Franchises are meant to be found.
Consumers are looking for specific information about your business locations such as hours, address, and contact information.
And those consumers will go to your store. In fact, 53 percent of searchers visit a business within 48 hours of their local search, according to research by ReviewTrackers.
What The Experts Say
Ron Holt, CEO and founder of Two Maids & A Mop, says local SEO optimization is a big reason why his business has been so successful.
“We started franchising our brand four years ago after building 12 corporate stores across five states,” Holt says. “We learned a lot during our corporate growth years. But one of the most impactful things we learned related to the importance of local websites rather than a national website with one page descriptions for the local businesses within the network.
“Organic SEO has always been one of our true secrets to success. Our optimization strategy is comprehensive, but the entire plan would be useless without the benefit of individual websites for each of our 55 locations. Individual websites allow you to create unique content, build a personal brand, and also leverage the sister sites within the network.”
Holt adds there are three reasons why a single website was never an option for his company.
“We needed unique content to drive our optimization efforts,” he says. “Plus, our citation work is heavily reliant on individual sites. We drive our citation sites back to the individual sites and this directly impacts our organic SEO placement. Finally, building a personal brand is important in our industry. Our individual sites allow for publishing and they also allow for a franchisee’s personal story to be shared.”
Consumers trust local business. And Holt says that is what his team wanted to create: a feeling that Two Maids & A Mop is local, as opposed to a large-scale national company.
“Many of our customers probably don’t even know that we’ve been named the fastest-growing cleaning in the country, or named the eighth most innovative new franchise brand in America,” he says. “We’re proud of these awards, but the local growth inside each of our communities is much important to us than building a national brand for attention.”
Each Franchise Location Is Different
Kim Spencer, SEO expert for Big Sea marketing agency says, “Your locations are very different. They may look the same, provide the same goods/services, but they are, in fact, different.”
She says that location is different just as customers are different, customer experiences are different, and employees are different.
“What’s within a 5-mile radius from each location is different,” she says.
Here’s what to include in a location page, step-by-step, according to Spencer.
- Embed a Google map so users can immediately see the location of your business and get directions.
- Use geotags so that the page appears at the top of searches, which includes adding schema markup so that local business hours and other important information is shown properly on the search results.
- Include the city name so people searching for that city are able to find the page. Update your page titles, meta tags, and descriptions.
- Generate online reviews. Not only does it add more content to your site, but reviews provide users with a customized experience. They care more about what people think about the location they’re visiting than a location across the country.
- Add retargeting tracking codes to your location pages. If you ever use AdWords or other paid online advertising, you can retarget users who have already been to your location page and deliver customized ads to them.
Tell Search Engines Your Franchise is Relevant in A Specific Area
Presley Brouillette, digital marketing specialist at Brew Agency in Baton Rouge, says, “Multi-location businesses and franchises definitely need different location pages for each location that is in operation. The main reason is for their SEO.
“Local signals are so important in the SEO world, so having a landing page for each location signifies to the search engines that you are relevant in that area, and therefore will have a better chance ranking for local-specific keywords.
“For example, imagine we are looking at a national pizza chain. If that chain just had their main website with just one page listing all of their locations, it would not be as strong as a signal to Google as it would be if they were to build different landing pages to click onto from the main page, because each location page could have local-specific content, title tags, meta descriptions, map, contact info, etc.”
User Experience Improves With Separate Location Pages
Miriam Ellis, local search associate for Moz, says the benefits to creating a separate location page for your business are a mix of SEO and user experience. She says these benefits include:
- The ability to increase conversions by customizing page content to best influence a specific local community; by localizing the message, driving directions, reviews, imagery, and special offers, each branch can finetune its appeal to match the character of a locale.
- The ability to grant editorial access to a specific page to each franchisee, empowering them to impact their own success by contributing to the content of their own location page (following corporate guidelines, of course).
- Maximizing usability by ensuring that a local consumer is sent directly from a local business listing to a page that’s built for their needs, instead of needing to go first to a homepage, then to a store locator widget, and finally to a landing page.
- Refinement of SEO opportunities, in that each page can be optimized, have links built to it, and have its own analytical tracking to enhance and measure performance over time.