Franchise SEO: The Complete Guide to Optimizing Local Search Visibility

Operating a franchise comes with unique marketing challenges. While you benefit from an established brand, each franchise location also needs to attract local customers.

This is where franchise SEO comes in.

Optimizing your online presence for local search helps drive visibility, boost awareness, and get more customers through the door.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about franchise SEO, including:

Let’s get started.

What is Franchise SEO?

Franchise SEO refers to search engine optimization for franchise businesses operating under the same brand.

The goal is to improve local search visibility and rankings for individual franchise locations.

Unlike a single business competing nationally, each franchise competes at a local level. They need visibility in their specific geographic area to attract nearby customers.

This type of SEO focuses on optimizing online assets related to a physical franchise location, such as:

The aim is to rank higher when prospective customers search for related products or services near them.

For example, a SuperCuts hair salon franchise would target rankings for “hair salon near me” in their city.

Who Needs Franchise SEO?

SEO for franchises applies to both the franchisor and franchisees.

The franchisor is the company that grants licenses to franchisees to operate under their brand. They handle branding, marketing, and operations standards across all locations.

Franchisees are the local business owners who buy into the franchise system. They run the day-to-day operations of an individual franchise location.

Here’s how both parties benefit from optimizing for local search:

Franchisors:

  • Ensures brand visibility and consistency across markets
  • Helps franchisees generate more leads and sales
  • Allows monitoring of local assets like GMB profiles
  • Builds domain authority and strengthens overall SEO

Franchisees:

  • Drives foot traffic from local searches
  • Improves visibility against local competitors
  • Attracts nearby customers looking for their products/services
  • Increases lead generation and ROI of location

No matter your role, franchise SEO should be an integral part of your overall digital marketing strategy.

Next, let’s explore the core strategies and best practices.

6 Must-Have Franchise SEO Strategies

When optimizing multiple locations, you need an approach that scales.

Here are six proven franchise SEO strategies to improve local search visibility:

Find Relevant Local Keywords

Keyword research lays the foundation for your SEO and content marketing efforts.

You need to identify high-volume, low-competition terms people search when looking for businesses like yours. These are your SEO target keywords.

Start by brainstorming a list of core keywords, like:

  • Industry terms (e.g. plumbing services)
  • Product names (e.g. oil change)
  • Common customer questions (e.g. cars open on Sunday)

Next, use keyword research tools to expand this list and gather keyword data.

Semrush’s Keyword Magic tool allows you to generate hundreds of long-tail variations around your core terms. This gives you a robust list to optimize for.

You can also leverage Google autocomplete suggestions to find more local keywords. Start typing industry terms like “plumbers in [city]” to see predictions.

Finally, analyze keywords your competitors rank for using Semrush’s Organic Research tool. Look for high-volume keywords with low difficulty you can target.

The result is a list of highly relevant, high-traffic keywords to focus your efforts on.

Localize Your Website Content

Creating locally relevant content is table stakes for ranking in search results.

Avoid generic descriptions about your franchise or services. Instead, tailor your content to each location you serve.

Here are some elements that help localize website pages:

  • The city name and area in titles, headers, and page content
  • Location name, address, and contact info
  • Details on the specific neighborhood or region
  • Mention of nearby landmarks or attractions
  • Images of the local store and team
  • Reviews and testimonials from local customers

This localization helps search engines understand the page is relevant to local intent queries. As a result, you’re more likely to rank.

It also signals to searchers that your location serves their particular area. This increases click-through rate.

Optimize Google My Business Profiles

Google My Business (GMB) profiles are essential for ranking in local pack results. This is the map and listings that appear at the top of many local searches:

Local 3-pack for “plumbers near me” search

Each franchise location should have a properly optimized GMB profile. This gives Google key information to understand your business and deliver it for relevant searches.

Make sure to completely fill out important details like:

  • Correct business name, address, phone number
  • Accurate categories that describe your business
  • Hours of operation
  • The service area covered by the location
  • High-quality photos representing your location

Double check information is consistent across all directories, citations, and websites referencing your franchise location. Incorrect or conflicting business data can negatively impact local SEO.

Build Locations Pages on Your Website

Having a dedicated webpage for each franchise location further optimizes your site for local SEO.

These location pages can target keywords for the city or region they serve. For example:

  • “denver plumbing services”
  • “austin carpet cleaning”
  • “boston computer repair”

Page content should focus on that specific area and include unique details like:

  • Testimonials from local customers
  • Information on the neighborhood/community
  • Mention of nearby attractions or landmarks
  • Maps, images, and contact details for the location
  • Employee bios or background on the local team

This helps differentiate each location page and gives search engines more signals that it serves a particular area.

