Digital marketing is one of the most unforgiving industries for people of color and it’s 100% due to the culture. Companies are often guilty of nepotism, favoritism, and straight-up unethical practices. Black employees in digital marketing are VERY observant. We see everything because we often are riddled with imposter syndrome. It’s very difficult for us to feel like we belong in this space. Especially with some of the terrible business practices many agencies have. If your company is guilty of any of these, your black employees definitely know. You’re also very likely to lose your top talent and you kinda deserve it.

Nepotism and Favoritism

Quality of work should be valued over silly things like having hobbies in common. Employees should not be punished because they aren’t related to someone in the company or don’t share your interests. It’s silly that someone gets preferential treatment because they also watch Succession or Schitt’s Creek but it’s extremely real. Ask anyone who has been the digital marketing industry for more than three years and they will have an example of this.

Black employees see right through favoritism and can see that coworkers that share their boss’s interests receive passes on low quality work, turning in projects late, and other things that shouldn’t be tolerated. You are inadvertently punishing employees who have different tastes in music, tv shows, movies, and hobbies as you. By valuing common interests over work ethic, you compromise your reputation and the reputation of the company as a whole. 

Avoiding favoritism can be hard but the solution can be quite simple. Employees should be judged by individual growth and output. If you are not able to separate friendship from work, you should not be in a managerial role. 

Unethical Practices

You can believe, without a doubt, that your black employees notice EVERYTHING that your company is doing that may not be ethical. This could be the mistreatment of other employees, how much you pay contractors, lying to clients, etc. We take mental notes so that we can aware of how you may treat us under different circumstances.

Office Politics

We just want to do our jobs, get rewarded for exceptional work, and go home. We are not interested in office gossip and games. If you have a problem with office politics, it’s likely related to the two previous sections. Fix your internal issues to minimize these issues.

Get Out

 

If this sounds like your current employer, get out! You will never receive the recognition or pay you deserve. There are agencies across the country that will welcome top talent with open arms. Find a workplace that will treat you and their clients with respect. Black digital marketers often feel stuck with terrible employers due to a lack of support and diversity in the industry. If we all speak up, we will be heard.

The Client

An energy company in a state with a deregulated electricity industry has a 3.0 Google rating while their top 20 competitors have an average rating of 3.4

The Strategy

I developed a review strategy that didn’t require a review gate or any other common review methods that violate Google’s terms. This strategy used existing modes of communication with customers and required very little effort for client implementation.

The Results

The client started tracking weekly results in March 2019. By August 2019, their ranking had improved from 3.0 to 3.8! This was achieved without making any major changes to client communication.

There are many situations when it may be a good idea to try to upsell a client. They may be ranking extremely well in their current locations, considering contract renewal or starting to question the value of your SEO services. Providing them with new opportunities in other cities may be the best way to help your client expand their business while helping you solidify yourself as a valuable business partner.

 

Finding Opportunities

If your client is a big fish in a little pond, it may be worth your while to do a little digging into nearby cities.  The first step is to identify nearby cities based on population and demographics. With this information, we can determine how difficult it may be to rank in different cities.

 

Population

One of the first factors I consider is the city’s population size.  This is one of the best ways to narrow down potential locations for expansion. You want to make sure the cities you’re considering are worth the effort. A client that is currently in a city of 500,000 people won’t consider opening a location in a city with 2,500 people. Areavibes.com is a great tool for finding information about cities you are unfamiliar with.

Demographics

Has your client identified their customer personas or demographics? This information could be helpful for narrowing down which cities to consider opening a new location in. If not, use available data online for their industry to determine which cities are ideal based on income, education level, etc.

 

Difficulty

Factor in the difficulty for ranking in a new city by completing a competitor analysis.

What is the keyword difficulty like in these cities?

How long did it take for your client to dominate their current city?

How many reviews will they need to be competitive in a new city?

What are there current organic rankings like for these potential cities?

How long will it take before the client can recoup the money needed for adding a new business location?

 

Presenting to the Client

Visual representations and opportunity cost analyses are two great ways to show your client why they should consider expanding their business. If you can show a client their lack of visibility in a city filled with potential customers and provide them with data that shows how competitors are eating their lunch, they are more likely to truly consider your proposal.

