Owning and maintaining a franchise is a difficult, but often worthwhile endeavor. The fact that a brand and image are already established might make it seem easier than starting another firm. However, this mindset is a trap more often than not. Once the terms are settled with the franchisor, franchisees are often on their own for every logistical and marketing-related concern they encounter. The skills needed to start an independent business are no less necessary here. This means that you need to have a savvy and competent marketing strategy to thrive and expand.
As a result, search engine optimization (SEO) strategies are no less important to franchises than regular businesses. Franchisors spend little, if any, funds advertising on behalf of franchise owners. Even if they do, they are notoriously bad at it, knowing little about what appeals to those who live in the target region. This isn’t their fault: they usually have to focus on analyzing huge datasets that apply to the franchisor as a whole. Their main concerns are always with the company’s overall reputation, which does provide some indirect benefits to your franchise, but might not be enough to help you stay relevant.
Fortunately, there are ways to utilize your image and location to maximize your marketing potential. Perhaps the most important asset you have is your in-depth understanding of the area your franchise operates in. In many cases, this comes from your knowledge of the region by living there yourself. You may also have relevant sales data and, if you invest in marketing, data regarding reception to your advertising efforts. Traditional marketing techniques, such as billboards, flyers, television ads, and social media marketing, are important tools at your disposal, but another, equally potent strategy is often forgotten about. We’ll dive into that here.
Local SEO for Franchises
The often ignored strategy we’re talking about is local SEO or SEO that increases your ranking in searches regarding your local area. This technique, in some cases, can be even more powerful than SEO for large corporations.
Local SEO is incredibly useful since 46% of all Google searches are looking for local information. When people are looking for a place to shop, they are almost always looking for something in their area. Google naturally tailors the search results of such inquiries to best fit the inquirer’s material and location needs. You don’t need to worry about being the first search result when someone looks up “McDonald’s”, just the first result when someone searches “McDonald’s near me.”
Identify Terms of Advertising
Before embarking on any local SEO efforts, you of course need to confirm what the terms for local advertising are with the franchisor. There are often limits as to how you can use the parent company’s brand and image. Typically, you’ll be directed on how to conduct advertising by the company. Keeping a consistent public message across the company is crucial. That’s why you must make sure you are communicating whatever ideas you are considering to your franchisor. If you can, try to see if you can create and maintain your own website. At the least, you should ask for a separate webpage on the franchisor’s website. Spearheading proper local SEO efforts almost requires this, as you almost certainly don’t have any power to advertise your specific franchise through the parent company’s website. If you can’t have your own website or webpage, then trying your best at more traditional forms of marketing, within the franchisor’s limits, will help boost web traffic to the franchisor’s website at least. If you do have your own website, the advice given below should be helpful.
Local SEO is similar, even identical, to regular SEO in many respects. The ranking of your search is based on numerous factors, the most prominent of which is keyword usage. Google primarily determines the relevance of your website to search inquiries by the frequency of keywords present on the webpage. If someone is looking for an Italian restaurant, for example, keywords such as “delicious,” “menu,” “food,” and of course “Italian” are used as benchmarks for how relevant a given webpage is. This makes the first part of SEO, determining the right keywords to use, an easy step.
Try and figure out the kinds of words used to describe your business in the search bar and use them throughout your website. When it comes to local SEO for franchises, you can take this a step further. Try to use language that people in your area are uniquely familiar with, as they may use such language when searching for local business. You can even look at the web pages of other local businesses to get an idea of what these words might be. The more you involve yourself in the culture of the region you operate in, the more success you’ll have.
Speaking of involving yourself, you can do more than just alter your webpage to increase your ranking power. Google also uses online impressions, such as from social media, to determine how relevant you are. Thus, getting people to talk about you online, generally, will help boost your search rank. There are a number of ways to do this, perhaps none as effective as getting involved in your community. Participate in local events, give to local charities, sponsor, hire locals, etc. All of these things will raise awareness of your franchise in your region, driving up your rank on the page.
Google My Business
Another tool at your disposal for Google specifically is setting up a Google My Business account. This account will make it far easier for people to find your business, as it has a number of functionalities. You can set up your location and contact information on Google Maps, you can make Google Posts, you can receive reviews for your business from this account, and you make it easier for consumers to share on social media. All of these things help with your SEO efforts, making this tool a veritable necessity for your franchise.
SEO for Franchises
Beyond strategies for local SEO efforts for franchises, it still does help to utilize techniques that improve your search rankings generally. Frequent use of keywords, as mentioned earlier, is one way to do this. However, there is much, much more you can do to reach the top of the page.
Another factor that Google takes into account when ranking search results is the presence of links on the page. Links, both internal and external, add a sense of reliability to the page. They make it clear that multiple sources are being used for the on-page information. Not only do links boost a particular page’s ranking, but they can also increase traffic to the pages you link to. With this in mind, you may want to focus on internal links. These are links that direct users to other pages on the same website. This makes it so that all of your related pages see a boost in traffic.
Finally, one often overlooked way to improve your SEO efforts is to make your website/webpage mobile friendly. Taking this step will make your franchise look more professional. It will also increase traffic to your website, boosting its rank in the search engine.
Doing all of these things may sound tough to do on your own, but fortunately, there are firms you can hire to take care of these things for you. SEO Design Chicago is one such firm, able to handle any issues related to digital marketing, such as website creation, social media advertising, and general marketing strategy development.
Franchise Digital Marketing
Speaking of general marketing strategies, don’t forget that SEO fits under the larger umbrella term of digital marketing. You are likely already aware of companies engaging in social media outreach, banner ads on websites, online content creation, sponsorships, and even influencer endorsements. All of these things are forms of digital marketing, which is considered the new frontier of advertising in the modern age. Franchise owners typically don’t need to worry about these things, as such efforts are usually undertaken by the franchisor.
However, there are things you can do to help the franchisor in their efforts. When engaging in any advertising or marketing efforts, make sure to direct attention to the strategies set forth by the parent company. Put links, website addresses, email addresses, and QR codes on whatever you can. This follows a similar strategy as internal linking: trying to get interested customers to immerse themselves in your content. This allows all advertising, from either franchisor or franchisee, to benefit the entire company.
- Why is SEO important to franchises?
- How do I use keywords on my website?
- What is a Google My Business account?
- What are internal links?
- Where can I get help with digital marketing?
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