Franchise SEO: How to Ensure Your Local Business Reaches a Qualified Audience

Almost 80% of local searches convert.

When you consider that this figure applies to mobile device searches alone – and smartphones are increasingly the device of choice for consumers worldwide - it becomes apparent why local SEOs should not be neglected.

But there is another facet of this particular brand of search engine optimization – franchise SEO, which is suitable for businesses with multiple, locally-based locations and stores.

Franchises already have the benefit of belonging to an established brand. Franchise SEO is what helps their potential customers find their exact and particular locations.

This article will deep-dive into what SEO for franchises is and how to devise an effective six-step franchise SEO strategy.

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What is Franchise SEO?

Franchise SEO is a set of search engine optimization strategies and best practices for improving franchise businesses' search engine positioning and visibility.

This type of SEO improves the rating of websites or individual site pages for local and location-based search terms.

Local franchise SEO helps businesses reach qualified prospects and customers searching for their products in their vicinity or area.

Franchise SEO uses tactics like geo keywords in website content, meta descriptions and title tags, location details, location-specific reviews and testimonials.

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6 Essential Franchise SEO Strategies to Get You in Front Of Your Local Customers

A holistic approach to a franchise business SEO campaign consists of managing multiple platforms: the business’s website, Google My Business page and other third-party review sites.

The following six-step strategy ensures your franchise SEO is effective, future-proof and aimed at the most qualified target audience.

1. List All of Your Locations on Google Maps

As 46% of Google users are looking for local information, the obligatory first step in improving your franchise’s search engine visibility is to create a Google My Business (GMB) account.

When online users are searching for shopfronts, they turn to Google, which delivers the exact location of brick-and-mortar stores on its maps. In only a few clicks, the users can even get precise GPS directions.

To have your business added to Google Maps, you first need to register it on Google My Business and follow a set of simple steps to complete the process.

When a user opts for a highly localized search term for, say, “high-end tailors Brooklyn,” the query will trigger a localized search result that features a map of the specified areas and businesses that correspond with the search query, as well as the search term.

Optimizing your local franchise’s GMB profiles by adding information on working hours, address and others while also adding location images is one of the most straightforward and affordable franchise SEO tactics.

2. List Your Franchise Locations on Yelp

Consumers everywhere put much of their trust in review websites during their decision-making process. Yelp is one of the premium review sites trusted by 178 million unique monthly visitors who search for brands and businesses to find the right one for their requirements.

More to the point, particularly staggering info claims that 97% of users spend their money on a business they find on Yelp!

Business Yelp pages provide users with working hours, user-generated images and reviews, contact info and other details depending on the brand’s niche, such as product list, the scope of services, menus etc.

Not listing your franchise locations on Yelp means missing out on potential and qualified customers in your local shop’s area and searching for your products.

Users can leave a review of each specific location of your brand. This benefits the local target audience that reads those reviews and may be influenced to look for your franchise location.

3. Use Location-Based Keywords in Your Content

Including location-specific keywords on your website’s pages is one of the sure-proof ways to boost your local search result visibility exponentially.

Suppose your business is, for example, a café based in Boston, MA. In that case, you should include the phrase “cafe in Boston, MA” and its variations in elements such as SEO titles, headings, meta descriptions and page copy.

Of course, you should do it in a way that makes it sound natural and sensible, without cramming these keywords at every opportunity. Another good piece of advice is to include local landmarks and popular destinations as regional target keywords so that when someone searches for, say, “cafes near Boston’s Old City Hall,” your location pops up in their results.

These franchise SEO tactics help you gain visibility in search results like Google and Yahoo, even benefiting those users that don’t tend to use Google Maps and Yelp.

4. Create Localized Landing Pages

A landing page on your website or social media profiles customized according to a specific location will help you make a particular franchise distinctive from all others you have.

Your franchise locations should have separate landing pages on your website. These pages will serve as each franchise’s main web page, besides Google My Business and Yelp (which should also link to these local landing pages).

Some of the franchise SEO best practices for landing pages include:

  • Including links to individual franchise pages
  • Making a call-to-action locally suitable
  • Use relevant, high-value and low-difficulty keywords in your content and headings
  • Adding images with locally optimized alt tags and file names
  • Using keyword-rich anchor text to point internal links to a franchise landing page
  • Making unique, valuable content that solves the local users’ pain-points
  • Keeping your location’s info, such as phone number and address, in a prominent, easy-to-see section of the page

5. Motivate Your Customers to Leave Reviews for Specific Locations

According to a study, 84% of users trust the reviews and recommendations of their peers.

Not having any reviews of your business online not only diminishes your general visibility and reduces trust in your brand because potential customers will wonder why your business fails to attract any reviews. They will likely assume it is because of the bad quality of services or even that your business doesn’t operate anymore.

