You’ve certainly heard about it, but why is SEO important for franchises? Well, Google accounts for 25 percent of all online traffic combined, including social media, ads, emails, and more.
If you don’t use SEO in your digital marketing strategy, you’re missing out on a big portion of online traffic and making your company too reliant on paid ads, which can drain your budget. With SEO, you can benefit from each post for years to come if you know what you’re doing.
However, there are some common SEO mistakes that franchises make, and they may cost more than you think. Let’s talk about the big ones!
1. Duplicate Content
This is a common issue for every site, but it’s difficult to avoid for franchises. You will never eliminate duplicate content as a franchise, especially if each franchise has its own site or microsite. However, limiting the number of critical duplicates is essential.
For example, different franchises might run the same promotions and, therefore, post similar content about it. This could be whatever newsletter or page was sent by corporate, or it could be nearly identical. Either way, Google will consider it duplicate.
To understand duplicate content, note that every page on your site is likely to have some of the same elements, especially the CSS templates you use, along with your headers, footers, and navigation menus. That’s perfectly fine.
The problem arises in the body of your pages. If you have two of the same blog articles, or two pages that say the exact same things with different words, this will count as a duplicate. For example, Google’s algorithm is able to tell the similarities between these two sentences:
- “Use an online backlink checker to compare your backlinks to your competitors’ list.”
- “Choose your favorite backlink checker and see how your backlinks compare to your competitors’.”
A one-off sentence is absolutely fine, as Google understands that some messages need portraying. It’s when the majority of content on a page appears plagiarized or duplicated within a site or from another. Remember, Google indexes over 130 trillion pages on the web, so don’t think you can trick them!
2. Word Count Issues
Now, we’re not trying to specifically attack low word counts, as they aren’t the only problem, but we do need to mention them. Always ensure that your page has at least 500 words total, even if you’re using other types of content like images or video.
500 words is an easy target to hit, and you can go much higher, but should you? Not always.
Google’s algorithm is designed for one specific purpose, and that’s to locate quality content and match it with its users for specific searches. For that reason, 500 highly relevant words are better than 3,000 words if 2,500 are fluff.
Fluff, filler, or whatever you want to call it, is low-quality content that serves no purpose for the user. Remember, you aren’t creating content for search engines, you’re creating it for the consumer, so your content should reflect that. Always ask yourself after every line: “Does this serve a purpose?”
That purpose can be anything. A quick joke, a metaphor, a fun side note in parentheses, or something that’s meant for the user does serve a purpose, so it does not count as fluff. Even though it isn’t offering useful information, it may still help with user engagement, so it’s welcome to stay as long as it isn’t after every line of text.
Duplicate content, repeating the same point with different words, content that doesn’t serve a purpose, and all-around filler should be avoided at all costs, regardless of your word count target.
3. Not Tracking Their Campaigns
If there’s one mistake on this list that you can change, let it be this. It’s the easiest one to start, and it can offer the most benefit. Trying to run an SEO campaign without tracking metrics is like running an obstacle course in the dark.
There are plenty of free online analytics tools to use, including Google Analytics, which will offer plenty of insight into your campaign’s performance. It can also help you track your ad, email and social campaigns, conversion rates, and so much more. Once you have this information, you’ll know which adjustments to make, which are most important, and where your website is performing the best.
Also, there are plenty of more specialized tools online that you can use for free, including keyword research tools, backlink checkers, technical audit tools, and so much more. Some of them will have a limit to how many times you can use them each day, but this shouldn’t be a big deal for a franchise.
4. Not Optimizing Location
Here’s another important tip that’s easy to implement. In most cases, franchises are location-specific. You likely purchased the franchise because you saw a market in need of these goods or services.
For that reason, you need to tell your target audience exactly where you are. On your website, you need to have a very specific location, but don’t stop there.
A large part of SEO takes place off-page. Using directories, social media, and review sites like Google My Business, Yelp, Facebook, and more, add your location and keep it as uniform as possible on every online space where you put it.
From there, you need to add your franchise to Google Maps and other high-traffic GPS systems. When somebody gets off a train in a new city and they want something to eat, they’ll likely find a Mcdonald’s and Subway (both franchises) on Google Maps, but will they find yours? Don’t miss out on organic traffic that’s nearby, as you could be the closest option in your industry to your target audience and still never be found.
5. No Local Content
Location-specific keywords on a few pages is a good start, but you can take advantage of location-specific content throughout your content marketing strategy. Blogs, vlogs, podcasts, images, and so much more can use location-specific content to help reinforce your location to Google and drive local traffic to your site.
Are there local events coming up in your town or city? Is there a community fundraiser, hashtag, or campaign? Do you have a local news outlet?
If so, link to these local affiliates, write about upcoming events and how your franchise will participate, celebrate local anniversaries, and do whatever you can to drive the most relevant traffic to your site. Location-specific options are endless.
As for keywords, simply adding the phrase “near me” is a very good start. Most people will search for that (or not need to) for specific searches and Google will use their location as a search factor. You can also add your city, state, region, or more. For example:
- “Auto detailing in Providence, Rhode Island”
- “Pet supplies near me”
- “Best sandwiches in Billings, MT”
- “Best barber Boston”
You get the point. Try adding these types of keywords into your content strategy and make them as relevant as possible for the best results!
How to Avoid These SEO Mistakes
In today’s competitive market, one of the biggest mistakes a business can make is to not use professional SEO for franchises. The reason is simple: your competitors are likely using it, and it’s hard to compete with them if you aren’t.
A DIY website used to be all you needed, but with the increasing levels of competition across nearly every industry, it’s more important than ever to have a professional website.
Think of where most of your users spend their time online. Like it or not, sites like Facebook and YouTube set the standards for the internet. While no small business can compete with a website of that size, they also can’t stick out like a sore thumb.
Most people leave sites within a few seconds if the page doesn’t load, if they can’t figure out how to navigate to where they want, or if the site doesn’t adapt to their device’s screen. Google knows this well, and it’s hard to rank if your website doesn’t live up to these standards. Overall, building a strong SEO foundation to build upon over time with quality content marketing is the only way to ensure long-term success.
Don’t Make the Same Mistake Twice
Now that you know some of the most common SEO mistakes for franchises, you should also know how to prevent them moving forward. SEO is a marathon, not a sprint, so do what you can now to set yourself up for long-term success. It pays off in the long run!
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