Franchises are getting their sites up. They know that having a virtual presence is a must. Nonetheless, SEO is part of it. Your site needs to be optimized so when a potential client is looking your business up, their money doesn’t go to your competitors.
Search Engine Optimization, more commonly known as SEO, is a set of techniques that help your site to be seen. By optimizing your site, you have the possibility to rank higher in the search pages. This way, when people are searching for terms related to your line of work, you’ll be seen and found. The more people visit your site (traffic), there are more probabilities that you convert a lead into a client.
SEO combines a series of efforts. For example, keywords. If you have a franchise that focuses on cleaning services and you want to rank for the term “cleaning service”, it’s a good idea to include those “key words” in the page title, the URL or the content of your site.
There are several SEO rules to follow, and while they’re not the most complicated things to understand, SEO can be easier said than done. In this post I’ll include some local SEO mistakes that you need to look out for and how to avoid them:
Not Having Local Sites
This may seem obvious since we’re talking about local SEO but some franchisors miss the mark here. Think about it from your customers’ point of view. When looking for a solution, they’re most probably going to prefer a “local” answer.
A local site is a great marketing tool and by not providing this to your franchisees, you can be losing potential clients. Even worse, your franchisees may go out and look for a solution for themselves which can result in rogue sites.
Not Teaching your Franchisees About SEO
I know that depending on the type of business you run, it can be more or less difficult to get your franchisees interested in online marketing, let alone SEO. As I’ve mentioned before, it’s becoming a requirement to have a local site and it should be optimized for search engines.
Just as a site, SEO needs to be customized to fit the local audiences and who knows the local audiences better than the franchisees who serve them? They don’t need to be masters at it but with them getting the gist of SEO can help their local sites rank better and ultimately, make your company grow.
Not Getting Listed
Your locations need to be listed! Having your information in any of the thousands of free listings options out there can be a key traffic driver and another way for leads to find you. Be it in Google Places, Yahoo!, Bing, etc., the more listings the better! Plus, they can help your customers feel safe because listings legitimize you as a business.
Local listings are also very important. The search engines relate this information and can further confirm your location. This means that you may want to instruct your franchisees to get their stores listed so they can get the perks that come with them.
Listings are also a great opportunity to get links back to your site. This is very important because the search engines perceive this links as a validation to your site. In other words, links are “votes” that can help you rank higher!
Not Adding a Map or Address
A map or an address and your phone number are key elements that need to be on your site (for local SEO purposes and to let your consumers know where they can find you). Again, these help the search engines to really pinpoint your location. Plus, in this day and age, a map is a great tool to include so all those leads that are coming to you from their mobile devices, can get to you.
Not Optimizing Titles
The page title is more important than you know. It’s what appears in the search pages and it’s what the search engines (and visitors) read first. It should have the keywords you want to rank for, possibly your company’s name, location and what that particular page is about.
Page titles like “Home” can be highly detrimental because they don’t let people and search engines know what you’re about.
To that same point EVERY page has to have its own title. You have an opportunity to rank for different keywords for every page. But I’ll go deeper into this later on.
Keywords should also be found in the general content of your site but you shouldn’t go overboard because you may come across another SEO mistake…
Not Balancing Content and Keywords
It’s a common misconception that, to have your site optimized for the search engines, you need to be some kind of keyword junkie. Remember that you put up a site for your customers, not for the search engines. Content comes first when trying to reach out to them.
And while keywords can help your customers find you, they won’t want to stay in your site if you are randomly placing keywords here and there.
Worry about making your content flow naturally first. If a keyword happens to fit in, add it but don’t push it to where it doesn’t make sense anymore.
Not Updating Regularly
A site needs to be taken care of regularly. It’s not just a one time thing. Updating its content (with blog posts, changing the testimonials, etc.) keeps the site fresh and can help you get your customers to come back for more. Regular updates with compelling and local content is meant to engage your targeted audience and can also help you feed your social media.
Nonetheless, it needs to be done carefully because you may find yourself…
Content is King. It’s the fuel that helps run your site and it truly is what it’s all about. Great compelling and relevant content that gives value to the user is what’s going to differentiate you from your competitors (even if you’re not ranked #1).
Some franchisors may think that the answer to the content and updating problem is to duplicate content throughout their franchisees’ websites. Alas, this is not the answer. Sites with duplicated content can be lost in the search pages because the search engines don’t know which is more relevant or which is the original publication. Thus resulting in traffic and leads loss.
Furthermore, the whole point of having a local site is to reach out to the targeted audience in said location. Content needs to fit in with their environment and their problems. Customization is very important so the visitor feels that you’re talking to him/her on a more personal level.
For tips on the subject, read this post about content duplication.
Not Treating Each Page as a New Opportunity to Rank
This happens with keyword cannibalization. Even though it sounds like a scary term, this means that you use the same keywords for all the pages in your site.
For example, if you own a cleaning service franchise, you may think that the more you include the keywords “cleaning service” in your site, the better chances you have at ranking. This is not only not true, but like content duplication, it confuses the search engine and doesn’t know which page is most important for that term.
Remember that each page is a new opportunity to rank for a different set of keywords.
Not Being Optimized for Mobile Devices
You may have noticed the increasing trend in mobile devices. People live through their gadgets now and while having a presence online with a site is a big step forward, each of your local sites need to be optimized for mobile devices.
According to thinkwithgoogle.com, “mobile search has grown 4x in the past year”. Furthermore, they estimate that ⅓ of those searches has some kind of local intent. BOOM! Don’t be caught off guard and help those searches get to you with a mobile optimization.
Want to know what a mobile optimized franchisee site should contain? Click on the link!
Not Taking Advantage of Inbound Links
Link building is also a big piece of SEO. As previously stated, getting other pages to link back to your site gives you credibility in front of the search engine. Local reviews, social media and other similar efforts can help you build those inbound links that can not only improve your status in the search pages, but also point potential leads to your business.
Not Tracking Progress
This is a little bit trickier and I would advise you handing this task over to your marketing or IT team. Still, tracking your local sites and seeing what’s working for you is a great way to keep your online marketing strategy growing. I won’t go over this in detail but a tool like Google Analytics can help you get this job done.
Not Leading by Example
Do it yourself or hand it over to your marketing team. The idea here is that you don’t come off as being all talk and no play. Work on the SEO for your corporate site and lead your franchisees by example. Be available to them if they have any problems with SEO on their local site.
SEO can be a great marketing tool if used wisely. Don’t let this opportunity go to waste because not only does it mean that you’ll get less traffic, but that it will go to your competitors! Steer away from this SEO mistakes and have you local sites be at the top of the charts!
If have any questions about this post, or anything else regarding Empowerkit, don’t be afraid to ask!