More Locations, More Problems? Optimize Your Franchise SEO—Part 2

May 11th, 2015 by Search Influence Alumni

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In part two of this two-part series about how to successfully optimize your franchise SEO, you will find three more winning strategies and steps for multi-location or franchise SEO.

It’s All About Location

The effort to have each location found in its own market is often perceived as the most challenging part of multi-location SEO. In part one of this series, we discussed the importance of building the central brand. Now we will tackle how to deal with individual location information, and the ways your franchisees can help to best optimize your franchise marketing and location SEO.

1. On-Site Location Pages

Now that you have built up your central brand, it is time to focus on your individual franchises. Each franchise location should have its own location landing page on your company’s website. Taking extra care to create separate location pages allows search engines to better understand that you have individual locations in specific geographic areas. It also gives you an opportunity to tell users about the unique products and services offered at each different location.

Here is a list of the necessary elements for an effective location page for Internet franchise opportunities:

  • My Map to Google+ page
  • Unique content for the specific location
  • Directions to the location from different landmarks, highways, surrounding cities, etc.
  • Photos of the location
  • Reviews of the location (probably best to have a separate page for these)
  • List of products and/or services (should link back to the main products/services pages)
  • Schema MarkUp to the name, address, and phone number
  • Link to the individual location’s social profiles
  • Link to staff member profile pages
  • Strong call to action

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As with all web pages, it is a best practice to implement unique, compelling content on your location landing pages. Users expect a rich experience when navigating your site, and bland content may turn them away. At the same time, content that is too dense with information or full of keywords may deter users from your web page. To keep site visitors interested, give them valuable information using bullet points in case they are in a hurry. Some multi-location businesses leave a portion of these elements to be completed by the individual franchise owners and managers. In an ideal world, this would be an effective solution, but knowing that these kinds of franchise marketing requests are often put on the backburner, it is best to have a solitary stakeholder in the corporate office responsible for these tasks.

2. Citation Building

Citation building is perhaps the most daunting exercise when approaching multi-location SEO. As it is with SEO for single-location businesses, consistency of name, address, and phone number in your online business listings is key. You will often see name formats including the location, such as “Company Name – Lakeview Location.” However, this is not a best practice for SEO purposes. Instead, remove the location information, and keep the business name exactly the same for all of the locations. The different addresses and phone numbers for each location will be enough to differentiate them for both Google and your potential customers.

Each location should have a unique business description written for its online listings. This task may be best completed by individual franchisees, as it might be difficult for any one individual to write multiple, unique descriptions for essentially the same business.

On the other hand, you should choose the same categories and logo for every location. Adding unique pictures of each location and its staff would be a nice touch, as well, but it may not be worth the trouble if you have upwards of 10 to 15 locations. Some directories will offer more fields than others. It is in your best interest to provide as much information as possible.

Rather than taking on the incredibly time-consuming task of doing this for each individual business directory for every single location, consider using Moz Local. This tool makes pushing out each location’s name, address, phone number, categories, business descriptions, etc., to major directories as easy as a simple click of your mouse.

As you can see below, the major online data feeds and directories share their information with each other, which should allow Moz to take care of most of your citation building and cleanup. Just 90 days after you submit the listings to Moz, go back and see where you stand. Some manual cleanup may be required.

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Expanding your search for niche directory opportunities for your company’s industry and each franchisee’s market is also highly recommended. By getting listed in these hyper-specific and hyper-local directories, you are giving search engines that much more information about what you offer and where your business should be found.

3. Enlist the Help of Your Franchisees

Enlisting the help of your franchisees may be a time-consuming task for some, which is why everything preceding this recommendation can be taken care of by one single source.

Allowing each of your locations to manage its own social presence can be both empowering and helpful for your visibility in search engine results. To help manage the challenges that may arise, you should create a clear social media policy outlining what is and what is not acceptable. Make your branding and the content of the posts a top priority when creating this social media manifesto. You will also want to make this a working document just in case someone finds a loophole that needs closing.

Each location should also be responsible for collecting positive reviews and testimonials from their customers. I would highly recommend incentivizing this effort and coaching your managers on the proper way to approach their customers. Written testimonials on the website serve as phenomenal selling tools. Reviews on Yelp, Google+, and other third-party review sites are even better.

Getting everyone on the same page with webinars can also be advantageous to the cause. Some topics that you will definitely want to cover include social media branding, social media posting, social media interaction, and how to ask customers for reviews. Break each of these up into bite-sized chunks, and keep your focus on the industry’s top three social media platforms. Side note: record all of your webinars, and make them available to your franchisees at their leisure.

Get Started!

As you can see, there is plenty of work to be done in order to achieve success with multi-location SEO. As your franchise grows and brings on new franchisees, use the above recommendations as a checklist for each new location. You can get most of this done within a week’s time for each new franchise location. Doing so will save you a lot of trouble down the road. It may be in your best interest to contact Search Influence for your online marketing needs, especially including the complicated maze of managing multi-location SEO and franchise marketing.

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