SEO Strategies for Franchise Businesses
Search engine optimization (SEO) is one of the most effective ways for franchise businesses to boost brand awareness, attract new franchisees, and acquire new customers.
But implementing SEO campaigns for franchise websites is no easy feat.
Today, we’ll address some of the unique difficulties of franchise SEO and explore various tactics to ensure your franchise website achieves consistent visibility in Google’s search results.
The Challenges of Franchise SEO
Building a successful SEO strategy for a franchise website comes with some distinct challenges that most “regular” sites don’t encounter.
This is all due to the unique structure of the franchise business model. An effective franchise SEO strategy needs to promote the overarching franchise brand and, at the same time, optimize for local search relevance for each franchise location.
Here are some of the main questions you’ll need to consider when planning a franchise SEO program:
- Site structure: Should you house individual location pages on a subdomain, subfolder, or microsite? This decision affects the ranking potential of each location page by influencing factors like domain authority and local SEO.
- Duplicate content: How will you avoid content duplication issues across different location pages? Having the same or similar content repeated across multiple pages can make it harder for search engines to determine the most relevant result for a given search query. This can lead to decreased organic visibility.
- Localized content: How will you optimize each location page for local SEO and create content that resonates with diverse local audiences?
- Maintaining brand consistency: How will you ensure a consistent brand identity across your pages (in terms of design, messaging, and user experience) while allowing for local variations?
In addition to addressing these questions, an organic strategy for franchises should also adhere to the standard principles of SEO.
So, let’s delve into some key features of a well-rounded franchise SEO program and explore how to navigate these complexities successfully.
8 Best Practices for Franchise SEO
1. House Location Pages on Subfolders
Placing individual franchise location pages within subfolders under your main corporate website comes with several advantages.
First, this approach means each location page can capitalize on the established domain authority of the primary site, boosting its ranking potential. Likewise, all inbound links to subfolder pages contribute to the main site’s overall authority.
Second, using subfolders makes it easier to maintain consistent branding and a unified user experience across location pages. When users navigate from a corporate-level page to a location-specific page, they stay within the same website environment.
Third, a subfolder architecture simplifies the process of managing and updating your website. Since you’re using the same content management system (CMS) across your main site and subfolders, you can update global elements like headers, footers, and navigation menus at the same time to ensure sitewide uniformity.
Crucially, using subfolders doesn’t mean you can’t optimize location pages for local search. You can still tailor individual location pages for local markets. It’s just that these pages also get to benefit from the SEO strength of your main site.
2. Target Location-Based Keywords
Each location-specific page should target keywords with local intent to maximize their chances of ranking for relevant local searches.
For example, if your franchise sells lawn and gardening equipment, each local landing page could include localized keywords like “best gardening equipment in (city)” or “lawn mowers in (neighborhood)” in its title tag, headings, and body copy.
This approach helps search engines understand the geographical relevance of each page, increasing the likelihood that they appear in the search results when people in those areas search for the products or services you offer.
3. Tailor Location Pages for Local Audiences
In addition to targeting local keywords, your individual franchise location pages should also feature content catered to its corresponding market.
This means creating high-quality content that resonates specifically with local audiences, addressing their unique needs and preferences.
For example, if a particular area is known for its cold winters, your designated location page could highlight tips and products for winter lawn care and snow removal. Likewise, for coastal regions, your content could include advice for applying mulch to sandy soil.
Furthermore, you could also mention any local news or events related to each franchise location, feature images and profiles of the location’s management team, and share success stories and testimonials from local customers.
Integrating these elements not only improves your local SEO but also creates a more relatable online experience for your potential customers.
4. Optimize Google Business Profile Listings
Another critical aspect of maximizing a franchise location’s local organic visibility is optimizing its Google Business Profile (formerly Google My Business).
This free Google tool lets you manage your franchise’s online presence across Google Maps and Search. You can update your profile with essential business information, such as opening hours, popular times, photos and videos, and booking links. The tool also lets you respond to customer questions and reviews.
Here’s what the Google Business Profile looks like for one of Nashville’s Planet Fitness franchise locations.
The goal is to give search users a comprehensive representation of what they can expect when they visit a physical franchise location. Maintaining up-to-date information and engaging with customers through Google Business Profile will enhance each franchise location’s local search visibility and attractiveness to other nearby customers.
5. Ensure Consistent NAP
It’s essential to keep each franchise location’s NAP details (name, address, and phone number) consistent and accurate wherever they appear online. This includes platforms like Google Business Profile, local directories, social media profiles, and the individual location pages on your franchise website.
Consistent NAP information across the web helps search engines establish the legitimacy and credibility of your business, increasing your likelihood of appearing for relevant local searches.
Maintaining clear and reliable business information across platforms also prevents customer confusion and misdirection. Customers who can easily find accurate information about your franchise locations are more likely to visit those locations. Meanwhile, inconsistent information will not only lead to missed opportunities for your business but can also damage your brand’s reputation.
6. Manage Duplicate Content
As we mentioned earlier, replicating the same content across multiple location pages can impair your ability to rank by making it difficult for search engines to determine the most relevant result for a given query.
But even though each location-specific section of your site should largely contain unique content tailored for regional audiences, some of these sections will often contain content that also appears elsewhere on your site. For example, the same service page or legal disclaimer document might be repeated across each location-specific subfolder.
In situations where you can’t avoid duplicating content, it’s best to use canonical tags to signal to search engines which version of a page should be designated as the primary source for ranking purposes.
7. Implement Structured Data
Implementing location-specific structured data to your location pages is another way to enhance your local search visibility.
Structured data (known as “schema markup” in a search engine context) is a standardized way of classifying information about a web page. Basically, it’s code that helps search engines better understand how the content on your page is organized, enabling them to easily identify and display key details about your page directly in the search results.
For example, the “AggregateRating” property provides details about the average rating of a product or service based on multiple reviews. Search engines can then use this information to generate a rich result, which makes your site look more appealing to search users.
One of the most useful types of structured data for franchise location pages is the “LocalBusiness” property. This allows you to provide specific details about each location, such as name, operating hours, and services offered. Adding as much information to this property as possible can significantly enhance the relevance and richness of your local search listings.
8. Encourage Customers to Leave Reviews
Asking existing customers to leave online reviews for your different franchise locations doesn’t just give prospective customers the confidence to try your products or services, but it can also enhance your local SEO efforts.
In fact, Google actively encourages businesses to manage and respond to reviews on their Business Profiles:
“When you reply to reviews, it shows that you value your customers and their feedback. High-quality, positive reviews from your customers can improve your business visibility and increase the likelihood that a shopper will visit your location.”
Moreover, user reviews often contain relevant keywords and phrases you might not have used on your website. So, as you accumulate more and more reviews, you increase your chances of ranking for a broader range of long-tail keywords.
Successful franchise SEO is a balancing act between ensuring brand consistency across location pages and tailoring each location page to local market nuances.
Global factors like brand messaging, site structure, and user experience should remain constant throughout your franchise website, while location-specific pages should be optimized for local searches.
By striking this balance, your franchise will enhance its overall online presence, attract more local traffic, and maintain a strong and unified brand identity across diverse markets.