Local SEO

Local SEO for franchises: Why strong branding isn’t enough

How to make sure your franchise ranks in local search in the face of stiff competition

Quick Summary
  • Local SEO combined with strong brand awareness can quickly move franchises to the top of local rankings.
  • National and global marketing campaigns offer great exposure, but you can’t ignore local SEO for franchises.
  • Semrush Local is the tool your franchise needs to build a strong online presence in multiple locations.

Franchises have a solid head start when launching in new local markets thanks to brand recognition and national marketing.

But a franchise's local SEO success hinges on more than just a well-known logo and a catchy jingle.

Strong branding is undoubtedly important, but local SEO is a level playing field. Franchises need to recognise the value of local ranking factors or risk losing customers to competitors.

Whether you're in food, construction, travel… local SEO is a game-changer for franchises. And with the right tools, yours can quickly move up the ranks, earning you visibility and organic traffic in your location.

What can local SEO do for franchises?

Local SEO helps franchises reach potential customers in the area who are actively searching for your products or services.

While franchises benefit from national, and even international, marketing, local SEO targets people who already have a commercial intent.

For example, someone who searches “fast food restaurants near me” on Google will see a results page similar to this:

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The user can quickly find the details they need to make a purchase. In fact, 60% of smartphone users contact businesses directly from SERPs (search engine results pages).

The top local results appear in Google’s Local Pack. In the example above, the top-ranking result is an independent restaurant. It has a decent average rating, but far fewer reviews than the Five Guys and McDonald’s franchises.

Local SEO is an opportunity for franchises to tailor their marketing efforts to specific regions. It ensures marketing messages resonate with the local community and address their unique needs and preferences.

Franchises compete with small businesses in local search on three major ranking factors:

  • Distance from the user
  • Online prominence
  • Search query relevance

Local SEO levels the playing field by allowing franchises to establish a strong local presence and compete for organic traffic.

A franchise’s local SEO success depends on the right tools for achieving great results. Fast visibility, position tracking, managed reviews, and competitor insights can make a huge difference in a franchise’s local SEO journey.

Get ahead: Semrush Local is an affordable tool that gives franchises the edge in local prominence and keeps everything consistent.

The franchisee-franchisor local marketing relationship

A good franchise partnership sees both parties work together to promote the brand, drive sales, and maintain brand consistency.

Franchisors develop and maintain the brand identity, including logos, colors, slogans, and overall messaging. They typically offer support in the form of national advertising campaigns, marketing materials, and access to preferred vendors.

Franchisees are responsible for adhering to these brand guidelines to ensure a consistent image across all locations. Failing to do this can lead to inconsistent listings that negatively impact local SEO and the overall strength of the brand.

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Franchisees often have some degree of autonomy with local marketing strategies. They often understand the local market better and can tailor campaigns to suit local preferences and trends within the guidelines.

For example, franchisees can create promotions tied to local events or holidays. These initiatives resonate with the community to drive increased engagement, build backlinks, and improve rankings.

Franchisees usually report on their local marketing results to prove they’re being effective and protecting the brand. Sharing reports helps everyone understand what works in each market so you can make data-driven local SEO decisions.

Easy reporting: Semrush Local makes reporting on your local SEO efforts simple, with clear visuals that tell stories with your data.

Common local SEO challenges for franchises

The need to balance corporate branding with community engagement makes local SEO for franchises more complex than for other businesses.

For example, managing business listings for multi-location franchises leaves a lot of room for errors. It might make sense for the franchisor to set up listings for each location centrally, allowing franchisees manager access.

Duplicate content is another common issue that can see a franchise penalized in local SEO. Content should be unique and localized, using language and keywords that resonate with customers in the area.

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Communication and collaboration between franchisors and franchisees is key to preventing common problems with local SEO for franchises.

Fortunately, listing management tools constantly monitor a franchise’s local SEO presence, allowing for quick adjustments if anything is amiss.

