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How franchisees can use SEO to bring in local business

Posted on July 12, 2013

Many people go down the franchise route when venturing into business because it will come with a recognisable name, proven products and the large part of a ready-made customer-base. It would, however, be wrong to just sit back and relax thinking all of the hard work is done. It’s now the franchisee’s job to maintain this platform and, perhaps more importantly, build on it.

With thousands of small businesses in the UK, each looking to stand out from the competition online, though, it pays to have a well-researched plan in place to get ahead. This starts with a bit of search engine optimisation, or SEO.

Increasing local custom with SEO

The very nature of franchising means that local custom will be crucial to the survival of each individual branch. There is likely to be a large number of outlets under the umbrella, each vying for the biggest market share in their respective areas. While promotional measures may already be in place nationally and internationally, it’s important to capitalise on local potential.

In order to get ahead of the competition in terms of search rankings, it’s good to start thinking about the terms that are likely to be used by target audience members when they’re looking for a particular service. By focusing on location-specific keywords, such as “hairdressers in Chester”, a site is more likely to show up higher in the rankings for the right people. If “hairdressers” is used by itself, the field will be way too big to compete with those with huge budgets and it’s unlikely that anyone in Chester will actually find their way to the site.

Landing pages

Landing pages can help massively when it comes to ranking for location-specific keywords. As well as providing some general information on a service or product, they can be used to target local searchers using strategic keyword placement and a bit of local knowledge. It’s good to make it clear that the products and services on offer are available in the certain area, saving consumers the trouble of travelling further afield.

This is also helped with the placement of company details, such as an address and a local telephone number, at the bottom of each page – it allows a more personal feel to be attached to what may otherwise seem like a faceless multinational corporation. At the end of the day, a franchise, while backed by a big name, should be seen by customers as an individual company with local interests at heart.

Keeping track of SEO results

With the help of analytics, businesses are able to see which keywords are working and which aren’t. If one particular landing page isn’t drawing many users in, it may be necessary to look at the keyword and think about what terms consumers may be putting into the search box instead – perhaps using other areas nearby where people may be interested. With Chester as an example again, this could mean mentioning places like Ellesmere Port or North Wales.

Attracting local custom is one of the biggest challenges faced by franchisees and, in the digital age, a good online presence is crucial. Google is one of the first places most people will go when it comes to looking for more information on a business, so it pays to ensure your company shows up in the right places for the right people. This is best achieved with a strong SEO strategy.

Graeme is part of the Editing Team at Engage Web, bringing his varied experience in radio and online media to his role as a Web Content Editor.

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Posted by Graeme Parton

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