This is a guest blog post by Tom Evans, an Editor at Engage Web.
Although it’s certainly true that a franchisee has the advantage of being backed by a recognized brand, a strong digital presence is essential too. After all, so many people use the services of internet giants like Google to locate stores in their vicinity. Even if you’re part of a well-known company, how will you attract the customers you need to make your venture a success if you don’t have a strong presence in the search results?
Everyone knows that Google has a staggering influence on the digital sphere. According to data compiled by U.S.-based analytics company comScore, Google commands a whopping 64.4 percent of the U.S. Search market (in comparison to Microsoft, which comes in second place with a 20.1 percent slice of the pie).
With that in mind, here are four easy tips to take that will help you stay on Google’s good side:
Google wants all websites to remain user-friendly, so make sure you focus more on content than keywords. Of course, keywords are still a vital component of any digital strategy, as how else can Google rank your website if it doesn’t know what you’re selling? The trick is to use keywords naturally. Don’t stuff them in, as quality should always come first.
2. Don’t Rely on Text in Image Form
Make sure your website doesn’t rely on conveying text via images. Obviously it’s important to have elements of your franchisor’s branding present, such as its logo, colors, and any taglines, but you need to format your written content in regular HTML (Google advises that you can use ALT attributes if necessary).
This is because Google’s ‘crawlers’ are unable to read a piece of text when it’s given as a graphic, so the words in the image wouldn’t weigh at all on your rankings.
3. Outsource to Reputable SEO Providers
While it’s true that companies offering search engine optimization aren’t always necessary, this is a tricky and ever-changing part of the digital sphere, so your safest bet is to outsource to a reputable provider – preferably, one with a demonstrable understanding of the franchise industry and what it is that makes this business model unique.
However, take care when outsourcing, as some providers may still be relying on outdated and potentially damaging SEO practices.
4. Encourage Natural Links
Gone are the days of excessive link building, which were only really worthwhile in the short term anyway. Today, building up the strength of a website is all about considering its future and building worthwhile, natural links.
Google defines these as any links back to your site that other websites have provided to their customers, because they think what you are offering (your products or services, for instance, or articles you have published on your blog) is in some way helpful. Conversely, unnatural links are those that have been published with the sole purpose of tricking Google and making your website appear more popular than it really is.
Remember, honesty is ultimately the best policy. Your aim isn’t to trick Google into ranking your website higher and making it more visible online, as instead your goal should be to demonstrate how
your franchise’s website is worth visiting. If you can work on creating an accessible, informative, and
valuable site, then you should eventually be rewarded with a ton of online traffic, increased store awareness, and higher sales.
Tom Evans is an Editor at Engage Web, a digital marketing agency specializing in the franchise sector. Engage Web has developed a bespoke digital marketing model for franchises, FranchiseXcel, which has helped franchises grow online within the U.K., U.S.A., Canada, and Australia.