SEO / Link Building / Content Marketing
The franchise business model is one that’s been around for the better part of a decade and, despite the rise of many other types of business models and structures, it continues to grow in volume, reach, and diversity.
Research shows that there are an estimated 3,000 different franchise brands operating in the United States today – with a whopping 900,000 individual franchise locations and branches. These businesses are spread across 300 different business categories and create nearly 18 million jobs for workers. In total, franchise businesses generate more than $2.1 trillion for the American economy.
Whether you’re a franchisor or a franchisee, your business represents a small, yet integral slice of the larger pie. But if you’re like most business owners, you find it challenging to continue scaling and promoting your brand in a noisy, online world where competition is fierce.
Does your franchise need more brand exposure? Do your individual franchisees need more traffic and sales? Are you seeking to grow your franchise development leads? Well, there’s a proactive solution that addresses each and every one of these concerns simultaneously: search engine optimization, better known as SEO.
The Benefits of SEO for Franchises
While virtually all businesses can benefit from an investment in SEO, search engine optimization is especially integral in the growth and development of franchises. Here are some of the direct benefits:
- Better UX. Google, Bing, and other search engines don’t create rules just for the sake of making life more difficult on business owners. They establish these rules in an effort to coax businesses into developing more user-friendly websites that deliver value to visitors. Thus, if you follow their directives and invest in SEO, you’ll naturally enhance your website’s user experience (UX).
- Increased visibility. The more you invest in SEO for your franchise, the more online visibility you’ll establish. This helps you both in terms of generating customers and attracting potential franchisee owners.
- Greater trust and credibility. People trust brands they know. With each investment you make in SEO, you’re allowing visibility to work to your advantage. Assuming you communicate a powerful and relatable story, you’ll gain greater trust and credibility in your brand.
- Higher conversion rates. SEO helps you get the most out of your traffic by reaching the right people at the right time. This leads to higher conversion rates and less wasted time on leads that have a low likelihood of converting.
The unique thing about SEO for franchises is that small investments produce a cumulative effect. As one franchise invests in SEO, it naturally brings visibility, credibility, and awareness to the larger brand. In turn, this has a positive impact on the other franchisees. When the franchisor and all of the individual franchisees invest their time and resources into developing a cohesive SEO strategy, the potential is unlimited.
SEO for Franchisors
For franchises, a good SEO strategy starts at the very top. As a franchisor, your primary responsibility is to establish and build the overarching brand. Without strong brand visibility, recognition, and messaging, your franchisees face an uphill battle in their stores and locations. A strong SEO strategy, on the other hand, will help your corporate website rank higher in the search engines and build superior recognition throughout your respective industry.
There are two major theaters of SEO: on-page optimization and off-page optimization. Any good SEO strategy begins by focusing on the on-page portion. For franchisors, this means:
- Following Google’s guidelines and structuring your website with all of the correct technical elements – like proper title tags, SEO-friendly URLs, proper link structures, image optimization, and fast page loading speeds.
- Developing a keyword strategy that permeates your on-site content and helps the search engines determine what your page is about (and if it’s relevant to the individuals conducting the searches).
- Clarifying the proper content strategy so that your website communicates a specific identity and provides value to visitors.
Then comes off-page optimization. Franchise industries are competitive and in order to drive traffic to your top-level franchisor website, you must:
- Establish authority via online reviews and ratings.
- Gain exposure on industry resource pages.
- Build inbound links and brand mentions from third-party websites and blogs.
SEO for Franchisees
If the franchisor is focused on establishing the brand and building trust with the larger marketplace, individual franchisees are dedicated to attracting customers on a local basis and moving them from awareness to purchase. On-page SEO for franchisees looks similar in many regards, but also comes with some nuances. Primary objectives include:
- Investing in the proper schema markup, NAP data, Google Map locations, and other location-specific data that helps the right customers – i.e. those in your immediate geographical market – find you more easily.
- Developing the correct content and keyword strategies that appeal to customers in your market. This requires using the right terms, language, and topics to show that you’re familiar with the specific pain points and needs of customers in your area.
Off-page optimization looks very much the same for franchisees as it does for franchisors. The primary objective is to:
- Forge trust with a targeted audience of people who share common regional interests.
- Cultivate a purposeful link building strategy that’s focused on local websites and citations.
SEO for Franchise Development
Finally, franchisors are always looking to grow and develop their franchise programs so they can open up more locations and expand their reach to engage new customers, cities, and regions. In terms of franchise development, on-page SEO strategy involves:
- Creating and optimizing web pages that are designed to provide entrepreneurs, investors, and aspiring business owners with the right information they need to make an informed decision on whether your franchise program is right for them.
- Optimizing keyword strategies, content, and other technical on-page elements to make your pages searchable by the right audiences.
Off-page optimization also plays a critically significant role in your larger franchise development strategy. You need to:
- Invest in a link building strategy that increases your brand’s visibility on websites that are frequented by entrepreneurs, investors, and business owners.
- Establish your brand’s authority through the proper review and rating sites, which directly influences whether or not people trust your franchise enough to invest time and resources into exploring franchisee opportunities.
