Franchises, like all local businesses, require local SEO to rank in the search engines and reach new potential customers.
That includes SEO best practices such as optimizing the websites of individual franchise locations and creating business listings in national and local directories.
However, SEO for franchises differs from regular local SEO in several ways.
Read on to learn more about how to rank franchises in Google and other search engines.
The Importance Of Franchise SEO
Like all local businesses, franchises can use search engine optimization to get noticed by potential customers.
From creating Google Business Profile listings to writing blog posts that target relevant keywords, using the right franchise SEO strategies will help you increase brand awareness and boost your sales.
Organic traffic from increased search rankings is free.
As long as you maintain your rankings, you can drive leads and sales at almost no cost to you.
The Unique Challenges Of Franchise SEO
Franchise owners wanting to build an online presence face various unique challenges.
One of the top challenges you’ll face is avoiding duplicate content.
While each of your locations will have its website, the look and theme of each website should be similar to each other.
Avoiding duplicate content is harder when you’re a business owner that owns several of the same businesses in different locations.
Unfortunately, duplicate content won’t help your rankings, even if you own both of the sites the duplicate content is on.
Another challenge is deciding on the right SEO strategy for your franchise websites.
Do you optimize the content for topics related to each business location or area, or do you adopt a national strategy?
It’s also critical to provide the right contact details and address of each of your franchise businesses.
Franchise SEO: 7 Steps To Improve Your Rankings
Regardless of the products you sell and the niche you are in, follow these steps to rank for your target search queries and drive organic traffic.
1. Use Consistent Branding
The first step is to use consistent branding across all your individual websites.
The entire purpose of a franchise chain is to offer the same user experience at each of your physical locations.
Your online presence should be no different.
People who visit different branches of your franchise will expect a similar experience at each one.
Similarly, when they visit the website of each franchise location, they will expect a similar layout and color theme.
This is all about the user experience.
If people are expecting your website to look one way, and they land on a webpage with an entirely different design, they may exit your page, thinking that they landed on the wrong one.
2. Build Locality Into Each Individual Franchise Website
When it comes to building a website for your franchise, there are certain essentials that you should have regardless of the industry.
These will not only help with SEO and usability but also provide value in what people want from websites today:
- Optimizing your franchisee pages with the most search localized terms and including them within Title Tags, and Content).
- Embedded Google map of the franchise’s location.
- Hours of operation.
- Images of your management, work performed, before and after. Anything original to that location.
- Localized testimonials from that franchise location.
- Direction details, where are you located. If you are a service area business, what areas do you cover.
- Structured local business markup.
3. Use The Right NAP
NAP stands for Name, Address, and Phone Number, and using the correct format is critical for local SEO.
When running a multi-location SEO campaign, you must use the correct NAP for each of your locations.
Furthermore, the NAP should be in the same format on each of your websites.
If you use parenthesis for the area code of one franchise’s number, use it for the phone numbers posted on the websites of all franchises.
It’s critical to use each location’s NAP as opposed to the corporate NAP.
You may include corporate contact details on a separate page and put a “Corporate” option in the footer menu.
4. Use Location-Based Keywords
Use location-specific keywords on each of your websites.
Use a keyword tool to find competitive keywords that will allow local people to find you.
Targeting national search terms on each website might not be the best idea.
You may rank for them, but the people who land on your page might live far from where the individual franchisee is located.
The exception is if you have a national website that automatically redirects people to the nearest franchise location.
5. Decide On A Content Marketing Strategy
This part is critical.
Content is a crucial aspect of any successful digital marketing campaign.
For franchises, however, it can get tricky
- Should you blog about general topics related to your niche or products?
- Or, should you blog about topics that are related to the specific location or area of each franchise?
As a general rule, it’s best to do the latter.
Create blog posts that have nearby residents in mind.
There are two types of locally-targeted blog posts.
The first type discusses general local news and events.
That type of blog post can be useful, but only if you have a broad target audience or sell a product that a wide range of people can use.
For example, if you have a bagel restaurant franchise in several cities, you can blog about local holidays and then offer limited-time promotions at the end of your posts.
As a general rule, however, it’s best to blog about your niche but with a local slant.
As an example, if you have a roofing contracting franchise, you can talk about how the different weather patterns in a specific city may cause readers’ roofs to get damaged and require repair.
