Franchise SEO: How To Create a Perfect Franchise SEO Solution
We have worked to support Franchise SEO for a variety of franchises in multiple industries across North America. We understand what is involved in creating an effective franchise SEO strategy that supports both the individual franchisee and allows for corporate growth.
We are not your standard marketing agency. We have been working closely with local businesses and franchises to bring high-quality local franchise SEO services across North America and Europe.
If you are looking for a firm to best support your franchise SEO services needs, feel free to reach out and start a free discovery process to see if we can help.
How to structure a typical Franchise SEO solution
In most cases, when working with a Franchise Business and building out custom franchise seo strategies it will involve two main parts:
1. A corporate budget and campaign. The goal of this budget is typically to help show improvement across the franchise network as a whole to show that you are investing marketing spend into helping all franchisees. Efforts such as corporate page optimizations, efforts to improve overall domain authority, technical improvements, and content creation typically fall into this campaign.
2. A local SEO campaign or options available to individual franchisees. Depending on the size of the franchise, we usually recommend creating a tiered package available to purchase to individual franchise owners that are looking for additional investment in organic visibility. These may range between a couple hundred to several hundred dollars – much cheaper than what you would typically see in the same industry – depending on the number of franchise owners that choose to invest and what’s included. These campaigns typically include more local-focused efforts on improving online visibility specifically in their local markets.
Components of a great Local SEO Campaign for any Franchise Business
Franchise SEO is a little unique due to the fact that different franchises operate in different markets and industries. While there are definitely some learnings that can happen within the industry, there are a few core areas or components for a good SEO plan for all franchise businesses.
These typically include the following:
- The Franchise SEO Discovery: Proper competitive and industry research:
- Keyword research and mapping
- Page-specific meta data optimizations and keyword relevance improvements.
- Google Business Profile (Formerly Google My Business) Optimization.
- Technical optimizations and continuous monitoring and improvement.
- Content marketing support and/or content creation.
- Link acquisition and citation building.
Local Franchise Competitive Research
This first step will help influence what will need to be prioritized. During this phase, you will better understand how your competitors drive organic traffic, what tactics they use to promote their site, what sort of ongoing content creation are they doing, and much more.
Capitalizing on quick wins while investing in the long-term is crucial for the success of any SEO campaign. However, it’s during this phase that you will uncover what mix of components will need to make up your campaign to be most effective.
Keyword Research and Mapping for Local Franchise SEO
While not all franchises are service-based businesses, the majority of franchise businesses are multi-local service-based businesses. This means that their biggest opportunity for growth network-wide is to improve visibility for potential customers searching for their specific service in their local markets, often referred to as local SEO.
These types of keywords are called transactional keywords and include examples such as “water damage restoration Miami” or “dumpster rental portland”. They get the name transactional keywords because the intent that the searchers have is very, well, transitional. They are not looking for information as much as they are looking for a company to solve their specific problem. This makes them very valuable to target.
The process during this phase is to look through all of the individual franchise locations and best understand the local keywords that are used to search for the specific service. Understanding what these keywords are, how much search volume they get every month, and how competitive they are will help influence exactly what terms will be prioritized for the main local landing pages.
This component is necessary to best determine what pages will win for what keywords. This is an important step that is typically one of the first things done in a campaign – often within the first month after discovery. During this phase, the research team will build upon the competitive work and determine the best keywords to target, but more importantly, they will analyze the search engine results to determine what the best page is for these terms. For businesses with multiple locations, these are usually the location pages with the above transactional keywords.
Page-specific Optimizations and Improvements to Keyword Relevance
A big part of any local SEO strategy or franchise SEO strategy is going to be making sure that those core local landing pages are very well optimized and highly relevant to the local search terms. This is going to help support the local visibility of these terms.
Depending on the situation, this process is either done on the main corporate website or on the individual websites of the franchisees.
This process typically looks at the primary on page SEO ranking factors such as title tags, header tags (h1, h2, etc.), meta descriptions, and making sure any local keywords are added to the content.
Depending on the size of the site some or all of the pages are typically reviewed early in the campaign, however, it is often part of the process of an ongoing SEO campaign to look at these elements often to ensure they still support the campaign.
Google My Business or Google Business Profile Optimizations
Almost all good franchise SEO strategies will involve some level of optimization for each Google My Business account (GMB) (which is now actually called Google Business Profile). This is a big part of a local SEO campaign and will help each of the individual franchise locations show up successfully within the local 3 pack Google maps results within their local markets.
Optimizing GMB is a must and will include actions such as making sure up-to-date photos of each local franchise is uploaded to their profiles, ensuring that the local business hours are up to date and listed properly both on their profile and local landing page. Part of the optimization process may include education on how to get the locations online reviews more easily or effectively.
Getting higher placement on Google Maps is definitely going to support local franchisees, however, it’s important to understand that they are limited largely by their physical area. So if they want to compete in a major city but are in the suburbs they will need to also leverage another local SEO strategy to support their growth outside of their hyper-local market.
Technical Optimizations and Monitoring
Many franchise websites are large. Add in the complexity of multiple domains and/or a multi-site setup and there is a recipe for potential technical issues. Staying on top of these is very important to make sure the site performs well in search engines.
This type of work is more “behind the scenes” in the fact that many of these improvements aren’t visible on the actual website itself. Fixing canonical tags or broken backlinks will help improve visibility for the franchise website within the search results, they aren’t as noticeable as changing the content or optimizing a page title.
All that said, they are just as important for search rankings and often go overlooked in many franchise SEO campaigns.
