SEO Strategy, Franchise Marketing: SEO, Local, and SEM Tips to Make Your Franchise FamousNovember 4, 2015Kate ProykovaReading time: No franchiser wants to see their brand fade into the background. You want your brand to grow and attract new franchisees. And the trick to doing that means treating your franchises like they’re famous.What do we mean?First of all, you want your franchise to be locally famous. Don’t think of it as an extension of headquarters, but as a local business that can be well-known in its own right; this way, you’ll attract repeat customers. Not only that, but if your franchises are profitable, your possibilities of attracting new business are growing.Your goals boil down to helping your franchisees perform better. These days, that means making sure your franchise marketing is working: most crucially, it’s making sure potential customers find you. Are you aware that:Users now perform more searches on mobile devices than on their desktops?Since 2011, “near me”-type searches (for example, “Chinese restaurant near me” or “roofer in the area”) have increased by 3400%?More and more people – especially young people – are making up their minds on the go: what to buy, where to eat, where to meet with friends. As soon as they think of something, they’re searching for it on their smartphones.These five online marketing tips below are based on these changes in user behavior. Read on and learn how to make your franchisees even more profitable.1. Make Your Site Mobile-FriendlyThe share of mobile internet usage is rapidly growing. You don’t want to lose out on this traffic, which is why you need to make sure your site and franchisees’ sites (if those sites are separate) are optimized for mobile users’ experience.When designing for mobile, keep these user experience (UX) tips in mind:Keep the design as simple as possibleHave clear call to action (CTA) buttons so that users know what to do and what to expectKnow your users’ behavior and use it to show them what they want to see. For example, if a typical user’s path is usually Home Page > Pizza Menu, then you’d better add a visible Pizza Menu button on your mobile home page so that users can easily find what they’re looking for.2. Help Your Franchises Appear in Google Map ResultsWhen someone is looking for food, home repair services or a store, they usually indicate the location they need: “Italian Restaurant Liverpool downtown,” or even, “vegetarian store near me.” For location-specific searches, Google has specialized map listings, which point users directly to the nearest place on the map.To improve your local business ranking in Google Map Results, keep in mind that:Each franchisee’s location needs to be optimized on its own (that means submitting each franchisee’s phone, address and business name to Google My Business, getting listed in other directories, collecting reviews, etc.)Google recommends that if you have one central website for all franchise locations, each franchisee should have its own unique and optimized page on the siteCHOOSE WHICH KEYWORDS TO RANK FORYou need to research for which keywords you want to rank — that’s usually a combination of your business type and location, which go together to match how your customers find you online:“Chinese food Norwich” “home care services Philadelphia downtown” “roofer and drainage service near me”In order to choose the right long tail keyword, you need to do some research with the help of a keyword tool to discover keywords that (a) have a high search volume, (b) have a low competition rate and (c) match your area of service. To successfully rank for your search term, you need all of these factors together, in the right balance. If you choose a keyword with a very high search volume, the competition might be too fierce to be able to make an impression, but if you choose a keyword with very low competition, it may not be searched for frequently enough to bring you traffic.We usually advise clients to go with the most localized keyword, since that’s where competition is lowest, chances to rank are highest, and users are most willing to convert: in your case, that means making an appointment, ordering food or showing up at your location right away.CREATE LISTINGS IN TOP LOCAL DIRECTORIESMake sure your business information is consistent across directories with a category, description, name, address and phone (NAP). The top local directories to go after are:Google My BusinessBing Places for BusinessYahoo! Local ListingsYelp for Business OwnersUse your keyword research to include them in the description of your business’s online listing and to improve your on-page optimization. For the title, you should use your business name as is: “Noodle Bar Feng Shui.” (It’s NOT recommended to include your location: “Henrietta Home Care | Liverpool.”For best results in local listings, Google recommends that you:Represent your business the way it’s consistently represented and recognized in the real world, across signage, stationery and other branding.Make sure your address is accurate and precise.Choose the fewest number of categories it takes to describe your overall core business.Here’s a very handy tool which will help you:Scan Your Business in Local DirectoriesCONTINUE ADDING LISTINGS TO OTHER LOCAL DIRECTORIESOnce you’ve added or updated your franchisees’ listings in all the major directories with consistent NAP, you should continue adding it to other local directories on a regular basis. Aim for 5 to 10 new listings per month.Don’t forget to keep your NAP (Name, Address, Phone) consistent, so the bots identify your business and aggregate results from all directories.ADD IMAGES OF YOUR LOCATIONAdding images and videos to your listings increases the click-through rate, since users are more likely to choose a listing with images than those without. Images of your office, restaurant or business location work well.Your click-through rate is an important ranking factor for Google Map results ranking. If yours is high, it will eventually increase your position in local listings results.ASK CUSTOMERS TO WRITE REVIEWSNo doubt, you already have many happy customers. Email them or request on social media that they recommend your services to others. Positive user reviews will drive new clients to your door and will help increase your rankings in Google Maps.3. Reach Clients Faster Using Google AdWordsGoogle’s AdWords platform can help you reach your clients faster during this mobile and local shift in the users’ search behavior. Below, we’ve listed some new techniques and tips that can lead to rapid changes in how your ads perform:Ensure your ads are mobile-optimizedPut a CALL button on your mobile adsEnsure your ads are location-targetedCreate a list of negative keywords to reduce your spendingMake sure you’ve implemented conversion tracking, so you know which of your ads are effectiveLook at this blog post for more details on how to optimize your Google AdWords campaigns for mobile.4. Pay Attention to SEO in Your Site DesignMany local business websites use the same page title and meta description for a whole set of pages. This is a big rookie mistake.Since these two pieces of metadata tell search engines what a given page is about, it’s crucial that the title and description are unique for each page. If you have the same metadata on your homepage and all of your franchisees’ pages, you’re decreasing your chances of ranking well in search results for any of them.Make sure you have a clear website structure. The best practice is to have the services you provide as main menu items, so that they are available for your users and the search engines to review and index (e.g. Roofing, Drainage, Home Repair, Painting). These services are usually the keywords people use to find you online, so you want to keep them central in your website structure and with clear descriptive titles and meta descriptions.Once you have the main structure right, make sure your keywords are integrated into your page titles, meta descriptions and in the headings of your content. You can check your site’s page titles and meta info with Screaming Frog and see which titles/meta descriptions are duplicated.For example:<title>Home Repair Services Manchester | By Handyman</title> <meta name="description" content="Professional emergency help with roofing, drainage, electrical issues, plumbing, and more. Serving Manchester, Stockport, Salford, Reddish."><h2>Roofing Services</h2> <h2>Electrical Issues</h2> <h2>Emergency Plumbing</h2>5. Make Your Page Load at Lightning SpeedYour site has to be fast. Users will often lose interest if a page takes more than a few seconds to load. And since Google doesn’t want to frustrate their users, slow sites don’t show up high in the results.Use GTMetrix to see how quickly your website loads.If the Site Speed check is not satisfactory, choose a better hosting solution — you might try upgrading your shared hosting account to a cloud solution or dedicated server.Lower the size of the files that load on your site. Do you have lots of huge image files? These are one of the most common reasons for slow loading speeds.You’ve Only Just BegunThere’s still tons more you can do to help your franchisees thrive. Check out our other blog posts for more tips and feel free to contact us if you have questions or need assistance.