Owning a franchise has some definite benefits over opening your own independent business. But, while corporate (and the general public) might view your McDonald’s restaurant and the other McDonald’s restaurant across town as two branches of the same company, to you, that other McDonald’s is a competitor. And how can you draw more customers into your McDonald’s?

Using search engine optimization (SEO) to promote your franchise location online is one strategy, and it’s one you can use even if the corporate office manages much of your franchise’s web presence. Whether you’re allowed to have an independent website for your location, or you’re restricted to a microsite controlled by corporate and social media profiles for your location, you can optimize SEO to draw more customers into your location. Here’s how.

Put Your Location in Google Maps

The first thing you should do when you acquire a new franchise location is to make sure it’s indexed in Google Maps so that when potential customers search for “coffee shop in Mount Morris, PA,” for example, they’ll find your location. Seventy-six percent of people who search for something on their smartphone visit a related business location that same day and 28 percent of those visits result in a sale. Indexing your location in Google Maps ensures you’ll capture some of that traffic.

Go to Google My Business and fill out the simple online form to register your business location with Google Maps. If you own multiple franchise locations, do this for all of them. Once your location is registered and appearing on Maps, move on to the next step.

Make Sure Your Contact Info Is Correct Online

Google Maps collects your location’s name, address, and phone number (NAP) from online directories like YellowPages.com, social media profiles, and websites. Check that your NAP is correct in the Google Maps listing, on your location’s webpage and social media profiles, and on any other online directories you can think of, like Yelp. Incorrect NAP information could result in a lot of missed traffic.

Create Plenty of Content

Whether you have your own website or a corporate-controlled microsite for your location, the best thing you can do to attract web traffic and drive your location’s page up in search results is to create plenty of content that users will find valuable and enjoyable. Fill your blog with quality content marketing posts, including video and written content. Use plenty of SEO keywords in your online content and social media posts. It can be worthwhile to hire paid search for franchises to create this content because content marketing is a science and because you’ll be more successful if you’re able to create more original content. 

Engage with Customers Online

Social media can be a valuable tool for strengthening customer relationships, boosting your reputation, and attracting new business. Take the time to post location-specific content — showcase photos and videos of your staff hard at work and updates about events and promotions going on at your location. Respond to customers’ posts and tweets with professionalism and politeness. Avoid making inflammatory or political posts on your location’s social media. Customers are watching how you and your staff behave online, and anything less than professionalism could damage your reputation and cost you business.

Add Structured Data to Your Website

You can use schema markup to add structured location data to your website, which can give search engines more details about your location and your business. You can add data about your location, local business type, price range, five-star rating from Google reviews, and more. Adding this kind of structured data can improve the accuracy of search returns and help your location rank higher. However, you’ll probably need professional help to add it to your website’s HTML markup.

Search engine optimization can make it easier for customers to find your franchise location when they need your services, and that can translate to a lot more business. So take the time to boost your franchise location in the search rankings, engage with customers online, and keep your web presence strong and your website content fresh and relevant, so you can compete with other franchise locations in your area and always come out on top.

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