If your franchise has several locations in your area, a local SEO strategy is one of the easiest ways to raise brand awareness to find more customers. The proof is in the results, according to BrightLocal, that found 85% of consumers use local searches to find a product or service. And don’t think because you are a brick-and-mortar franchise, digital marketing doesn’t work for you.
Google research shows 74% of in-store customers searched online first to find stores nearest them as well as details about hours and products/services. And we’re sure we don’t have to tell you 93% of users depend on reviews to influence buying decisions. Therefore, your local SEO strategy is your “in” to leveraging local searches and reaching the ideal audience.
Known as franchise SEO, your SEO strategy helps improve visibility while overcoming challenges specific to franchisors like you. We’re talking about duplicate content and addressing conflicts with fellow franchisors in the area. However, it takes some marketing savvy to learn how to generate that highly desirable organic traffic to find more qualified leads and customers. Here we show you how to create a winning franchise SEO strategy to reach the top of local search rankings.
1. Develop a Stand-Out, High-quality Website
Although you probably have the option to rely on the central website provided by your head office, if your agreement allows you to have a separate website, this could be the way to go. Although the central website is likely well designed, not to mention free, it provides opportunities for visitors to find a closer location while also taking away from your own marketing strategy.
2. Geo-Specific, Long-tail Keywords
Using location-based long-tail keywords on your website and landing pages is the best way to avoid cannibalization with fellow locations. You are constantly competing with other franchisors, as well as other brands. This calls for a keyword strategy that is locally focused, using less common, more specific terms to reduce competition.
3. NAP Consistencies
Your contact details are one of the main things that help you stand out. As a result, you have to ensure your name, address and phone number or “NAP” is accurate and consistent everywhere it appears online. Since you depend on local SEO, your address is key to Google confirming you are indeed local and separate from fellow franchise locations. You also want to avoid causing confusion for customers who try to contact you using the phone number for another location.
4. Optimize your Google Business Profile
Having your own Google Business Profile is crucial to your franchise success as it separates you from other locations in the area. You should create your own profile and indicate the services specific to your location. For example, a restaurant might feature special dishes, while an office supply store might offer printing services. You can also leverage your profile to share location-specific photos, Google posts, Q&As and more. To optimize your location Google profile, you can:
- Ensure your NAP is accurate
- Select relevant listing categories
- Provide a location-specific geo-keyword optimized description
- Upload images of your brick-and-mortar location and other photos, such as pictures of your team
Also, create unique profiles for other local directories and platforms, such as Yelp, to provide even more context for Google searches.
5. Monitor Google Business Q&As and Reviews
One of the worst things about franchise reviews is that you could provide stellar service, while the franchise across town is terrible. This can muddy the water as the underperformer causes injury to your reputation. Monitor your Q&A section and reviews on your Google profile to ensure a) Customers have chosen the right location and b) You actively respond to questions and reviews. This will help manage your online reputation and make it clear you are separate from that less dependable location.
6. Create a Content Calendar
Your SEO relies heavily on creating fresh, high-quality, keyword-optimized, local content to raise your organic ranking. This calls for a content calendar that guides your content creation throughout the year. Although you can alter the content when something more exciting comes along, a content calendar avoids repeating the same topics too often while keeping you on track to post fresh content often. If fellow franchisors are creating content, you can use their blog and social posts for inspiration. Just be sure your content takes a totally different approach when covering the same topics.
7. Avoid Duplicate Content Issues
You know duplicate content is by far the biggest franchise marketing challenge. Therefore, you need to be aware of what is going on with fellow locations while also keeping your NAP front and center. Some tips to avoid duplication include:
Use location-specific details: Use a prominent NAP across all your online content. This is the best way to help Google and customers see you are unique. Some location-savvy tips include:
- Embedding a Google map
- Using location-optimized keywords on things like titles, tags and metadata, not just in the body of your content
- Providing directions to your location
- Customer testimonials
- Hours of operation
- Staff bios and pictures
- Location pictures
- Localize content: Ensure all website pages are localized with an address on each page, as well as mention of your location throughout service and blog pages. Include location-specific news as well.
- Use distinct services: If your franchise has services others don’t or vice versa, draw attention to that distinction where you can, including your Service listing, Home page, About page, etc. Although you might not want to mention you don’t offer a product or service, it will avoid customer disappointment that could tarnish your franchise’s reputation.
Franchise SEO is different because you not only contend with a competitor offering almost the same services as you but also with the same brand. Because confusion can arise between locations, you have to find ways to stand apart in your SEO efforts. If you can create a distinct location-focused SEO strategy using high-quality content and leveraging the free tools for your Google Business profile, you can come out ahead and rule the local SERPs.Do you need help with your franchise SEO strategy? We’re happy to chat!