We may be a bit biased, but local search has become more and more integral in gaining and retaining customers. There’s no doubt that optimizing your local presence takes time and effort, but depending on your vertical, there are specific steps you should be taking to get found faster, higher and easier than the competition. This month, we’ll be breaking down the “dos and don’ts” for brands in specific verticals. First up--- franchises.
For franchise brands with hundreds or even thousands of locations, finding some sort of uniformity with branding, location data and customer experience is often mission impossible. While corporate owners may want your local real estate displayed one way, franchisees may be creating alternate, misbranded properties another way. The key is to find a middle ground-- balancing ownership between the two to work together and gain visibility to consumers.
DO encourage local flavor on branded local pages.
In our experience on things that franchises find success in is creating uniform local landing pages as an extension of their website. In addition to this, they can create branded listings to boost their local SEO presence. But these pages shouldn’t have full corporate ownership---they should give searchers a local flavor. As brand managers, you should encourage franchisees to skew from the bottom line and understand the importance of an current, optimized and enticing local page. One way to make sure these pages are as engaging as possible is by making them mobile-responsive or mobile-optimized. WIth Google’s new mobile algorithm on the horizon, this strategy must be a priority.
DON’T limit your franchises from engaging with customers in a personalized way
Your local pages can’t and shouldn’t be a one-size-fits-all solution. Treat each local page as a way to market and engage situationally. Corporate-franchise ties often limit the way franchisees can display themselves through social properties and local pages. Every local customer experience matters, and every location matters. Make sure you allow room for the relationships that a franchisee develops with their local customer-base, and let your properties reflect that.
Location Data Optimization
DO become a master at optimizing your local properties
Part of optimizing your local properties moves past showcasing local flavor. There are specific tactical areas that need to be filled and optimized to get found quickly and easily by customers. Namely, these would include keywords on your H1, H2, title, description and body content on local pages. We recommend having a local page for each franchise location and optimizing that page with unique local-based content. Google’s sophisticated algorithm can pick up if the same content is being applied across all centers local pages. Google frowns upon duplicate content and can potentially trigger a flag in their system. Allow the franchisee to add unique based content on their pages so each local page is unique. This includes and not limited to: Store events, customer testimonials, video content and more. And if you aren’t already, make all these elements more crawlable to search engines, by utilizing schema.org markup.
DON’T let your structured citations falter
Structured citations are a tricky area for franchises because of the fact that location information may be entered incorrectly by franchisees themselves in addition to customers creating location information. We live in a check-in oriented ecosystem, so if your small data like NAP and phone number are inconsistent, your local presence will suffer. Remedy this by cleansing, having a centralized database in place to becoming visible on particular directories within your franchise’s industry. Observe and update your data on a regular basis, and communicate this focus to franchisees so they know where and how they are visible to customers.. This will create uniformity without breaking local individuality.
DO integrate social engagement and review acquisition/management into your strategy
Every review and social channel reflects customer sentiment. Your brand is only as good as its review response strategy, so actively moderate and manage every possible channel. These social interactions and reviews can be used as a CRM opportunity: show transparency, drive promotions and keep customers coming back. Consider rewarding engaged social customers by investing in retargeted ad campaigns and discounts based on each individual customer relationship. This is the type of hyper-local customer awareness is something that every franchisee seeks, but can’t attain without the help of a corporate-led platform.
DON’T let negative comments go unmoderated
We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: A timely response to a negative review is key to maintaining your online reputation and enhancing the customer experience. Taking a closer look at what your consumers are experiencing at your various locations will provide you candid insight as to which areas of a specific location need improvement. Within Brandify, you can grant permissions to franchisees for review moderation and response. Furthermore, you can track keywords within reviews to observe consumer sentiment all within one comprehensive, actionable platform.
If you want to learn more how your franchise can take control of its local presence, learn how to make small data a big deal in our newest whitepaper!