8 SEO Tips For Franchise Businesses
As a business owner, it's necessary to market your business on the internet. However, when you run a franchise, it can get overwhelming — both mentally and financially — to advertise all of your locations all of the time. The most cost-effective way to handle this is with SEO for franchise businesses.
SEO, or search engine optimization, is the process of tweaking your website so that your site and your posts will rank higher in search engine results pages (also known as SERPs) and receive higher-quality web traffic.
There are many ways to implement SEO in your digital marketing strategy. As a franchise owner, however, the best way to do this is with local SEO strategies. This gives you the best opportunity to reach local customers for each of your locations, allowing all of your franchise’s locations to generate more sales.
There are a lot of things that go into local SEO. To ensure that local customers will be able to easily find your locations online, here are eight SEO tips for franchises to improve your digital marketing for your individual franchise locations:
1. Optimize Your Google Business Profile for Each Location
Your Google Business Profile, also known as Google My Business is a tool that allows you to control how your franchise businesses appear on all Google platforms, including the search engine and Google Maps. By leveraging this tool, you give all of your locations better visibility and increase your chances of ranking well on SERPs.
If your franchise locations are not registered through Google My Business, their exact location will not appear on Google Maps or in search engines. Considering that approximately 86% of users utilize Google Maps to locate local businesses, this is a massive missed opportunity.
How to List Your Franchise Locations in Google
To optimize your local SEO ranking and visibility, make sure that each location of your franchise business is listed on Google Maps. Do this by creating a Google Business Profile account and following the instructions on the page to list each of your franchise businesses. Once you’ve done this, local customers will have an easy time finding your business and getting directions to your store.
2. Ensure Your Brand Is Consistent
Brand consistency is key to successful franchise SEO marketing. Franchises are already established brands, meaning that customers are generally familiar with its branding and can easily distinguish its store from its competitors. It’s important for franchise businesses to remain consistent with the established branding of the company.
That's why you must make sure that all of your digital properties (websites, social media, etc.) have similar characteristics. For multi-location businesses, users and algorithms can easily understand that it's the same business, and it's simply the location that makes it different.
How to Maintain Brand Consistency Online
When it comes to website design and development, make sure that every detail that you incorporate into the website stays consistent with the brand’s theme and feel. From the logos and color scheme you use to your tone and word choice, it should be cohesive with the company’s established branding.
The thing is, even if you manage to rank in a good spot on Google for a target keyword, you may not convert users into actual customers without brand consistency. A huge percentage of people who will be searching for your franchise business and visiting your website are familiar with the brand, so they already have expectations. If they come across one of your business listings or your website and see a different layout and color theme, they may think that you’re a different company or an imposter and simply exit your page.
3. Have Individual Geo Pages Per Location on Your Website
Maintaining individual location geo pages will help ensure that each of them can be easily found by the local customers near them. A geo page is a local landing page that is specifically published to be seen by Google users in a specific area and convert them into customers.
One thing to know about Google is that result pages are not similar in all locations. Just because a certain page ranks on top for Las Vegas users does not mean that it will also rank similarly for New York users.
Google’s algorithms use your location as a basis for what pages will be more relevant to you. By having a geo page, Google will be able to identify that you are servicing a certain local area. This will be great for your franchise SEO campaign, as this can increase the likelihood of each of your locations’ Geo pages ranking in local searches. This will also help tremendously when users are searching location-specific keywords.
Crisp & Green offers healthy fast food options at affordable prices. This is their locations page showing all of their Minnesota spots. Each of these locations has its own individual page as well. Search engines love this sort of setup for franchise businesses.
How to Make a Geo Location Page
Local SEO for your franchise websites doesn’t just benefit you in terms of SEO ranking — it also allows you to provide visitors with valuable information that persuades them to visit one of your stores.
To ensure that Google’s algorithms will recognize you as a multi-location business, you need to ensure that each page contains important elements and details. These include embedded Google maps of the franchises’ locations and all of their hours of operation. You should also have a structured local business structure, which Google can use to better understand your page and its content.
These pages are perfect for optimizing with highly-searched localized keywords. You can make a high impact by placing these in title tags, headers, and the actual web content.