Getting a client to implement a review strategy can be hard. It takes getting lots of stakeholders involved as well as getting customer-facing employees to participate. Since Google has cracked down on review gate strategies and other tactics that SEOs have used to get positive reviews, it’s time to get more creative! Here are 2 of my favorite review tactics that don’t violate Google’s terms.

 

Get Customer-Facing Employees to Ask

I have created review strategies for many clients and it really comes down to just asking. The way you ask is up to you, but you will find that just getting your customer-facing employees to ask for reviews as part of the customer service process is the best way to get positive reviews. A random email or text message days after receiving customer service isn’t going to cut it. Getting the actual person who answered the phone call, chatted with the customer online, or showed up at their doorstep to ask the customer for a review immediately will be significantly more effective. Knowing that their feedback can positively affect a helpful employee is enough of an incentive for most customers.

 

Employee Contests

Getting customer-facing employees to ask is easier said than done, I know. The best way to get employees to WANT to ask customers for reviews is to make it a rewarding experience for them. I have seen many clients have success with employee review contests. The rules should be simple and avoid any Google violations. For example, the reviewer must be a customer or vendor and employees can’t leave reviews. The employee that is mentioned in the most positive reviews receives a coveted reward like extra PTO or a special parking space.

 

Annoying but Necessary

The very nature of some businesses puts them at risk for negative reviews. It can’t be easy getting positive reviews as a law firm who is regularly hired by debt collectors! But there are things that can be done to balance your Google reputation. Just asking can make a huge difference.

 

 

Branding and marketing guidelines don’t always “gel” with what needs to be done for SEO. Some clients take it a bit too far and won’t budge on “feel good” phrasing. This is when strong communication and collaboration with the client is necessary.

Data is Your Friend

Let’s say you have a client that doesn’t want to use the most relevant keywords for their service/product because it has a negative connotation. They don’t like the words “rehab” or “detox.” There seems to be very little you can do to get around using those words since they also want to rank for “rehab” and “detox.”

It’s important to use data to show the importance of these keywords to the client. Tools like SEMrush and Keyword Planner can help clients realize how much visibility they’re losing by wanting to avoid common terms used by their clientele.

The Solution

Find creative ways to use these words! Use your client’s marketing and branding to your advantage by creating pages directed to why they want to avoid common keywords. Pages like “Detox vs Medication-Assisted Treatment” and “Why X Company Isn’t Like Other Rehab Centers” helped this client explode with new leads. I was able to get them to do what other SEO companies failed to do before, add the keywords needed to improve their visibility.

The Results

Indirect (Non-Banded) Queries

The Client

This client had all of the correct elements for successful landing pages for each of their GMB listings. Each landing page included their services, link to GMB listing, correct NAP information, reviews etc. There was only one thing missing, unique content! If you’re like me, and most local SEOs for that matter, pretty much every client with more than 4 locations has asked you if they really need unique content for location pages. The answer is yes. Here’s why in one image:

The Results

This is one client’s organic sessions for their location landing pages before (May – July 2019) and during working with us (August 2019 to date). The only change made to these pages? Updating the content so that it would pass a duplicate content check.

This sounds like a headache in the making but ended up being one of the easiest projects I’ve ever completed. The client purchased 4 different franchises with 50 total locations and wanted to merge them under one new brand. This meant we had to update their GMB listings and make sure that each GMB listing had a location page with accurate information.

Validate, Validate, and Validate Some More!

Avoiding issues with projects like these come down to two things: organization and coordination. The most important thing an SEO can do in this situation is to compile all of the information they can find on business locations and have the client validate that all of the business information is correct. This database should include all of the current business information found in GMB and new columns that document any client changes. This includes new business names, addresses, phone numbers, appointment links, business descriptions, website links, etc.

After the client has validated that the correct business listings and new information is in your database, validate that you have access to all of the GMB listings needed.

Bulk Updates

A bulk update to the GMB listings is the quickest and easiest way to change business information. Export the bulk edit template and then update the spreadsheet with the new information. Import the spreadsheet into GMB and the changes should be accepted almost immediately!

Google Support Bulk Update Info

More Validating

Compare the updated GMB listings to the business information on the actual website. Make notes of anything that needs to be updated on the website or GMB and report to the client.