At SproutLoud, we have been early advocates of the importance of creating a local marketing focus for large brands and distributed networks, and have facilitated this local focus for direct mail, social media, and other marketing channels. This can also be applied to distributed networks interested in improving online search with a robust web presence. This local presence can be as simple as creating a unique webpage on the main domain of the large brand or organization. This page can enable a location to appear in map results and even in search results pages of search engines, and creates a win-win situation for both the brand and the local marketer. The brand can grow their website with many pages that now have the potential to rank for valuable localized key phrases. The local marketers have an easy platform to create a webpage with content specific to them and the product. They are also building a web presence without the hassle of creating their own website.
The local marketer that adopts the program will also have the benefit of leveraging the large domain authority and potential of a larger website to rank in search engines, as opposed to building a small website that will have difficulty accumulating domain authority. This works great for both the large organization and the small businesses it is affiliated with, but there are many ways that attempts to implement this strategy can go wrong. Without centralized planning, strategy, and technical know-how the process can fail in some pretty spectacular ways, harming both the large organization and the local business’s web presence. Here is a quick checklist of things to look out for when implementing a locally optimized microsite campaign:
- Using non SEO-friendly technology. Many websites implement a dynamic map search that allows users to search locally by asking you to input your zip code, and returns a map with links to all of their locations within your geographical area. This is done with a number of different technical steps that block search engines from being able to crawl, or read, the location pages. This means that users can see this correct page if they know EXACTLY what they are looking for and start the process of looking from organization’s main domain. This is like running with lead weights, you’ll move, but not quickly.
- Not working with existing local sites. Many large organizations will want local affiliates to join their brand website to market locally. This may or may not be worth the time and effort for both parties, and is actually missing the larger point of the program. We want local marketers to be successful, sometimes this means allowing them to strike out alone on the digital frontier. They may have invested a lot of time and money on their website, and are not thrilled of becoming merely a part of a larger whole. Follow the local marketers lead if they are technologically inclined and have taken the effort to build a website of their own, work with it, not against it. Instead of adding competition to your local marketer’s site, try linking to it and provide the information that users need without hurting the experience.
- Duplicating Content. This usually happens if a local affiliate has their own site that reuses the same content from the brand site, not understanding the need for unique content. There are a lot of people in this world that will simply take available content and verbiage, change it slightly, and place it on their local page. This produces a classic case of content that is substantively duplicated within the large organization’s domain. BAD. To prevent this, strongly encourage your local marketers to write their own content with some local flair. The last thing you want to do is incur traffic loss from search engines for having excessive duplicate content.
The process of coordinating and ensuring the proper implementation of local microsites can be daunting, especially if there are a large number of local partnerships. But managing your online presence properly is critical to the success of your brand and your local marketers.