size dimensions will be replaced with product, recipe, video, and soon, licensable labels.

Google was unable to share a screenshot of the new change. We will update this story when we see the new labels show up in Google Image Search.

Why the change? Google said this will help searchers find visual ideas and get more done directly from the image thumbnail. Images that are licensable, will likely show the license label in that overlay. Images that come from videos, will show a video label. Recipe photos will show the recipe label and so on.

Why we care. If this does indeed work as Google expects, more engaged searchers will help increase clicks on your images and hopefully traffic to your web site. This gives us even more reason to make sure to add the various markups to our images when applicable.

About The Author

Barry Schwartz a Contributing Editor to Search Engine Land and a member of the programming team for SMX events. He owns RustyBrick, a NY based web consulting firm. He also runs Search Engine Roundtable, a popular search blog on very advanced SEM topics. Barry’s personal blog is named Cartoon Barry and he can be followed on Twitter here.

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What happens if you stop doing SEO?



Often, businesses want to stop and start SEO. 

Some feel that taking a break won’t cause any issues. 

But when a client suggests taking a break, you can explain the details of what will happen.

If you stop posting content correctly 

When you stop publishing content, the following things happen:

  1. You stop targeting new terms consistently. This results in fewer new keyword rankings and new traffic. 
  2. You stop creating new pages that can be linked to, and the number of links you earn goes down.
  3. You stop capturing new visitors to add to your remarketing audiences, email list and push notification list.
  4. You stop generating content that can be used to create hub pages, which are master pages that link to all other pages on the topic. These often rank very well.
  5. You stop generating content that gets shared on social media, and thus, generates social media shares and traffic.
  6. You stop encouraging people to return to your website for new posts. This reduces your branded searches, which are an indicator of quality to Google.

Overall, if you stop creating content, it says to Google that your website is no longer as active as it was and thus beginning the process of dying a slow death.

If you don’t watch for technical issues 

Those without web experience often don’t understand that from a technical perspective, things often break for no real reason.

I’ve never seen a website that did not have at least a handful of technical SEO issues.

If you don’t monitor the technical aspects of your site, issues such as the following could arise:

  1. You block your website with robots.txt.
  2. You generate duplicate content.
  3. You accidentally push your development site into the index. 

You can read more about common technical issues here.

When you don’t monitor these things and fix them consistently, they start to add up. Think of it as a garden – it takes maintenance, or it starts to become overgrown.

It is incredibly important to stay technically correct, especially with new developments such as mobile usability, page speed, AMP and more.

If you don’t, you are sure to have an error at some point that will cost you down the line. Similarly, your tech stack will become so out of date that you can no longer compete in the market.

If you stop refreshing pages

When you refresh a page correctly, traffic will generally increase to that page 10% to 30%, sometimes more.

The reason for this is because Google sees the new text and the value it provides and wants to rank it higher.

Now, there are many ways to go about doing refreshes. Some of those include:

  1. Adding FAQs to the page
  2. Adding links to other articles
  3. Updating facts
  4. Updating dates 
  5. Making the text longer 
  6. Adding schema
  7. Changing a page template 
  8. Etc.

Lately, the most important thing to look for when refreshing a page is whether or not it matches search intent, and if the page in question is better than the #1 ranking page.

My process includes doing a search, categorizing the query based on intent, analyzing the top pages, creating a new strategy for the page we are trying to get ranked, and refreshing as a result of that.

If you stop building new pages 

Building new pages are harder for some industries than others.

For example, when I worked with a few firms in the outsources accounting space, the lower funnel terms were minimal. If you compare that to a large e-commerce site like Amazon, its terms are endless.

While that is the case, I believe websites should always be targeting new terms and organizing them by segment. Those segments should be prioritized based on business goals and tracked in a dashboard.

But if you stop building new pages, you’ll lose keyword growth momentum.

I highly recommend creating these pages for SEO, but additionally, these new pages can be excellent landing pages for paid search and paid media, in general.

As a website grows, it’s a great idea to create more landing pages that target specific keywords and audiences. This will improve quality score on the page side and conversion rates all around.

If you stop this process, you’ll lose your competitive advantage. The people who win in the future of the web will be the ones converting traffic for less.  

If you stop watching out for bad links

If you stop doing SEO, your backlink profile can get out of control.

Lately, spammy links are worse than ever before.

When you watch your backlinks, you will see the following happen:

  1. People scrape your website content and keep the links in by accident. 
  2. You get Google alerts from sites hacked by malware. 
  3. Competitors try to do negative SEO on your site.

If you don’t update your disavow file once a month, you are putting your website rankings at risk. Lately, we have been doing it weekly for clients in competitive spaces.

If you stop watching out for stolen content 

Go to your top landing page on your website right now.

Copy a block of text about three sentences long.

Put that text in quotes and search for it in Google. What do you see?

I’ll bet some of you will see other websites coming up for that content. Some might have even stolen from your website.

Now, think about the impact that can have if it happens across multiple pages on your site. Honestly, it can be devastating. Many times we find others have wholly duplicated a website, stolen key pages, or taken individual sections of a page.

When this happens, you need to address it.

  1. Rewrite the content on your site.
  2. Ask the other site to take it down. 
  3. File a DMCA on them if needed.
  4. Consider sending them a cease and desist.
  5. Sometimes, you can contact the hosting company and ask them to remove the site.

Regardless, if you stop watching for stolen content, it could have an extremely negative effect on your business and rankings. This is something you need to catch right away.

Bottom line: Why you should not stop doing SEO

Obviously, you’re not going to stop doing SEO. We all know it is an amazing asset to improve search ranking and help your business grow. The work you do to create and update content along with the technical issues that are easily solved if they’re on your radar, all improve your bottom line. But you also need to ensure you are compliant with privacy regulations if you wish to remain on top.

The ugly truth is that it’s hard to reverse momentum once a website starts going in the wrong direction. I am a firm believer that all things online should be scaled as the business grows, SEO included.

Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.

About The Author

John Lincoln is CEO of Ignite Visibility, a digital marketing agency and an Inc. 5000 company. Lincoln is consistently named one of the top marketing experts in the industry. He has been a recipient of the Search Engine Land “Search Marketer of the Year” award, named the #1 SEO consultant in the US by, most admired CEO and 40 under 40. Lincoln has written two books (The Forecaster Method and Digital Influencer) and made two movies (SEO: The Movie and Social Media Marketing: The Movie) on digital marketing.

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