Most franchisors will instinctively say SEO is important, but SEO is not always an important consideration in your franchise development website. If you are in an established vertical, like restaurants or spas, you are not going to outrank competition that has a huge head start and more resources to work with. There are also sites like franchisedirect.com and franchiseopportunities.com that fill the search results with a wide range of franchising opportunities. Imagine trying to get your business noticed in this photo of Time Square. It’s better to wait until you can afford to cover a big space because you could easily waste your money on something small.
If you have a new concept, and people don’t know it exists, then SEO isn’t for you. No one is searching for your unique franchise if they don’t know it’s an option. Whether it is fixing fitness equipment, teaching golf indoors, or selling signage on your truck, there are plenty of unique new franchise systems out there. If someone happens to Google “franchise that does X” and you are one of only a few people that does X, then your website will appear at the top of the results with little to no effort on SEO. If you are the only game in town you won’t need much effort in SEO to appear at the top of the results.
How Search Engine Determine Their Results
If you want to be on that first page of results you need to understand Google’s main ranking factors: relevance and prominence. Relevance is the easy part where if you want to appear for “ice cream franchise opportunities” you should make the title of your website page “ice cream franchise opportunities.” The keywords you want to rank for should appear on your page, along with similar content and keyword variations.
Prominence in the SEO world has a lot to do with backlinks, which is the number of other websites that link to yours. The quantity and quality of your backlinks are known as domain authority and that is an issue when you are going up against larger, more established competition. It can take years to attract enough quality backlinks to compete in your space.
Be sure to also read our post about choosing between a separate website for franchise development, and establishing just a section of your website for franchise development.
When SEO Can Work for Attracting Franchisees
If you are an established franchisor in your industry, you should want to appear on the first page of results for “my business type franchise opportunities.” If you are a very popular franchise that is much larger than your competition, you can dedicate the resources needed to build a strong franchise website, and you will have enough backlinks from your overall popularity.
If you are in a niche franchise system without much competition, you can follow a few very basic SEO steps to rank for your unique type of franchise system. Make sure the title of your home page reads something like “Unique Business Franchise Opportunities” and ask your website company to make sure your meta title says the same thing. These few steps are often enough to rank well for a new type of franchise opportunity but don’t expect a lot of searches if no one knows it exists.
What about optimizing for general terms like “franchise opportunities?”
It’s very hard to compete for general searches against websites that aggregate many opportunities. As the searcher, if you search something broad, the sites that list a variety of opportunities are the most appealing.
What about using a subdomain, like franchising.mybusiness.com?
Subdomains could make sense in some situations but Google and other search engines consider subdomains similar to separate websites and you don’t get as much credit for the backlinks on the domain name as you do with a subdirectory (mybusiness.com/franchising).
Doesn’t a domain name with “franchise” in the URL help my SEO for franchise keywords?
Yes, having “franchise” in your domain name is a small advantage in SEO relevance, but a new domain with very few links is severely lacking in a much more important ranking factor: backlinks.
SEO is often a high-risk/high-reward marketing strategy. Your website can move up significantly on the list of results but unless you get to the first page it can be a complete failure. The vast majority of organic clicks go to the top 5 search results, and very few users go past the first page. If your industry feels like you are trying to put your small billboard in Time Square, it’s often better to save your money and spend it elsewhere. Google Ads can be a simple way to test the results of what a potential SEO campaign could produce with far less investment.
There are lots of ways to sell franchises through brokers and visiting tradeshows and traditional sales techniques. Listing your business on existing websites that showcase franchise opportunities is often more effective than SEO.
If you think your franchise system could benefit from SEO or a Google Ads campaign, be sure to contact us.