SEO for Franchises: 8 Simple Steps
If you’re running search engine optimization (SEO) campaigns for your multi-location business but it doesn’t seem to be working, now might be the time to revisit your strategy and implementation.
Unlike small businesses, SEO for franchises requires a customized plan for it to truly perform to its fullest potential and create the online presence your business needs.
In this article, we’ll discuss how to properly run SEO campaigns for your franchise so it continues to grow over time.
What’s The Main Difference Between Standard SEO Vs. Franchise SEO?
There are several aspects where standard SEO differs from Franchise SEO. The most common of these aspects:
Standard SEO strategies are usually focused on a single website or online platform for search terms related to an industry or niche. Franchise SEO, on the other hand, focuses on optimizing several websites or online platforms dedicated to specific locations for local search terms.
Keyword Research Approach
Those with a single location company might use broader keywords for their SEO campaigns to target a wider audience while companies with franchises might opt to use location-specific keywords to target local audiences.
Those running standard SEO campaigns might face high competition for broad keywords while franchise SEO campaigns might be more complex to implement.
Here’s a table to summarize the difference between standard and franchise SEO:
|Single website optimization
|Broader industry keywords
|Multiple websites for local search term optimization
As you can see, running a successful franchise SEO campaign takes more time and effort as compared to standard SEO campaigns. Most multiple location businesses hire an SEO marketing agency to achieve the best results.
Why Do You Need a Franchise SEO Strategy?
You need a strategy for your franchise to ensure that it generates the best results. Here are some specific goals to target when running an SEO campaign for your franchise:
- Increase online visibility – You’ll want to make sure that people on all of your locations find you when using search engines like Google.
- Brand Awareness – It’s great for people to remember your company if and when they need your product or service.
- Better leads – Because you are targeting people who are actively looking for your business, you get quality leads that are more likely to convert.
- Build your online reputation – Getting positive feedback from previous customers can help your business attract more customers.
SEO helps improve many aspects of your business, so it’s worth the investment in the long run.
8 Steps To Create Winning SEO Campaigns For Your Franchise
Getting results from your SEO campaigns doesn’t happen overnight. You’ll need to implement smaller action items that are part of your overall SEO strategy.
1. Begin With Local SEO
Having a local SEO strategy for every location is essential to the success of your franchise SEO campaign. Here are some tips on how to do this:
- List different locations on Google maps and other local directories
One of the fastest ways to implement local SEO is to start listing your business in Google My Business and most local directories online. This is done so that your business is more visible to targeted people who are in your business’s location.
- Ensure consistent NAP + W
NAP + W stands for Name, Address, Phone, and Website. It’s a standard best practice for businesses to check and ensure that their NAP + W in all their listings are the same.
- Incentivize reviews for different locations
Give customers motivation to leave a review for your business with small rewards such as a store discount or coupon. Note that different platforms and industries have rules on offering incentives in exchange for positive reviews, so do keep this in mind.
2. Conduct Keyword Research
To ensure that your SEO campaigns work, make sure to conduct keyword research. Keywords are terms that people type in search engines when looking for businesses online. Once you’ve identified relevant keywords for your business, you’d want to use these keywords to optimize your website content and appear in search engine results pages (SERPs).
With franchises, it’s wise to use location-based keywords like “near me” or “best dentist in x” where x is the location. When your keywords have a localized aspect, you have better chances of getting discovered by the right audience.
Keywords are used for on-page SEO, wherein all content (images, text, videos, etc.) and elements (title tags, meta descriptions, headings) in your site are optimized for target keywords.
3. Localize Your Website
One of your major action items should be to optimize your website. You can accomplish this task by doing the following:
Use location specific landing pages
A landing page is a web page that is created for a specific goal, which is usually to convince the visitor to take action. Landing pages are made for digital advertising campaigns like pay-per-click (PPC) wherein a person lands on a page after clicking an ad.
Franchise websites can benefit when several landing pages are made for each location of the business. Some of the benefits include improved local SEO rankings, targeted user experience, better conversions, and brand consistency.
Create location specific content
Just like landing pages, other pages in your website can be optimized for local content, like this one for Miles Car Rental:
Some examples of location-focused content creation are:
- Blog post: A Guide To New Orleans Mardi Gras
- Landing page: Car Repair in New Orleans
- Testimonial: What Our Customers Have To Say About Our New Orleans Car Repair Services
There are many other ways you can create location-specific content, so be creative and consistent with your approach and you’ll find that these types of content strengthen your franchise SEO strategies.
Use location specific schema
Schema or schema markup is a code added to a web page to help search engines understand its content. It doesn’t affect the visuals of the local landing pages or web pages in general, but it makes it easier for search engines to show accurate content in search results (referred to as rich results).
When applying schema, you also need to make an effort to add your business location so it’s clear that you have a local business.
Below is an example of a rich result for the search term “New York plumber” using Google Search.
Rich results brought by the Schema markup can improve how your business looks on search results, giving people more information right away which makes it easier to build trust and achieve new leads.
