Take your customers down a new journey starting with your SEO strategy as they interact with your franchise business.
We help you expand sales, create processes to improve efficiency and scale by focusing on the customer journey.
Whether your franchise is a local senior care franchise, a coffee shop franchise, or a professional services franchise, you know that SEO is an important piece in your marketing strategy to generate leads for your franchise.
As a business owner you have many different challenges in your business that you must build a strong strategy around. As a growing franchise you may have geographic regions that you provide your services within. As your customer base grows you will need to hire employees that can serve those areas – conversely, you need new clients in areas that are important for your business and a good lead generation and sales pipeline strategy.
- Setting a Foundation For a Strong SEO Campaign
- SEO Gap Analysis For Franchises – Content & Keyword Gaps
- Google Local SEO Strategy For Franchises
- Technical SEO Strategies For Franchises
- On Page SEO Strategy For Franchise Businesses
- External Link Building For Franchise Lead Generation
- Tracking SEO Results & Franchise Lead Generation
- Corporate SEO Strategies That Help Your Franchisees
The Franchise SEO Strategy Playbook focuses on SEO Strategies that can help two main areas:
- lead generation through SEO for franchise business
- employee/contractor lead generation SEO strategy for franchise businesses
The Customer Journey For your customer starts now.
Setting a foundation for a Strong SEO Campaign
Before we dive into On Page SEO, Technical SEO, or Off Page SEO, we need to understand more about how the people searching for your services or company actually search in Google and other search engines. As a franchise you likely have a geographic area that constrains the majority of your business, with some areas around your territory that you may be able to market within.
Targeting The Right Geographic Area For Franchise
Start with compiling a list of the zip codes and cities that you want to target – this is useful for both an SEO strategy and a Google Adwords Pay Per Click strategy, but we’ll primary be using this information for an SEO strategy in this Playbook. Choosing the right geographic areas to target can mean doing research around the demographics in those areas – research the average age, gender breakouts, income levels, education levels, etc. Consider the things that may be important for your business such as transpiration, access to services, and other unique items such as sports teams, colleges and universities, etc.
Take a look at the following areas to determine which geographic areas are worth targeting:
Who is your competition targeting – are they using geographic keyword targeting on their site? Are they using landing pages that are unique for each geographic area?
Where does your best potential customer reside or travel from?
If you are developing an SEO campaign for hiring, you should consider the geographic areas that you want to target based on where you might find the best employee but don’t forget the primary areas that you do business within.
How To Pick The Right Keywords To Target For Your Franchise SEO Strategy
A strong keyword selection strategy is important for your franchise if you want to have a strong SEO strategy for your franchise. The choice of keywords is just as important as realizing which ones you need to cut out. Some keywords may be too broad for you to target if you are a newly launched franchise, while some keywords may be too niche to drive any meaningful traffic. We like to look at metrics in Google’s Keyword Planner that show clues around which keywords advertisers are spending money on as a way to figure out which keywords we should target within an SEO strategy. If other companies are willing to spend several dollars per click, perhaps that’s a keyword to consider, even if there are only a few hundred or less than a hundred searches per month.
SEO Gap Analysis For Franchises – Content & Keyword Gaps
Do you have any gaps that your website needs to have filled with regard to the keywords that you have discovered? Perhaps you need to add a few pages that talk about the services or products different based on the search interest that your potential customers are showing. You may find a few distinct ways that people search for your franchise’s services, those may warrant their own page. You may also discover that people are asking question – for instance in the senior care industry a common question is: “How much do senior caregiver cost per hour?” For a commercial or residential restoration company people may be asking: “How can I remove water from my basement?” While these questions may seem obvious to you, they can be great platforms to build new pages around, create blog posts, and discuss in social media.
Your franchise’s website may contain content that is provided by the parent company, this can seem helpful, but often from an SEO standpoint it doesn’t have as much value as it may seem. Check to make sure that the content on your website is not duplicate content and being used on other franchise website. We see this as a common problem with the SEO strategies for franchises because as they are growing, they need resources and databases of articles and they tend to share them across many different franchise websites.
Content isn’t just written content – it can be downloadable content, check lists, games, quizzes, images, and videos – take advantage of the different content forms as a way to add more visibility in a search result. If you play your cards right, you may end up having a #1 organic listing, and top Google Local Pack listing, and Image search result and a Video search result – that’s taking up 4 spots on a search engine result page (SERP)!
Google Local SEO Strategy For Franchises
Let’s talk about how to get into those map listings within Google. This is important for any franchise that is locally focused and it’s a quickly changing area of SEO that needs attention now and on an ongoing basis. Google wants to know that a business name is correct, their phone number is correct and that they are located where they say they are. These 3 items comprise what we call NAP (Name, Address, Phone Number). It’s important that places like Yelp!, HomeAdvisor, Care.com, and other 3rd party sites have the right information about your business and there are several tools that can help you determine if that is the case. Setting up a listing or claiming your Google Local Business listing is something that you should do right away if you have a new franchise. This allows you to add additional information into the listing such as categories, images, specials and offers, and one more very important thing… You will be able to see and respond to reviews that customers leave. Reviews in Google Local Business are critical – it’s not the total number of reviews that matter the most either, although that does make a big difference. The review average makes a difference, the location of your franchise makes a difference, as does the other elements discussed above such as categories. Keep in mind that customers leaving reviews on Google and elsewhere will likely mention your business name and location – this can be helpful in a strategy that we call Barnacle SEO – that is, utilizing the SEO strength of other sites to rank well.
