Maintaining a local web presence for a franchise business is a challenge. Each franchise site (or microsite) has to be treated as a separate case and optimized for local search individually.
Businesses can ensure its franchise websites show up in relevant searches and rank high on Google in a number of ways. Some of them include basic best web practices such as on-site optimization, fast-loading websites, working links and top-notch original content.
Here are a few tips to help franchise websites with local search marketing.
Make It Easy To Find Local Franchises
When a woman in Birmingham, Alabama enters a Google search for a salon, she isn't interested in what some big-name business has to offer in Boston. She wants information that pertains to her neighborhood, something she can act on over the next few hours.
She would, however, definitely be interested in knowing about that Boston business's Birmingham branches.
It is therefore important for businesses to ensure the franchise websites are optimized for local search.
The website of our salon example should show up in a search consisting of keywords 'salon,' 'best,' and 'Birmingham,' as well as other keywords pertaining to that specific franchise.
It is annoying for users to be led to the central website that is of no concern to them and then having to figure out how to extract local information from it. The local franchise website/page should appear first in local search.
Get The Franchise Business Listed
Getting listed on prominent online directories is a great way to be found. Here's a helpful list of such directories. Get included in as many lists as possible to maximize the chances of the franchise site being found.
You will, however, have to ensure your franchise websites contain accurate and consistent information throughout.
Set Standards Across Franchises
Standardization facilitates familiarity for users and therefore trust, which is ultimately what Google rewards.
A franchise website should look and feel similar to that of the main corporate business and its other websites. The layout and overall structure should be consistent so that visitors can find information quickly.
Localize The Franchise Websites
The franchise websites should contain up-to-date contact and all other relevant local information -- phone numbers, email addresses, store locations, directions, opening hours, etc. This is an easy step to overlook with a number of franchises to handle. No matter how new the website or how recent the franchise business launched, outdated, inadequate, wrong or inconsistent information should be avoided, as this can result in a downrank from Google in addition to causing confusion for potential customers.
It might help to introduce local flavor to the website as well to connect with the local prospects and customers. This can be done in a number of ways: comment on local events, offer localized deals, be part of local celebrations by introducing event-specific discounts, etc.
We can learn a thing or two from the global conglomerates here. McDonald's has this down to an art. Despite maintaining certain standards across its numerous outlets throughout the globe, it has also localized them very well and their websites are proof of this.
When consumers open a McDonald's website in any given country, they know what to expect due to the familiarity of the brand, but at the same time they are greeted with deals, offers and even culture-specific food items.
Avoid Duplicate Content
In case a franchise website has a separate blog or a page where they update local franchise information, they need to ensure none of the content is lifted straight from the main website or sound too similar to it.
Give the content on the blog a local spin, or get copy writers to create copy pertaining to the local milieu. It is natural for people to want information pertaining to their neighborhood and localizing content also helps with building connections to customers.
Only include duplicate content that is relevant to all franchisees and ultimately of value to the end-users regardless of their location. This might include content on the home page or pages that benefit from standard content across franchise websites.
Optimize For Mobile And Social
All websites should be responsive, since a majority of searches are carried out via mobile devices. Also, 80% of local mobile searches result in conversion. Mobile optimization is therefore a sound business practice in general, and not just related to enhancing local marketing efforts.
Additionally, set up social media pages for the franchise sites and encourage users to follow you there. Update these profiles with latest information and aim to make them lively pages focused on user engagement and interaction. Robust social pages help raise business profiles in Google rankings.
Scout For Customer Reviews
Reviews are important to businesses because they are important to consumers. People trust what others like them are saying about a business and make their purchase decisions based on this information. Customer reviews are therefore a big ranking factor in local search. Encourage your customers to leave reviews on social, on the website itself, as well as on places like Yelp.
The number and quality of customer reviews impact the ranking of a business. The best or highly-rated businesses show up first in organic searches. In fact, it's the social presence and prominent listings, propelled by the reviews that show up first, and not the concerned websites.
Since consumers place a lot of stock in customer reviews, any business that lacks them in big numbers is viewed suspiciously, unless it's recently launched, in which case even a few good reviews can help pull people in. This is why it's important to provide impeccable customer service, especially when you are just starting out. A few positive reviews and be a great springboard to success and a higher ranking on Google.
An in-depth understanding of the local business and market, along with its implementation, will help franchise sites gain the traction they need.
What are some of the challenges your franchise site is facing and how are you dealing with them? Leave a comment and let us know!
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