Franchise Marketing: How People Buy Now

This post contains an excerpt from our new primer: The Practical Guide to Franchise Marketing. Planet Fitness, Great Clips, Ace Hardware… you can imagine the sense of achievement the leadership of these famous franchises must enjoy in making it to the top of lists like Entrepreneur’s 500. Behind the scenes of success, all competitive franchisors and franchisees have had to manage a major shift — one that centers on customers and their radically altered consumer journeys. Research online, buy offline. Always-on laptops and constant companion smartphones are where fingers do the walking now, before feet cross the franchise threshold. Statistics tell the story of a public that searches online prior to the 90% of purchases they still make in physical stores. And while opportunity abounds, “being there” for the customers wherever they are in their journey has presented unique challenges for franchises. Who manages which stage of the journey? Franchisor or franchisee? […]

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The 2019 Holiday Checklist for Local SEO Heroes

 Right now, the shoppers nearest you are making some pretty long gift lists. US holiday sales are predicted to surpass $1.1 trillion, with 4.5–5% growth between November–January. That’s a lot of gadgets, garments, games, goodies, and gizmos to bought and sold. Winter weather and long lines will be braved, traffic endured, tired feet soaked, and patience tested in the search for the perfect gift for everyone on everyone’s list. Holiday shopping can and should be cheery, but sometimes it can be a bit of an overload. The end of the year can put local businesses back in the black, but it can be kind of stressful, too. And that’s why local business marketers need a list of their own. Your agency can be holiday heroes, both to clients and their customers. An organized approach can ensure that no mom with three kids in tow is inconvenienced by a wrong […]

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An Agency Workflow for Google My Business Dead Ends

There are times when your digital marketing agency will find itself serving a local business with a need for which Google has made no apparent provisions. Unavailable categories for unusual businesses come instantly to mind, but scenarios can be more complex than this. Client workflows can bog down as you worry over what to do, fearful of making a wrong move that could get a client’s listing suspended or adversely affect its rankings or traffic. If your agency has many employees, an entry-level SEO could be silently stuck on an issue, or even doing the wrong thing because they don’t know how or where to ask the right questions. The best solution I know of consists of a combination of: Client contracts that are radically honest about the nature of Google Client management that sets correct expectations about the nature of Google A documented process for seeking clarity when unusual […]

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Kindness as Currency: How Good Deeds Can Benefit Your Local Business

“To receive everything, one must open one’s hands and give.” – Taisen Deshimaru, Buddhist philosopher A woman stands in a busy supermarket checkout line. The shopper in front of her realizes that they don’t have enough money with them to cover their purchase, so she steps in and makes up the balance. Then, when she reaches the checkout, her own receipt totals up higher than she was expecting. She doesn’t have enough left in her purse. “No problem,” says the young clerk and swipes his own debit card to pay for her groceries. A bystander snaps a photo and posts the story to Facebook. The story ends up on local radio and TV news. Unstructured citations for the grocery store start crackling like popcorn. National news takes notice. A scholarship foundation presents a check to the clerk. When asked how he felt about it, the clerk said: “Personally, I think […]

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How to Get a Customer to Edit Their Negative Review

“When you forgive, you in no way change the pas — but you sure do change the future.” — Bernard Meltzer Your brand inhabits a challenging world in which its consumers’ words make up the bulk of your reputation. Negative reviews can feel like the ultimate revenge, punishing dissatisfactory experiences with public shaming, eroded local rankings, and attendant revenue loss. Some business owners become so worried about negative reviews, they head to fora asking if there is any way to opt-out and even querying whether they should simply remove their business listings altogether rather than face the discordant music. But hang in there. Local business customers may be more forgiving than you think. In fact, your customers may think differently than you might think.  I’ve just completed a study of consumer behavior as it relates to negative reviews becoming positive ones and I believe this blog post will hold some very welcome […]

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New Things I’ve Learned About Google Review Likes

Last time I counted, there were upwards of 35 components to a single Google Business Profile (GBP). Hotel panels, in and of themselves, are enough to make one squeal, but even on a more “typical” GPB, it’s easy to overlook some low-lying features. Often, you may simply ignore them until life makes you engage. A few weeks ago, a local SEO came to me with a curious real-life anecdote, in which a client was pressuring the agency to have all their staff hit the “like” button on all of the brand’s positive Google reviews. Presumably, the client felt this would help their business in some manner. More on the nitty-gritty of this scenario later, but at first, it made me face that I’d set this whole GBP feature to one side of my brain as not terribly important. Fast forward a bit, and I’ve now spent a couple of days […]

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Rural Local SEO: A Marketing Package Strong on Education

Can your marketing agency make a profit working with low-budget clients in rural areas? Could you be overlooking a source of referrals, publicity, and professional satisfaction if you’re mainly focused on landing larger clients in urban locales? Clients in least-populated areas need to capture every customer they can get to be viable, including locals, new neighbors, and passers-through. Basic Local SEO can go a long way toward helping with this, and even if package offerings aren’t your agency’s typical approach, a simple product that emphasizes education could be exactly what’s called for. Today, I’d like to help you explore your opportunities of serving rural and very small town clients. I’ve pulled together a sample spreadsheet and a ton of other resources that I hope will empower you to develop a bare-bones but high-quality local search marketing package that will work for most and could significantly benefit your agency in some […]

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The New Moz Local Is on Its Way!

