6 Tips for Franchise Businesses SEO Strategy [Improve Your Local Visibility]
Let’s start with a statistical fact you probably didn’t know: 80% of local mobile searches convert — something that a local franchise business can’t ignore.
Local SEO isn’t just about optimising your website for a specific area; it’s also about staying on top of the competition and optimising your online presence to accommodate the needs of local consumers.
However, things get a little more complicated when optimising for a franchise. Remember, you’re not just dealing with a single location or business but multiple of them, each with its own set of unique challenges.
What’s Franchise SEO?
Franchise SEO is the practice of optimising a franchise’s websites, social media pages, and other online properties for local search results. The goal is to ensure that the franchise’s local listings appear at or near the top of search engine results pages when people conduct searches related to their local area.
Here’s an example: McDonald’s is a franchise. If I’m in Las Vegas and search for “fast food near me,” the McDonald’s location close to me should come up in the search results. That’s Franchise SEO in action.
6 Key Benefits of Local Franchise SEO
By Local Franchise SEO we mean making sure that all the businesses in a franchise are correctly listed in Google maps, their local landing pages are properly optimised, and they’re all listed in the appropriate local business directories.
Not an easy task if you ask me, but the rewards are plentiful:
- More Organic Local Traffic: Improved visibility in local search listings leads to more organic traffic, which can result in more sales.
- Increased Brand Recognition and Reach: Local SEO can help a franchise business gain recognition in its local markets, leading to increased brand awareness and reach.
- Improved Customer Experience: It ensures that customers can easily find the franchise’s locations, leading to an improved customer experience.
- Increased ROI: Optimising a website for local SEO doesn’t cost much, but the returns can be enormous.
- Better Conversion: A no-brainer considering that 80% of local mobile searches convert.
- Long-Term Success: The results that follow successful local SEO campaigns tend to last longer than those generated through other marketing tactics.
- Improved Competitiveness: Being one step ahead of the competition is always good. And since not so many businesses have adopted local SEO, the ones that do have a leg up.
6 Tried-and-Tested Local SEO Tips for Franchise Businesses
Now that you know the benefits of local franchise SEO, let’s dive into six of our tried-and-tested tips to help you get started with this powerful marketing strategy.
Tip #1. Start By Listing Your Businesses on Google Maps
Google’s rules and guidelines dictate that the franchise listings on Google Business profile belong to the franchisees, not the franchisor. They should be claimed, created, or owned by the local franchisee, not you.
Image source: Google Support
After that, it’s their sole discretion to decide if they want to grant access to you or any third party to manage the listing.
Here are four Google guidelines for listing your business in GBP (Google Business Profile):
- You can only include the franchise’s name in the name field. Descriptors such as location, city, area codes, etc., are not allowed in the name field. They can only be included in their appropriate field. For example, McDonald’s Las Vegas should be listed as “McDonald’s” in the name field and “Las Vegas, NV” in the location field.
- Each Listing Will Require a Separate Account: Each business listing requires a separate account owned and managed by the local franchisee. Failure to do so could result in having your listings removed.
- Each listing should be classed as “Service Area Business”: They must also have the service area set up. Otherwise, they won’t show up on Google maps. You can remove the address from the display if you don’t want it to be visible. But make sure the storefront and signage are still visible to customers.
- It’s the franchisee’s responsibility to ensure the head office or franchisor understands and follows the outlined rules: That is incredibly important since any misstep can lead to the removal of all listings in your network, and you cannot negotiate with Google on behalf of the franchisee.
Tip #2: List the Franchise Locations on Yelp Too
Google isn’t the only game in town. Yelp is also a powerhouse when it comes to local search, and getting your franchise locations listed there can help drive even more organic local traffic to your franchises.
Plus, the two feed off each other. Google views it as a directory that it trusts, so the more positive reviews you get on Yelp, the better your chances of ranking higher in local search listings.
Not to mention, the review site is trusted by over 178 million unique visitors each month, so it’s a great way to get your brand in front of potential customers.
It gets even more interesting when you consider that 97% of people are more likely to spend on a business if it’s positively reviewed on Yelp.