4. Use Location-based Keywords
Keywords are terms added to web content to improve rankings in search engines; they’re an integral aspect of SEO. When it comes to franchise SEO campaigns, targeting general keywords is not the best idea. What you can do instead is use location-based relevant keywords in your campaigns. This allows residents near you to learn about your business and find its location.
With location-based keywords, you can take advantage of how users usually search online. A lot of people include their location in their search queries hoping to find businesses around that area. Even if the franchise business also has locations in nearby cities, your branch in that specific area will be the one the user will see when you highlight its location in the content.
Here's an example of a law firm that practices workers compensation law in Minneapolis. See how the location is included in a handful of keywords? That helps algorithms know how to rank this page for local searchers.
How to Generate Location-based Keywords for Your Franchise
Keyword research is the best way to generate location-based keywords, as it allows you to see which location-based keywords residents in your area typically search for. However, it’s not always necessary to do in-depth keyword research to find the best location-based keywords to incorporate into your content.
For example, if you operate a coffee shop in Manhattan, a good location-based keyword you can use is “coffee shops in Manhattan” or the “best coffee shops in Manhattan”. Your options aren’t just limited to that — you can also use landmarks or nearby tourist destinations in your keywords. That way, when a person searches for something like “coffee shops near the Empire State Building”, your shop will be among the first ones they see.
However, remember not to overuse location-based keywords. Make sure that you use them strategically and naturally throughout the content. Use them in your title tags, headings, and a few times in the body copy, but don’t make your copy unnaturally dense with competitive keywords or Google will penalize your site when it comes to keyword rankings.
5. Consistently Build Your Online Presence Through NAP Syndication
NAP syndication — also known as name, address, phone syndication — is the practice of maintaining up-to-date information about your franchise businesses across your websites, social media channels, and web directories. As the name suggests, this includes your franchise businesses’ names, addresses, and phone numbers.
With comprehensive NAP syndication, you’ll have a far more robust backlink presence. With all of the backlinks coming from high-authority directory sites, you can build better website credibility and help improve your Google Maps ranking.
Here are the top free business listings according to HubSpot.
NAP syndication could be considered one of the pillars of any franchise SEO strategy as search algorithms will not only reference these directory sites in terms of backlink analysis, but will also leverage these online directories when it comes to how people search locally.
How to Boost NAP Syndication
To boost your NAP syndication, you should make sure that the same name, address, and phone numbers appear on each page relevant to your business’s location. If you’re running a franchise SEO campaign for multiple locations, make sure that the correct format and details are used for each.
Consistency is critical for NAP syndication. If you use parentheses on the phone number of one franchise business website, make sure to use that as well for the other sites as well.
Aside from your website, you should also ensure that your NAP remains consistent across your other channels. Make sure that the same details are published on your Google My Business profile, Bing Places, Yelp, Better Business Bureau, Foursquare, Facebook, and other top local databases and directories that are commonly referenced by search engines.
6. Add Location-specific Schema for Each Franchise Location
Schema markup, also known as schema or structured data, is a great way to make your website stand out in search engine results. It is a code that you add to the backend of your website to make it possible for search engines to understand what page content actually means.
For example, if your phone number is on your site, search engines will not know what that number is without schema markup. When you implement schema markup, search engines will be able to determine that number is your phone number, allowing them to display it to users who may be searching for it.
Schema markup allows search engines to crawl through your site more easily, increasing your visibility in search results. What’s more, this prompts search engines to use your information to create a rich result or featured snippet, making users more likely to click on your website.
How to Add Schema on Your Website’s Backend
The best way you can generate a location-specific schema is by choosing the category that best fits your franchise business on Schema.org. If you can’t find a specific category that fits your business, then you can just select the local business option.
It’s important that all schema markups you use are validated first. If there are errors, you will not be able to get rich results and featured snippets. Two tools you can use for validation are Schema Markup Validator and Rich Results Test. If you want to know how many rich results or snippets your website is getting, you can use SEO tools that scrape Google results pages to show how many rich results your website has, such as SEMRush.
7. Gather Reviews On and Off Your Website
Garnering positive reviews is a critical part of a franchise SEO campaign. Not only does this make your franchise business more appealing to potential customers, but it also lets Google know that you are a trustworthy business, prompting the algorithms to show you towards the top of the result pages. Plus, if customers mention keywords in their online reviews, it also helps your website rank high for those terms.
