Local SEO for Franchise Owners

Local Franchise SEO Guest Post By: Scott Sisson

Local Search For Franchisers

One of the huge benefits for business owners who have taken the plunge to franchise, is that they physically reach new markets, why not reach them online too using local SEO?

Most brick and mortar based shops are physically limited by the number of local customers they will impact in some geographic location.

Once a franchise begins to expand with physical stores however, the owner can begin extending that geographic reach with each new location added to his presence.  What many franchise owners fail to take advantage of however, is that they can just as easily expand their reach on the web with local search engine optimization.

Search engine optimization is simply a process whereby a website’s pages are ‘tweaked’ or ‘optimized’ to make it more obvious to search engines and visitors what the page is about.

If a search engine knows what you do and where you do it, it will be more prone to rank you accordingly, especially if your site provides more value for its customers than your competitors!  Adding pages consistently over time to a website can be well worth the effort, let me explain.

Business owners should think of each new page on a company website as an opportunity to tell search engines (and ultimately those searching) not only what they do, but WHERE they do it.  For franchise owners, this is important.

With that said, SEO for franchise owners should be something of an ongoing activity, rather than a one time project.

Search Results For Home Base

Let’s say for instance that our company sells ‘bbq chicken pizza’ among other things.  Of course, people can buy bbq chicken pizza from other pizza joints all over the country.

However, we sell to those customers within the ‘Atlanta’ area because we only have the one Atlanta store (we haven’t franchised yet in this sample).

We want to regularly add and optimize pages on our site to target areas in and around Atlanta area.

We won’t likely rank highly with our small business site for the generic term ‘bbq chicken pizza’ because that is a highly competitive, national keyword phrase depending on the product or service (I really have no idea for this sample, but bear with me).

To compete, we’d have to go toe to toe with the largest national competitor sites!

However, this is perfectly fine given the fact that our customers are local anyway.  More than likely, OUR potential customers are already searching for things like ‘bbq chicken pizza in atlanta’ or simply ‘chicken pizza atlanta’ for instance.

We DO want to rank highly for these types of location based phrases in the Atlanta area because we’d be exposing our brand daily for these searches.

Expand Your Brand Using Search

Now, if we have a handle on Atlanta based searches for our chicken pizza, we’d have plenty to keep us busy.  However, if we begin to franchise that Atlanta location…say into Chattanooga for instance, the power of Local SEO is critical to execute!

This is where many franchise owners drop the ball.  Sure, they may include one new page about ‘our new Chattanooga location’, but there is so much more they can do!  Our goal is to dominate each new target market on search by using our franchise website to gain valuable rankings over time.

Don’t just make an announcement and stop!  We want a full blown content strategy that will be released over time in a consistent fashion.  Remember ‘what you do’ and ‘where you do it’, then use this strategy to build your rankings for Chattanooga based searches online.

The best approach?

Use your franchise site to answer questions about your profitable products and services for each new location.

Again, answer questions searchers are asking!  Research Google for ideas.

Don’t forget that customers don’t generally speak industry lingo.  So, think like a customer.  Write to answer those common questions using words and phrases that THEY would use.

Simply go to Google and type ‘bbq chicken pizza’ to find that Google makes suggestions around this central phrase.  People want to know how many calories, good wine pairings, ideas for salad, you name it!

The point is, if you aren’t already answering these questions for your customers for your base location, you should.

However, if you are franchising into multiple locations, don’t forget to claim your space on the web too.  With a consistent content strategy based on each new location, you’ll create a steady stream of brand awareness both online and off!

Other Local SEO Tips For Franchise Sites

Now, answering logical questions consistently over time using optimized/targeted blog posts and articles is no small task.  The fact that most business and franchise owners simply don’t take the time to do it means that there could be some easy, valuable rankings to be had within your specific industry or niche.

However, here are some other tips for local SEO while we are at it.  Use these not only on your main business site, but your franchise sections within your main site as well!

  • Go CMS (Content Management System)
    If your site is made up of static HTML page, consider switching to a content management system for quicker content updates.
  • HTML Business Information
    Make sure your primary business information is not buried in a graphic on your site, place it in HTML for search engines to consume!
  • About Us Section
    Key for franchise expansion, the About Us section of any site is critical to establish what you do and where you do it…at ALL your locations.
  • HTML Phone Number
    Again, search engines are made to find and rank HTML so make sure your phone number is loud and clear for both humans and search engines.
  • Hours Of Operation
    Add credibility to your operation to gain an edge in rankings.  Like the business and contact information, legit business hours give you an edge in search.
  • Online Directory Optimization
    Don’t just tell Google who you are, tell business directories too.  Your presence in other directories just solidifies what you tell Google about your business!
  • Google+ Local Page
    Again, the more contextual information search engines have about your business the better.  Logging in regularly also increases trust by confirming that you are alive and well.
  • Bing Local
    See above and repeat.
  • Add An Author Tag
    When you add an author tag to your site posts allows Google to apply author treatment to your search listing snippets, use it!
  • List Professional Organizations
    Establish trust with your human visitors as well as the search engines.  Links to and from these organizations to your site will strengthen your position.
  • Integrate Twitter & Facebook
    This one may be a no brainer today, but many businesses simply don’t take advantage for greater reach using these tools.  What better way to enter a new franchise market?

Scott Sisson is the founder and president of Sisson Media Corporation, an Atlanta, GA based web services company.  Since 1996, Sisson Media has been building, maintaining and ranking websites across multiple industries.