The Yelp business pages also allow you to provide information on working hours, contact information, user-generated content, and other details, such as product lists, menus, the scope of services, and more.
So, don’t underestimate the power of Yelp when it comes to local SEO. It can be a great resource for getting your franchise noticed.
Tip #3: Get Your Corporate Marketing Team and the Franchisees on the Same Page
Don’t assume that all your franchisees are familiar with local SEO and understand how it works. While franchising is a great business model, it also means that you have to rely on the franchisees to be open and willing to understand and implement the suggested local SEO strategies.
Share helpful or educational resources with them, have conference calls where you explain the strategies, and work together to ensure that every franchise in your network has a well-optimised local SEO presence.
Make sure every franchisee who doesn’t understand the value of local SEO sees the bigger picture and realises the importance of investing in it.
It all boils down to communication. If your corporate marketing team, franchisees, and local SEO professionals work together, you can create a powerful, localised presence for your brand.
Tip #4. Take Control Over Your Franchisees’ Online Presence
To ensure your franchisees follow your corporate brand messaging and guide, it’s your responsibility to take control of their online presence.
Go the extra mile to ensure that each franchise page is optimised correctly with accurate and consistent information for name, address, phone number (NAP), and other vital details.
Remember, it only takes one mistake to damage your brand’s reputation in the eyes of Google and its customers. So don’t leave anything to chance.
It starts with the websites. You must ensure each franchise has a professionally done website with consistent branding and messaging.
The least you could do is have style guides, page templates, and other resources that the franchisees can use to create their own web pages that look and feel like they are part of the corporate family.
Even more important, you want to take stock of where your franchises are mentioned online and ensure each listing is accurate and up-to-date.
Be sure to analyse their websites and see their performance on Google Analytics and Search Console.
Tip #5. Give Each Franchisee Multiple Pages on Your Corporate Website
There are different ways for the franchisees to display their locations online:
Listing all the Locations on One Page on Your Corporate Website
You could create one page on your corporate website that lists all the franchises under you.
This option is not great for SEO, but it can work well if all the locations are within the same area.
Having Each Franchisee Have Its Own Page on Your Corporate Website
The better option is to give each franchisee its page on your corporate website.
This way, each franchise will have its unique address, with the right keywords and information, which will help to boost its local SEO.
Allowing Each Franchise to Have its Own Websites
You can also allow each franchise to have its own websites while keeping them within the same corporate family. Not the best idea for SEO (considering the websites will be competing with each other to rank), but it can give each franchise a sense of autonomy.
It’s better if each franchise has its location pages within your corporate franchise website. That will provide more control over the messaging and branding and can also help you gain additional SEO benefits. Plus, with one central website, it will be easier for Google and customers to find the information they need.
Examples of a website doing this: a1concrete
Tip #6: Set Up a Customer Review Management System
Every franchisee must have a review management system in place. Supporting this system will help your franchise grow, as customer reviews will significantly boost its local SEO ranking.
Some review programs you may use include Birdeye, BrightLocal, Podium, Google reviews, Nearby Now, Broadly, and Customer Lobby.
Open a review account for each franchise and install the appropriate tracking snippets on their websites. To encourage customers to leave reviews, you can use email marketing and other methods like pointing them to your social media profiles.
Each franchise should be responsible for monitoring its reviews and responding to them. However, you want to set some general corporate guidelines that they should follow.
Here are a few examples of the guidelines they can follow:
- Respond promptly
- Be polite and professional
- Thank the customers for their feedback
- Never delete negative reviews
- Pass on compliments to respective employees
- Offer link solutions
It’s easy to overlook local SEO when running a franchise business. But how your franchises rank locally could either make or break your business.
By following these tried-and-tested local SEO tips, you can ensure that your franchisees have the best chance of being found in local search results.
Looking for a Professional Touch to Grow Your Business?
Baris Coskun is 8 years experienced SEO Expert that specializes in content and technical SEO strategy creation/implementation progress for large-scale, multilingual, and international targeting websites.