Google reviews are huge and it's always recommended to respond to a review, even if it's bad.
Online reviews allow local customers to understand what kind of services you provide your customers. This builds your online reputation and makes your business more credible, encouraging users to trust you and your products or services.
How to Encourage Customers to Leave Reviews
To ensure that you can get as many customer reviews as possible, it’s important to make it easier for customers. On your website, you can embed a free or paid review widget tool, such as EmbedSocial. This allows you to collect reviews and display them on your website.
Outside of your website, there are a lot of ways to do this, depending on what kind of franchise business you run. Your staff can ask them personally to leave a review, include a pamphlet with their order detailing how they can leave a review, or email them to request that they leave you a review.
You can also consider giving a discount or incentive to customers who leave you a review. For example, you can award them a 5% discount on their next purchase if they give your franchise business a review.
Another tip around online reviews is to always respond to them—good or bad. If you've been in business long enough, negative reviews are unavoidable. However, to continue to build credibility to your individual locations and your overall brand, responding to customer reviews is highly advised.
8. Be Active on Social Media and Link Back to Your Site
Creating social media profiles for each location and staying active on them builds trust with your target audience. This is also an efficient way to promote your business and let your followers know about your latest offerings and promotions.
While social media platforms do not impact your SEO rankings directly, they can indirectly help your SEO campaign. By sharing posts that link back to your site, you can guarantee that your web content will be seen by a wider audience. When social media users share posts that link back to your website, this generates social signals, which has a positive effect on your search ranking.
Here's an example of a LinkedIn post linking back to the company's site.
How to Maximize Social Media for SEO
To take advantage of the positive effect social media has on your franchise SEO campaign, it’s wise to regularly post content that links back to a specific geo page on your website. Doing this regularly will help your geo pages receive continuous web traffic. This is important — web pages that generate little or no traffic may suffer from poor SEO rankings.
Frequently Asked Questions
Should Franchises Have Separate URLs for Local SEO?
Yes. Google’s algorithm aims to provide us with the best results, so they prioritize showing searchers results based on their location. By optimizing different web pages for different locations of your franchise business, you increase your chances of ranking higher in each location.
Should I Have a Corporate Site or Use Subdomains for Franchise SEO?
It’s better if your franchise websites are connected directly to the corporate site. Search engines treat subdomains as separate sites; this limits the SEO power of both the corporate site and the subdomains. It’s better to integrate your websites, as this allows web pages for all of your franchise business locations to work together to strengthen your website’s overall SEO value.
How Do I Rank My Site Using Franchise SEO?
From leveraging the right keywords to producing high-quality content, there are many ways you can rank your site using franchise SEO. To keep it simple, we typically recommend that you seek professional franchise SEO services to ensure that everything you do is up to the standards of current SEO best practices.
Should I Hire a Professional Franchise SEO Agency?
An effective franchise SEO campaign can be difficult to develop and maintain on your own. Expert franchise SEO services from a team with access to the best tools can be a massive boon to your ranking. Plus, hiring a professional agency to handle your SEO is cheaper than you might think. As much as possible, we encourage you to just rely on a franchise SEO agency to handle your campaigns and free up your time and energy for other business matters.
Implementing a location-specific franchise SEO campaign is a complex endeavor that requires expertise. However, considering its cost-effectiveness and its massive potential impact on your online success, investing in an extensive content strategy focused around locations of your franchise businesses is worth the effort and the resources.
From optimizing your Google Business Profile to building an online reputation through reviews, you need to make sure that you take each step carefully. That way, your SEO campaign can be successful, allowing more customers to learn about your business.
However, SEO for franchise businesses is an ongoing process. Ranking high doesn’t mean you’ll stay on top forever — Google’s algorithms are constantly changing. The current SEO best practices may not be as effective in the next few years, months, or even weeks.
Maintaining SEO can be an overwhelming and complicated challenge; if your business can’t handle that on its own, the best solution is to work with a professional agency that can handle all of the maintenance tasks with ease. The experts have the knowledge and resources to ensure that your competitors won’t get ahead of you, allowing you to maintain a good search engine ranking for each of your location pages.
Before you get started with a professional SEO plan, get a website audit to see where you need to improve. It's free, educational, and should be the first step before seeking professional SEO help for your franchise business.