If you are the type of person that enjoys getting punched repeatedly in your face by boxing gloves attached to mechanical arms, then working on SEO Local programs for a number of franchises in different locations may be just the perfect job just right for you.
SEO for just about any of the multi-location organizations can be difficult. This is due to the complicated dynamics associated with franchises which can cause SEO engagement to be equal to trying to play a 3D chess games on top of a Rubik’s cube. Below are a few of the challenges you can expect to face.
Centralized Control Is Lacking For Listings
Owners of a franchise and their location information are often already a complex task. Each of the franchises may or may not have claimed their local citations and Google My Business profile. In some cases an ex-employee will have the logins or perhaps no-one in the business will have the logins. Never the less, the listings in most cases are a mess and the task of fixing these through multiple tasks often results in a tedious task.
Franchisees That Do Not Understand SEO
These issues do not only relate to franchises. In many cases we work with various clients who have a basic or no knowledge of what SEO is and this is why they hire a business such as us. However, when the franchisees are told that they need to invest in SEO services that are chosen from corporate, particularly when they are unable to evaluate what they are actually investing into often leads to poor communication, confusion along with ineffective programs.
The Franchises That Do Not Understand SEO
It is extremely difficult to work with the location managers who are not educated about marketing in Google, but this task becomes even harder when the corporate also don’t get it. In many cases the marketing managers for corporate check the box as they receive requests associated with SEO assistance from this field. This results in them bringing in an SEO vendor without the knowledge needed about how it actually works. In these cases, it then necessitates that this vendor will need to distribute these programs throughout the organization lacking the information on where landmines happen to be. In these cases this results in the vendor landing on these particular landmines.
Little Control Over The Local Marketing Efforts Of The Franchisees’
In many cases the franchisees will already have their very own marketing strategies that may meet up to or not to the corporate plan. In addition, franchisees will have also chosen their preferred vendors which also can or cannot be the better option for their business when compared to the national vendor chosen by corporate.
Little Control Over The Marketing Efforts Of Corporate
The corporate’s will in many cases have their own ideas when it comes to what each of the locations need to be doing as well as how they need to be presenting their brand onto potential customers. These ideas can include how local brands have been named to specifics such as images and words that are allowed to feature on the different websites. In the case whereby the corporate is in control of the different franchisee’s websites, the implementation of search engine optimization improvements is a part of the corporate schedule, which in the majority of cases will not be the schedule of the franchisees.
Even top partnerships will have some degree of drama. From our experience, franchisee/franchise relationships are often soap operas that never end. One benefit of being the outside consultant means you do not carry the corporate baggage when it comes time to speak to the franchisees.
However, when representing corporate you will probably be assigned with this baggage regardless. When you are working on the behalf of the corporate for different franchisees, you in many cases will be walking that fine line when it comes to prioritizing the interests of each party while still striving for the best outcome which involves success for the business as a whole.
So the question you need to be asking is how do the franchises become better when it comes to SEO, as well as how can the SEO consultants become better when it comes to serving the franchises? Below are a few modest proposals:
1. Begin By Educating The Corporate
Before even attempting to talk to the different local franchises, the corporate partners or clients need to be aware about how SEO actually works along with the interaction types that will be needed from them in order to facilitate the communication that will occur with the franchisees. This means creation of basic communication materials which can be shared with the constituents.
2. Educate The Franchisees
The SEO vendor and corporate have to be able to work together when it comes to educating the franchisees about the SEO program as well as the importance of the whole digital marketing roadmap or strategy. It is important to realize that most of the franchisees will not become SEO masters overnight, but you need to provide them with this knowledge. This education will make it an easier task for you when the time comes that you ask the franchisees to do something in order to support this SEO program. The education process will be ongoing and when reporting back on the progress you need to go back to the main goals.
3. Implementation Of Corporate Control Of The Local Listings
This is a very important step. If each of the locations manages their own business profiles, the standardization related to messaging is basically non-existent along with a variety of NAP problems which becomes difficult in association to repairs unless these listings feature in one account. Begin your engagement in the way of gaining bulk control on whatever you can.
4. Corporate Needs To Own The Review Strategy
Various local businesses have problems with their online reputation which requires coherent strategies when it comes to how they respond to the customers reviews. Corporate should be implementing a CRM system which facilitates how the franchisees respond to and monitor these reviews.
5. Set The Expectations And Keep Repeating These
This forms part of properly educating your customers. However, in many cases a few months on, the franchisees begin to ask what we do for them. Mainly we have done and continue to do what was set out from the beginning such as creating content, repairing citations, building links and much more, but the client often in unable to “see” these activities and begins to think that the SEO vendor is doing nothing. This is the nature of the game and to assist these issues it is very important to document the expectations right from the start and repeat on these at each reporting to keep everyone happy.