Local SEO and Listings Do’s and Don’ts When Acquiring New Business Locations
There is nothing we love more than hearing our customers are expanding and acquiring new business locations. Often, this is through acquisition. For a brand, acquiring a competitor’s business can be a very exciting time but it also requires a lot of rebranding strategies, particularly when it comes to local SEO. When acquiring established brands, you need to gently transition them without losing valuable historical rankings. In order to keep the SEO value of your recently acquired locations, you’ll want to follow our list of Local SEO do’s and don’ts.
Do: Claim The Old Listings
When acquiring a business, you’ll want to get in writing the rights to their old listings, especially Google Business Profile (GBP) listing. The last thing you want to do when rebranding is to create new business listings.
Creating these duplicates would cause havoc among customers and could cause them to lose trust in your brand. Besides, it’s much easier to transfer the ownership of these listings to your main GBP, Yelp, Facebook, or other accounts when you already have ownership of the old listings.
Simply claim and update the old business listings to have your new information. You will also want to update the description to inform previous customers of the new name so as not to cause confusion.
Don’t: Mark The Old Listings as “Closed”
Marking the old listings as closed is a huge mistake. One of the biggest benefits of acquiring a business is that you acquire their customers as well. Don’t scare off previous and future customers by marking the business location as closed. Those previous customers could be searching for the old brand for years to come.
Do: Start Updating Aggregated Listings as early as possible
For multi-location businesses, it’s much easier to work with data aggregators to update your listings across hundreds of directories. As many of you know, this can take some time to update the citations on smaller directories sometimes 90-days or more. Because of this, we recommend starting updating the old listings as early as possible, even if it’s before the official launch of the rebrand. That way, when it does become time to launch, claiming Tier-1 listings will be much easier as the citations from smaller directories already match.
Don’t: Change the Phone Numbers
If possible, do not change the phone numbers to the locations either. Because the address on a listing will stay the same, keeping the phone number the same is another way to help Google and other online directories know that the business has not closed, only rebranded. Changing all the phone numbers while you update the listing information can cause chaos among listing directories as they wait for all the citations to match.
Do: Get the Logins to Social Media Pages
Gaining access to the previous brand’s social media accounts is beneficial in many ways. Much like a business listing, social media pages not only have citations for finding your business but they can help you rank higher in local searches as well. In addition to this, if your brand is in the restaurant or retail industry, the previous brand may have set up social accounts for each location. Acquiring the previous accounts can help you engage with those loyal fans and keep them in the loop with the rebrand.
You also can’t be certain the old company will close down those old accounts and that could make your brand look bad when customers go there looking for help.
Don’t: Forget to Acquire the Old Domain and Set Up Redirects
Acquiring the old domain can save you from so many future headaches. When you own the old domain you can set up a permanent redirect to your website. Keeping the old domain will prevent users from finding 404 errors when the previous business stops paying for hosting. If the previous business had local pages tied to their listings, this could be a nightmare to update across 100s of listings without access to the domain.
Do: Be Patient
Protecting your Local SEO when acquiring a business is not easy. Brands often face hurdles when trying to update listings, domains, social media pages, and just overall rebranding of their newly-acquired locations. You just have to be patient. One of the biggest hurdles we see is when a brand can’t gain access to the old listing such as a GMB profile. If this happens, don’t give up. Just create a new listing and request that Google merge the two listings. As mentioned above, we don’t recommend creating duplicates but it can be a last resort solution.
Do: Actively Monitor Your Listings
Once you make the changes to your listings, you’ll want to monitor all of them to ensure the transition sticks. You’re updating listings for every location across 100s of directories and search engines, the only way to be sure the updates actually go through is to use a tool like Chatmeter to monitor the changes. Chatmeter’s listing monitoring can identify duplicates, missing information, and inaccurate information so you never have to worry about listing errors impacting your rankings.
If your brand needs help claiming, cleaning, or merging, your recently acquired business locations, Chatmeter’s Local Listing Management service can help. Our specialists take the headache out of rebranding your online presence.