SEO for Franchises

Posted on June 20, 2011

 

Most businesses with an online presence understand the need for SEO. If you want your website to be found online you need to engage in an active search engine optimisation strategy so that your website is able to compete with your competitors. The businesses within your industry that have the strongest SEO strategy are the ones that will succeed online, and win new business from their websites. It’s a fairly simple concept.

For businesses that operate within a specific, confined area, the SEO landscape has changed somewhat over the last 12 months with the emphasis Google has been placing (if you pardon the pun) on Google Places. Google Places pages have become more prevalent as businesses wake up to the importance of being listed with Google in, what is essentially, a free directory run by the biggest search engine on the Internet. Why bother with a paid directory listing with Yell.com when you can have a free listing with Google Places? Google Places pages have far more exposure than any paid directories and the content that you can add to them seems to change all the time. You can upload photos, videos, reviews, details of your services and even special offers.

Did we mention it’s free?

Of course, one area where SEO is especially important, and an area where Google Places is equally vital, is SEO for franchises.

The challenge with SEO for franchises

SEO for franchises comes with its own unique set of problems as often the franchisees themselves are spread far and wide across the country, and sometimes even the world. This means that if your franchisees are selling blue widgets, and they’re based all over the UK, you’ll want them to have an online presence for blue widgets in Cardiff, Edinburgh, Manchester, Newcastle and London – wherever you have a franchise. Google Places is one of the many ways with which you can do this and will ensure that your franchisees get some much needed online coverage but, of course, it’s not the only way.

Some of the standard techniques for optimising a website can be used to optimise a franchisor’s website for the products and services of the franchise, combined with the locations of the franchisee. The important thing to remember is that, because of the many different arms to the business, your website should be in a stronger position to rank well within Google than many other businesses. You have, effectively, many different separate elements all wanting to promote your website because it promotes them too.

For example, each franchisee should have its own mini-site, or section of your website, from which to promote themselves. This could be a separate URL of their own, it could be a sub domain of your website or it could be a section of your existing website. The latter option is preferable, as this will increase the size and relevancy of your website as they promote their own section. An example URL would be something like yourdomain.com/wales/cardiff/ – this could be the specific section of your site for that franchise, and the structure of the URL will assist in your SEO.

What the Franchisee can do

To further your rankings for that specific region you could allow your franchisee to update that part of the website themselves. Following strict brand guidelines (obviously) they could add content to the website, such as details of new offers, events, services or, better yet, news relevant to their area – so long as every one can spell of course, otherwise you’re probably best using an SEO copywriter. Every new piece of content they add to their own section will help them in the search engines and, as it strengthens the overall site, it will help your main website and its rankings as well.

This notion of the franchisee taking ownership of their own part of the website extends beyond the content on the site as well, and into the bounds of link building and social media. For example, each of your franchisees could have its own Twitter profile and Facebook account, where they can interact with customers and share details of new offers and products. All of this interaction, once again, helps to build the strength of your brand and your website within Google. It’s almost as if your franchisees are doing the SEO for you… so long, of course, that they’ve been given the correct guidance on what to, and what not to, do. Your website also needs to be structured correctly for this to work as well, but that’s the same with any type of SEO.

SEO for Franchises: the cost

Perhaps the most interesting aspect of SEO for franchises is how the costing model can work. With an SEO budget split evenly between your franchisees, an SEO campaign could, quite feasibly, turn a profit for the franchisor. There aren’t many industries where the same could be said.

In short, performing search engine optimisation for a franchise is a much bigger task than optimising a regular website but, due to the nature of the beast, the results should be just as attainable so long as the SEO is done the right way. Here at StuckOn we have experience of SEO for franchises not just here in the UK, but in other markets throughout the world.

Technical Director at Engage Web
Darren is Technical Director at Engage Web, as well as being a co-founder of the company. He takes a hands-on approach to SEO and web design, helped by more than 20 years’ experience in these fields.
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