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Increase Your Franchise’s Visibility

Franchising World, December 2005

By Jack Burris

Notice anything new at www.franchise.org? The International Franchise Association recently re-designed its Web site and has become one of the pre-eminent franchise lead portals on the Internet. With more than 200,000 “unique” visitors per month and an average visit time of 13 minutes, Franchise.org is able to attract quality traffic and keep them there for an extended amount of time.

Just as Franchise.org has improved the number and quality of leads it delivers to members, advertising on other Internet lead portals has become more and more commonplace during the past two or three years. And in continuing to take advantage of all the ever-increasing online advertising options, several other companies have started to experiment with techniques such as pay-per-click advertising on Tier One and Tier Two search engines, content-match and individual Web site search engine optimization. Each of these options offers your company several different ways to reach qualified prospective franchisees.

Franchise Lead Portals–Franchise.org

One of Franchise.org’s leading advantages is its ability to provide prospective franchisees with the option of choice. With more than 1,000 franchise concepts available online, Franchise.org is leading the franchise lead portal industry in options. And with all of the franchises listed, a prospective franchisee has the freedom to search dozens of different opportunities to see which franchise is the right option for him or her. Visitors can search by category, investment level, newly added franchises, Veterans Transition Franchise Initiative participants and home-based franchises. Prospective franchisees can also search by keyword.

For example, 1-800-DRYCARPET, a carpet-cleaning service franchise based in Santa Ana, Calif., recently started selling franchises and wanted to ensure prospective franchisees visiting Franchise.org were able to find the franchise when searching for various types of cleaning franchises. “Our franchise is unique and not for everyone,” said company President Greg Cantrell. “1-800-DRYCARPET is looking for a specific type of prospect, not just anyone interested in an investment.”

By featuring 1-800-DRYCARPET on Franchise.org and using exact keywords to attract qualified prospects, Cantrell hopes to attract only those qualified and interested in his type of franchise. The brief business description featured on Franchise.org for 1-800-DRYCARPET looks like this:

A 1-800-DRYCARPET service franchise provides genuine dry organic carpet cleaning service to homes and businesses. A DRYCARPET cleaning franchise is a complete turnkey system that “does the heavy lifting” by answering all inbound phone calls and by scheduling all appointments. DRYCARPET’s Internet-based software features; wireless POS check- and credit-card-processing integration, flash reporting and just-in-time inventory management. Large ZIP-code-exclusive areas are available to qualified applicants who share our vision for growth.

1-800-DRYCARPET’s description is searchable with the following keywords or phrases: drycarpet, carpet, carpet cleaning, cleaning, cleaning franchise, service, service franchise, 800, 1-800, and 1-800-DRYCARPET. Most importantly, Cantrell crafted the first sentence of his company’s description to contain the majority of the keywords and phrases giving 1-800-DRYCARPET optimal search engine friend.

Pay-Per-Click Advertising

Pay-per-click advertising has become extremely popular in the franchise community during the past two years. Just take a look at that are purchasing the word “franchise” to drive traffic to their Web site. Whether it’s your Web site, a franchise lead portal or a franchise consultant, each company is hoping to draw the most qualified traffic to their Web site for the least cost. Advertising on the Tier One search engines is costly and, depending on your budget, could even be considered cost-prohibitive. However, don’t feel like you can’t compete with the bigger franchises in the PPC market. Tier Two search engines offer great advertising opportunities which usually come at a lower cost.

Tier One search engines include, but are not limited to Google, Yahoo!, MSN, Askjeeves, AltaVista, and so on. According to a recent article on SearchEngineWatch.com, Google currently holds about 53 percent of the search engine marketing revenue with Yahoo! Search Marketing following a close second at 45 percent. That leaves only about 2 percent of total remaining revenue for the remaining hundreds of search engines. What’s great about that is that the remaining 2 percent represents millions of searches every month. Tier Two search engines fall into three major categories:

  • General Search
  • Verticals
  • Shopping

When trying to decide which search engine is right for your franchise, try to select both the vertical that fits your industry and a budget that will allow for at least a three-month test period. Because the clicks on the lesser known search engines are less expensive, franchise companies could even start with a budget as little as $100 per month.

Content Match

Many of the Tier One and Tier Two search engines offer content match as a complimentary service to the pay-per-click advertising most franchises are familiar with appearing at the top and sides of search engine results. As defined by Yahoo! Search Marketing, content-match enables you to broaden your reach beyond search results and attract more customers who are interested in what you offer.

Content Match can help you:

  • Reach customers through online publishers, newsletters and emails.
  • Target interested prospects at the right time: when they are ready to buy or make an impulse purchase.
  • Drive additional targeted sales leads to your site.

While content match is a great way to extend the reach and total number of clicks your franchise receives on a daily or monthly basis, it can also be difficult to manage. Using the word “franchise,” for example, your advertising could appear in any article that mentions franchising on the search engines affiliated network. Yahoo!’s publisher network, for example, includes 10 different search engines and news sites which means that the advertiser does not have an exact idea where the traffic is coming from at any given time.

Search Engine Optimization

Dozens of other IFA-member companies are optimizing their own Web sites by using Franchise.org and other search engines to help draw qualified prospects to their franchise opportunity. Long-time IFA member and lawn care franchise Lawn Doctor has set up its Web site and search engine marketing to ensure good results. Using the keywords “lawn care franchise” in Google gives a good example of how to make pay-per-click advertising and search engine optimization work for your company.

Another IFA-member company that is effectively using online advertising techniques is Sona Medspa. With the help of Hot Dish Advertising, Sona has been able to implement some very trackable Internet advertising techniques to hopefully increase the leads it receives from the internet and, ultimately, increase franchises. Typing “sona” into Google shows both the pay-per-click results and organic placements in the same window.

Not only does having your business description as keyword friendly as possible help your franchises visibility on Franchise.org, but it also helps prospective franchisees find more information about your system on any search engine. Using 1-800-DRYCARPET as an example again, by typing “1-800-DRYCARPET Service Franchise” in a search engine tool bar, the results are just as Cantrell would hope with www.drycarpet.com, the company’s corporate Web site, and www.franchise.org leading the way. Whether a prospect is using Yahoo!, Google or any other popular search engine, each franchise should give the prospective franchisee the most information in the most concise way possible.

So what can a company do to help maximize its visibility on Franchise.org and on the Web? Take a few minutes to review the franchise’s description to see how “search engine friendly” it is. Be sure to include several different descriptive words and phrases in the first or second sentences to help your franchise opportunity continue to achieve maximum search engine results. Also take a look at the titles, copy and meta descriptions on your company’s Web site and define a monthly budget for pay-per-click advertising.

The International Franchise Association’s Marketing Department can assist at any time. By taking just a few minutes to review how your franchise opportunity appears on the IFA Web site and other search engines, your franchise system could begin to see the benefits instantly.

Jack Burrris is director of advertising and marketing for the International Franchise Association and Franchise.org. He can be reached at 202-662-0762 or jburris@franchise.org.