Exciting secrets can be so hard to keep. Finally, all of us at Moz have the green light to share with all of you a first glimpse of something we’ve been working on for months behind the scenes. Big inhale, big exhale… Announcing: the new and improved Moz Local, to be rolled out beginning June 12! Why is Moz updating the Moz Local platform? Local search has evolved from caterpillar to butterfly in the seven years since we launched Moz Local. I think we’ve spent the time well, intensively studying both Google’s trajectory and the feedback of enterprise, marketing agency, and SMB customers. Your generosity in telling us what you need as marketers has inspired us to action. Over the coming months, you’ll be seeing what Moz has learned reflected in a series of rollouts. Stage by stage, you’ll see that we’re planning to give our software the wings it […]

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I Want To Rank Beyond My Location: A Guide to How This Works

Staff at your agency get asked this question just about every day, and it’s a local SEO forum FAQ, too: “I’m located in ‘x’, but how do I rank beyond that?” In fact, this query is so popular, it deserves a good and thorough answer. I’ve written this article in the simplest terms possible so that you can instantly share it with even your least-technical clients. We’ll break rankings down into five easy-to-grasp groups, and make sense out of how Google appears to bucket rankings for different types of users and queries. Your clients will come away with an understanding of what’s appropriate, what’s possible, and what’s typically impossible. It’s my hope that shooting this link over to all relevant clients will save your team a ton of time, and ensure that the brands you’re serving are standing on steady ground with some good education. There’s nothing quite like education […]

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Restaurant Local SEO: The Google Characteristics of America’s Top-Ranked Eateries

“A good chef has to be a manager, a businessman and a great cook. To marry all three together is sometimes difficult.” – Wolfgang Puck I like this quote. It makes me hear phones ringing at your local search marketing agency, with aspiring chefs and restaurateurs on the other end of the line, ready to bring experts aboard in the “sometimes difficult” quest for online visibility. Is your team ready for these clients? How comfortable do you feel talking restaurant Local SEO when such calls come in? When was the last time you took a broad survey of what’s really ranking in this specialized industry? Allow me to be your prep cook today, and I’ll dice up “best restaurant” local packs for major cities in all 50 US states. We’ll julienne Google Posts usage, rough chop DA, make chiffonade of reviews, owner responses, categories, and a host of other ingredients […]

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How to Find Your True Local Competitors

Who are your clients’ true competitors? It’s a question that’s become harder to answer. What felt like a fairly simple triangulation between Google, brand, and searcher in the early days of the local web has multiplied into a geodesic dome of localization, personalization, intent matching, and other facets. This evolution from a simple shape to a more complex shape has the local SEO industry starting to understand the need to talk about trends and patterns vs. empirical rankings. For instance, you might notice that you just can’t deliver client reports that say, “Congratulations, you’re #1” anymore. And that’s because the new reality is that there is no #1 for all searchers. A user on the north side of town may see a completely different local pack of results if they go south, or if they modify their search language. An SEO may get a whole different SERP if they search […]

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5 Google Business Profile Tweaks To Improve Foot Traffic

Your agency recommends all kinds of useful tactics to help improve the local SEO for your local business clients, but how many of those techniques are leveraging Google Business Profile (GBP) to attract as many walk-ins as possible? Today, I’m sharing five GBP tweaks worthy of implementation to help turn digital traffic into foot traffic. I’ve ordered them from easiest to hardest, but as you’ll see, even the more difficult ones aren’t actually very daunting — all the more reason to try them out! 1) Answer Google Q&A quickly (they might be leads) Difficulty level: Easy If you have automotive industry clients, chances you’re familiar with Greg Gifford from DealerOn. At a recent local search conference, Greg shared that 40 percent of the Google Q&A questions his clients receive are actually leads.  40 percent! Here’s what that looks like in Google’s Q&A: It looks like Coast Nissan has a customer who […]

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Affordable, Stat-Based Retail Strategy For Your Agency’s Clients

Retail clients are battling tough economics offline and tough competitors online. They need every bit of help your agency can give them.  I was heartened when 75 percent of the 1,400+ respondents to the Moz State of Local SEO Industry Report 2019 shared that they contribute to offline strategy recommendations either frequently or at least some of the time. I can’t think of a market where good and relatively inexpensive experiments are more needed than in embattled retail. The ripple effect of a single new idea, offered up generously, can spread out to encompass new revenue streams for the client and new levels of retention for your agency. And that’s why win-win seemed written all over three statistics from a 2018 Yes Marketing retail survey when I read it because they speak to motivating about one quarter to half of 1,000 polled customers without going to any extreme expense. Take […]

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B2B Local Search Marketing: A Guide to Hidden Opportunity

