SEO (search engine optimization) as a tactic is becoming ever more important to the lead generation efforts of national franchises, regional franchise ad coops, and multi-unit businesses. However, it’s important that if you’re seeking franchise SEO services from an agency that you understand the two general areas those services can fall under and the differences between them: Traditional SEO, and Local SEO (more info here on what is local SEO?).
And as you are most likely aware, or are quickly becoming aware of, SEO is a vital component of any franchise marketing strategy. Ignoring search engine optimization means you are leaving money on the table, ceding market share to competitors, and settling for a lower return on advertising spend (ROA), and ignoring one of the most cost effective and efficient tactics to acquire customers.
With the recent explosion and growth of smartphones (the majority of American adults now own one, Source: Pew Research Internet Project), consumers are able to search for anything at anytime from anywhere – people are hyper searching. Ignoring this fact and trend in consumer behavior and relying too heavily on traditional marketing has negative financial consequences for your business all the way around.
While traditional marketing is still necessary in many industries for retail franchises, integrating an effective franchise SEO strategy in each market is still critical to success as traditional marketing (e.g. TV, Radio, Print, etc) drives consumers into organic search for your products and services (another article on the importance of Integrated Marketing Campaigns).
Two Types of Franchise SEO Services
The two general buckets of SEO are Traditional SEO and Local SEO, and each has a different process for optimization.
1. Traditional SEO
Traditional franchise SEO services commonly refer to search engine results that have no “map pack”, or a local push pin with an address and map next to it in Google’s search results. In the Google search results page below we see results for a query that has San Diego in it as a geo qualifier. The results without the push pins, addresses, or phone numbers are what we in the industry refer to as traditional SEO.
Google decides with which queries it shows in a “map pack” or not. And recently towards the end of July it significantly reduced the number of queries that had results with “map packs” (this was referred to as the Pigeon algorithm update).
Factors That Contribute To A Page Ranking in Traditional SEO
- Is the page topically relevant to the searcher’s query? In other words, is the page talking about the subject keywords that were searched?
- Is the page authoritative in the eyes of Google?
- Authoritative in many cases is determined by inbound links from other websites and internal links from other relevant pages on the website. In general, a page with many high quality links pointing to it will be rated higher by Google compared to a page with no links. Links are “yes” votes in the eyes of Google.
- Another contributing factor is the number of articles your website has about a particular topic. It’s hard to be perceived as an authority on fun things to do in San Diego, for example, if you only have one page on your site that talks about that.
- Is user behavior good on the page, i.e. do people engage with the page, scroll down and actually read and scan through it and stay on the page for some time? Or do people land on the page and then bounce immediately off and leave?
- Does the page render quickly, or is it slow loading?
2. Local Franchise SEO Services
As mentioned above local SEO is represented in certain Google queries with a “map pack”. In the figure above we queried “San Diego Car Dealerships” and Google displayed the first result as a traditional SEO listing, and then below that two local SEO listings with push pins A and B.
Local SEO is important because up to 50% of queries done on a smartphones have a local intent.
In terms of Franchise SEO services, local search engine optimization is a very different process and service versus Traditional SEO services because the algorithm Google uses to rank sites in local results differs greatly from the algorithm used for traditional SEO rankings.
Factors that contribute to local SEO rankings include:
- Is the business physically located in the geographic area used in the query? If the car dealerships listed above were not in San Diego then they would not have been shown. We don’t know how Google defines a geographic area nor how big of an area they consider to San Diego, but if your business does not show within its geographic definition of an area then you will not show in local (this post discusses how online marketing can assist in franchise location selection).
- How Google defines a geographic area for local search results should also help determine where you locate your business, since missing out on thousands of local queries can result in far lower success. (a post here discusses how Google can be used to help identify franchise location selection.)
- Does the business have reviews on its G+ page?
- Consistency in NAP (name, address, phone) – if other websites, for example your Facebook page, or your Yelp page, or the local chamber of commerce, list inconsistent NAP info then that will count against you.
- Citations and Data Aggregators: does the business have many other geographically relevant websites with the same NAP info about your business?
- For citations, there are approximately 50 critical citations sources, and of course this changes, but can include sites like Yelp, YellowPages.com, Merchant Circle, Manta, your local chamber of commerce, etc.
- Data aggregators, could include companies like Acxiom, InfoGroup, and D&B. Data aggregators push NAP info about businesses to other websites such as Google, Yelp, and others.
- Location page on website: Is there a location page on your website? is it built correctly? Do you list unique images of your business on this page with correct address, phone, and other unique content pertinent to its location. Do you have images of your staff? Reviews and testimonials? Does the page use Rich Snippets to mark up the geographically important information, including hours and phone number?
So to wrap up, the goal of this was to help you understand that there are two different types of franchise SEO services for multi-unit businesses and franchises. If you are seeking search engine optimization services it’s important to understand these differences.
If you would like to discuss your online franchise strategy, call us at, 866-202-6412.
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