Franchise SEO: How to Apply Local SEO to Multiple Locations
From creating different landing pages to finding niche, relevant keywords, a lot of franchisors (and their SEO vendors) are neck deep in their search for the Holy Grail of franchise SEO.
And that’s only the beginning.
As a franchisor, you’re aware by now of the many pitfalls of attempting to unify information without duplicating it. Especially when you have independent franchises in multiple locations.
So, how do you find a franchise SEO strategy that works for you and your franchisees?
And how do you avoid wading through all the guides on the Internet promoting blanket SEO franchise strategies?
For starters, you can read this articles. It will layout severals ways for you to apply franchise SEO tactics companywide without upsetting the search engine gods.
New to SEO? Learn more about Search Engine Optimization! Download this free Beginner’s Guide to SEO.
2. Franchise SEO Tactics That Make Local Websites Not So Local
When it comes to creating websites for franchises, there are two schools of thoughts.
First, there are those who believe that all franchises should appear together on one site.
Method One provides your website with the most link juice.
You can even use geolocation to guide your visitors to relevant locations. Don’t expect customers to do a manual search when your competitors allow them to find relevant franchises via automatic redirects.
The second franchise SEO option is to create microsites for each franchise location.
Creating microsites for each location can be a money pit.
You get great results when applying franchise SEO tactics to individual websites. Plus, each franchise has an easier time doing PPC.
Is there a cost-effective way to build multiple websites?
Sure! Solutions like SpaceCraft and Spaces can help you create multiple websites to budget.
Such solutions also help you create professional, on-brand websites for multiple locations. That way you can maintain brand identity across all franchise websites.
I prefer Method Two because a single website can rank for a limited number of keywords. Plus, keywords and keyword strength can vary across regions and locations.
Having multiple websites allows you to optimize pages for local keywords. In the end, you can customize what you rank for based on location.
Pro Tip: Want to see how keywords perform across regions? Some SEO tracking software allows you to duplicate keywords to see how they’re performing in multiple regions. Why is that cool? Because you can track one keyword in one place and get different local results.
Here’s an example of how it works on Unamo SEO for franchise keywords:
Want some more tips on cool local SEO tools that will help you up your SEO franchise game? Then check this out: 9 Free Local SEO Tools That Will Help You Dominate Your Niche
Here’s How to Design Customized Local Landing Pages
A lot of rules for landing pages don’t apply to franchise sites.
See, here’s the thing. The rules for laying out landing pages are different for franchises. The biggest differences are in the design.
The goal of a customized franchise landing page is to distinguish that location from all the others. So you want to be sure to:
- Make your call to action (CTA) prominent and locally relevant.
- Create unique content instead of duplicating content from other landing pages.
- Keep your company name, address, and phone number (NAP) consistent with all other online listings for that branch.
Also, your site needs to be mobile friendly as most searches are now conducted via mobile.
To keep things simple, Tim Gilboy of FranchiseHelp recommends “using a bunch of awesome services that make it very easy for you to start creating your own landing pages from scratch.”
He uses Unbounce to design and host landing pages for FranchiseHelp.
Here’s an example of a landing page layout with a prominent CTA:
Image Source: Author’s own
Pro Tip: If the visitor lands on your page through an affiliate referral or a paid ad, make sure both the message and location are consistent. You don’t want a referral to your New York branch to redirect to Chicago’s page. Also, set goals for conversions so you can understand why one franchise’s landing page outperforms another.
If You Don’t Do Anything Else – Always Start With Listings
Let’s say you’ve already got your websites up and running. What’s next?
Listings – the number one franchise SEO magic trick.
A long time ago, people who wanted to find information on local businesses looked for them in the yellow pages of the phone book.
Now, businesses need to list themselves in multiple locations online. That means that you as a franchisor have to track your business across multiple physical and online locations.
Yes, it’s a headache. But wait, there’s more!
See, here’s the thing. If you’re allowing each franchisee to manage their local business listings, you’ll begin to discover minor differences in the way the company’s NAP info is written across listings. And Google doesn’t like that.
So, you’ll want to start by regaining access to as many of these listings as you can. Bring listings made by independent franchisees or rogue webmasters back into the fold as much as possible.