Content marketing: support and creation
Building out new content is important. It helps establish your website and franchise brand as a topical authority within your industry and it also captures more potential local customers that may be looking to solve problems rather than hire a company.
For most blogging campaigns, you will be targeting what we call informational keywords. Unlike transactional keywords, the intent of the searcher using these keywords is just that – trying to find information to solve a problem. Some examples of these keywords could include “how do I train my dog to sit” or “how to remove mold from my dishwasher”. While the searchers may not convert into paying customers on their first interaction with your website, it is a great way to build your franchise brand online while showing up higher in search engines.
Content marketing is one of the most overlooked franchise SEO tactics as many SEO companies will want to focus solely on the local SEO aspect of the campaign. However, if long-term and sustainable business growth are what you’re looking for – you will want to build in content marketing.
The biggest question that comes up with content creation is what should I write about. This is where a well-researched content calendar comes into play. Being able to analyze the competitors to see what is driving organic traffic for them will help you understand what types of informational content you should be producing. Writing about the right topics is even more important than writing for the sake of writing.
Off Page Search Engine Optimization: Link acquisition and citation building
Off page promotion is definitely a key part of a successful SEO strategy. When working with a franchise website, this can be broken down into two sub-sections: Link building, and citation building.
When it comes to improving local search results, citation building is a key aspect component. A citation is simply an instance of your business name, address, and phone number across the web. The most popular spots to build citations are across local business listings on local directories. Sites like Yelp, Yellow Pages, 411, and the likes all have the ability to submit your business information.
For franchises with multiple locations online you will want to submit each franchisee’s address as local business listings on the local directories.
Like anything, it’s important not to overdo it. But combining this practice, and ensuring a well-optimized Google profile with hours of operation and up-to-date information will help your franchise marketing efforts across many areas outside of SEO.
Limitations and Hurdles of Local SEO for Franchises
While Franchise SEO can be extremely effective at both growing local franchisee business and attracting new franchisees to the network, it does come with some limitations and hurdles that should be mentioned. There are some specific situations that arise when working with franchisees that need to be navigated:
1. Are franchise locations on the same domain or separate domains?
Unless we are working with a Franchise at its inception, chances are these decisions have already been made. There are two common scenarios when working with local franchises. Either all of the franchise websites are on separate domain names, which is the case for Franchise Pet Depot where they have separate sites for each of their franchise locations:
The benefit of having your locations on separate domains is that it gives the individual franchisee owner more freedom and flexibility with what they can do with their own website and the ability to edit it. The downside of having each franchise location on its own website is that it makes it harder to maintain brand consistency and it also makes running local SEO for franchises more difficult as each website means separate domain authority and more effort required. This usually means that campaigns will cost more.
The other common scenario is where all of the franchise websites are actually within the same domain. This is often managed through WordPress multisite or some other method that allows franchisees some level of access while keeping all content on the same domain name. This is the case for another Veterinary Franchise, Easy Vet where they use location pages for each of their franchise locations:
The benefit of having all websites on the same domain is that there is more brand consistency and more ROI on search engine optimization and link building efforts due to sharing the overall domain authority of the primary website. Some downsides include more potential for duplicate website content (addressed later) and individual franchisees creating their own websites.
2. Do local franchisees have access to implement meta-data and make content changes?
3. Will multiple local franchises compete for the same local market terms?
This happens a lot in both local SEO and even more so within franchise Seo. Oftentimes you will have multiple franchisees that service a larger metropolitan area, but that have their physical address outside the city center – in a suburb or neighboring city.
This problem is not unique to Franchise SEO but will impact all areas of digital marketing for franchise businesses, including paid search ads and the like. The problem here is that on one hand, the corporate franchisor does not want to play favorites – and rightfully so – but SEO is a zero-sum game. This means as one side moves up other sides have to move down.
What this sometimes leads to is one franchise outperforming another in specific areas. If multiple franchisees want to target the major city, they will not all succeed in showing up well in the search engine results pages. Balancing this is very important to keep franchisees happy.
4. What is expected of the corporate vs local budgets?
Usually, the marketing budget from corporate needs to support and help all franchisees equally. When you spend your corporate budget you need to be able to communicate to the individual franchisees just how their spending is benefiting them. Sometimes this is easily done by using the corporate budget to promote the domain authority as a whole through off page seo efforts or to attract potential customers through content marketing – an effort that will surely benefit them all equally.
However, this doesn’t focus on each local market. Therefore, there is always the question of whether to offer the local franchisees their own local seo package or to try to support every location with their hyper-local efforts with the corporate budget.
There is no right or wrong answer, but it does largely depend on what the overall budget is and then managing expectations with the local franchisees.
5. Duplicate content issues and limitations within the search engines.
Part of any good local SEO strategy will be to make sure that duplicate content is in check. This is even more important within local franchise SEO as it usually is more of an issue.
As you can see from the Easy Vet example above, all three of those local landing pages share almost identical content:
With the exception of the location name, the rest of the content here is simply copied and pasted. There is a lot of debate in the search engine optimization industry on how much content is acceptable for location pages, however, as your franchise continues to grow, this content duplication will have more of a limiting factor. When working with a 300 location franchise, we were able to over double local traffic from search engines by simply addressing the duplicate website content issue at scale. It is a real problem.
Examining Successful Franchise SEO Campaigns
There are a lot of franchises out there that are doing great work at improving local SEO and investing in their organic growth. Instead of tooting our own horn and simply showcasing the work that we have done (feel free to reach out if you want examples) we wanted to look across multiple industries and showcase franchise businesses that have a strong franchise SEO strategy and are performing very well.
Here are a few franchises that are embracing franchise seo quite well:
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