Hey, Franchise Developers!
By now, you have undoubtedly heard about Search Engine Optimization, or, as it is more commonly called, SEO. But how much do you really understand about how SEO relates to franchise marketing? This week, Raintree Marketing Director Linton Dowling chats with us about what SEO is, why it’s important, and what it can do to help grow your franchise.
Search engine optimization, or SEO, may seem like just one more marketing buzzword to keep track of these days, but it is actually one of the most important things your Franchise Development team could be doing to get an edge on your competition.
First of all, let’s go over what SEO actually is. As you may already know, search engines like Google and Bing use complicated algorithms to determine which websites on the Internet best fit the keywords entered into the search bar, so that they can return the results that meet the users’ needs. The algorithms are top-secret, and the exact formula for how certain websites rank higher on a search results page intentionally remains something of a mystery. (According to Moz there were over 3,200 Google Search algorithms updates in 2018 alone.) Google for the first time recently released a ‘cheat sheet’ on what their algorithms are looking for on sites and blog posts and how to better improve your organic rankings. Tips include:
Content and Quality:
- Do your website and frequent blog posts contain useful, accurate and researched data and opinions?
- Do your blog posts provide relevant and updated information on your topic/subjects?
- If your blogs are using other websites information and data, is this original sourcing or merely cut and paste?
- Do the headlines and subject provide an accurate summary of your blog posts, page topics?
- Is this content more likely to be sourced and shared on social media?
- Is the content free of errors? (spelling/grammar, stylistic and analytical)
- Does it have fresh images, infographics or videos?
- Most importantly, does the page or post present well on mobile devices?
Furthermore, SEO experts at an experienced agency are able to analyze website performance and pinpoint the best keywords and phrases to use in the site’s copy, in order to improve its organic search results rankings.
In addition to franchise marketing websites, SEO practices can be used to optimize original blog posts, video content, and other online content related to franchise marketing so that search engines like Google and Bing prioritize it, by showing it on the first page or as a top result. In relationship to franchise development, this means that people are actively searching keywords that closely relate to both the franchise itself and the type of franchise opportunities they are looking for in the system. With literal billions of Google searches taking place across the globe each day, using SEO to optimize your franchise’s website, videos, and other content could make the difference between having your brands appearing at or near the top of a search results page, or not appearing at all!
The franchise development industry is falling quickly behind in SEO practices, compared with other industries that use SEO best practices to gain a significant advantage. Franchisors and franchisees alike are underperforming in terms of organic traffic and mobile-first indexing (find your score on Google’s free PageSpeed Insights Tool) – in other words, by not making sure to update their website’s content with copy that includes keywords and phrases that have been proven to generate search rankings, they are missing out on generating both desktop and mobile organic traffic, which, next to use of Google AdWords, is some of the lowest hanging fruit when it comes to lead generation.
Fortunately, there are ways to correct this, and many of them are inexpensive or even free! While many big franchise development firms spend millions of dollars in optimizing organic search, a few easy solutions can help improve organic search rankings dramatically without costing a penny. Depending on the CMS (content management system) your company uses, there are a number of great SEO programs to help guide you in blog posting and optimizing organic traffic to improve search rankings. Here at Raintree, we use WordPress, a CMS where over 2 million blog posts are posted each day. WordPress features a handy SEO tool called Yoast , which provides the content writer with real-time feedback and suggestions for improving the optimization of the copy prior to going live on the website. This works well for us- some of our best-performing sites have up to 40-50% organic traffic!
Finally, we use Google’s keyword planner when creating content for any new sites and frequent refresh keywords depending the volume of traffic they bring to our site and more importantly how many quality leads they generate!
Here at Raintree, we believe in an omnichannel approach where SEO is one of the main pieces required for a competent and necessary franchise development and marketing campaign. In addition to website content, we also extend our SEO to channels like YouTube, Vimeo, LinkedIn, and most importantly, our weekly blog posts aimed at organically attracting the appropriate leads to these channels. Consistent content creation across all platforms is required to keep your franchise marketing efforts relevant in the eyes of Google, potential franchise owners, and consumers alike.
As with any other aspect of business, knowledge is power! I always encourage our franchise marketing team to keep up to date with industry leaders like Neil Patel, as well as stay informed with news and updates from sites like Moz, Yoast, and other established SEO thought leaders. I also advocate undertaking free certification courses like basic Google Analytics, basic Google Search Console, and WordPress training to develop an in-depth understanding, which leads to greater expertise and improved results. These courses carry certifications that are officially recognized by corporations worldwide, which means they directly benefit your team members as well as your organization.
By gaining a deeper understanding of the science behind SEO, you and the rest of your franchise development team are already well on your way to optimizing your current and future content in a way that will drive organic traffic to your website and blog posts, which in turn will help to improve your search results rankings. However, as they say, Rome wasn’t built in a day- you will need to be patient and wait for your SEO efforts to begin paying off. It can sometimes take months to be able to see a difference in your website’s performance metrics, and getting your brand’s franchise website to the top of the search results page can be a slow and steady climb. Rest assured you are on the right path, and you should eventually see the payoff that comes from optimizing your franchise marketing content.
To sum it up, SEO can be a very powerful tool that drives your franchise marketing efforts with very little cost to your organization. Once they become well-versed in SEO best practices, your franchise development team will be able to quickly and instinctively optimize virtually any piece of content they produce. However, like any marketing project, it is important to research SEO first, rather than diving straight in and trying to optimize your website. SEO is an ever-increasing marketing field that requires more attention than most companies in the franchise development industry are currently giving. Because of this, staying up to speed with the latest best practices in SEO will give your firm an instant competitive edge, and help you stay on top of the game in years to come. I look forward to talking about areas of franchise development, marketing, and content creation and development with you.
Linton joined Raintree in 2017, and in 2018 became Marketing Director
For more useful Marketing Tips or questions on the above follow him on LinkedIn or send him an email: