Specializing in Franchise SEO? Not So Fast.
A few weeks ago, the FranchiseHelp team had the pleasure of attending the 2016 IFA Annual Convention as an exhibitor. For us it’s mostly an opportunity to meet with our current and potential clients. Being primarily an online business, we treasure the chance to put faces with the myriad of franchises we work with.
However, perhaps our favorite side benefit of the annual trip is when we get to walk the convention floor and see all the other businesses that service the franchise industry. Law, staffing, background checking, security, media, financial, data, sales, marketing, and just about every other type of company has a presence.
Unsurprisingly, we’re most interested in those companies who play in a similar space that we do, technology and marketing. And even within this category, there are lead generators and CRMs and agencies and data providers and technology companies we can’t even tell what they do. (Don’t trust me? Check out the brochure from this year’s convention.)
This year, a specific company caught our eye. Without naming names, we were captivated by a company who marketed themselves quite simply as…
Specializing In SEO
(Before I get into what this means for franchises out there, check out our SEO primer -- Can someone please explain SEO to me in layman's terms!)
As a friendly reminder, we generally look at Search Engine Optimization as “the exercise of creating and organizing your website to optimize and maximize your exposure on search engines.”
So from our perspective, the VAST MAJORITY of search engine optimization is completely out of any franchise’s hands. It’s up to Google. Google is going to be the ultimate arbiter in terms of which websites are displayed for each search.
The team here at FranchiseHelp fundamentally believe that there is not very much that a franchise can do to “improve their SEO.” If you do what you need to create a great user experience on your website, additional organic traffic will come.
Getting back to the company that caught our eye…what does it mean for a company to specialize in SEO?
Here’s what we hope it’s not --
Back linking – It used to be that improving SEO was all about increasing the number of websites that linked to yours. As time has gone on, this practice has gotten less effective and is most likely a waste of time and money.
Lots of meta tagging -- Another former popular SEO tactic was all about tagging your webpages with lots of different words that people search for. Sometimes pages have hundreds of tags. Google used to care a lot about these tags. Now, not so much.
Other Black Hat SEO tactics – You can check out Wordstream’s article on the subject here. But the list of ways to try and “hack” SEO is long. They’re super risky and can cause your website great harm if Google discovers your scheme.
Here’s what we hope it is –
Great Content Marketing – Google is in the business of ensuring that the people using their search engine are treated with top of the line online experiences. Website visitors love content. They love learning. Give them what they want.
Public Relations – Getting your name out there is big. The more other sites (media or otherwise) that mention you, the better. But it’s not the quantity that’s important, it’s the quality. A mention in the New York Times matters significantly more than a mention from a local periodical.
Whatever it may be, we have our doubts. SEO just simply isn’t something that you “do better” or “do more of.” Don’t get me wrong. I’m sure that some franchises have had excellent success increasing organic traffic over time. However, for every franchise that has succeeded in this endeavor, I’d bet there are 10 who have failed.
If your franchise succeeded or failed with an SEO strategy, let us know! We want to learn more about how strategies like this turn out in the real world.
If you’re interested in learning more about FranchiseHelp’s lead generation programs, click here.