The Role of Link Building in Franchise SEO
We’ve made mention of the idea of “link building” quite a few times and there’s a reason for that: Link building is one of the single most important aspects of SEO for franchisors, franchisees, and franchise development.
Link building might sound intimidating, but it’s really just the process of generating and driving links from other authoritative websites and blogs to your own website pages.
You can think of it like building a city. If you want more people to visit your city, you need roads connecting your town to other towns in the area. Link building is the process of acquiring these roads and strategically connecting your website to other websites that share common interests and/or customers.
But perhaps even more importantly is the fact that Google views backlinks as trust signals. The more backlinks you have flowing from authoritative websites into your own URLs, the more the search engines assume you have something credible/valuable. In turn, the search ranking algorithms give preference to websites with lots of backlinks.
Whether you’re the franchisor or a franchisee, a good link building strategy requires four specific things:
1. Audience Research
You can’t build an effective link building strategy without first understanding who you audience is. Audience research, which can be conducted via numerous online research tools as well as through firsthand interactions with your clients, allows you to understand who your target customers are (demographics), what they need/want, and how they find solutions to these needs/wants (research/purchase behaviors).
2. Keyword Strategy
Armed with a clear understanding of who your audience is, you can develop a keyword strategy that allows you to connect your products and services with leads who have a higher likelihood of converting. (In today’s SEO industry, long-tail keywords are the way to go.)
3. Quality Content
Now that you have a clear understanding of who you’re targeting and what keywords intersect with their search behaviors, you can put all of your focus and energy into generating high-quality content on your own website. This means content that’s:
- Useful. Nobody wants to read self-serving content that talks about the various awards you’ve won or achievements you have under your belt. They want content about topics that are useful to them. This is why “how-to” content performs so well.
- Timeless. There’s nothing wrong with a timely topic here and there, but the bulk of your content strategy should be focused on evergreen topics that hold value over time.
- In-depth. Long-form content – meaning articles that are in the range of 1,000 to 5,000 words – provide more value than short-form content that’s just a couple of paragraphs in length. Dig deep and really provide as much value as you can to your audience.
- Engaging. Attention spans are shorter than ever, which means you can’t extract maximum value from long-form content unless you make it engaging. The best content consists of a variety of mediums – including text, graphics, video, audio, and interactive elements. Try to inject as many of these as you possibly can into your own content strategy.
As you build up a library of quality content for your website, you’ll gradually accumulate more linkable assets. These linkable assets are what you’ll use to generate backlinks that propel your SEO strategy forward.
The fourth ingredient is networking. While some people will find your content organically and share it with their audiences, you’ll need to give other people a bit of a nudge. This requires networking with bloggers, journalists, editors, and other business owners in an effort to establish mutually beneficial relationships – such as the opportunity to write guest blog posts or contribute to their platforms.
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Franchise SEO Mistakes to Avoid
When it comes to franchise SEO, there are some common mistakes businesses repeatedly make:
- Using the wrong keywords. It’s dangerous to assume you know something about your customers. If you let your own blind spots and biases guide your content, you’ll end up with a shallow SEO strategy. Unfortunately, a lot of franchises refuse to conduct the in-depth research that’s necessary to uncover the appropriate keywords. As such, they build the rest of their SEO strategy on a shallow, unstable foundation that eventually collapses.
- Keyword stuffing. Even when it involves the correct keywords, the act of keyword stuffing is dangerous and ineffective. If Google catches you doing it, you could face stiff penalties.
- Shallow on-site optimization. When time is of the essence, franchises commonly make the mistake of skipping over on-site optimization and moving directly to link building. Unfortunately, even the greatest link building strategy falls flat when the supporting URLs aren’t properly optimized for the traffic they receive.
- Black hat link building. There’s a lot of misinformation online about link building best practices and techniques. This leads many franchisors and franchisees to accidentally implement black hat techniques that violate Google’s rules.
Technically, anyone can manage and execute their own SEO strategy. But if you’re trying to increase your franchise’s visibility, drive traffic, and convert leads into customers, the errors made through DIY SEO and link building will compromise your overarching objectives and undermine your online presence.
What to Look for in an SEO and Link Building Partner
Instead of adopting a DIY link building strategy, consider partnering with a link building service that specializes in SEO for franchises. In doing so, you’ll reap benefits and perks like:
- Technical experience. SEO and link building require both technical and creative skills, but start your search for a link building partner by considering technical competency. This is the foundation of good, sustainable SEO strategy.
- Quality content. The creative side of SEO comes into play with content creation. You need a team of writers who can develop powerful content that allows your brand’s voice to shine through with consistency.
- Established connections. Link building is all about having the right connections. You can save a lot of time and wasted effort by working with link building partners who already have pre-established relationships with bloggers, journalists, and editors.
Partner With SEO.co
At SEO.co, we’re considered an industry leader in link building. Whether you already have a link building strategy in place, or you’re starting from scratch, we’re confident that we can help you reach your goals.
When you partner with SEO.co, you get access to a stable of U.S.-based writers who have collectively written and published millions of words of content over the past few years – helping both franchisors and franchisees grow their businesses in an honest and sustainable fashion. To find out more about our services, please contact us today!
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