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Local SEO for Franchises

Kenny Wu

What Does Franchise SEO Look Like?

Like many modern consumers, one of the first things you probably do when you’re looking for plumbing help or swimming lessons for your kids is to do a Google search.

As you begin to sift through the results, you’re likely to click on three or four business websites you think might be good choices before looking into the companies’ reviews and ratings and giving the winner a call. But unless you’re extremely methodical with your decision-making, it’s unlikely that you’ll ever go through the businesses listed on page four or five of Google’s search results.

With search engines like Google or Bing being such important first sources of information, businesses that aren’t listed on Google’s first or second search results pages miss out on a lot of visibility that their competitors receive. In a nutshell, this is why investing in search engine optimization (SEO) is so vital for businesses in their local markets.

What is Franchise SEO?

SEO is the usage of specific strategies and techniques to get websites to rank higher and gain more visibility on search engine results pages, such as Google or Bing. What has made SEO particularly tricky to master is that the algorithms used to determine search rankings are considered business secrets by their tech giant owners.

As a result, while Google, Bing, and other search engine providers regularly release information about how and what their algorithms favor in search results, no one truly knows their individual formulas.

For franchises, SEO becomes more complex since the needs of both franchisors and franchisees need to be accounted for. What is required at the national and local levels is different so distinct strategies and tactics need to be employed at each level.

Since most of the searches for a brand happen at the local or consumer level, we’ll be talking about what, why, and how behind local SEO in this article series specifically written for franchise owners and their franchise marketing support teams. At the end of the series, you should have a better understanding of the significance of local SEO not just for individual franchise locations, but for the national brand as well.

A Quick Refresher on SEO

There are several sections on a Google search engine results page (SERPs) a consumer can get information, including paid ads, featured snippets, the local pack, traditional organic results, and more, though a line can be drawn between paid ads and organic listings.

Paid ads help get a business in front of a customer quickly, without having to do much of the work needed to show up in organic results. However, each click of an ad costs money, and a franchise owner looking to get the most out of their marketing budget may be looking to balance their marketing strategy with more cost-efficient methods.

This is where organic results and the work of search engine optimization comes in. Since there is technically no cost to getting a website organically ranked, many businesses have come to think of SEO as a “free” lead or customer generator. However, it does take time, labor, and ongoing know-how to stay on top of search results, especially when the competition for these organic SERP spots can be fierce.

Why is Local SEO important for Franchises?

Local SEO helps individual franchise locations compete for visibility on search engines in local markets whenever a potential customer is looking for a service or product nearby. This is distinct from general consumer searches since local searches show high intent and a greater likelihood for the searcher to be in the process of buying a product or hiring a service.

Here are some other reasons why local SEO matters for franchises:

Almost a third of consumers search for local businesses on a daily basis.
  • Even with the rise of social media over the last decade, organic search still drives over 10x more website traffic than organic social media.

  • 60% of respondents in a SEO survey said organic results were more relevant than paid ads.

Aside from simply appearing in the organic results of a SERP, does it matter how far down the list a business shows up? The answer is a definitive yes.

Whoever shows up first on a search engine results page (SERP) can have a huge advantage as the first result on a SERP is a whopping 11x more likely to be clicked on than the tenth result. Paying attention to and investing both time and effort in local SEO can translate to a meaningful increase in website traffic, which in turn, can lead to more customers and revenue for a franchise.

Want a how-to guide for getting started with SEO? Check out our part two here.