Local Search and Franchises

Franchises are a huge part of the local economy you find in any town. Can local search marketing help franchise owners? Definitely.

I was speaking with a franchise owner here in Augusta and asked about his website. He told me the chain company had a main web site with a location finder.  I tried to explain to him that this does not provide any help with search engine marketing or getting new customers.

Soon after I spoke with him, Chris Smith posted this article – Local SEO For Retail Store Locators. Chris said:

“..most of these companies haven’t thought their store locator strategies through very well, treating the site feature as just a necessary item to include like a “contact us” page, or copyright notice and they haven’t really thought through optimizing that content to easily be found through search engines.”

“Most large corporate chains have both the data and the development resources necessary to optimize their store location pages, but they lack the focus to see that they could benefit from doing this.”

This is a great article describing the problem and what the corporate chains need to do to improve their websites. But since we are not the corporate chain, what can the franchise (small business) owner do?

Enter the business profile page.

Business profile pages are an important component of a local search marketing campaign.  Recently Brian Wool put out this excellent article Is One Good Web Site Enough for a Local Business?

Brian covered much of the same issue that Chris did. “Very few dealer-locator sites provide enough information to compete in the local SERPs [search engine results page]. When was the last time you saw a large retailer’s locator site compete with an Internet yellow pages (IYP) provider, vertical aggregator, or niche directory in the local SERPs?”

“At a Kelsey Group conference last week, one discussion focused on the fact that about half of all consumers who click on a local business site within the local profile at an IYP site or search engine hit the “back” button. Why? Most likely because of the lack of meaningful contained within the local business owner’s site. Another observation: local businesses that invested in profile pages didn’t see that happen.”

Local search is all about getting more customers, so the small business owner needs to provide the information on-line web searchers are looking for. The local business profile page is a great way for those small businesses that are unsure they need/want a web site or what they need to list/provide on-line.

So where do you get a business profile page? There are numerous local search marketing companies or individuals that provide this service. Many local search engines and IYP also have this option.

Brian also said: “I don’t think these profile pages are meant to — or can — replace a well-built Web site.” I agree, a well done web site is invaluable, but for some small businesses a profile page provides a good place to start.

A business profile page is appropriate for any type of local business: franchises, home based businesses, and local stores.  Remember you need to be proactive in promoting your small business.

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  1. Totally agree that businesses should have both a good, informative website complete with comprehensive information and contact details AND a business profile page on any IYP and local search site that offer it.

    UK businesses can get a free business profile page with much more than the standard “name and address” type listing on http://www.bizwiki.co.uk. All you have to do is register and add your business – the US version is on its way soon!

  2. Larry,

    I think what the IYP guys would argue is that the majority of small biz websites are not designed with conversion in mind. Their business profile pages are just stripped down websites designed to get people to pick up the phone, send an email or click on a link.

    While I think most businesses should have their own sites and should be able to outrank IYPs, until they figure out how to drive leads off of their own sites there are benefits to having that IYP profile page.

  3. I totally agree Andrew. From what I have seen, it will take some time for many of the SMB owners to “figure out” how to drive leads from their website. Also many SMB owners are concerned about costs too. The profile pages seem to be an affordable alternative.

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