Your business can't win customers if you don't show up in search results when people perform searches with intent that aligns to your products or services. But managing search performance presents challenges — and there are additional challenges in a franchise model.
Are your franchises showing up in local search results? And is your team responding effectively to customer reviews?
Here are three key strategies for managing your franchisees' search performance.
- Determine your review management strategy at the franchise level.
You probably know that online reviews shape consumer perception of your business, and impact their decision to visit, but you may not be aware that they also affect whether your business shows up in search results at all. Google often pre-filters for searches including terms like "best" (e.g., "best Italian restaurant"), and will often only show results for businesses with a 4-star rating or above.
Reviews are highly impactful in search positioning. But reading and responding to reviews — with the goal of improving your overall reputation and star-rating — becomes considerably more complicated in a franchise model. To avoid confusion, your business needs to make a decision about whether review response will be handled by a corporate manager or customer care team, by individual local managers, or by a hybrid of the two.
Centralized Approach: Responding to reviews from a corporate level is more likely to ensure consistency, and makes it more certain that responses will adhere to corporate brand guidelines.
Local Response: Empowering your local managers divides the workload. It also makes it more likely that feedback can be implemented in an actionable way at specific business locations. The responder may have even been involved in the experience the review refers to!
There is no "right" way to organize your response program. Each business has a different structure and requirements. The key to success is to implement a program that works for you — and to ensure response best practices are followed by all parties involved, which will ultimately help you elevate your reviews to improve your franchisees' search performance overall.
- Deliver answers everywhere — including your franchisees' listings and pages.
In order for your individual franchise locations to surface in search results wherever customers might be searching, you need to ensure that your brand information is correct and consistent everywhere. A mistake as simple as a name misspelling in your Google My Business listing, or inconsistent address information, can cause your franchisees not to surface in search results — not to mention the fact that it erodes brand trust overall.
To start, claim your locations across key sites like Google My Business and Yelp, verify that the necessary brand information is present, correct, and consistent, and determine a process for how your business will publish information to key sites and services going forward. Search engines draw on this information when they determine what results to showcase.
To boost your search ranking and attract new customers, you need to deliver answers everywhere. While you can build out a process for doing this manually in a smaller model, the most efficient way to consistently publish brand verified answers to improve your franchisee search performance is by leveraging a structured, single source of truth for all of your facts.
- Build your brand knowledge graph.
The best way to show up in search results with brand verified answers? Build your own brand knowledge graph.
The fact that search engines can now answer complex natural language queries accurately is reframing consumer expectations. People are being trained to search for exactly what they want. They expect answers, and your organization must be able to provide them.
Building and maintaining your own knowledge graph is important for businesses of all sizes, but it's especially critical for multi-location businesses in a franchise model, since the information you manage is extremely diverse and complex.
For example, if a potential customer is searching for "restaurants near me that have gluten-free options open now" — something your franchise location offers — you can only show up in search experiences for that query if the necessary information (hours, menu item attributes, specific locations) is stored in an interrelated way that helps search engines understand and answer that question. If not? Your don't show up for that search, and your potential customer chooses somewhere else to eat.
With a Knowledge Graph, you can define the relationships between all these entities so that an AI-powered discovery service can answer this question. And your organization increases the chance of your franchisees ranking for that very specific, high-intent query.
Want more insights from ONWARD19? Check out ONWARD on Demand for videos of this year's visionary keynotes, product announcements, and popular breakout sessions.