Your local business needs to be thinking mobile first for the customer on the move. How can you structure your franchise websites to move up the Google search rankings?
SEO marketing for multi-location franchises presents a unique set of problems, particularly in this increasingly mobile-first age.
You have the main company site, an individual site for each location, and franchisees with varying degrees of digital competency. Added to that, all of the locations need to be optimised for mobile, providing potential customers with your services exactly when they need them.
So how does a digitally savvy franchise breeze through these challenges? We have some tips.
Deal with it now
There’s no getting away from it; your location based SEO strategy should be addressed immediately. Drop everything else and get it done.
Ideally, you’ll have a centralised structure in place right from the beginning, with the recommended solution being:
- an optimised main company website
- each franchise site having the same site structure as the main website
- a localised domain for each franchise
Most importantly, each localised site needs different content – duplicating web content is a big fat Google no-no, as the company will dismiss anything it deems to be duplicate and the sites won’t appear in the Google rankings.
A central strategy will also combat the problems of a franchisee leaving – the domain name won’t die a rankings death but will be inherited by the new owner.
You’ve probably already heard something about this, but it’s worth repeating. According to Google, mobile accounts for over 50% of searches; you must think of your website being viewed on a customer’s mobile first.
Mobile is particularly important if you provide a service, such as printing. People tend to use their phones to search for services when they need them. It doesn’t matter if they usually use a different brand, convenience will win. If a customer can’t find you right away on a mobile search, they’ll use whichever brand they see first.
Research has found that:
- Location is essential
- Immediacy matters
- Immediate need can outrank brand loyalty
So what does this mean for your websites?
You need to structure your sites so that Google recognises location information first – anything that makes it convenient for the searcher to use your services.
Landing pages and URLs
Each of your franchise locations should have their own landing page and include this information:
- Telephone number
- Opening hours
Choose information that Google can easily recognise and pick up. Another good tip is to include location and keywords in your H1 and H2 headings. For example, using ‘printing services in Chatswood’ in H1 or H2 will be picked up by Google and displayed in a search.
The same goes for the URLs of each franchise. Including location information in each URL is very helpful for google – www.yourfranchise.com/sydney/corner-pitt-market-st is better than www.yourfranchise.com/sydney.
If each franchise also has social media pages, match the location information from your landing page with the ‘About’ sections of the social pages and use any map options they have.
Include links to your social pages on the landing page and these pieces of information will back each other up in the google rankings, meaning you’ll place even higher.
To be recognised by Google, it’s important for your social media pages to be active with regular content. Educating your franchisees on how to do this well should be part of the strategy.
Asking your customers to leave a Google and/or Facebook review about your services is ranking gold.
The only tricky things are;
- a) making sure they are favourable, and
- b) making sure the review is not duplicated
A review that has been copied and pasted from elsewhere (e.g. Facebook) is not allowed by Google.
Unfortunately, one-star reviews and negative feedback are not good for SEO, not to mention being detrimental to your online reputation. It’s worth putting some resources towards monitoring these and taking action when needed.
An out of date or incorrect listing will harm rather than help your SEO so keeping them up to date is essential. Although not the most exciting of tasks, it’s an easy SEO win and definitely worth doing.
Follow the above steps for SEO, and you’ll see almost immediate results for your franchise business. With the evolution of mobile technology, the playing field has been levelled for brands as immediacy outranks brand loyalty. Structuring your websites to put the needs of the customers first could win you valuable new business.
Faye Ferris is the APAC Sales and Marketing Director for BusinessesForSale.com, one of the world’s largest online global market places for buying and selling small-to-medium sized businesses. Faye is passionate about helping Australian small business succeed and regularly writes about entrepreneurship and business management.