How to Stay Ahead of Big Brands in Local Search

It goes without saying that big brands have far more options than small brands when it comes to digital campaign resources. They have everything necessary to make a business successful, including a huge budget, professional marketing strategies, and highly experienced staff to promote their brands. With all the needed resources and expertise, things can still go wrong at times. This is when small brands come into the picture.

More is Not Always a Good Thing

Not many people understand that the bigger the brand, the bigger the problems associated with it. People who are a part of big brands often face issues of internal politics, competition, conflicting goals, and constant work pressure. While for a big brand, even the slightest of decisions can take a long time to implement, many small brands have the ability to get things done quickly. As well, for big brands, when you add up internal factors that cause organizational rigidity, one small push from an external force can bring the whole effort down.
The responsibilities of maintaining a big brand are huge. There are dozens of operations requiring strict attention in order to maintain the brand’s standing. Google’s ranking algorithms have dramatically changed in recent years and any attempts to use manipulative “Black Hat” tactics can prove harmful to your search rankings.

Wider Reach and Bigger Distances

Big brands have their offices at different locations thereby making it difficult to operate and coordinate between all of the franchises. They often don’t know the local area, much less their competition. A small business, on the other hand, is clearly aware of its competitors. Small companies know their business inside out. Big brands face more obstacles due to their sheer size. A small business owner needs to recognize those obstacles and work on them to make their brand a success in the market.

Local Landing Pages

Google’s bots rank content that is unique and fresh. Big brands with multiple locations have numerous landing pages per location or franchise. This means that the content on these pages is not necessarily going to be unique or fresh.
The store directory sections on a big brand’s website give them opportunities to boost page authority thereby improving the rankings of the actual locations. Not many small companies that are thin on digital professionals realize they have this power. This can work as an obstacle toward achieving page rankings.

In response, try to make your content more appealing, informative, and unique compared to theirs. Build high quality internal and external links for the pages you want to rank high in the search results. For instance, it is quite easy to outrank a landing page with a Moz Page Authority of 1.

Reviews

Local operators work day in and day out to maintain the image of their brand. However, consumers are willing to air their issues with larger brands via reviews. These reviews affect the overall brand in all locations wherever it has a presence. Reviews are sometimes left unattended on a listing regardless of the location for which it has been given.
Make sure you offer excellent customer service, interact with your clients on a regular basis, and continually strive to improve your product/services as per their feedback. Following these priorities will undoubtedly keep you ahead of your competitors. Do not just blindly follow what the big brands are doing but focus more on consumer feedback. Address the problems that customers might be facing when you are promoting your product and services. Users will identify the value that you represent and know it’s better to spend locally instead of lining the pockets of a distant CEO.

Localized Content

Creating unique content for so many different local landing pages for a brand that does the same thing in every location is quite a difficult task. It is next to impossible for writers to describe a product and its benefits for a particular location when they do not have any kind of understanding of the geographic area, and how the brand is perceived in that particular locality.
Small businesses are familiar with their target markets, what users are looking for and what strategy would work when attracting new users in their area. Invest sufficient time in developing web content that is useful to the customer. It will be more relatable to them than the content that has been just uploaded for the sake of stuffing keywords.
Hire a good writer who can come up with compelling content for your web pages. Add videos and images that go with the content. The tone should be friendly and informative while remaining accessible. For instance, maintaining a FAQs page is a great way to get attention and further consumer interaction.
Your achievements and projects provide the opportunity to create numerous web pages. Each page should describe in detail the purpose for which it has been designed. Photos and testimonials of your previous clients, the procedures that the company follows in designing its products, or the kind of services that it offers can all be included on these pages.
There are thousands of businesses marketing themselves with attractive pictures of their work to gain more consumers. It is common to see photo galleries on such websites. However, these images are rarely fully-optimized. Be sure to insert captions for the images, alt tags, and titles so that people understand the context of your images.

Social Media
Small businesses often feel that social media is only good for big businesses with support staff. The truth is anyone with an hour a day can easily build a social media presence by encouraging and using positive reviews and opinions that clients share on these big platforms. Although big brands have a large number of customers, they often fail to offer quality service and timely responses to queries on social media. The unpaid interns running these accounts are generally there only for a few months a year, and without an actual stake in the business, soon move back out the door again.
A social media team of big brands is generally unfamiliar with the company norms. At times they fail to give satisfactory responses to the customer’s queries or resolve the issues they might be facing. Unlike big brands that have strict rules and regulations to be followed, you as a small business owner can easily make changes to company policies when the need arises. Social media is vast and you, as an individual cannot be readily available to respond to each and every individual that comments on your pages. You can make use of a monitoring tool that notifies you whenever someone is “talking” about your brand or wants to connect with you on your social media page. Hootsuite is a free app that can perform this task.
Links and Citations
Brands that have their presence on multiple locations make use of software (think Yext) to get the same links and citations for all of their locations. Anything that is specific to the location is rarely mentioned. And that’s exactly a must when it comes to building PlaceRank.
Established brands get these things done by their local operators. Only 5% -15% of business owners are aware of link building strategies. The rest need some kind of guidance. Link building can do a lot for your brand if you are willing to do what it takes in order to cash in on it.
Furthermore, you can join local groups, donate products, sponsor fun activities, and maintain referral relationships. Also, make sure that the local media is aware of the help you provide to the community. They may also promote you in a positive manner as a result.
Big brands rely on local operators to perform these tasks. The local operators gain leads from the Internet or from corporates. Links and citations that encourage the customer to take a call to action (email/call) or act upon it are considered to be the best. Google’s local search algorithms are basically set up to reward businesses that have excellent presence in the local market.
NAP+URL Consistency
It is next to impossible for big brands to have an accurate database of all their franchisee’s business at all given points in time. Locations and local operators keep on changing on a regular basis making it difficult to keep a track of all the submissions and updates. Every piece of data on paper has to be cross-checked with all the locations where the brand has its presence. This is a tedious and time-consuming task.
NAP+URL (name, address, phone, domain) accuracies should be immediately rectified before any major problems arise. Consistency is the key here. Keep the flow of your data regularly, make necessary changes wherever required on the website, and put changes into effect quickly.

ADDITIONAL TIPS
Big brands tend to overlook the business location sharing guidelines by using Google My Business (GMB). This hardly causes any serious damage to the brand but you can still report it to Google support and slow down their business. You can check the GMB listings of brands that outrank you and report spams if you find any.
Keyword rich domain names and brands create a lasting effect on the user’s memory as well as the local algorithms.
Big brands do not have any choice but to continue with the same URL. However, small brands can frequently change their URL until they become established.
So don’t get disheartened when a big brand knocks you off in the search results. Rather discover vulnerabilities with their online presence and use them to your advantage.
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