Local marketing is especially important for franchisees, but it can also pose many unique issues – for example, how do you stand out among a sea of many? The good news is that it’s possible, depending on the situation there are multiple possible solutions.
Several years ago, I worked in the marketing department of a children’s franchise organization, and we ran into several challenges. All of our franchise owners were essentially targeting the keyword [kid’s birthday party], and they all had URLs on the same domain.
As we know, Google will only rank a limited number URLs from the same site for the same keyword. What do you do if you have 175 people who want to rank for the same term and all share the same root domain? How do you accomplish this?
That’s the beauty of local marketing – you can do just that with a little bit of localization.
With some planning, we successfully launched both SEM and SEO campaigns for the franchise owners. It took some time and a bit of collaboration (which can be a challenge within a franchise system at times). So, how did we do it?
We used three local targeting and content customization strategies as shown below.
1. Website. First, we focused on the website itself. Just how do you target the same core keywords for each franchise owner? You add in “City, State” localization.
Keep in mind that you don’t want to just use the exact same copy with “City, State” localization on every page, or you’ll likely end up with a duplicate content issue and we all know Google doesn’t like that. This brings me to my second recommendation….
2. Multiple Content Versions. In order to avoid potential duplicate content issues, we created multiple versions of content the franchisees could choose from.
For the homepage, we wrote ten different variations of copy that targeted the core keywords we selected. The franchisees were able to mix and match any of the ten approved copy options. Each option was two paragraphs, so we really cut down on the duplicate content chances by telling them they could create up to 20 options for the homepage copy.
We then focused on the localization of that copy and targeted up to three cities within each metro area. By taking this approach, every page had unique content and each franchisee was able to target their local market area.
3. SEM Landing Pages. This is where it became a little more difficult. Once the SEO efforts were under way, we turned our attention to the SEM landing pages. Due to the proximity of franchise locations within a metro area, they were limited to a very small targeting radius for AdWords campaigns.
In some instances, the franchise owners could only target 5-10 miles around their location and, in turn, missed the opportunity to target the parents who were likely researching from work (which was more often in the city center) while their ads ran in the suburbs. This was a far from ideal situation.
The solution posed some challenges; in order for everyone to benefit and be able to target the business areas in the city center, they had to work collectively. If you’ve ever worked with a franchise system, you know this can be a challenge.
We worked together to establish or partner with already established regional marketing groups and created SEM-only metro area landing pages. Each franchisee who was participating in the program was represented equally on the landing page. The thought was that customers would naturally click on the location that was nearest their home, and they did.
By working together, the franchise owners were able to grow their exposure and revenue through the use of pay-per-click advertising. It took a while; but in the end, it worked well.
The use of local targeting and unique, customizable content achieved the SEO goals and allowed all franchise owners the opportunity to rank for the most important keywords to their business.
It is possible to stand out when you’re one of many but sometimes you have to get creative in order to make it work for everyone and ensure you’re playing by Google’s rules.
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