The Changing Role of Social Media in Franchise Digital Marketing

Getting your brand to stand out online requires smart and sustainable franchise internet marketing. In addition to a beautiful website and active social media presence, you’ll need to consistently build links to your site.

What is link building?

Link building is an insider term for the process of acquiring hyperlinks from other sites that send users to your webpage. For example, an independent franchise internet marketing blog might enjoy this article and decide to share the URL in a post.

In the right circumstances, link building is a win-win proposition. In our previous example, the franchise internet marketing blog gets a fresh and interesting piece of content that their audience will enjoy, while we get a little SEO boost. And that brings us to the next point…

Why should I include link building in my franchise internet marketing campaign?

Building hyperlinks to your website will increase traffic, increase your domain authority, and get you ranked higher in the SERP, all of which are crucial for your online growth and visibility.

Simply put, search engines view legitimate links to your page as votes of confidence about its quality and relevance. Though not as influential as they were in the 1990s, links are still movers and shakers as far as your site ranking and traffic are concerned.

In today’s competitive online landscape, you need every advantage you can get, and the value of link building is too good to ignore.

Quality over quantity

Back in the late 1990s, the number of links to your page was one of the most important ranking factors in play, so franchise internet marketing teams did all they could to acquire them. Spam links became a popular marketing tool until Google rolled out algorithm updates to punish these exploits.

Today, link quality is all that matters. Low-quality, spammy links, such as those franchise internet marketing teams used to get by submitted their URLs to page directories or linking to their blogs on social media, get limited value. In some cases, they’ll even get your site penalized.

Sustainable, high-quality link-building for franchise internet marketing results

Building quality hyperlinks can take serious time and energy. These sustainable link building strategies will give you long-term value that increases over time, without being a large-scale investment of man-hours and marketing dollars.

  • Focus on evergreen content. Writing great content that isn’t tied to specific dates or events is one of the best ways to get authentic, high-quality links. Using our internet franchise marketing blog example again, it’s easy to see why this post would perform better than one on “The Best Link Building Strategies in July of 2018.” In addition to being a clunky title, it gives itself an expiry date. While capitalizing on big news stories can give you a traffic boost in the short term, writing “evergreen” content that’s always relevant ups your odds of getting featured on someone else’s site.
  • Appeal to multiple audiences. It’s usually not hard to re-tool titles and introductions to frame content to appeal to different niches or demographics. The more ways you can slice and spin your data to appeal to different groups, the better your odds of outreach.
  • Trade links with franchise family members. Since the previous tips were more long-term, strategic, and abstract, we thought we’d leave you with a quick-and-dirty tip for fast results. Franchises have the advantage of having multiple distinct websites in service of the same umbrella brand. Since franchises are built to support one another, why not trade links with your franchise family members? It’s not exploitative, either; you each get an SEO boost, and it’s easy to find ways to slip in links organically when describing your brand’s national presence. Contact a nearby franchise owner and ask if they’d like to trade links on-site today.

Learn more about sustainable link building and internet franchise marketing

Visit https://www.clicktecs.com to speak directly with our link-building team.

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ADA Compliance Website Checklist for Franchises: Top-5 Most Common and Costly Violations

WARNING: Franchisors across the country are being sued for failing to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act legislation mandating that all websites be accessible to disabled individuals.

Predatory attorneys like this Arizona man who sued over 2000 businesses are combing the web for targets, looking to line their pockets under the guise of championing disability rights. And the majority of franchisors didn’t even know their websites were in violation!

Today’s post is not meant as a complete ADA compliance website checklist for franchises, but rather spotlights the top-5 most common and costly violations that we see. If you would like to learn more about the ADA’s 300-item checklist and whether your website is in compliance, talk to our team. Otherwise read on for our rundown of the “frequent five” ADA compliance issues for franchise websites.

  • Use of flashing media.

