If you’re a local franchisee with a small budget, it can seem overwhelming to know how to increase your local SEO and compete against national companies. Luckily for you, it’s possible for your local website to rank higher than national brands online when you take a local strategy.
Taking a local strategy is key because it’s easier to rank for local terms like “bike shop in Pittsburg” instead of “bike shop.” Google and other search engines want to give customers what they’re searching for. So if customers are looking for local businesses, that’s what Google shows them.
So how do you start building a local marketing and web strategy as a franchisee? It depends on how you’re set up as a franchisee.
If your franchise shows up as a page under your national franchise brand’s website, then you may not have as much control over your local SEO. So you should focus on the first two methods that aren’t on your website: local listings and reviews. Then you can try to persuade your corporate office to put more resources into local SEO by using the suggestions in the rest of the article.
Get listed on Google My Business and other listing services
When you search for a business category on Google — either by mobile or desktop — a map with some local listings is what first appears. These listings show the essential stats for a local business including their website, reviews, address, and phone. These stats come from Google My Business (GMB). It’s one of the main ways your local customers find you online.
For example, when you search for a local service like “Pet grooming Dayton Ohio” in Google, chances are one of the first results may be a map.
Your potential customer can then click on one of these listings or go directly to a provider’s website or reviews. If the customer clicks on a listing, they’ll see this screen which shows them the business’ contact information, a link to the company’s website, reviews, photos, and questions and answers.
By building out your GMB listing you can increase your chances of being seen by your local customers and also give them relevant information like your hours, website link, reviews, etc.
Google My Business isn’t the only listing you should create. We recommend adding your business to other listings that your customers search for. These might include Yelp, TripAdvisor, Bing, Manta, etc. Find out which ones your customers search on and then add your business to those listings. You can also use local listing services to manage all of your listings.
Solicit reviews from customers
What’s one of the first steps customers take when researching local companies? Finding reviews of them online.
So if reviews are so important, how do you build up positive customer reviews from your customers?
Decide which avenue(s) is most important and send customers there
Some businesses may have customers looking them up on Facebook, while other franchisees’ customers look them up on Google or TripAdvisor. Find out which venue most of your customers look for and post reviews on and then focus your energy on those one or two platforms.
Build a strategy for how you’ll get reviews
If you want to build up your reviews, you need to be proactive and ask your customers for reviews. First, decide when you’ll ask your customer for a review. Is it in person? Through a follow-up text or email? The best time to ask for a review is when your customer has had some time using your product or service, but the experience is still fresh. Make it easy for them by including a link that sends them directly to where you want them to review.
Optimize Your Site for SEO
If, for example, you’re a franchisee of a pet boarding studio in Dayton, Ohio, you want to show up when people search for “pet boarding Dayton.” You can pay for Facebook ads or Google ads which cost money, or you can optimize your site for local SEO. Here are some basic steps to take to increase your local SEO by optimizing your site.
Decide which local keywords you want to rank for
Local keywords like “pet boarding Dayton” instead of just “pet boarding” are at the heart of your SEO strategy. By targeting local keywords, you have a higher chance of ranking higher in the search results, even against larger brands. Google knows that when a customer is searching for a local service like pet boarding, they want local results to show up.
So think of the product or services you offer and build a keyword list around them. If you want to get more advanced, you can do keyword research using tools like Google Keyword Planner, Moz Keyword Explorer, or Ubersuggest.
For example, if you offer pet boarding for both cats and dogs as well as additional services like grooming you could try to rank for the terms:
- Pet boarding studio Dayton
- Dog boarding Dayton
- Cat boarding Dayton
- Pet grooming Dayton
- Overnight pet boarding Dayton
- Doggie daycare Dayton
Match those keywords to pages on your site
Once you have your list of core local keywords, match them to pages on your site. If you have a page that currently has information on both overnight boarding and daytime boarding, consider splitting it into two pages so that you can rank for both terms.
You may need to build new pages or add new content to existing pages so that each of your core pages has a keyword that you want to rank for.
Add those keywords to key parts of your pages
You want to tell Google and other search engines exactly what each page is about, using your keyword strategy. So add your keyword phrase to your page’s title, headline, and 3-5 times in the text. Try to make your keywords as natural as possible, because it’s important that your customer has a good reading experience with your page. Also, avoid keyword stuffing where you’re putting a lot of keywords in your page so that you rank better because Google will penalize you for keyword stuffing.
Explore more advanced SEO techniques
Once you’ve built your keyword strategy, explore other ways to improve your site’s ranking. This can include your site’s organization and schema, increasing your site speed, etc.
Create local content
Local content such as articles or blog posts that focus on helping your local customers is a great local SEO strategy. That’s because:
- Your customers search for local content
- Writing content establishes you as a local authority for your customers
- Google gives priority to local content and local content can rank higher than national content
So maybe you write a blog post about how Dayton residents can prepare their pets for an overnight stay at your local boarding studio. You could focus on how Dayton’s weather and seasons might affect their pet, or benefits of your particular studio.
By taking a local focus, you’re more likely to rank when your customers search for “preparing my pet for overnight stay Dayton” compared to a broader article where you’re competing with other boarding studios all over the nation.
Get relevant backlinks
Another way to increase your SEO rankings is by getting relevant backlinks. What are backlinks and why are they important?
Backlinks are when other websites link to your website. These websites could include publications like your local newspaper, industry listings such as Yelp, etc. When your site has backlinks from reputable websites that have a strong domain authority, then Google considers your site to be more trustworthy since these sites linked to you.
So think about ways to get backlinks to your site. Maybe you can be featured in a local newspaper story that’s posted online and linked to your site. Or you could join an industry publication or directory that includes a link to your site.
Take the First Step to Increase Your SEO
Now you know a few ways to increase your SEO on your website. Choose one strategy to start with and build from there. If you want some more help with local listings, writing localized content, or building a franchise listing contact us at 317-576-2855.