What is Franchise Search Engine Optimization?
SEO for franchises is different from just a multi-location business. With a franchise each location acts as a stand-alone business with different owners and SEO helps each different location get found in search engine results.
With so many owners, it’s hard to keep track of who’s already claimed their Google My Business profile and local citations. It’s also a mess trying to keep track of the login info – it’s very easy for this information to be lost, locking you out of the GMB account.
The fact that there’s many business owners involved makes it a complicated process trying to manage and claim locations – maintaining accurate information. There’s an overall lack of control when it comes to franchise SEO. Luckily, BizIQ has years of experience managing GMB listings, and we can manage your franchise listings too, ALL of them. Your marketing efforts will be centralized with one person accessing the information, which cuts down on the confusion.
How Does Local SEO Factor Into Franchise Marketing?
Local SEO helps customers find what’s near them in search engines. It plays a role in franchise SEO because each franchise has its own store front.
Think about a popular chain, let’s use Starbucks. You’re in a new town and want to go to Starbucks, so you search for one on your phone. When you search, you don’t want one that’s 30 minutes away, you’re looking for the closets one. That’s where local SEO comes in. While there’s many Starbucks, there’s only one that’s closest to you at your current location.
The combination of franchise and local SEO uses keywords, geolocation, updated listing information, and more to help people find your franchise.
How Does Organic SEO Differ From Local SEO for Franchises?
Organic SEO and local SEO are very similar, so it’s easy to get confused. Simply put, local SEO is for people searching for nearby shops, stores, restaurants, etc. Whereas organic lacks a local focus and can be nation or worldwide. The basic purpose of both are the same – to help your business/website gain visibility in search engine results pages (SERPs).
By nature, organic means without artificial agents or enhancements. So, organic SEO refers to increasing your ranking by natural means, i.e. optimizing your content and website.
The main difference between organic and local SEO though, is user intent. Search engines are able to discern the intent of a search based on the wording used. This helps Google know when you’re looking for local results. Once it determines you want nearby results it becomes a local search. This means in order to rank, your franchise needs to be optimized on the local level.
At BizIQ, our SEO and website development teams structure and optimize your website to ensure your business gets found online. If you’re wondering whether your franchise’s site has everything it needs to stand out online, connect with our team of experts today to find out!
Why SEO Matters to Your Franchise Business
Before we get too deep into SEO for franchises, it’s important for you to understand why it matters.
43% of the searches on Google are local (Chitika, 2012). In other words, close to half of Google searches are people trying to find stores, restaurants, or services in their area.
The Google Local three-pack, aka map-pack, is a featured snippet of the top three rankings in local SERP and it appears in 93% of searches with local intent (seoClarity, 2015). By not optimizing your business’ franchises, you miss the opportunity to show up in these slots and are turning them over to your competition.
Google is constantly changing their algorithms and the way they like websites optimized, that’s why it’s a good idea to bring in professional help. An experienced SEO agency, like BizIQ, keeps up with these optimization changes and knows how to implement them. Hiring an outside agency is also the best way to centralize the marketing of your franchises. We maintain your listings and make sure you’re not doubling your efforts.
Website Considerations for Franchises
It’s a good idea to have a separate website for each of your franchises. It will help each location rank locally and bring relevant information to nearby customers. However, there are several mistakes you might make if you don’t know what you’re doing. Let’s take a look at some challenges many franchises face when it comes to websites.
#1 Inconsistent Branding
How it occurs: If the corporate website has one design, but each franchise site has a unique look with a different set of colors, and completely different logos, it’s confusing for customers.
Solution: Make sure to provide branding guidelines along with logo files for your franchisees to use. Something as simple as a vision statement and color palate will help maintain brand congruity. BizIQ can help you by designing a logo and websites that align with your brand and keep it consistent.
#2 Forgetting About Local SEO
How it occurs: There are a couple of ways this can happen:
- No clear location on your franchise websites.
- Inconsistent or inaccurate franchise information in online directories like Yelp, Yellowpages, and others.
Solution: To help you rank higher in search results, we optimize your site for location searches, and make it clear what products/services you offer. We also take care of any citation inconsistencies and ensure your information is correct across online directories.
#3 No Franchise Location Info on Corporate Website
How it occurs: Your corporate website is essential, but besides promoting the brand, it should also support your franchises. It’s frustrating for customers to visit the corporate site and find no information about finding their closest location.
Solution: When BizIQ develops your corporate website, we maintain information about each franchise. We might even utilize a zip code search bar or a list of cities which you can click on, as well as a link to the individual franchise’s webpage or local listing. Our web development experts can even design stand-alone sites for each franchise location.
#4 No Franchise Social Media Presence
How it occurs: Some franchises keep their social media separate from their website or ignore it altogether. Instead, they assume the corporate social platforms are enough.
Solution: We use your social media profiles to link back to your website to gain traffic and ultimately boost business. The BizIQ team ensures you have a link to your website on each of your social media pages and include links in your posts.
#5 Not Optimizing for Mobile
How it occurs: Your desktop site is virtually impossible to read and navigate on mobile devices. As a result, you might have developed two websites, one for computers and one for smartphones and tablets. But the days of mobile sites are long gone.
