Franchises face certain challenges that other businesses do not. For one, if a certain franchise location doesn’t adhere to the branding and marketing strategies set forth by the parent company, it could hurt all other franchises in the chain. The same could be said for franchise SEO. If one franchisee has poor SEO, it can hurt other franchise locations that could have benefited from that exposure. Below are four ways franchises can win at local SEO and avoid some of the pitfalls.
1. Create Individual Franchise Location Pages
In the past, an emphasis has been placed on flash driven “store locators.” While these were interesting at first, they aren’t really designed with local SEO in mind. For example, a search engine spider is probably going to have trouble effectively inserting a street address or zip code into a flash page to produce a list of franchise locations. Even worse, these flash programs barely if ever bring up individual pages for franchise locations. Due to this, they are rather worthless in regards to local SEO.
Instead, a better option that is more local SEO friendly is implementing a central hub page that lists all franchise locations and includes links to individual pages for those franchisees. This can allow search engine spiders to find the relevant pages and index them. It also allows the algorithms of search engines like Google to more easily extract information regarding the physical locations of individual franchisees that can then be used to tailor local searches.
2. Take Advantage of Customer Reviews
In the past few years, one thing that has certainly taken center stage in regards to local SEO is the customer review. These days, the way consumers research local businesses is by reading reviews online on websites like Yelp, Foursquare, Trip Advisor, Angies’ List and more. Simply having your business listed on one of these websites can create far greater awareness of these locations with consumers.
With franchises, the opportunity here to harness reviews in a way that benefits the brand is quite significant. This includes local SEO. Businesses that are rated highly tend to receive better search engine rankings. It is true that certain franchise locations may be rated more highly by customers than others. However, this can create competition between franchisees to improve service and provide great intel in regards to which franchisees need to clean up their act.
3. Build Citations
One of the challenges of local SEO for franchises is being able to get the relevant information out there for each and every location. If you’re a franchisee of a pizza chain, it’s not going to be much help if only franchise locations in cities miles away from you come up in Google. One way to solve this problem is by obtaining citations for each different franchise location on online local directories.
However, managing all these different entries can be quite difficult if you have many different locations. If there are 12 franchise locations and you implement 10 online directories, this means 120 different entries. This is why you should consider using business directory aggregators. For example, if the phone number for a franchise location changes, you can simply tell the aggregator to update all those different entries for you.
4. Find and Implement Geocodes
Another challenge for local SEO is being able to associate a certain physical location with information online about a particular business. One way to make this easier for franchises is by determining the geocode of each individual franchisee. A geocode includes the latitude and longitude coordinates for one specific point on the globe.
Once you have the geocode for each franchisee, insert that information into your account pages on websites like Google My Business, Bing and Foursquare. This information will then be used by search engines to produce relevant local search results and by other useful services for businesses like online map programs.