Your local hub: Handling SEO for multiple franchise locations can be overwhelming. Use Semrush’s Listing Management to monitor all your locations and avoid any mishaps.

How to boost local SEO for franchises

Better local SEO for franchises relies on a well-coordinated approach where both franchisee and franchisor know what's going on.

Google Business Profile is the best place to start. Claim/add and verify your GBP listing and ensure your franchise's information is accurate. Use local keyword research to optimize the description, and make use of photos, posts, and categories to show off your location.

Next, move on to setting up other business listings. Consistency is important for all business listings, but multi-location franchises are more susceptible to errors slipping under the radar. Use a listing management tool to build citations as efficiently and effectively as possible.

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Create dedicated landing pages for each location on the main franchise website. Include the NAP data (name, address, phone number), mark it up with local business schema, and embed a Google Map. Link to each location page from business listings and Google Business Profile rather than the main brand website.

Write local content that’s location-specific to help build authority and trust with your audience. Blog posts about your industry with a local angle is a good strategy here. For example, a New York pest control franchise might write a post on the city’s rat problem. Use targeted keywords to optimize posts and follow brand guidelines to maintain the company’s overall style and tone.

Positive reviews and ratings can significantly impact a franchise's online reputation and directly affect local rankings. Reach out to satisfied customers by text asking for a review and include a simple link to the platform.

Reply to all reviews, including negative reviews, to show your franchise business actively engages with local customers. Managing reviews is a lot easier with a review management tool that brings all your review platforms under one roof.

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Local link building enhances your franchise's credibility in the eyes of search engines. Create compelling content that local websites want to link to. You can also encourage links by working with local news outlets to promote events and sponsor charities.

Social media can also help a franchise location stand out, build links, and tap into the local community. Consider setting up specific pages for your locations so users can engage with content tailored just for them.

Optimize your mobile website to stand a better chance of competing in local search. People tend to search while they’re out and about, so your website needs to load quickly on mobile devices. Leverage the main website’s development team to make sure the location page is running smoothly and easy to navigate.

Voice search is especially useful when people are on the move and don’t have a free hand to type. Writing content in a concise, human way helps your website appear as the answer to common voice search queries. Also, make sure your business listings are reliable to secure your share of local voice search traffic.

Raise your voice: The popularity of voice search has skyrocketed in recent years. A huge 72% of US residents who have heard of voice search have used the functionality.

Check your
local listings for free

Give your franchise the local SEO support it needs with Semrush Local

Franchises can’t afford to risk putting a foot wrong when representing their brand locally.

Use Semrush Local to stay ahead of local competitors and give your location the best possible chance of success.

Centralized reporting

Big franchises with multiple locations often struggle to keep track of everything going on at a local level.

To simplify things, centralized reporting consolidates key performance metrics from all franchise locations into a single dashboard.

Semrush Local is the reporting tool that maintains transparency, accountability, and alignment between corporate headquarters and individual franchise locations.
A Review Progress Report in Semrush

AI-powered review management

Responding to online feedback shows customers you appreciate them and that you take their opinions seriously.

Replying to reviews boosts the number of reviews received by 12% (according to a Harvard Business Review study).

Monitor and respond to customer reviews across all locations with Semrush’s Review Management and the handy AI composer.
The reply interface in Semrush’s Review Management

Your listings are in good hands

Citation building is an essential part of local SEO for franchises.

When managed effectively, these listings can significantly improve a franchise's presence in local search results.

Publish NAP data across all franchise locations and keep them consistent and up to date with Semrush’s Listing Management.
Missed opportunities for business listings flagged by Semrush’s Listing Management

A detailed positions overview

To build and execute an effective local SEO strategy, you’ll need reliable data on what your competitors are up to.

Manual competitor analysis for multiple locations takes time, and the data will be obsolete before you know it.

With Heatmap (for Premium Location subscribers), you’ll get valuable insights into your rankings, as well as those of your competitors.
The Heatmap feature in Semrush Local
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