Solution: If your customers can’t navigate your franchise website from their phone, they will become frustrated and bounce. BizIQ’s website development services ensure you receive an entirely optimized site specifically for franchises. We optimize your website for all screen sizes and mobile-friendly with responsive web design.
Important Onpage SEO Activities for Each Franchisee’s Location
Onpage SEO is simply the process of optimizing each page on your website. If done right, it has the ability to increase your visibility. Each page has the opportunity to rank in SERP, which gives you a bigger playing field when competing for those top spots.
Here are some tips when it comes to onpage SEO for franchise businesses:
- Choose keywords using a geographic location – This helps the search engine’s crawlers determine your location so you can show up in the results of local searches.
- Use a different keyword for each page – This will help you compete for more rankings, just make sure your keywords are all relevant.
- Title tag – The title of a webpage is the first thing Google and other search engines read. Use keywords in your page titles to ensure they show up in relevant customer searches.
When you work with BizIQ, we take care of the entire onpage franchise SEO process from keyword choice to title tags and everything in between.
Technical SEO Considerations
Technical SEO is the behind the scenes framework that helps your site gain visibility. People who visit your website don’t see it and aren’t aware of its existence, but without it they probably wouldn’t have found you online in the first place. Technical SEO is essential to any SEO campaign. Without it, all your onpage SEO efforts will be in vain.
Here are some considerations for implementing technical SEO:
There’s a few issues to look out for just within content. First, be careful about duplicate content, which occurs when you have small blocks of text repeated throughout multiple pages on your site. This confuses the web crawlers and makes your pages compete with each other and can hurt your rankings. Another content related issue is not enough content. Having more content per page gives the search engine more to crawl.
There are several factors that can slow down a websites speed, like image file size or poor coding. Having quick loading speeds for EVERY page on your site is important. If your site is slow to load people will bounce from your site and a high bounce rate leads to lower rankings in SERP.
Optimized for Mobile
We already mentioned this in a previous section, but the mobile optimization is found in the website’s code. The user doesn’t necessarily notice, but you can guarantee they’ll notice if it’s not optimized on their smart phone or tablet and it will affect your bounce rate.
The technical SEO side of your site’s navigation helps search engines identify which pages to crawl.
Alt text – When your page contains an image it should also have alternative text for two reasons: 1. It’s ADA compliant and 2. It allows the image to be crawled by the search engine.
Technical SEO is a complex topic and its highly recommended to hire a professional. There’s often changes to what’s considered “best practice” in technical SEO and an experienced coder will be up-to-date on these changes as well as know how to implement them.
The idea of content marketing is to publish your own information (blogs, videos, articles, etc.) to build trust with your audience, your customers. By consistently being a source of important information related to your field you develop a relationship with customers that promotes brand loyalty.
As a franchise business, your content marketing is going to look different than most. Even before you start developing content, you need to determine a few things.
- Will each branch be responsible for creating content?
- What kind of content should we be producing?
- How will you monitor the content for each branch?
The best way to go about content marketing is to follow the same order your current franchisor-franchisee relationship follows. This means the franchisor comes up with the plan (who, what, where, why, when) and the franchisee implements the plan. This method ensures the content remains consistent across the brand and allows you to monitor what’s being published.
Don’t overlook the importance of content marketing. Today more than ever, customers are looking to connect with a brand and providing meaningful content for them is just the way to do it. It also provides you with another opportunity to rank in SERP. BizIQ has extensive knowledge of content marketing and can develop a plan for your franchise business to follow.
Link Building for Local Franchise Businesses
Link building is a great way to increase site traffic. There are two different reasons for the increase:
- People clicking over from other sites.
- Higher rankings in SERP due to showing up on more external pages.
Although still difficult, link building can be slightly easier as a franchise business. In order to acquire backlinks to their site, most businesses have to go through a long process. They contact other sites or influencers and then often end up being rejected or just not hearing back. You can try this method too, and it’s recommended that you do, but as a franchise, you automatically have a built in network of people you can reach out to for backlinks.
As we mentioned earlier, each franchise should have it’s one stand-alone website. The corporate website should have a page linking to each of these sites. Corporate should also link to relevant the relevant sites when performing their own content marketing. Say there’s a blog post up highlighting a certain region of the country, provide a link to those locations’ website.
When you work with BizIQ, we ensure that each franchise location has a standalone website. Furthermore, your corporate website will have a page linking to each of these sites. Our content marketing team and SEOs also link to relevant sites as part of the content creation process. Say there’s a blog post up highlighting a particular region of the country, we provide a link to those franchise locations’ websites.
From franchisee to franchisee you can partner with one another and provide backlinks to each others sites. This is a great way to get a boost in traffic without having to wait for someone to approve your backlink request.
Our link building experts reach out to websites and influencers relevant to your industry. We personalize your invitation to participate and help them see the value in adding your link to their site.
Ready to Take Your Franchises to the Next Level?
In need of franchise SEO solutions for your business? Contact BizIQ, we’re experts on smart local marketing. When it comes to gaining visibility and traffic to your site, we have proven methods that work time and time again. Try it for yourself and see the difference BizIQ can make for your business.