Gone are the days when people picked up bulky phone books to find the nearest pizza parlour, dry cleaner or electrician. Now a click on a computer, GPS or smartphone does the trick. This is a great development for small business owners, if they know how to make their listing pop to the top of a search ranking.
But too many franchisees assume that their franchisor has that covered, when in fact, the task of search engine optimisation, or SEO, rests largely with the franchisee. “Even franchisors that do handle SEO often don’t do a great job of it,” says Erik Whaley of marketing company, Location3 Media. “So we really encourage franchisees to take the matter into their own hands.”
Whaley found that a shocking 42% of franchise listings contained errors in basic information such as addresses, hours of operation and even business names. It’s not always a matter of benign oversight, some companies will ‘hijack’ competitors’ listings, signing in as the business owner and entering incorrect information to keep customers from finding them.
Boost Your SEO
So how can you be sure your franchise is well represented on the web?
- Check your listings. At least once a month, search for your business on search engines such as Google Maps or Yahoo! Maps. Look for a button or link that reads ‘Are you the business owner?’ or ‘Claim your business’s listing.’ This will allow you to edit your company’s information and keep anyone else from doing so.
- Include basic information. Update your address, phone number, hours of operation, brief description, categories, email address and website. Be sure the description clearly defines what your business does.
- Enhance your listings. Include products or services, a logo, photos, coupons, videos, accepted payments, and other details customers should know.
- Create a keyword theme. Determine which search terms are relevant to your business’s core products, services and location, and incorporate this keyword theme into your listing’s content.
- Encourage customer reviews. Ask customers and business partners to write reviews. The more active the website, the higher its position in a search ranking.
- Track and measure success. Look at how you rank in the listings, and use coupon codes and in-store surveys to track how customers find you. Use web analytics for more detailed results; look at the referral report to see if visitors are coming from Google Maps or other local sources.
- Use location check-in apps. Mobile check-in apps such as Foursquare, Gowalla and Yelp are huge. Make sure you list with these sites, too.
Google offers a free tool that you can use to measure the effectiveness of your franchise’s website.
Google Analytics is a service that generates detailed statistics about visitors to a website. It gives you insights into your website traffic and marketing effectiveness. You can use the tools available to see and analyse your traffic data, leaving you more prepared to write better-targeted ads, strengthen your marketing initiatives and create higher converting websites. You can even track what keywords people are searching for and integrate the relevant keywords into your website. Google Analytics can tell you how visitors found your website, how long they stayed and their geographical position.
The Google Analytics page offers various online training courses, seminars and informative videos to explain how it works and how you can get the most out of your website.
For more information visit www.google.com/analytics