Reviews allow your prospects to read what other people think of your brand, its products, customer service and the specific location. When users search for keywords used in these reviews, this even gives you an extra SEO boost that helps you rank higher in search results.

Review management should be a part of any viable franchise SEO strategy. It should envelop these aspects of handling online reviews:

  • Encouraging local customers to leave their thoughts on relevant Google My Business pages for a given location
  • Responding to all reviews, with the caveat that it is imperative to respond timely and empathically to negative reviews. Showing an effort to compensate for a customer’s bad experience with your business may result in them revising their judgment for the better but also offers a welcome level of customer care and professionalism to other review readers

6. Add Location-Based Schema to All Franchise Location Pages

Schema markup, or structured data, can significantly help your local and franchise SEO efforts. It provides search engines with concrete answers to your page’s content. If you own a retail business and an online store, your product pages should have a schema markup that contains inventory status, product price and specifications.

Search engines like Google use this markup schema information to understand your website’s content and context. Understanding these pages better means that they will almost certainly rank higher in search results.

A locally-specific schema may even result in your page being a part of Google’s rich results and featured snippets. It may appear at the top of Google search results, featuring rating stars, product pricing info and other data that distinguishes it from different “ordinary” search results.

Some of the most commonly used schema markup properties for franchise SEO are:

Adding this structured data to your website requires some technical knowledge, although Google’s schema markup walkthrough can help make that process easier.

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Why Does SEO For Franchises Matter?

Local franchise SEO is vital for reaching qualified prospects and generating revenue from local customers.

The primary benefit of SEO for franchises is helping local businesses reach their customers near a specific brick-and-mortar location.

Although franchises are built upon established brands, their customers must be aware that their retail location exists in their area to visit them and make a purchase.

Franchise SEO is also a crucial element of franchise business marketing because it puts your brand in front of people actively searching for the products and services you provide – i.e., your ideal customers.

Two most significant benefits of franchise SEO include:

  • Better ranking and visibility: SEO franchise campaign helps drive online success and, above all, the visibility of separate franchises and locations. Each of your franchises competes within their own local SERPs and terms that local searchers use in their queries. Better search visibility in localized searches also affects your overall franchise business by improving general brand awareness, generating inquiries from prospects and building trust with new customers.
  • Getting on top of your local competitors: As stated before, your franchise business will compete for visibility among your niche's most commonly searched terms. Franchise SEO marketing also consists of a content creation plan built around these locally searched keywords and phrases. By strategically targeting these keywords and ensuring your content takes up a majority of top-ranking search results, your franchise can gain a crucial edge over your competitors.

3 Biggest Franchise SEO Marketing Roadblocks

If you’re in charge of your company’s franchise SEO efforts, it is vital to understand the biggest challenges that can hinder your SEO strategy and how to overcome them.

The most common challenges of franchise SEO for multiple locations are:

  • Duplicate content: Original locally-optimized content on your website is a must. A large amount of duplicate content from another website or a page, such as another franchise location, will likely hinder your franchise SEO efforts. Google may even penalize pages with a lot of the same content by lowering its rankings in search results.
  • Excessive interlinking: When you link to another page of your website, do so strategically. Use relevant anchor text that correlates to the content on the page you’re linking to. But also, do it in moderation. If you link excessively, you can send negative SEO signals that will prevent you from ranking high.
  • Outdated name, address and phone number: This should go without saying, but it is vital that on each franchise page, you include the name, address and phone number of that specific location. Plenty of businesses make the mistake of having their corporate or headquarters’ information which is of no use to customers.

Franchise SEO Takeaways

Unlike many other facets of search engine optimization, such as press release SEO, SEO for small businesses or eCommerce SEO, franchise SEO combines the collective synergy of your business’s website, dedicated landing pages and third-party web locations such as Google My Business, Yelp and others.

SEO franchise opportunities lie in connecting with a specifically targeted audience in any area your brand operates. This makes it a highly specialized form of local SEO. It ensures vital online visibility for a chance to engage with and serve qualified prospects looking for your products and services.

For best SEO franchise results, follow this six-step strategy:

  1. Make sure all of your franchise locations are visible on Google Maps
  2. List them all on Yelp (and other third-party review sites)
  3. Use location-specific keywords in your content and metadata
  4. Create landing pages for each of your locations
  5. Drive your customers to leave reviews on relevant location pages
  6. Add schema markup to your locally optimized website pages

A well-executed franchise search engine optimization ensures your business locations benefit from better visibility and reach in search results, leading to an overall edge over your competition.

However, when optimizing your pages for these searches, make sure you avoid duplicate content, excessive interlinking and the use of outdated or irrelevant business information.

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