Technical SEO Strategies For Franchises
As a franchisee you often are required to have a website page on the parent company’s website with a subdomain (like Portland.seniorcarefranchise.com) or a sub folder (like seniorcarefranchise.com/Portland/). This makes managing your site and content easier, and it gives the parent company control over the brand, but it also means that you have some limitations and hinderances from a technical SEO standpoint.
These are the common technical SEO issues that we see franchise owners dealing with and how you can fix them:
Mobile Friendly Website
A few years ago, Google launched an initiative called Mobile First – this important update means that Google now looks at a website’s rendering based on the mobile version and not how it looks on a desktop. If your site doesn’t not render well or is missing important items on mobile, then you are at a disadvantage.
Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO)
While CRO isn’t completely a technical SEO strategy, the technical set up of a franchise website often drives the lead funnel for a visitor. The design of the site – look and feel – and lead forms can usually be done better for your customer base. If you are able to look at Google Analytics – take notice of the drop off rates for visitors as they start down the conversion funnel – if they drop off heavily at one point, your funnel is broken.
Google likes data to be organized in a way that they can easily crawl content and understand what it means. Schema Markup is a way for Google and other search engines to see information about your business, products, services, events, and people and bring up that information in search results better. You may notice search results showing a drop down with questions or suggested searches, and “knowledge card,” or a video imbedded in a result - these are all driven by Schema Markup. The ability for you to use this strategy is dependent on your company’s website features – if it’s WordPress, there are many plugins that you can use. If it’s another CMS, ask about the ability for Schema Markup.
One solution for all of these SEO problems that franchisees face can be creating your own 5-10 page site on a platform like WordPress. WordPress is free and open source, meaning that you own your content and can take it with you – regardless of whether you continue to be a franchisee or if you decide to go out on your own. Wordpress sites are mobile friendly and responsive. They have a vast userbase of developers that are constantly creating plugins for other marketing channels that you may be using and allow for easy integration for things like a Facebook Pixel, Google Analytics Ecommerce Tracking, MailChimp, Lead generation tools, Call Tracking platforms, and many more.
On Page SEO Strategy For Franchise Businesses
Once you have determined the keywords and phrases that you want to target, and have a good understanding of the technical side of SEO, now it’s time to build a strong franchise SEO strategy around content.
Keywords & Theme For Franchise On Page SEO Strategies
Every page on your site needs to have a theme – it should contain a primary keyword and a cluster of related keywords. Think about ServPro and how they might try to rank for a keyword like “California Restoration Company.” Likely Google will want to see them have content around sub-topics like “Los Angeles Restoration Company”, “San Diego Restoration Company”, “California Water Restoration Company,” etc. With your franchise, there are sub categories and topics that you will want to have content focused on before you target larger topics.
Franchise Site Structure
The structure of a page is important, especially for a mobile visitor. Utilizing H1, H2, H3 tags on content helps organize the content and provide easy breaks for people reading on smaller screens. Google likes the usage of Heading (H1, H2, H3) on franchise pages because it helps them determine primary and secondary content.
Image Optimization For Franchise Websites
Image optimization is often forgotten but it’s one of the more important SEO strategies that your franchise can implement. Image optimization is done with 4 different steps.
- The name of your image file matters and you should use geographic keywords and service or product descriptive keywords.
- The ALT text or Alternative Text needs to include keywords that describe the image.
- The content around the image is important, and using a caption can help your SEO strategy.
- The geodata encoded in the image that shows where it was taken can immensely help your SEO strategy. Think about this, if you are a franchise located in Portland, Oregon and you are using a corporate provided image that was taken in New York – you’re likely missing out on the geodata benefit because the image will have New York GPS data encoded.
Franchise Website Internal Linking Strategy
When a new page on your site is created it needs to be crawled by Google before it can show up in search results. This means that there needs to be a link to the page from somewhere on the web. Your own site likely will insert a link on the RSS feed, blog home page, or home page as a way to get the new page indexed. But, if you have topics that you reference on your new page, you should like to other pages on your site that are related in content. Conversely, if you have a new page, feel free to go back to older pages and link to your new page. The keywords that you use in a link – called anchor text – matter a lot for on page SEO. Not only do links to pages other than your home page help a lot in having those pages rank well, but the words used in the link can make a big difference.
