Businesses with multiple brick-and-mortar locations may operate under a franchise or co-op model.
This covers industries like home service, fitness, solar, legal, automotive, cleaning & more.
For SEO, they gain big competitive advantages in that the sum is greater than the parts, so long as they apply local SEO best practices across their web assets.
This coordination be a challenge though, without someone to manage the effort across the whole franchise.
Like SEO done anywhere, there’s rarely a magic bullet or single thing wrong with your strategy that causes organic traffic & leads to change.
Here are some key tips, still relevant in 2023:
- Carefully manage your online reputation, ensuring a reviews strategy across key sites not only maximizing review quantity & quality but going beyond that… for example, do you prompt happy customers to include target keywords? Do you have a process to respond to negative feedback? This is the least technical way to boost local SEO rankings.
- Create pages by city. Keep in mind these can be for cities with a location only nearby. Many businesses use a Locations finder tool, but you must ensure that indexable pages are made here. These should have features like embedded Google Business Profile (GBP) maps alongside testimonials & trust symbols (ex: certifications), perhaps FAQs. With some exceptions, use these pages as the website links on third-party sites (not the homepage).
- Connect the backlink authority of the whole franchise through internal linking with keyword-based anchor text. This means each microsite should link to the national one. A common mistake here is when the Location tool has ‘Visit Website’ for the storefront link instead of the store name or anything more descriptive. You must also ensure robust linking to your key pages.
- Linkbuilding should be pursued at the grassroots level for each location. Make sure everything you do offline is represented online. Old-school spammy efforts here will actually harm you today beyond wasting money.
- Have as many physical locations as possible represented by a GBP (Google My Business) among other directory listings by location & industry. Take third-party listings seriously and do everything possible there, exploiting all features while considering them equal in value to pages on your own site. Use complete, accurate, consistent data with your Name, Address & Phone Number (be careful with non-local call tracking here). Mention these relentlessly on all web assets. Service-area businesses will struggle to outrank the competition unfortunately.
- Don’t ignore conversion rate optimization. Do you make it easy for potential customers to contact you with embedded forms? Have you considered adding a chat feature? Decrease the numbers of steps everywhere to reach your business.
- Have a separate page for each service on your site. Should each Services page then be created under each location page too? This is a difficult question that has to be handled on a case-by-case basis.
- Ensure your content strategy targets keywords. Many businesses produce great assets that don’t fulfill search intent. For example, it’s better to call out local competitors through comparison articles, or share long-tailed product features, than publish a gorgeous online magazine that no one visits.
- Avoid spammy SEO tactics. A common one is having thousands of cities in the footer. Bad UX/UI will have visitors return to search results, harming your rankings. Make redesigning a crappy-looking site your highest priority, if necessary, while ensuring fast load times & mobile friendliness.
- Make the online experience feel personalized & local. For example, show professional images of the location & people your visitors will meet. Conform to best practices like Google suggested dimensions on your GBP.
Beyond SEO, franchises will benefit from Google Ads (especially Local Services Ads) toward a complete digital marketing program.
Having an expert with local SEO experience, truly dedicated to managing your franchise’s SEO, that won’t cost too much only to underdeliver (as expected with many agencies) could help.