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

PPC - 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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