Or, if you have a pest control business, you can talk about the common pests and rodents that people in that city (or different areas of the city) deal with the most.
If you have a hair salon franchise, you can talk about how weather patterns can affect people’s hair and what to do about it, or you can discuss local hairstyles that are trending and popular.
If you own a well-recognized national brand, you don’t need to write locally-targeted content.
Most people will already have some exposure to your brand.
They may consider you an authority in your industry and turn to you for general information.
Examples of such companies would include Starbucks, Dunkin’ Donuts, etc.
Of course, you likely don’t own a business that well-known.
However, the point remains: Businesses with such a level of visibility can position themselves as authorities on coffee, donuts, hamburgers, etc.
6. Get Listed On Google Business Profile And Other Platforms
You’ll also need to create a Google Business Profile listing for all your individual businesses.
Each location should have its own Google Business Profile listing.
However, there are a few possible ways to manage access and control.
You can have each franchise owner create their listing, depending on how responsible they are for marketing.
Alternatively, you can set up each listing under your own Google account (you can use one account for all listings).
Then, you can add franchise owners as users to manage and control their listings.
Either way, having a GMB profile that you link to each franchise’s website is critical for local SEO.
When people search Google for local businesses, websites aren’t the only results that show up.
In addition to websites, Google features a few local GMB profiles at the top of the search results.
These profiles appear alongside ratings and other engaging data, and the lucky businesses that show up in the first few GMB profiles tend to get the most clicks.
Similarly, a local GMB profile allows you to show up on Google Maps. Many local searchers use Google Maps to find businesses instead of searching on Google itself.
Google will use data such as the distance of each company from the searcher to determine which businesses will show up first.
If you have several franchises within the city, there’s a good chance you’ll show up in any given search.
However, creating a Google Business Profile is just the beginning.
Also, create profiles on other popular directories, including Yelp, TripAdvisor, and Apple Maps.
While those are national directories, they are optimized for and appear in local searches.
In addition to large platforms like Google Business Profile, you should be building listings in as many local directories as possible.
Getting citations and links from local directories will do wonders for your search engine rankings – the more local citations you can build, the better.
A franchise SEO service can take care of this for you and submit your data to multiple directories at once.
Each franchise should get listings from directories that focus on its city or area.
Local directories shouldn’t be your only sources of citations, either.
Look for directories that are nationwide but deal with your specific niche.
For example, if your franchises offer home repair or construction services, get listed in directories like HomeAdvisor.
For both GMB listings and local citations, it’s critical to include the correct contact data.
Use the same NAP format as you use on your franchise websites.
In addition, optimize each listing or citation by ensuring store hours are correct and uploading images when allowed.
Google Business Profile also allows you to publish post updates, which you should do from time to time to show that you are active.
Different post types are available on GMB.
Some can include general updates, while others can announce discounts or promotions, new product launches, a change of hours, or Covid-19 updates.
You should include your (*7*)top target keywords in your GMB profile description, as well as in your post updates.
Each platform and directory will have different requirements.
In general, however, try to add as much relevant information, upload as many images, and target as many relevant keywords as you can.
Once you created listings on GMB, Yelp, and other directories, encourage customers to leave reviews.
Profiles with many positive reviews tend to rank better.
Many platforms forbid incentivized reviews, so you can’t give customers discounts or freebies in exchange for reviews.
However, you can encourage reviews by putting up stickers or posters in each franchise location reminding customers to look you up on Google, Facebook, Yelp, etc., and share their feedback and comments.
An excellent hack is to create QR codes that take users to your official profile on Google or Yelp and put those QR codes on your menus, storefronts, receipts, and other materials.
7. Build Local Backlinks
Local backlinks are critical for local rankings as well.
Building local backlinks as a franchise can be complicated.
On the one hand, you need to find local businesses to collaborate with within each area you are operating in.
On the other hand, you don’t want to get links from or link to competitors.
Try to work with local organizations, schools, charities, and events.
You may be able to sponsor a lunch day at a local school, for example, in exchange for a blog post announcing the sponsorship and linking to you.
If you own a food-based franchise, you may be able to set up an initiative in which you collaborate with local charities to feed the homeless.
In many ways, the same SEO practices and strategies that apply to most local businesses apply to franchises.
However, it’s important to understand the challenges that franchises face and create a roadmap and a list of guidelines that all individual locations should adhere to.
Featured Image: Monster Ztudio/Shutterstock