How to Make it Easy for Locals to Find Your National Franchise Brand
By Max Pecherskyi, PromoRepublic
In a struggle for customers' attention, national franchise brands have started to realize the importance of having well-set local SEO. Implementation of local SEO allows potential customers in specific geographic areas to easily find businesses and helps franchise brands rank on Google, Bing, Apple Maps, and other local search engines.
Local SEO for franchises is a part of the local customer journey, and is critical for brand visibility and discovery. It’s all about providing the information local people are searching for and meeting their demand with your products or services.
Here we're sharing how to implement local SEO most efficiently.
Must-haves for getting found in Local Search.
Like smart advisors, franchisors should keep a close eye on how franchisees implement the global marketing strategy at the local level and help them grow local visibility. This approach requires franchisees’ continuous local audience research, marketing strategy localization, and applying SEO tactics to make themselves easily searchable online.
Help franchisees maintain accurate business listings online.
Google estimates 46% of shoppers check information on listings before visiting a spot. Encourage locations to create comprehensive business listings with accurate information about your brand, including contacts, directions, business hours, relevant services, and products. You can provide them with listing management tools to automate this process and add consistent information to 100+ sites at once.
If you have several stores or cafes around the same geographical area, make sure all of them are mentioned and their addresses are included in each business listing. Encourage location managers to add photos of physical locations so that customers can find your business faster. A great example of a well-managed listing is Medi-Weightloss clinic on Google My Business.
Some local marketing tools provide reports showing how people engage with your Google listing page—calls, directions, website visits. By using these reports, franchisees can optimize their pages and get even more interactions. For example, if prospects choose the “Call” button the most often, it would be a good idea to add it to your website main menu and local social media pages as well.
Give franchisees directions to optimize local web pages.
Website content optimization for local searches allows brands to reach people who are interested in purchasing products or services from businesses located nearby.
The content should include relevant keywords customers use to find your brand and other businesses in your niche. Help franchisees to learn how to do it correctly and encourage them to use both location-based and industry-related keywords.
It’s also highly advisable to use location-based keywords in meta-titles and meta-descriptions on web pages as they activate different Google algorithms. If someone looks for “soccer for children” they will most likely be directed to a giant soccer program’s website, while searching “children soccer Austin” will turn on Google Local Search, and if your shop has a location name in their listing, it’s more likely to dominate this search.
Encourage franchisees to provide relevant working hours, contacts, and directions to your business locations on their website. It's recommended to add photos of staff at local stores to get your customers acquainted with them as it helps build rapport and trust. Additionally, this approach will let search engines crawl through the website’s visual information. It will result in an overall better ranking of your business in local search engines.
Encourage social media activity.
The power of social media is increasingly growing; Facebook usage has increased by 50% in February due to the lockdown. Social networks have become key communication channels that allow brands to stay in touch with their local audience. Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and YouTube offer many opportunities to build relationships with potential customers through engaging content and communication on social media. It'll help grow brand awareness and increase customer retention.
Social media is also an essential source of business information. Although Google has been known as the largest search engine with more than 63% market share, the situation is fast-changing as social networks constantly develop new features for local searches. In fact, more than half of customers look for local brands through business pages, the Places feature, Businesses Nearby tab, or recommendations on Facebook. So, it’s a good idea to explain this to your franchisees and ensure they add relevant addresses, open hours, and delivery options to their pages. On Facebook listings, having a location name included in a page title is a plus. So encourage your franchisees to add their city name or even address to the brand name. It will help them be found.
You can also run social media ads targeting a particular geo-location. It’s a good idea to create them in collaboration with franchisees to combine both your national brand messages and the authenticity of the local community. It will help you drive website traffic and attract attention to your products.
Master reputation management with online reviews.
Online reviews significantly influence a brand’s reputation, so replying to them (especially negative reviews) promptly and correctly is uber-important for business success in the digital world. A Harvard Business Review study found that overall ratings increase when businesses start responding to reviews.
Customers leave reviews on social media, online review websites, local business directories, and yellow pages. Your franchisees should answer them wherever possible and show customers genuine appreciation for their feedback. This tactic should be part of the franchise reputation-management strategy. An excellent example of a very empathic response to a customer review is below. Home Instead Senior Care actively answers user reviews on Facebook and encourages communication with customers. That’s probably why this franchise brand is so highly rated on social media.
Franchise brands should follow the latest SEO and marketing trends to keep up with modern customers. One of the major trends that franchise brands can benefit from is local SEO. It makes it easy for customers to find them in online searches and brings long-term results for conversions.
A successful local SEO strategy means maintaining accurate business listings, teaching franchisees how to optimize local web pages, encouraging their activity on social media, and responding promptly to online customer reviews for effective reputation management. Local marketing tools can make implementation of these steps easier for a franchisor.
Max Pecherskyi is the CEO & Co-founder of PromoRepublic. PromoRepublic’s Social Media Marketing Suite connects brands with local audiences. The platform is designed to help franchise HQs eliminate inconsistent communications across multiple locations while giving franchisees powerful, easy-to-use tools for social media content creation and AI-driven scheduling. For more information on the International Franchise Association (IFA) supplier member PromoRepublic, click here.