4. Ensure Consistent Branding Across Franchise Locations
Because your business has more than one location, it can be a challenge to maintain consistent branding across all locations. Here are some key strategies to help franchise owners keep their branding on point:
- Develop a brand voice: A voice refers to how you “sound” in all your promotional content (website, ads, social media posts). Make sure it is aligned with your business’s mission and resonates with your target audience.
- Customer service: Train your employees to use consistent practices for all your customers and make them understand why it’s important.
- Audit for consistency: Conduct a branding audit and look at all your digital and physical marketing assets to identify the level of consistency you currently have.
5. Focus on Local Link Building
Link building is the practice of getting other related websites to link back to your site (called backlinks). The benefit of link building in addition to improving your site’s SEO is improving your website’s authority.
To take advantage of link building traffic, you can shift the focus for it to be location-specific. You can do this by:
- Reach out to relevant websites in your target locations
- Collaborate and or create content for local influencers
- Integrate local topics into your content
- Create citations and list your business in local directories
Anything that you can do online to attract local customers can definitely help strengthen your link building or overall franchise SEO strategy.
6. Optimize Landing Pages for E-E-A-T
E-E-A-T, which stands for Experience, Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness is part of Google’s Search Quality Rater Guidelines. This addition to the existing guideline means that Google’s algorithm will look at the E-E-A-T factors to decide whether a website is credible and trustworthy. It’s important to note, however, that E-E-A-T is not a ranking factor.
To optimize for E-E-A-T, you can:
- Focus on creating high-quality content: Write well-researched articles and blog posts and ensure they are free of spelling and grammatical errors.
- Create an author profile for each article or blog post in your website: This is to address the Authoritativeness requirement of Google’s E-E-A-T guideline.
- Get backlinks from authoritative websites: This should be your focus when running your link building campaign.
- Get more customer reviews: Create a review generation strategy to increase your online reviews in platforms like Google, Facebook, or Yelp.
- Make your website secure: Your website should have an https:// prefix before the URL to show potential customers that your site is secure. To do this, you need to buy an SSL certificate from a domain provider.
If you’re not familiar with web development, you can hire a franchise web design company to get this done for you.
Adding just one or all of these strategies can greatly increase your website’s E-E-A-T factor and give you a boost in SEO ranking.
7. Track Local Rankings Across Locations
It’s important to know where you stand with your SEO ranking, especially if you have multiple business locations. You can develop your own system to do this or get a local ranking tracking tool like TrackRight. This tool can help you cut down on hours of work and provide comprehensive ranking data for all locations.
In addition to tracking local search results, you can track leads, understand your organic traffic, and optimize your Google Business Profile.
Keeping track of your ranking and leads will help inform your marketing strategy direction and whether or not you are closer to achieving your goals.
8. Ensure You Address Common Franchise SEO Challenges
Despite intense planning, things can go wrong when implementing franchise SEO campaigns. Here are some common hiccups that occur and how you can fix them:
Whether it’s intentional or not, your site should be free from duplicate content. You can use a tool like Copyscape to check for duplicate content on your site. Some ways to fix duplicate content are:
- Always create original content – Don’t copy or plagiarize
- Use canonical tags – Canonical tags are snippets of HTML code that indicates the original version for a duplicate or similar content. Canonical tags look like this:
<link rel=“canonical” href=“https://example.com/sample-page/” />
These tags can help tell search engines which URL to index so they appear in search engine results.
- Avoid using content templates – While it’s fast and convenient to use a template, you run the risk of making all your content look the same
- Hire SEO experts to do an audit on your site
Improper contact information and address
Check that your contact information (phone number, email, etc.) is the same for your website, Google Business Profile, online business listings, and social media pages. This is to ensure that your businesses look credible and trustworthy while also improving your ranking in local search queries.
Seamless SEO strategy (national vs. local)
While it’s important to optimize your content for local keywords, it’s equally important to also have a strategy to dominate national search rankings.
Not all searchers would think to include their location in their search term, so if you don’t optimize for national content then you might lose potential customers.
Revisit your content marketing plan and ensure that you have an equal amount of content for national and local campaigns.
Hire (Results-Driven) Franchise SEO Services
As a franchise business owner, your ultimate goal is to keep customers coming to your stores. This is why identifying and focusing on top geographic areas is a wise move. However, a franchisor might not have the expertise to effectively carry out even the best local SEO strategy.
If you lack the knowledge or human resource to implement a national and local franchise SEO plan, then you can seek help from a digital marketing and SEO agency like On The Map Marketing to run successful strategies that are proven to work with multiple-location businesses.
Contact us today to create a custom franchise marketing plan for your business.
Article by Kim Barloso
Kim Barloso writes different types of content that helps businesses and brands establish their online presence. Before venturing into writing ten years ago, she was a communications trainer for customer support companies. These days, she keeps herself busy with writing and catching up on true crime documentaries.
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