There are plenty of general search engine optimization (SEO) practices that any business website should follow. But websites of franchise brands have a few hoops to jump through before they can optimize for search engines and truly nail SEO.
Since there are multiple locations belonging to the same brand, you have to find a balance between making each site unique while also adhering to the same brand image and messaging.
A web design company with experience in eCommerce sites, like WebCitz, would be able to help businesses navigate the issue. After all, it isn’t exactly the kind of thing you should work out using trial and error. But once you’ve gotten some background information on the subject, you’ll have a much better idea of how to approach each franchise’s website.
1. Use Consistent Branding
What do you expect if you go to different franchises of the same brand? A different location, but the same branding and hopefully the same quality of experience.
It’s no different with their websites; site visitors should get consistent experiences across multiple websites. This will take more than just the brand logo and the same product offerings – you should also use the same fonts, layout and overall color scheme. Innovation in design is great, but if it happens on one site, it should happen on all of them.
If your sites are inconsistent, there’s a good chance that site visitors will get confused, think they’re in the wrong place and leave to find something more familiar.
2. Each Franchise Website Should Be Locally Based
On the other side of the coin, the websites should still feel different from each other. How can you do this while keeping the branding intact? By using local search terms, posting the hours of operation for that locale, showing testimonials, offering directions and including profiles for management personnel. Embedding a map on the site will improve your Google maps SEO, which makes it easier to find the location of each franchise.
3. Use the Right NAP
NAP (Name, Address and Phone Number) is crucial for optimizing local SEO, and it’s equally crucial that you use a consistent format on all the websites. First of all, don’t use the corporate NAP; use the one that’s specific to the franchise.
The corporate NAP could be included somewhere (like in the footer), but it shouldn’t compete with the information for the local franchise; that’ll just confuse people. Second, double-check that each site uses the same formatting; you don’t want to have phone numbers written out differently on a couple of the sites, for instance.
4. Use Location-Specific Keywords
There are plenty of keyword tools that’ll help you find out which competitive keywords locals are using to search for your business. It’s important to focus on local, not national search terms. Otherwise, you end up optimizing your SEO for people who live a thousand miles away from the franchise.
Larger franchises, however, won’t always have to do this; some of them have national websites that will automatically redirect visitors to the nearest franchise location.
5. Develop a Marketing Strategy for Your Content
Maintaining multiple blogs for the same brand can be tricky. You want to target specific themes to stay consistent, but you also want to be relevant to the community in which each franchise is located. It’s usually best to try for a bit of individuality within each blog, rather than sticking with general topics.
This not only sets them apart from each other, but it provides more value to the readers. As an example, a hair salon franchise could discuss how local weather patterns affect hair care needs, instead of simply covering generic topics that could apply to people from any area.
6. Get a Listing on Google Business Profile
Getting your franchise’s websites to show up on the first page of Google is great, but you can do better than that. If you make a Google Business Profile for each franchise, it’ll be at the top of the page when people search for your business – viewers won’t even have to click on a link to see important information about your brand.
This is important for visibility, but that’s not all it does. It also means that each franchise will be searchable in Google Maps. Since many people go straight to Google Maps to search for businesses, rather than typing it into Google, this is another way to make sure you’re getting the word out.
7. Get Listings on Other Platforms
Creating profiles on Google is a big step, but there are other options, too.
TripAdvisor, Apple Maps and Yelp all list businesses. Even though they’re national directories, they also optimize for regional searches. Another option is to find niche directories, like ones for construction services, home repair or upscale restaurants. Lastly, good old-fashioned local directories can also drive business your way.
Look for business directories, as well as seasonal publications that feature local businesses. Ideally, every franchise should take advantage of whatever options are available. Big names like Apple Maps and TripAdvisor are no-brainers, but you might need to do a little research to make sure you’re getting into pertinent local directories as well.
8. Build Local Backlinks
The main hurdle here is to make sure that you aren’t getting backlinks from the competition. Fortunately, it’s pretty easy to find other opportunities once you’re using the right strategy. Instead of looking for businesses related to your franchises, try collaborating with charities, events, organizations or schools.
For instance, a clothing-related franchise could work with a charity for underprivileged children, or a restaurant franchise could sponsor pizza day at one of the local schools. In return for your participation, you could request a blog post announcing the sponsorship, which would link back to the franchise’s site.
Optimizing SEO for franchises involves walking a fine line. Each location needs to feel unique, but they all have to support and circle back to the main brain With the right roadmap and a proactive mindset, your SEO practices can effectively drive the brand forward.