Just like a rock star commands an audience of fans, each business location must be able to command an online audience of customers. Take this nugget of wisdom from Bruce Springsteen:
“Getting an audience is hard. Sustaining an audience is hard. It demands a consistency of thought, of purpose, and of action over a long period of time.”
Nowhere is that more true than in local search engine optimization for multi-location businesses and franchises.
The trick is to avoid adopting different online approaches for each business location. After all, that could potentially confuse customers and even cause them to go away, scratching their heads all the while.
Use the following as your local SEO guide for multi-location businesses or franchises. It starts with effectively building the central brand — an often-sidelined project important to any business no matter how many locations — and ends with making sure local customers in different markets can find your most relevant business location.
Just like a house needs a stable foundation, franchises and multiple business locations need a stable central brand. A straightforward way to give credit to the brand is to focus on branding the main pages of the website: the homepage, the “about us” page, and the “products and services” page.
These static pages should contain the best brand content on the website, as they will likely attract the most visitors. Here’s the “About Us” page for Massage Envy, named one of the best franchises in the nation by Forbes.
Keeping an active blog that focuses on your industry and your brand is another smart SEO strategy. Why? Search engines love blogs because they mean consistent updates to your website and content that matters to your customers.
In fact, HubSpot found that 46 percent of people read blogs more than once per day — and that was way back in 2010. Imagine how much that number has probably grown.
Take a look at this branded blog from Plato’s Closet, also named one of the best franchises by Forbes.
Build online cred for your brand by creating and updating social profiles for your central brand. This is not to say that franchisees should not — or will not — create their own individual pages, but you should own the brand and its voice by being active on Google+, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. Remember, though, that it is essential for your franchisees to verify individual Google+ listings for each location.
Now that the central brand has received a fair amount of attention, show some love to your multiple business locations. Each location or franchise should have its own location landing page on the website.
While this may seem like just busy work, investing the extra time to create separate location pages allows search engines such as Google to better understand the different locations in specific geographic areas. And these pages come with a little marketing bonus: They give you an opportunity to tell users about the unique services and products offered at each location.
When it comes to online business listings, it’s not uncommon to see this format: “Company Name – Lakeview Location.” But be aware, this is not the best for SEO. Instead, remove the location in the name and keep the business name exactly the same for all locations. Similarly, each online listing for your business locations or franchises should have the same business category and logo.
But wait, isn’t this confusing? Actually, it is less confusing; the different addresses and phone numbers for each location will differentiate them for both Google and online customers.
Don’t worry — just because each listing has the same business name and logo doesn’t mean they’re going to look like the same information over and over. There are other ways to differentiate the different business locations. For example, each location should have a unique business description written for its online listings.
With a healthy dose of consistency and the right amount of individualized online content, having multiple locations doesn’t have to be problematic. In fact, with a straightforward local SEO strategy in place, more locations can mean more customers.
Experienced any issues when it comes to marketing your multi-location business or franchise? Let me know by leaving a comment.