External Link Building For Franchise Lead Generation
Building upon the idea of gaining links to sub pages on your site with good anchor text – an off site link building campaign can make a huge difference for your franchise’s SEO strategy. Google gives a lot of weight to links – in fact they were the first search engine to look at 3rd party sites linking to a site and this is one of the reasons that they have better quality search results that early search engine competitors. Think about links as an academic citation – the more references that a published article receives, the more authoritative it is. Links can be acquired in many different ways – local directories and industry specific directories are a good place to start.
Build partnerships with other blogs and industry sites that have traffic that would be relevant for your franchise as a new customer or potential hire for a new employee. Many industry websites need content contributors and if you take the time to reach out to them and create valuable content, you can have your content included on their sites. Think about locally focused websites where you could contribute content – Is there a local university that has a newspaper? Do you belong to the local chamber of commerce? Do you have business partners whom have websites where you could swap content? If you need to hire employees for your franchise, consider using local sites and national sites that allow you to create content under your own profile. For instance, Indeed, Glass Door, and Linkedin all allow you to create content specific to your business’s hiring needs and opportunities.
Think about using social media as a way to build links for your franchise – Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and others may a good place to communicate with current customers. But when you have a news story that you want to publish, a blog post that you want more visibility around, or an announcement to make, social media can be a great place to reach out to bloggers & editors for publications. This will help your franchise build links and have a strong off page SEO strategy.
Tracking SEO Results & Franchise Lead Generation
The most common question that we are asked is “How do we track leads?”
SEO is arguably one of the most important strategies that a franchise owner can employ, but it’s likely one of the most misunderstood strategy. Let’s face it, you are an expert at running your business and do the work or services that you provide. Dealing with the technical elements of an SEO strategy, writing content that will perform well in the search engines, and creating an off site link building strategy is enough to make your head spin. Now we have to track and assess whether these strategies are working to drive more leads.
Using Google Analytics Data To Track Leads For Franchises
Google Analytics is one of the best ways to determine how people are arriving to your website. Not only will you be able to see traffic derived from the SEO company through search engine visits, but you will be able to see Google Adwords traffic, Social Media visitors, Email campaign visitors, Referral traffic from other sites, and Direct visitors. Each channel of visitors may be of different quality and volume. For instance, you may find that your site receives 45% of its visitors from Organic Search Engine sources and those visitors may spend 1 and a half minutes on your site. Whereas a Direct visitor channel makes up 20% of your traffic but they spend over 5 minutes on your site.
Franchises Can Track Leads Through Call Tracking Platforms
Our favorite way to track lead data is by using a call tracking platform. Call tracking helps you quickly identify which digital marketing channels are driving qualified leads to your website or business. Call tracking is commonly used by franchises in Google Adwords PPC campaigns but it can also be used by franchises for SEO lead tracking. The way it works is that a piece of code is added to your website and when an organic SEO visitor arrives, the phone number is automatically swapped out for a tracking phone number – then a visitor calls the number and the keyword and visitor actions are all associated together. How do we know an SEO company is working? By looking at the data behind a call – the average call duration can be viewed, the city of the caller is often able to be seen, and the call tracking platforms often allow you to record calls for playback. Listening to recorded calls has a lot of benefits, not just SEO tracking. You may find that person answering the phone call may not be the best trained person for closing a sale or lead.
Corporate SEO Strategies That Help Your Franchisees
Up to this point we have been discussing the SEO strategies that a franchisee can implement to drive more leads to their website, but now we are switching gears to talk about how a corporate franchise company can create a SEO strategy that supports their franchisees.
Education & Thought Leadership From Franchise Homebase
Learning how SEO works and staying up to date with the latest SEO strategies and Google updates takes time. But knowing the basics and understanding how content, website design, links, social media, and SEO are all connected goes a long way! The culture matters within an organization and having a strong SEO focused culture means that you can build-in business processes that help our your overall strategy.
Empower Employees To Create Content & Drive Your SEO Campaigns
Every employee is a content creator – build a process that allows for sales teams, customer service teams and operations teams to create content based on what they are seeing in the department. Ask your sales teams how often they are asked the same questions. Ask your sales team if there is something they wish was on the website. If people are asking questions then they are likely searching online for those answers too! Your customer service team is an important touch point for your franchise model because they know what the issues are and how to resolve them. They also know the great stories that you can share on your website or through social media. Implementing a strategy for franchises to build more reviews online is important. Your customer service team is the first stop in building out a process for increasing positive reviews in places like Google Local or Yelp.
How To Prevent Rogue Franchise SEO Strategies
If you find that a franchisee has gone rogue, set up their own website and is taking their marketing strategy to a marketing agency for help, you have two options… 1. You can reign them in and bring them back to the marketing table by offering to give them more of a voice in how marketing strategies are employed. 2. You should talk with them to determine why they are going rogue and determine if your corporate SEO strategy needs a revamp. If you need a to take a look at your corporate SEO strategy for franchises, start by reviewing the recommendations noted above and address technical issues first. Then move into the on page SEO and off page SEO strategies and determine where gaps exist. You may find that even by revamping your SEO strategy, you may not have franchisees that are engaged and able to address the new strategy. This is where a corporate SEO partner can help your franchise as a whole.