SEO is cheap in terms of costs-per-lead when compared to offline marketing and the pay-per-click options. But operating SEO for a franchise can be tricky because you’re dealing with so many moving parts – domains versus sub-domains, local versus corporate landing pages, national versus regional visions, mobile users – it’s one of the most challenging activities to orchestrate across the national to local networks.
Franchisors: Support Franchisees with SEO Campaigns
Conventional wisdom is that large franchisors should never leave the SEO to the smaller franchisees, opting instead to have one main office working with the smaller offices. Make sure, too, that you’re optimized for your site. When doing SEO for your franchise website, keep these things in mind:
- Set benchmarks and utilize keyword positioning reports at the onset.
- Make sure your page is mobile-optimized as Mobile and Local are related.
- Apply best practice SEO mark-ups on each location landing page (very important step that is often overlooked).
- Things won’t happen overnight: it can take up to 90 days to see impactful results, but will pay off long-term when used properly.
- There are several ways to create good links like article marketing, video SEO, social bookmarking and blog posting
- Choose optimal keywords and make sure you’re putting relevant geo-local content in each unique location page. Make sure it ties to your core domain to leverage your franchise’s authority. You can use tools like SEMrush to help you find the right keywords.
This is really important: simplify your SEO strategy for the masses. Some SEO’s recommend subdirectories vs subdomains, but do what’s best for your business and figure out your SEO needs based on that.
“Franchises often have huge challenges when it comes to SEO, but in a way they are no different than non-franchise multi-location brands, and often SEO is no different than any other marketing channel the franchise is trying to provide to franchisees,” says Andrew Shotland of Local SEO Guide. “It’s a problem of simple communication. The franchise and franchisee often [don't] have a good understanding of SEO.”
Shotland added that what often happens is a situation where a franchisee that has their own SEO vendor tries to push the vendor onto other franchisees, creating confusion at the top as well as other strange things.
“The most important thing to nail down in the beginning is the communication process and of course how you’re going to report on progress. Inevitably there are going to be issues that pop up from different franchisees and having a system set up to prioritize, triage and communicate back to the main office is critical.”
Franchise Social Media and SEO
Having one social media page for the entire company is the best. Post short, relevant information and include carefully worded subliminal advertising.
When do you post things? When something interesting happens, not just for the sake of posting. The usual rule of thumb of once or twice a week is good to follow.
Facebook can provide plenty of data of when your customers are online, time of day and the day of week. Use this information to your advantage. Increase your posts’ power by split testing to different audiences when your post is a success in an organic reach. This is an opportunity to build relationships with your customers, talk about your product which will all help to increase the activity on your site – and it will also have a tremendous effect on your search engine rankings.
- Franchisors find Facebook as the most effective social media tool and at times ignore all the other social media channels like LinkedIn, Twitter and Pinterest.
- Twitter can be a great place to post updates on new locations, products and services.
- LinkedIn is a power platform to build a large pool of qualified prospects and develop a soft sell strategy to draw potential franchisees in requiring and finding more information about your business.
- Pinterest helps create a positive buzz around your brand share your business values and build a community around your name.
Think of social networks like TV channels – turn your channels on and specify the marketing goals for each of them according to what they’re best suited for.
“Fresh content is always a winner for SEO, but not always required,” Shotland said. “Links from other sites can go a long way towards making up for a lack of content strategy. But it’s always best when the two go hand-in-hand. The type of content, well, that’s totally dependent on the business and the SEO strategy.”
Having quality content is more important than ever since Google updated its Panda 4.2 algorithm. This update prevents websites with poor quality content from moving up in Google’s top search results. A good rule of thumb for franchises to avoid being labeled as having poor quality content is to create tags on your website that include titles, meta descriptions and optimization tags. Shotland recommends creating an editorial calendar that maps these kinds of things out based on relevance, opportunity and available resources.
“There’s no need to add content if you don’t have a lot to say, but for others there may be a good reason – which are most likely photos and videos they can share with the public,” Shotland added.
Franchise SEO is No Mystery
The key to getting your franchise ranked by the search engines is all about relevancy. Remember, Google looks at ‘themes’ of content. If you wrote an informative article about automobiles, it would likely talk just as much about tires and engines. Google know this, which is why it forms themes.
The goal with SEO is to generate leads and sales, which ultimately grow into business. Part of that goal is to make certain your website is ranked high enough so it’s seen by the best possible audience and potential clientele. SEO for franchises works best when all strategies, locations and management work in unison for the greater good of the company.
Do you have a success story about SEO for franchises? What worked for you? Let us know in the comments below.