Even nationwide organizations and global companies need to think local. Local SEO, that is.
Today, the war for search engine turf is not fought on a grand scale. It’s fought and won with local victories and losses in every town in the world.
Google now factors in the precise location of both the searcher and the business when ranking results. And even some of the biggest companies in the world are still struggling with this.
This results in some household names not even showing up on the first page of Google.
How do you avoid this? By switching the focus of your franchise’s search engine optimization strategy to attack local SEO. Here’s how you do it.
It’s very hard to fight a local war when all of the marching orders come from the top.
In most cases, the franchise will determine their search engine optimization strategy, then communicate the best practices downhill to the local franchise owners.
Why is this strategy fundamentally flawed?
Most of your senior-level officials and stakeholders at the top of your franchise don’t know the first thing about SEO.
So they put their trust in one of two places. Either an in-house SEO expert/team or they outsourced to a digital marketing firm.
Most franchises don’t staff an in-house SEO team. Mainly because most of their spending doesn’t actually go to the company search engine optimization.
When you take on a full-time employee, as much as 25 to 40% of the money you spend goes to things outside of their salary, like bonuses, sick days, taxes, and other expenses.
Most companies would prefer to take all this money and hire a digital marketing agency. That way, all of their budget goes towards moving the needle forward for the company.
Now, you have legitimate SEO experts running the strategy. This is better. However, you need to make sure this agency is prescribing a detailed local SEO strategy. Otherwise, they are simply taking your money and setting you up to fail.
If you decide to buy into a sports bar franchise, you’ve probably got a lot of expertise in the foodservice industry. You didn’t get where you are today by being an expert on local SEO.
This means you are relying on information from the top level to win the local war. There is either somebody running your SEO campaigns for you or they’re advising you how to do it.
Or maybe, you actually know a lot about search engine optimization. So, you might have your own ideas on how your franchise is going to compete against other local businesses.
This leads to a lot of franchise owners ignoring the strategy from the top level of the franchise, and going “rogue.” They know that their bottom line and personal wealth is driven by their individual franchise’s ability to compete locally.
They think they know better than the bigwig SEO experts at the franchise level, so they’re going to do their own thing.
As you can see, there are a lot of moving parts here, and all of these parts need to be able to move at their own individual pace.
This is how you do it.
Your staff or the agency designing your campaign needs to have a steadfast commitment to local SEO.
That means a custom tailored strategy for each individual franchise, add each individual location. It also means you have to measure the results individually from each of those locations.
You then need to take it a step further and take the information from each location and make any required changes based on what the traffic or ranking numbers tell you.
Continuing with the sports bar example
One of your locations ranks #1 locally for “chicken wings”. But another location is in a more competitive market for chicken wings, so they’re not even on the front page for that keyword. But they’re ranking very well for “pulled pork sandwiches.”
Each of these locations has different metrics and different needs. And your strategy needs to be able to respond to the performance in the demand of each individual market.
When issues come up, they may not affect everybody in the fleet.
Let’s take the Google Hawk update for example. This update was Google’s way of cracking down on local businesses creating more than one listing for themselves, so they can cheat their way to a higher ranking on Google maps.
It worked, with one unfortunate side effect. If you were geographically really close to your competition (same street or same building) one of you might get flagged as a duplicate account. Google would write you off as a spammy fake listing.
Now, let’s assume you on a nail salon franchise. One or two of your franchises might be in a mall with other nail salons. Or maybe one is just down the street from a full day spa that also does nails.
All of a sudden, these businesses would suddenly and literally drop off the (Google) map, while the rest are completely unaffected.
You need somebody monitoring the performance and ranking of each individual franchise in each individual market. That’s the only way you can catch and solve issues like this.
Otherwise, one of your franchise owners is going to see a dramatic drop in foot traffic because they no longer appear in nail related searches on Google maps. And they don’t have the know-how or power to figure out why.
Buzzhive Marketing can help your company, business or brand get found locally online today, helping more people find you, starting today!
You can start right now by clicking here for our free website auditor.
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