If you own a franchise business with multiple locations, local marketing for each branch can become a challenge.
There are many local marketing tools and strategies available, they come in all shapes and sizes for all kinds of teams and budgets.
We’ve recently published a guide on local SEO for franchises and enterprises, so go check it out.
Google Business Profile has been mentioned in the guide briefly since it’s a must-have for any local SEO strategy.
However, GBP serves way more purposes than just local SEO.
Google Business Profile offers a realistic way to expand your reach into local search, maps, and other platforms where your customers are.
There are differences in GBP management and optimization for single-location businesses and for multiple-location ones.
This article will help you get a clear picture working with Google Business Profiles for a franchise, enterprise, or any other multi-location business structure.
What is Google Business Profile?
Google Business Profile is a free tool that enables business owners to control how their business appears in Google searches and Google Maps.
Once verified, the business’s information such as address, phone number, hours of operation, reviews, and a lot more will appear in Google search results and Google Maps. GBP profiles are displayed right under the paid ads – but above the rest of the organic results.
Each time your customers direct a localized query to Google, they will see the info about your branch with a nice informational panel – charts, images, business info, and so on.
Even though GBP gives your website a link, the main point of it is to help you sell more products or services directly from Google’s results pages or Maps.
Google Business Profile is an amazing way to get more eyeballs to your business and boost conversions.
You should treat GBP profiles of your franchises and local branches extremely seriously because they are very budget-efficient ways of getting represented in local communities you would not otherwise penetrate.
Google Business Profiles for Franchises
If you are not a local business but have several branches and representative offices, you should still consider working on your GBP listings.
There is a misconception that a Google Business Profile is useful only to small local businesses, but that is not the case. 46% Of all Google searches have local intent – and that figure has probably only grown lately.
GBP offers a way to capture that local traffic and get a presence on Google Maps and other properties. That’s not to even mention that failing to claim your GBP listings may result in a loss of profits or even online reputation disasters. That’s one of the most common local SEO mistakes that are easier prevented than fixed.
GBP Basics for Franchises and Enterprises
These are the basic rules you need to follow so that your multi-location business gets the most benefit from Google Business Profile:
Create and Verify all Your Profiles
Sounds too basic – but that’s where most mistakes are made. Claim all your locations and listings before someone else does.
Just getting the simple GBP listings out there with basic information added to them can do wonders for your conversion rate.
The easiest way to create a multi-location business presence on GBP is to create a business group. To do that you will need to sign in to your Google Business Profile Manager, click “Businesses” at the top left, and select the Create group option. Enter the name of the business group and click “Add location” once the group is done. Then follow the prompts to complete the process.
You can apply for bulk verification if you have 10 or more locations for the same business. You can apply for bulk verification either as an individual user account or as a Business groups account.
Bulk verification has several benefits, except for being actually faster and easier. For instance, new locations that you add to the dashboard become visible on Google by default.
Please keep in mind that Google can de-verify accounts that don’t actively manage their profiles. So keep all the info updated, produce posts, and manage all your profiles properly. If you let the listings look abandoned you may lose them.
Keep the Info Up-to-date and Consistent
Keep the information on all your franchises and branches accurate. Ensure that your business name, address, phone number, website, pricing, hours of operation, and any other info is accurate and current. Running NAP audits frequently helps keep these things in order.
You will hardly be able to keep track of multiple local profiles without any software tools. We’ve developed Direction Local specifically to help keep multiple profiles and citations consistent, so check it out.
Keeping their hours up to date is usually where most franchises drop the ball: synchronize everything across your locations, especially during holidays or other special events.
Add Services and Products
Add your products and services to your profile to give customers a clear understanding of what each local franchise offers.
Add Photos and Videos - the Right Way
The photos and videos you add are your chance to showcase the advantages of your products and services since they get the top position on your profile in SERPs and Maps.
Moreover, the photos you add are listed above your customers’ photos, so use this chance to showcase things that you know your target market cares about the most.
Publish GBP Posts
GBP gives you a chance to communicate with your target audience through your listing. The posts can be created in four categories – What’s New, Events, Offers, and Products.
GBP posts are visible on your profile, readers can share them to messengers and email, and the posts can contain links.
A lot of franchises and enterprises are leveraging GBP posts to create quick messages that help run promotions, branding campaigns, and marketing experiments.
