Boss Jobs in Local SEO

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I’m talking about the specific tasks in a local SEO campaign that the boss of the company must do personally.


The boss: the one person who can’t quit or get fired, who most wants more customers, and who ultimately has to fix any problems that keep customers away.

The tasks: few in number and pretty easy stuff, but stuff that only one person can do.

Everyone wants a 100% hands-free solution to getting visible in Google’s local search results and beyond – a way to get the phone to ring without his/her involvement.  I offer something mighty close to that, but it’s 90% hands-free; there’s that 10% that the person in-charge must do, or there’s a logjam and the crucial to-dos don’t get done.

I walk my clients through that 10%, and I’m going to lay out those tasks for you right now.

If you’re not the boss, I suggest you saunter over to the corner office now, interrupt your boss’s mini-golf, and have a read-aloud.

If you’re the boss, read on.  Because if you don’t personally do the below, you’re hurting your local rankings and visibility, limiting your ability to attract new customers, and letting down any employees who depend on you for a paycheck.

Boss Job #1:  Understand how long a good local SEO effort can take to bring results, and work on growing other sources of visibility/customers in the meantime, if necessary.  I’m the biggest local SEO advocate there is.  But building a business on one source of visibility is like building a chair with one leg.

Boss Job #2:  Be or hand-pick the person at your company who will do the phone-verifications for the really important listings.

I’m talking mainly about ExpressUpdate, LocalEze, CitySearch, YellowPages, and Yelp.  (And FourSquare, if you’re gung-ho.)

Those sites require someone who works at your company to pick up the phone at the number you use for your local listings and enter a spoken PIN into the site where you’re trying to create/claim your listing.

If you use call-forwarding, that person will need to disable the forwarding so that he/she can pick up the phone at the number that’s displayed on your listings.

If you can do the phone-verifications personally, great.  But if not, hand-pick the person who will.  You’ll want to know exactly whom to take out to the toolshed if it doesn’t get done.

Boss Job #3:  Buy the domain name and hosting of your site(s) personally.

As in not through a third party, even if you pay that third party to do work on your site.

Same reason as for Boss Job #2.

Boss Job #4:  Have personal control of the Google account used to create/claim your Google+ Local listing, your Bing listing, and your citations.

If someone quits or is fired, you should still have access to all your listings.

Boss Job #5:  Oversee the process of asking customers for reviews.

Nobody outside of your company can or should do it.  It’s a question of who in-house should do it.  It should either be someone high-up – so that the customer doesn’t feel like a non-priority – or it should be the person who actually performed the service for the customer.

If you aren’t that person or pick the person who will ask customers, either the reviews won’t come because it’s “someone else’s” job to ask for them, or the results won’t be good.

Boss Job #6:  Oversee the writing of any blog posts or “content” that’s put on your site.

I do NOT mean you should write each piece (or any) personally, nor do I mean that you should even critique or proofread more than a few of them from time to time.

What I am saying you need to do is make sure the person who does the writing (1) won’t pump out keyword-stuffed drivel that’s laden with anchor text and that might win you a black eye from Google, (2) won’t plagiarize, (3) won’t incur photo-copyright violations, and (4) won’t write stuff that’s so bad that would-be customers hit the “back” button.

The good news is everything else you can delegate to employees or to people with the necessary skills.  Yep, I’m referring to that other 90% of the work that goes into a good local SEO campaign.

Any other “boss jobs” that you can think of?  Questions about how to do any of them?  Leave a comment!


  1. I do think it’s very important that businesses personally answer the reviews on review sites rather than have a third party do so. That third party may not understand the operations or the inner workings of the business. The business knows best.

    • Well-said, Gina.

    • Generally speaking, you should do the same things online that you would do offline. If somebody came into your shop/office to give you feedback, you would want to speak with them yourself (at least I hope you would!) Same thing goes for online – the minute you give somebody else the “power” to be your voice you lose the connection with your customers.

    • While usually it is best for businesses to respond to reviews themselves, sometimes they are too emotionally invested in the business to do it well and a third party is required to keep perspective on bad reviews. I had a recent instance with a client that got out of control and created a lot of stress because instead of a simple reply on one of 75 reviews they wound-up the reviewer. The reviewer, a community manager, shared it across Facebook and got 75 likes for the review before an intervention got it removed (long story on my own blog).
      I’ve also seen some high profile restaurateurs really poorly answer reviews pasting stilted boilerplate in instead of personalising, which continue to drive their ratings down. Third parties can do it but they need to talk with the business in question on how to handle the cases properly.

      • That’s true, Ed, but in that case I’d say the business owner simply needs to keep his / her emotions under control and sleep on the response before posting.

        • Believe me they often don’t keep their emotions under control. I see so many losing it when dealing with comments and hunting down commenters and once even visiting an office. Maybe it’s because I mainly work with hospitality and chefs who get quite emotional. This is a case in point when a client wouldn’t stop though the outcome worked for them (and my blog traffic):
          This isn’t unusual.

          • Yes, I know, but many people do what they shouldn’t do. All I’m saying is that a civil, un-rushed response from the business owner beats the pants off a canned, detached response from a third party – any day of the week. Whether the business owner will write such a response is a big “if.” But that should be what you shoot for.

  2. Sorry Phil, I have to agree with Ed. Small business owners are not always customer service oriented and are sometimes their own worst enemies. I’ve had SOOO many instances where business owners are absolutely horrible and create more havoc replying with a customer service answer that resolves problems and or creates positive resolution. Easier said than done to tell business owners to simply let their emotions go. Companies have built up a reputation their entire lives and are just are clueless when it comes to the new online way of marketing. People running a business do not have time to monitor everything. And a lot of times a negative comment is stale or old by the time it comes to their attention and damage control is lost. I know all my clients businesses very well and knowing them with the exception of one client would add insult to injury.

    • Jan, I see where you’re coming from, but I’d argue that that’s all the more reason to show business owners (clients) the dos and don’ts.

      Business owners also don’t need to monitor “everything” – just the few places that really affect their online reputations.

    • Jan,

      I’d venture to say that any small business owner that isn’t focusing on delivering the best possible customer experience is not going to thrive in their business. And that includes how they handle issues online.
      I do think outside consultants/agencies can and should help the business owner to be as effective as possible. If the business owner had somebody to go to when they are angry so they write a more “appropriate” response (vs. knee jerk) that is great. But to literally outsource this because they are “bad” at it basically means they don’t want to deal with customers. I don’t think that’s a good thing ultimately for that business.

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