While similar to other industries, franchise digital marketing involves a few unique nuisances.
Here you’ll learn:
- The main franchise SEO challenges
- How franchise SEO is different from other industries
- Steps to building a franchise SEO plan
- Why the details are crucial for success
The reason behind practicing search engine optimization (SEO) is simple: to help you connect with your online audience.
The better your site and content are optimized, the more likely they are to surface for the right searchers. But SEO takes time to build. It’s an ongoing project that doesn’t really have a hard stop.
And when your business has multiple locations or is part of a franchise, things can get tricky fast.
An effective franchise SEO strategy aims to put all locations as high as possible on the search engine results page (SERP) without blowing through ad spend. It also includes a special approach to local SEO, content marketing, website design, and more.
Here, we break down ways to overcome common obstacles and craft a successful franchise SEO plan.
Key challenges of franchise SEO
To create a strong franchise SEO plan, you need to know what challenges may arise.
The main short-tail keywords for a franchise will be the same regardless of the location. This puts you at risk of creating duplicate content. The risk is even higher when franchisees don’t have a centralized content plan.
If you post duplicate content, your web pages or websites may compete with each other for the top spots on the SERP.
To avoid this problem, it’s a good idea to create a content plan that involves unique content for each location. Franchisees that run their own websites need to be aware of the brand’s overall content marketing strategy as well, if there is one.
Like so many aspects of digital marketing, communication is key. You can swap content ideas with other franchise locations, then put a spin on it to make it your own. (This is another way local SEO plays into your plan, which we’ll dig into more below.)
In digital marketing, NAP stands for names, addresses, and phone numbers.
Ensuring these three elements are accurate across each location’s listings and pages can be challenging, but it’s key to your location’s online success. The main problems occur when:
- Info on Google Business Profiles and other directories is automatically synced from the franchise’s headquarters
- Website templates for each franchise don’t allow for including individual locations
To avoid this problem, it’s wise to make it a regular practice to check that your location’s info is accurate across all of your online profiles. Otherwise, you risk losing clients who are directed to the wrong location. Along with GBP, this can include:
- Your specific franchise’s website
- All social media profiles for your location
- Review sites
- Local media directories and roundups
Key franchise SEO plan elements
When mapping out your franchise SEO plan, many traditional SEO tactics that work for industries across the board will successfully carry over.
Franchises have two options for their websites:
- One central website with dedicated web pages for each location.
- A separate website for each location.
Both options come with pros and cons. For example, a centralized website is often less expensive, garners more traffic, and offers more linking opportunities.
Meanwhile, SEO and PPC strategies are often easier to implement for separate websites. Whichever option is the case for your franchise, there are a handful of elements to consider.
Keywords for each landing page or website need to be different to avoid cannibalization.
We recommend focusing on location-based long-tail keywords that prevent your websites or pages from competing with each other.
For example, a flower shop would use “flower ship Seattle” and “flower shop Boston” keywords, instead of its content revolving around more broad keywords like “best flower shop” or “flower shop delivery.”
Likely, your brand has its own logo, colors, and fonts. This creates brand recognition, so it’s a good idea to mirror these design elements on each franchise website.
You don’t have to have each site be exactly the same outside of its own content and contact info. However, keeping the major design and navigation elements the same will create a more seamless user experience.
It’ll also make things easier if your company decides to conduct an overhaul or brand refresh.
As mentioned in the NAP section above, contact details must be checked regularly to ensure pertinent info is consistent and updated.
After all, “Google scans all these listings when searching for information about your business,” according to experts. “The data is stored and used when determining ranking. Incorrect information in NAP citations can lead to confusion for customers and a poor user experience.”
Your franchise’s Google Business Profile
Similar to the franchise’s website, there are two options for managing your location’s specific Google Business Profile.
- Create one profile and indicate service areas for each franchise.
- Create separate profiles for each location
We recommend having separate profiles so you can implement location-based keywords, information, photos, and more.
A thorough Google Business Profile should include:
- Accurate NAP info
- Relevant listing categories
- A location-specific description
- Photos of the specific location
- Replies to each review
Pro tip: While Q&A sections on GBP are designed for users to ask questions, you can also use this section as a helpful FAQ info center.
Centralized content calendar
I can’t stress enough how helpful it is to use a content marketing calendar to keep your pieces organized. This also offers transparency about what has been published, what’s coming down the pike, and how varied the content is.
A content calendar can hold you accountable and offer a bird’s eye view to make sure you haven’t already covered a topic or are publishing too much of the same thing.
For franchises, it could be beneficial to have a cloud-based company-wide content calendar (such as a Google Sheet). Each franchise could have its own Sheet or tab.
This way, locations can glean inspiration and insight from one another, while making sure they’re not doubling efforts unnecessarily.
Franchise SEO is different from single-location SEO. Not only are there multiple businesses housed under the same umbrella, but it’s even more important to stay on top of things like contact info accuracy, business profiles, and unique content creation.
By designing a comprehensive franchise SEO plan that involves creating a flexible high-quality website, organizing content, and streamlining Google Business profiles, you can keep each franchise location organized and high-performing on the SERP.