Studies have shown that “near me” searches over mobile have grown exponentially over the past few years.

These local searches often serve as the number one channel for customers to reach local businesses, including restaurants, pharmacies, auto parts stores, pet supplies, and many more.

Whether you’re franchising a business from an established local brand or a large corporation attempting to open a location in a new area, follow these five tips to drive local exposure for your business.

But first…

How Franchise SEO Works

Franchise SEO involves the optimization of franchise-based websites for organic online search—read, not paid advertising.

By optimizing location-specific pages for individual franchisees and the corporate brand website, you can provide customers with a resource to contact each business and provide relevant information for local-based searches.

However, it’s important to divide this definition into two distinct strategies:

  1. Creating a corporate brand website with the ability to manage multiple location pages.
  2. Managing a single franchisee landing page to promote your business as a franchise owner.

How much freedom an individual franchisee has over his or her webpage will depend on the brand.

In addition, franchise SEO will also share many of the same strategies as this local SEO checklist, such as acquiring local citations and optimizing one’s Google Business Profile.

For this article, we’ve outlined a few tips to help individual business locations compete in online search, whether you’re a corporate owner managing multiple locations or an individual franchisee owner getting foot traffic to your door.

While having an already established brand certainly makes the process of attracting foot traffic to your business easier, no franchise can ignore the importance of franchise SEO in the digital age.

5 Franchise SEO Tips to Follow

Follow these franchise SEO tips to optimize each location-based page to drive the most foot traffic or calls to each local franchise branch.

1. Create a Google Business Profile

Optimizing your Google Business Profile for Google Maps and local search is critical to capturing local organic search traffic originating from “near me” searches and location-based keywords.

For example, Google research from 2014 found that 50% of local mobile searches led to a store visit that day. We can only speculate that this number has grown as mobile search has advanced.

One important thing to remember is that Google serves results for local search based on “relevance, distance, and prominence.” As a result, not all local “near me” or location-based keyword searches will display the closest businesses in terms of distance.

With that in mind, businesses can compete across wide regions by offering the most accurate and relevant information on their Google Business Profile page.

Create a Google Business Profile

Fortunately, optimizing a Google Business Profile is relatively quick and easy. Here are some tips to achieve the best results for your local franchise business:

  • Ensure proper NAP information and consistent branding
  • Regularly upload high-quality photos
  • Add a list of relevant products and services based on keyword research
  • Respond positively to reviews
  • Write a brief, but detailed description of your business
  • Fill out a Q/A based on common customer questions
  • Utilize Google Posts to help promote your business

2. Use Location-Based Keywords

You’ll need to optimize individual location-based landing pages with local keywords corresponding to local user queries.

Conducting keyword research helps you uncover common user questions and complaints in your area and discover which keywords are most often associated with user searches.

Implementing local keywords on your website also helps search engines index your website or landing page for these specific terms.

For example, suppose you’re starting an auto repair shop in Houston based on an existing franchise. The first thing you’ll want to do is break out your keyword planner and conduct a search of all relevant keywords to your industry and see which terms provide the best volume:

In this case, “auto repair Houston” commands a greater search volume than car repair, mechanic, and other Houston-based auto repair terms.

Using this information, you can optimize the following metadata of your landing page to correspond with searches for “auto repair Houston”:

  • Title tag
  • Meta description
  • H1 Tag
  • The first paragraph of page copy

Consider these keyword research tips and sources to help you discover content ideas that will appeal directly to user interests and pain points:

  • Related searches on Google
  • Competitor title tags
  • Answer box questions

You can then incorporate these phrases into your copy page to nurture leads who land on your webpage. Additionally, you could answer popular user questions directly on your website with a Q and A.

3. Set Up Local Schema Markup

As helpful as local keywords are, you can’t guarantee search engines will index your website for local search. Fortunately, that’s where schema markup comes in.

Schema markup is a form of structured data or semantic language that search engines use to understand your website better. Without getting too technical, you can insert schema markup for the following information to assist in proper indexation:

  • Operating Hours
  • Review Ratings
  • Geo Location
  • Address
  • Prices
  • Telephone Numbers

Bets of all, Google provides its own Structured Data Markup Helper and Structured Data Testing Tool to help you utilize this data.

4. Build Out Strategic Backlinks

Once you have a solid SEO foundation for your website and Google My Business listing, it’s time to acquire exposure. Fortunately, Google is not the only avenue to acquire organic exposure, as there are several popular directories you could leverage, including:

  • Yelp
  • Better Business Bureau
  • Angi (Contractors and Service-Based Businesses)
  • Trip Advisor
  • FourSquare
  • UrbanSpoon
  • Yellow Pages

These citation and directory links can be acquired from strategic local sources using tools like Moz’s Local Listing Score.

Additionally, you could acquire links from highly valuable sources, such as local magazines, blog posts, and newspapers that promote local businesses in your area.

Regardless of whether you’re a chain or franchise, securing a link on a popular blog describing the best retail stores or grocery stores in an area can drive serious foot traffic to your store.

With this in mind, we’ve provided a few additional backlink strategies that build your website authority and give your business exposure:

  • Acquire links for unlinked mentions
  • Host charitable events in your area
  • Host contests and giveaways
  • Run a sale
  • Research competitor backlinks using Majestic and Ahrefs for additional ideas

White labeling content production and link building is a great strategy to build your online brand and focus more on offline strategies in your local community.

5. Leverage Positive Reviews

Finally, there is no better proof of quality than social proof. Research shows that most people read reviews before purchasing products and even trust reviews like personal recommendations.

While reviews don’t impact local search algorithms, they provide evidence pointing to the quality of your business.

Be sure to incentivize customers to leave a positive review after positive service to help boost your Google and Facebook ratings.

Furthermore, be sure to respond to negative reviews very quickly and offer a solution to any problems to help retain upset customers. Some psychologists believe that turning a bad customer experience into a positive one can inspire greater customer loyalty at the end of the day.

Franchise SEO is relatively straightforward and involves many of the same strategies as optimizing for a multi-location website.

By sticking to basic SEO principles and utilizing research to connect with customers and understand their pain points, you can optimize your website like a magnet to attract local searches and nurture leads into conversions in no time.