Search engine optimization can be challenging for any business, but it’s especially complicated for franchises—businesses that need to compete on a national-to-local scale. Not only do these businesses need to master the same SEO basics as other companies and brands, but they face the particular challenges that come from having multiple, often highly localized websites.
But if localization is part of the problem, it is also, ultimately, the solution. Localizing individual websites is the key to unlocking an effective and robust SEO strategy. With that said, there are several strategic considerations that must first be made.
As always, good SEO begins with the website, and franchise websites are no different: Abiding by the best practices for website optimization is a must. The big problem the franchises will face is that search engine algorithms are notoriously punishing toward duplicate content—which means that it is imperative for each localized franchise site to have unique content.
The best thing the business can do, then, is to offer each franchise a website variant that adheres to the same basic template but offers unique images and text. The basic messaging can be the same, but the articulation of that message needs to be demonstrably different from one site to the next.
On to Localization
The next step is to localize. This is frankly not as easy as it used to be, and you cannot simply insert the name of the city and state somewhere in the content and consider it “localized.” For one thing, greater specification is needed; search engines want to see information about the specific neighborhood or locale, not just the big picture.
All business websites and landing pages should therefore have H1 and H2 title tags, as well as URLs, that are location-specific—and as precise as possible. It is also essential to include the name, address, and phone number for the specific franchise location—ideally on every page of the website.
And then there is the question of mobile users. Mobile users represent an ever-expanding audience, highly likely to be conducting on-the-go searches for local businesses. For franchises, mobile users simply must be captured—but how?
The simple answer is to have a truly mobile responsive Web design—one aimed not first and foremost toward SEO, but toward actually enhancing the user experience. This may sound backwards, but actually, assisting mobile users is the best way to improve search engine optimization.
Other Elements of Localized SEO
Franchises must take into account other factors, as well. Social media is a big one. Each franchise location should have its own social media profile—complete with local address, phone number, and hours of operation.
Online review sites—whether Yelp, Angie’s List, Facebook, or Google—are also key; in fact, encouraging customers to submit their own reviews is one of the most powerful weapons in the SEO toolbox.
To access all these SEO tools—including franchise-specific ones—call Sefati Consulting today; we are eager to help you harness the best SEO principles on behalf of your franchise websites.