While some of your franchise’s marketing will be dictated and provided by your franchisor, it’s a good idea to still educate yourself on aspects of digital marketing so that you can make sure that your location is found online. Two important facets of digital marketing are search engine optimization (SEO) and search engine marketing (SEM). While your website may come pre-made from the franchisor, if you have any flexibility to modify it, you’ll need at least a rudimentary understanding of these two critical elements of marketing.

What is SEO and Why Does It Matter to Franchises?

SEO refers to optimizing your website so that it is found in top results of search engines. If someone types in “pizza restaurant san diego,” it should be your mission to have your ice cream franchise appear in the top results. But that doesn’t happen automatically. You as the business owner (and marketer) have to do your fair share of hard work to move your website up the ranks.

Your efforts with SEO will deal primarily with keywords: those words that people type in to find your business. Your website probably already ranks well for the franchise name, but you want it to also appear high in results for your geographic area. So rather than just using the keyword phrase “Little Caesar’s,” you’d want to use “Little Caesar’s Mission Valley” so that people could find your specific franchise in your part of town. Additionally, you want to use the type of franchise you run, like the example of “pizza restaurant san diego” above, throughout your website so that people — and Google — know you’re there.

In addition to including those keyword phrases throughout your website, you can also get an SEO boost by including a blog that uses those keywords, and that provides useful, relevant content for your audience. Google ranks regularly updated content on blogs highly, so it’s a great marketing tactic.

What’s the Difference Between SEO and SEM?

Search engine marketing is also designed to help people find you online, but rather than unpaid strategies like blogging and using the right keywords, SEM incorporates paid advertising options.

For some industries, it’s nearly impossible to get to the top of search results the organic, non-paid way, so some franchises might elect to pay for pay-per-click advertising. You still select the keywords you want to appear in results for, but you bid a certain price per click. Let’s say you buy advertising to appear in Google search results whenever someone searches “pizza restaurant san diego,” and you pay $3 whenever someone clicks on your ad, which appears above the organic search results. Ideally, you’d get that clicker to order pizza from you, and you’d make more than your $3 investment.

Pay-per-click ads are great for driving awareness of your franchise location and getting people in the door. From there, it’s up to you to give customers such a wonderful experience that they come back again and again.

Understanding the basics of SEO and SEM can help you do a better job of attracting customers to your franchise online.

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