Is a local business you’re marketing missing out on a host of B2B opportunities? Do B2B brands even qualify for local SEO? If I say “B2B” and you think “tech,” then you’re having the same problem I was finding reliable information about local search marketing for business-to-business models. While it’s true that SaaS companies like Moz, MailChimp, and Hootsuite are businesses which vend to other businesses, their transactions are primarily digital. These may be the types of companies that make best-of B2B lists, but today let’s explore another realm in which a physical business you promote is eligible to be marketed both locally and as a B2B. Let’s determine your eligibility, find your B2B opportunities, identify tips specific to your business model, analyze an outreach email, explore your content with a checklist, and find an advantage for you in today’s article. Seeing how Google sees you First to determine whether […]

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Taking Local Inventory Online: An Interview with Pointy’s Mark Cummins

Let’s go back in time 20 years so I can ask you the question, “How often do you look at a paper map every month?” Unless you were a cartographer or a frequent traveler, chances are good that your answer would be, “Hmm, maybe less than once a month. Maybe once or twice a year.” But in 2019, I’d wager there’s scarcely a day that goes by without you using Google Maps when planning to eat out, find a service provider, or find something fun to do. That web-based map in your hand has become a given. And yet, there’s one thing you’re still not using the Internet for. And it’s something you likely wonder about almost daily. It starts with the question, “I wonder who around here carries X?” A real-world anecdote After the tragic fires we’ve had this year in California, I wanted to wet mop all the […]

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Why Local Businesses Will Need Websites More than Ever in 2019

64% of 1,411 surveyed local business marketers agree that Google is becoming the new “homepage” for local businesses. Via Moz State of Local SEO Industry Report …but please don’t come away with the wrong storyline from this statistic. As local brands and their marketers watch Google play Trojan horse, shifting from top benefactor to top competitor by replacing former “free” publicity with paid packs, Local Service Ads, zero-click SERPs, and related structures, it’s no surprise to see forum members asking, “Do I even need a website anymore?” Our answer to this question is,“Yes, you’ve never needed a website more than you will in 2019.” In this post, we’ll examine: Why it looks like local businesses don’t need websites Statistical proofs of why local businesses need websites now more than ever The current status of local business websites and most-needed improvements How Google stopped bearing so many gifts […]

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The Guide to Building Linked Unstructured Citations for Local SEO

This article was written jointly in partnership with Kameron Jenkins. You can enjoy her previous articles here. When you’ve accomplished step one in your local search marketing, how do you take step two? You already know that any local business you market has to have the table stakes of accurate structured citations on major platforms like Facebook, Yelp, Infogroup, Acxiom, and YP. But what can local SEO practitioners do once they’ve got these formal listings created and a system in place for managing them? Our customers often come to us once they’ve gotten well underway with Moz Local and ask, “What’s next? What can I do to move the needle?” This blog post will give you the actionable strategy and a complete step-by-step tutorial to answer this important question. A quick refresher on citations Listings on formal directories are called “structured citations.” When other types of platforms (like online news, […]

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The State of Local SEO: Industry Insights for a Successful 2019

A thousand thanks to the 1,411 respondents who gave of their time and knowledge in contributing to this major survey! You’ve created a vivid image of what real-life, everyday local search marketers and local business owners are observing on a day-to-day basis, what strategies are working for them right now, and where some frankly stunning opportunities for improvement reside. Now, we’re ready to share your insights into: Google Updates Citations Reviews Company infrastructure Tool usage And a great deal more… This survey pooled the observations of everyone from people working to market a single small business, to agency marketers with large local business clients: Respondents who self-selected as not marketing a local business were filtered from further survey results. Thanks to you, this free report is a window into the industry. Bring these statistics to teammates and clients to earn the buy-in you need […]

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3 Empowering Small Business Tips for Today, 2019, and a Better Future

“American business is overwhelmingly small business.” – SBE Council Small businesses have created 61.8% of net new jobs in the US since the early 1990s. Local business is big business. Let’s celebrate this in honor of Small Business Saturday with 3 strategies that will support independent business owners this week, and in the better future that can be attained with the right efforts. What’s Small Business Saturday? It’s an annual shopping event sponsored by American Express on the Saturday following Thanksgiving with the primary goal of encouraging residents to patronize local merchants. The program was launched in 2010 in response to the Great Recession. By 2017, Small Business Saturday jumped to 7,200 Neighborhood Champions (individuals and groups that organize towns for the event), with 108 million reported participating consumers spending $12 billion across the country. Those numbers are impressive, and more than that, they hold the acorn of strategy for […]

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What the Local Customer Service Ecosystem Looks Like in 2019

Everything your brand does in the new year should support just one goal: better local customer service. Does this sound too simple? Doesn’t marketing brim with a thousand different tasks? Of course — but if the goal of each initiative isn’t to serve the customer better, it’s time for a change of business heart. By putting customers, and their problems, at the absolute center of your brand’s strategy, your enterprise will continuously return to this heart of the matter, this heart of commerce. What is local customer service in 2019? It’s so much more than the face-to-face interactions of one staffer with one shopper. Rather, it’s a commitment to becoming an always-on resource that is accessible to people whenever, wherever and however they need it. A Google rep was recently quoted as saying that 46% of searches have a local intent. Mobile search, combined with desktop and various forms of […]

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