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Quality SEO is one of the most critical tools a franchise can use to impact lead generation. One component in particular, link building, or the process of acquiring hyperlinks from other websites to your own, has big implications on how search engines rank pages. Links are important, and Google’s said as much, confirming that they are the number one ranking factor, alongside great content.
The problem — good link building has been a thorn in the side of marketers, as it’s often one of the toughest SEO techniques to achieve. Not all links are created equal, and those that subscribe to the “more is better” theory of link building may be in for a world of search engine pain. That’s not to say link building must be rocket science, however. While there’s certainly an extremely complex conversation to be had, for the at-home marketer, there are a few actionable tips to consider for a simpler approach to link building.
Turn mentions into backlinks
Acquiring natural and worthwhile backlinks through third-party mentions has benefits that are multi-fold, one of which is creating brand validation. This is especially valuable when done on a website or media story that’s relevant.
A quality PR campaign can help create those mentions via media relations, but what about online brand mentions that aren’t linked to a website or franchise recruiting page? One of the simplest ways to drive web traffic via those unlinked mentions is to put them to work. If a website is willing to mention a brand or product, they should be receptive to linking that mention back to a web page.
For franchise marketers, it’s all about unveiling those unlinked mentions throughout the web (of which there are plenty of tools to help), then engaging in some proactive and persuasive outreach with a relevant link to the editor, webhost, or whomever manages existing content on the site.
There’s much to be said about the power of thought leadership, including its ability to drive SEO. Thought leadership builds trust, and with trust comes greater awareness that can have a direct correlation to improved search rankings.
In nearly every industry, there are publications in print and online that crave content from industry experts. By developing and distributing quality content, a thought leader increases the likelihood that an audience will share that content and build trust within the industry. In a perfect world, that audience, hopefully, will then link the content, creating quality backlinks that boost perceived SEO authority.
Before sitting down at the keys, however, it’s important to thoroughly evaluate the audience to which the contribution is directed. Ask a number of questions to guide the piece, especially how the contribution provides a strategic “take-away” to readers that they can implement to make their businesses more successful.
Find worthwhile directories
Utilizing worthwhile franchise directories can be a simple way to secure links. For franchisors, it’s important to thoroughly evaluate prospective directories from a few angles:
- Is this directory relevant to my business and audience?
- Is it clear that this directory is maintained and curated by a human site owner?
- Is this a visible directory that my target audience might actually visit?
If the franchisor can confidently answer those questions with a resounding yes, then it’s likely a compatible option. Of course, ensure the directory gives the option to post a link to the franchise website, and allows listing information relevant to the franchise opportunity.
There’s little doubt that SEO efforts must be ongoing to truly attract qualified franchise leads, and there’s an argument to be made for hiring a professional agency that has the complex know-how of search engine optimization. However, there are a number of basic tactics that franchisors can implement today to improve their link building, and to put the franchise brand well on its way to quality ranking.
Matthew Jonas is the president of TopFire Media, an award-winning integrated public relations and digital marketing agency specializing in franchise marketing and consumer branding. Together with the leaders of iFranchise Group and Franchise Dynamics, Jonas established TopFire Media to provide a strategic and synchronized method for digital marketing in the franchise industry. As a digital marketing strategist with more than a decade of in-depth experience in SEO and PPC, social media publishing, conversion based marketing, inbound marketing, sales management, and online lead generation, Jonas has built a career dedicated to delivering an integrated marketing approach that achieves client success and long-term relationships.