Unlike blog posts on your website, GBP posts don’t have to be long or detailed – but you can use them to add a small personal touch to your business.
Unfortunately, GBP does not support bulk post creation – so you will have to use specialized software like Direction Local to schedule and publish GBP posts to your location profiles in bulk.
Getting Deeper Into GBP Tactics
There are certain things multi-location businesses can do to stand out from their competition and engage their audiences better. We’ll list a couple of tactics that you need to leverage.
Review Customer Photos
Have someone go through the customer photos and review them periodically. You need to react fast and remove potentially offensive ones. Also, consider removing unaesthetic ones – and leaving those that showcase the best sides of each franchise!
Customer photos are also valuable for monitoring feedback and customer satisfaction – you can spot negative trends and deteriorating service quality in any franchise early enough if you pay attention to the pictures visitors post to their profiles.
Monitor and Respond to Reviews
Regularly monitor and respond to reviews, both positive and negative. This not only shows that you are engaged with your customers and value their feedback – but also helps avert online reputation management crises.
Use Industry-Specific Features
GBP has features that let you convert searchers into customers right on Google’s platforms. This means fewer taps for your customers and better metrics for Google, so it’s a win-win.
For instance, if you are in the food service, the “Food ordering” feature is the one to focus on. Customers will be able to order food directly through Google Business Profile on Google Maps and in SERPs, and your franchise order system will be syndicated with third-party delivery and ordering services.
“Appointments” is another useful business-specific feature that makes a lot of sense for service providers.
Use Relevant Keywords
Use relevant keywords in your business description and throughout the profile to help potential customers find you when searching for specific products or services.
This is not a requirement for your GBP management but it will take you one step further than your competition in terms of local SEO.
Make sure the GBP listing for every branch has a set of converting keywords for your product or services, paired with location names (towns, area names, apartment complexes, zip codes are all a good idea since they will be picking up longtail traffic eventually).
Keep Your Profile Active
Regularly post updates, special offers, and promotions to keep your profile active and engage with your customers.
Profile activity is a ranking and an authority signal for Google, and if your franchises have active profiles, they will be rewarded with more organic traffic.
GBP Strategy and Philosophy for Franchises and Enterprises
There are so many tools and techniques available for promoting your business online, that you constantly need to remind yourself WHY you are doing everything. This section will help you set your mind on the most effective and rewarding goals of GBP maintenance.
Reputation Management Strategy
With franchises and multi-location Enterprise businesses, the main point and the goal of your GBP activity is reputation management, not just SEO or anything else.
With multi-location businesses reputation incidents are extremely dangerous since a single location having an incident can get out of hand and spread like wildfire to your whole brand.
Responding to reviews and monitoring customer photos consistently will help you keep your branches’ online reputation under control.
Have a workflow and people responsible for this activity. Requesting, monitoring, and responding to reviews is essential in the age of cell phones, social media, and the hunger for virality.
We have a detailed reputation management guide so check it out for more specific techniques.
Monitor Your Competition
Keep an eye on your competitors to see how they are managing their profiles and use that information to make improvements to your own properties.
Use Analytics Data
Measure the success of your GBP profile using Insights – the analytics section of your GBP dashboard. Here’s a detailed explanation for monitoring your local SEO success in Insights.
You will have to be using GBP insights for every individual location of your franchise.
Use Google Ads to Supercharge Your GBP Profile
If you – or any of your local branches – have been doing a great job accumulating customer reviews on Google, you can start buying paid ads for your Google Business Profile.
This can get you great results because consumers trust Google – and they will love landing on your GBP listing after clicking on ads. Conversion rates may be way higher than with your main website – so give it a shot!
Integrate GBP Into Other Marketing Channels
As a business, you have to be where your customers are. You also need to have them land on a page they trust the most. Experiment with GBP as a landing page for other social media campaigns. Use link shorteners to make your GBP links more “pretty” and run social media campaigns on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook.
Your marketing channels should all work together, and GBP can have a central place in the funnel.
Many franchises and multi-location enterprise businesses have managed to boost their revenue with the creative usage of GBP profiles. We’ve helped dozens of businesses expand their reach to local communities in outside-the-box ways, and if you’re wondering if the same can be done for your business – get in touch with us and let’s talk!