Get Customer Reviews

Customer reviews boost local SEO in two powerful ways:

  1. They reinforce location relevance in search results
  2. High ratings and review volume can directly improve local pack rankings

Overall, reviews build trust and social validation for your business.

Actively encourage customers to leave reviews on platforms that matter most for local SEO:

  • Google My Business
  • Yelp
  • Facebook
  • Industry-specific sites like HealthGrades or HomeAdvisor

Beyond review generation, also consider leveraging user-generated content like customer photos or videos. User content helps reinforce your local expertise and connection to the community.

Fix Technical SEO Issues

Technical SEO ensures search engines can properly crawl, index, and understand your website.

With multiple franchise locations, technical problems can easily arise. For example:

  • Duplicate content across locations
  • Inconsistent use of keywords
  • Issues with site speed or mobile optimization

Use auditing tools like Semrush Site Audit to identify and fix technical problems. Common issues flagged include:

  • Crawl errors preventing pages from being indexed
  • Thin or duplicate content
  • Broken links and redirects
  • Page speed and mobile usability problems

Staying on top of technical SEO is crucial for keeping all locations visible and performing well in search results.

Franchise SEO Best Practices

Beyond core strategies, here are some other best practices to incorporate:

Choose accurate schema markup – Structured data communicates your business type, products, services, reviews, and other details to Google. Use schema specific to your industry to optimize location pages.

Build local links – Earn high-quality backlinks from region-specific sites to reinforce your location relevance. Prioritize links from local directories, newspapers, partners, and advocates.

Leverage knowledge panels – Knowledge panels highlight key details about your brand. Make sure your franchisor website is eligible to have one and that all information is accurate.

Participate locally – Get involved with local professional organizations, chambers of commerce, or community events. This raises brand visibility and awareness in your region.

Monitor insights – Use analytics to track website traffic, leads, and sales by source and location. See which SEO efforts drive results for better optimization.

Now let’s look at two important technical considerations.

Watch For These Technical SEO Issues

Operating at scale, franchises often run into technical challenges that impact SEO. Be on the lookout for these two common issues:

Duplicate Content

Duplicate or thin content results when franchise locations have little unique content. Instead, they rely on templated descriptions replicated across sites.

This presents issues like:

  • Google doesn’t index pages with little unique content
  • Ranking the wrong location page for searches
  • Lower visibility as duplicate pages get consolidated or removed

Audit for duplication issues using tools like Semrush Site Audit. Identify templated pages that need to be refreshed with location-specific details and optimized content.

Slow Page Speed

Site speed is a ranking factor, especially on mobile. Multi-location franchises often have large websites that load slowly.

Slow page speed leads to problems like:

  • Higher bounce rates from frustrated visitors
  • Lower dwell time and pages per session
  • Technical issues can prevent proper crawling and indexing

Regularly test page speed and optimize where possible. Core improvements include:

  • Enabling caching and compression
  • Optimizing images
  • Minifying CSS, JavaScript, and HTML
  • Eliminating render-blocking resources
  • Upgrading to faster web hosting

Technical SEO should be an ongoing focus to maximize visibility and conversions across all locations.

Tools to Improve Franchise SEO

The right tools make managing local SEO at scale much easier. Here are some top solutions:

Semrush

Semrush offers a full suite of SEO and marketing tools to support multi-location brands. Useful features include:

  • Local database management via Listing Management
  • Location pages audit with the On-Page SEO Checker
  • Monitoring ranking changes by city with Position Tracking
  • Identifying technical problems with Site Audit
  • Location-based keyword research
  • Backlink tracking and earning opportunities

Google Search Console

Search Console provides insights into how Google views and indexes your website. Use it to:

  • See how Google bots crawl each page
  • Identify issues preventing indexing
  • Discover untapped keywords ranking for
  • Request indexing of new or updated content
  • Monitor impressions and clicks by query

Google Analytics

Google Analytics shows how website visitors find and engage with your franchise locations. Track key data like:

  • Traffic sources driving visits to each location
  • Conversions by source and medium
  • Queries and keywords bringing organic traffic
  • Location metrics like on-site time and pages per visit
  • Mobile vs desktop performance

Google My Business

The Google My Business dashboard centralizes information across all claimed profiles. It allows franchisees to:

  • Quickly edit profile information as needed
  • Monitor how profiles perform in search and maps
  • Respond to user reviews
  • Communicate updates and offers to followers
  • View analytics like clicks, calls, directions, photos

Moz Local

Moz Local helps manage local business listings and consistency across the web. It lets users:

  • Audit existing profiles for duplicate or incorrect listings
  • Distribute profile data to authoritative directories
  • Track performance factors like reviews and keyword rankings
  • Monitor the accuracy of business information online

The right tools provide data-driven insights for improving local visibility. Focus on solutions that enhance optimization efforts and campaign reporting.

