This month, thousands of franchise business leaders and entrepreneurs came together in Las Vegas for the International Franchise Association 2015 convention. Rio SEO was there in the expo hall and had a steady stream of franchise executives and owners dropping by, many expressing that they still don’t understand local search and how it works.
Franchise network execs and franchise owners understand that they’re missing out on a critical advantage that can help them grow their business, but feel local search is a daunting undertaking.
It doesn’t need to be though. Increasing your visibility in local search results simply requires a commitment to best practices and a solid local search strategy.
These are the core strategies to start building a strong local search presence for your franchise network:
Build a Digital Storefront
Getting online with an e-commerce website is all well and good, but it’s no guarantee consumers will be able to find you on the web when they search for your product or services nearby. Each of your franchise locations needs a visible presence in their respective local online spaces, including search engines, directories and data aggregators.
However, franchisees often have little time or lack the practical knowledge to effectively market their business, particularly in fast-moving digital world.
Distributing, optimizing, and verifying franchise local business information is essential to ensuring accurate NAP (Name, Address, Phone) and additional information is present across the local search ecosystem.
Get Right with Consumer Expectations on Mobile & Social
Prioritizing the mobile experience is critical, considering over 80% of searches on mobile phones convert to sales. Mobile searchers are often looking for information while they’re on the go – possibly right in the neighborhood of one of your locations!
Mobile users are also increasingly social; the average American now spends 40 minutes a day in their Facebook feed. On Twitter, 49% of active users follow brands, with 19% of those followers expecting customer support through the network. Including your franchise locations on social networks is another way of driving mobile users to your stores.
It’s crucial to ensure that each location has optimized online environments for desktop, tablet and mobile visitors and that they’re active in social channels. That takes us to our next core strategy below.
Utilize Local Landing Pages to Capture Consumers through Search
Sending local searchers to a generic homepage is a poor experience, leaving them more likely to click away to a competitor than continue searching for the information they expected to find on your site. Local landing pages and location finders are essential for delivering relevant content to searchers.
When building out landing pages franchisees should use localized code-level metatags, schema markup, optimized SEO elements and a URL structure with keywords and location. Local media such as events, appointments and loyalty forms can engage users and compel them to take next steps, while local incentives like click-to-call and location-specific coupons can take conversions to the next level.
Align Franchisee & Corporate Interests with Local Search Proof
Ensuring a consistent local search strategy across multiple franchise locations poses a familiar challenge: how do you get franchisee buy-in for local search efforts using pooled funds if franchisees don’t understand the value of local?
You show them that value in a tangible way, with accurate, meaningful reporting on a regular basis.
Educate franchisees in local search KPIs and understanding their ROI from participating in the overall local search strategy. Measuring and tracking click activity and traffic across local landing pages, segmenting traffic and measuring rankings, monitoring citations and reviews proves the value of local search. It’s up to corporate to ensure each franchisee is informed and equipped to see that value through reporting.
Automated roll-up reporting allows each franchisee to compare their local data accuracy, local rankings and traffic to location finders, number of reviews, average rating effect and more over time.
5 Takeaways for Successful Local Search Strategy Across Your Franchise Network
Physical businesses not involved in local search marketing are missing out on incremental traffic and in-store conversions. Scale your efforts and increase the local search presence of all of your locations with these takeaways:
- Build a digital storefront and syndicate your optimized location information optimization to capture users anywhere they may search.
- Optimize for multi-screen searchers and offer a great mobile experience.
- Use local landing pages to deliver rich, relevant local content.
- Educate and empower franchise owners – and get buy-in – with roll-up reporting and measurable ROI.
- Automate search marketing campaigns across the organization with powerful local search software to ensure consistency, accuracy and greatest performance