Reach out to franchisees to stress the importance of keeping NAP info uniform.
Be sure to retain control over such listings in the future as you continue to sell franchises.
The bottom line – good franchise SEO strategies start with making sure NAP information for all locations is uniform across all online listings.
Once you have your ducks in a row, you’ll want to find all local directories. You can do so manually or by using a tool like Whitespark.
Whitespark helps you find relevant, local directories where you can list multiple local franchises.
Let’s say you have a franchise in Pennsylvania. Whitespark automatically places it in the Pennsylvania directory.
Taking Advantage of Google My Business Profiles and SERP Features
One of the cheapest and easiest franchise SEO strategies is creating individual Google My Business profiles for all your franchise locations.
What can Google My Business profiles do for you?
First, claiming your profile allows you to show up in special Knowledge Panel SERP features. Think of them as prime Google real estate.
When you have multiple brick and mortar locations as a franchisor, Google will also give your business access to the Local Pack SERP feature.
Here’s how it looks:
So, what does it look like when a big e-retailer tries to do the same? They aren’t fed into a Local Pack. Instead they will feed into other SERP features such as Twitter Packs or News Boxes.
Here’s how it looks:
You’ll want to be sure that each franchise location has a dedicated profile. You can optimize each profile by adding contact information for that branch, images of that location, and local business hours.
The same rules apply for creating franchise-specific social media pages. You’ll want to be sure that each location has its own set of social media profiles, including Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram.
Of course, your choice of social media platforms will differ depending on the nature of your business.
Franchise SEO Strategies Benefit Most from Schema Markups
What are schema markups?
Schema markups are breadcrumbs of information about your company that you leave for Google. They are located right above your meta description on Google result pages.
You can include such information as location, ratings, and price ranges for individual franchise locations. If you’ve decided to create individual websites for each franchise, you should consider providing customized schema markups for each site.
The benefit? Customizing schema markups allows you to rank for local keywords. You may be XYZ Cleaners. But the Chicago branch will want to rank for Chicago. Adding Chicago to your schema markup makes that happen.
That’s because you’re giving Google as much local information as possible.
You may also want to to consider adding or marking your franchise location on Schema Place. The code you download allows search engines to find out more direct information about your franchise location.
As a franchisor, it’s best to make sure that all branches receive this information along with uniform NAP information.
Pro Tip: One way to make sure addresses are different is to add a branch code or store code. For example, (http://XYZcleaners.com/Chicago/store-locator/etc/detail/0153) the code “0153” is a branch or store code for a particular outlet in a city. You should also mark the Geo Coordinates of your franchise. You can mark maps in Schema Maps as well.
Don’t Forget to Link Your Business to GPS Devices
Whether it’s managing your listings on Google Maps, GPS devices, or navigation apps, it’s important to add all franchise locations as Points of Interest (POI) in databases.
You can use a solution like Advice Local’s GPS mapping tool to supercharge your implementation of this franchise SEO tactic.
The solution ensures that all your businesses show up as POIs on primary devices including Garmin, TomTom, and Magellan. They also contact popular car manufacturers like Fiat, Toyota, and BMW so that your business shows up in built-in car navigation systems.
Adding your franchise locations to GPS systems ensures that your customer can find your business on the go.
Pro Tip: Do be sure to cross-check all listings after using such tools. Local businesses often gripe that customers find listing with the wrong franchise location.
There are a lot of franchisors out there who are not using franchise SEO tactics to their advantage.
If you want to take your SEO franchise strategy to the next level across multiple locations, follow these tips:
- Love your listings – run periodic audits to ensure NAP info is uniform across listings.
- Strike a design balance between local landing pages and your corporate website.
- Make sure that your franchise locations show up on maps and GPS devices.
- Make unique landing pages for each location without duplicating content.
- Enable geolocation to ensure your visitors are directed to their local franchise online.
- Follow top SEO experts and SEO franchise strategies to stay on top of your game.
- Use SEO for franchises and listing tools to supercharge your listings for more visibility.
- Don’t underestimate the importance of your online reputation.
- Use social media and reviews to piggyback to the top of the SERPs.
- Test, test, and test some more without being afraid of trying new SEO franchise tactics.