Real-World Examples and Results

Let’s look at how two leading franchises have seen success with SEO:

Jersey Mike’s Subs

The fast-casual sub-franchise has over 2,000 locations across the US. Their franchise SEO approach includes:

  • Google My Business profiles for all locations
  • Unique descriptions and images for each store
  • Promotion of national camp and local store promotions
  • Responding to reviews and customer questions
  • Strong community involvement via partnerships and donations

This localization and engagement has delivered strong results:

  • 90% of locations ranked on page 1 for “sub shops near me”
  • 35% increase in franchise location search visibility
  • Higher rankings for thousands of location-specific keywords

Gold’s Gym

The global fitness franchise has optimized individual gyms with tactics like:

  • Location pages targeting city + “gym” keywords
  • Specifying neighborhoods and areas served
  • Spotlighting local trainers and classes
  • Unique offers and promotions for each gym
  • Structured data for amenities at each location

This franchise SEO strategy has led to:

  • 15X more website traffic from local SEO keywords
  • Higher local pack rankings for key gym search queries
  • Improved visibility for franchisees against local competitors
  • More conversions driven by SEO traffic

Results like these demonstrate the power of optimizing for local search when expanding franchise locations.

Here are 5 Popular Franchise SEO Service Providers:

BrightLocal

  • Specializes in local SEO and location-based marketing
  • Helps brands optimize Google My Business profiles and generate reviews
  • Provides custom reporting and analytics for multi-location franchises
  • Clients include InterContinental Hotels, Anytime Fitness, Jiffy Lube

Thrive Agency

  • Full-service digital marketing agency specializing in local SEO
  • Focus on multi-location and franchise businesses
  • Services include GMB optimization, link building, web design
  • Notable clients include Gold’s Gym, Dream Vacations, Cruise Planners

Synup

  • All-in-one platform for local SEO and listings management
  • Verifies and optimizes business listings automatically
  • Identifies duplicate/inaccurate listings hurting visibility
  • Customers include Burger King, Midas, The Joint Chiropractic

Yext

  • Provides reputation management and listings software 
  • Reporting and analytics for multi-location brands
  • Manages listings on Google, Facebook, Apple Maps, etc.
  • Major clients like Hilton, Benihana, Men’s Wearhouse

Rio SEO

  • Specialized in franchise SEO, social media, reviews 
  • Focuses on data, tools, and actionable insights
  • Custom packages and training programs  
  • Dominant franchise client results include Sport Clips, Sonic

Conclusion

For multi-unit franchises, SEO is crucial to connect with customers and drive traffic to physical locations.

But generic, national-level optimization won’t cut it. You need location-based SEO strategies.

Start with foundational elements like local keywords, unique content, and optimized online listings for each franchise.

Fix technical issues as they arise and drill into analytics for optimization insights.

With the right franchise SEO approach, you can outrank local competitors and build lasting visibility in the markets you serve.

FAQs: 

Why is SEO important for franchises?

SEO helps improve visibility and drive traffic from local searches to individual franchise locations. It allows each location to attract nearby customers searching for related products or services.

What are some key franchise SEO strategies?

Core strategies include optimizing Google My Business profiles, building location landing pages, generating customer reviews, creating localized content, fixing technical issues, and monitoring metrics by location.

How can franchisors support franchise SEO?

Franchisors can provide SEO guidelines, enable location-level tracking, monitor brand consistency, develop assets like reviews and schemas centrally, and help franchisees with optimizations.

What kind of content works best for local SEO?

Location-specific content like city names, neighborhood details, testimonials, maps, staff bios, offers, and mentions of nearby landmarks help optimize for local intent.

How do you track SEO performance for each location?

Use analytics tools in Search Console, Google My Business, and your website/CRM to monitor rankings, traffic, conversions, and other metrics by location. Location dimensions in GA help.

What are some technical issues that impact franchise SEO?

Common technical problems include duplicate content across locations, inconsistent NAP data, crawl errors, site speed, and mobile optimization. Regular audits help stay on top of these.

How important are online reviews for local rankings?

Reviews are very influential as a local ranking factor. Generating and managing reviews on Google My Business, Facebook, Yelp and other platforms should be a priority.

What SEO tools are useful for franchises?

Solutions like Moz Local, SEMrush, BrightLocal, Synup, and Yext provide capabilities for monitoring and managing local listings, rankings, and technical site factors across franchises.

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