    There’s no doubt that flashing animations are eye-catching, which makes them a popular choice for franchise website pages announcing exciting brand updates, grand openings, and limited-time offers. Wiping your franchise website clean of these attention-grabbers is unnecessary, but specific criteria must be met to ensure that they do not pose hazards to the health of certain users.

    The Level AAA success criterion for flashing media states that the franchise website should not include any media that flashes more than three times in any one second period. This is referred to as the “Three Flashes or Below Threshold.”

    Moreover, any motion animation triggered by interactions (such as hovering the mouse cursor over the media, clicking through, or landing on a particular page) must have an “off” switch. If users cannot disable these animations, your franchise website is technically noncompliant.

  • Excessive jargon and other undecipherable copy.

    Depending on which industry your franchise is involved with, jargon might be part and parcel of daily business. Including jargon and other unusual words (including those that qualify as requiring an advanced reading level to grasp) on your website isn’t necessarily a bad thing. In fact, factoring jargon into SEO keywords is often recommended as a way to attract industry-insiders. But ADA compliance requires that you take special care when including idioms, jargon, abbreviations, and other copy that requires an “advanced reading level” to understand.

    The ADA’s Level AAA Success Criterion for “Reading Level” mandates that any jargon, abbreviations, or text requiring reading ability more advanced than the lower secondary education level include a mechanism for identifying specific definitions and expanded forms.

  • Inadequate text resizing options.

    Visual impairments are extremely common, and growing more so everyday. In 2017, the Journal of the American Medical Association: Ophthalmology estimated the prevalence of low vision and blindness for older adults in the United States would more than double within the next 30 years (Chan et al., 2018, p. 12-14). Accordingly, your franchise website needs simple and intuitive text resizing options.

    According to the ADA compliance website checklist, your franchise site must allow users to resize text up to 200% without the use of any assistive technology. Moreover, as with mobile-responsive site criteria, this resizing should not affect the content or functionality of your website in any way.

  • Limited keyboard navigation.

    Any visitors to your website must be able to fully operate the page through keyboard control alone. That means no part of your website should be accessible only by clicking on links or buttons that cannot be reached by “tabbing” your way there, or using the arrow keys. This doesn’t mean that mouse input is forbidden, but rather that the entire site must be keyboard-accessible.

  • Improper use of alt text.

    “Alt text” refers to the text alternatives provided for any non-text content so that it can be changed into other forms users may need, such as large print, braille, speech, symbols, or simpler language. Alt text is most commonly provided for images. But it’s often used improperly; for example, rather than actually describing the non-text media in question, the alt text is used to sneak in a few extra keywords for local SEO. This may seem like a good way to inch past your local franchise competition (side note: it’s not!), but it’s also a major ADA violation.

ADA compliance beyond the “frequent five”

So you’ve determined that your franchise website managed to avoid these 5 common and costly pitfalls. Great!

But there’s bad news: this list is by no means exhaustive.

In fact, our ADA compliance website checklist consists ofmore than 300 separate items, all of which must be adhered to in order to protect your brand from opportunistic attorneys.

Our team will audit your franchise website from top to bottom using a series of top ADA compliance tools, then work with you to develop a plan and implement these critical changes. And we’ll do it fast.

Call us at 905-564-0020 or email info@clicktecs.com to book a free consultation with our ADA compliance team.

References

Chan, T., Friedman, D. S., Bradley, C., &Massof, R. (2018). Estimates of incidence and prevalence of visual impairment, low vision, and blindness in the United States. Journal of the American Medical Association: Ophthalmology, 136(1), 12-19.

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ClickTecs’ ADA Compliance Service

Today’s post explains how ADA violations can leave your franchise’s financial and reputational assets in ruin, and how ClickTecs can help.

What is ADA Compliance?

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a comprehensive civil rights law that was developed to protect the rights of individuals with disabilities. The law mandates that all “places of public accommodation” – including your business and franchise website – are legally obligated to remove barriers hindering disabled individuals’ access to “goods and services.”

When most people think of “access barriers,” they imagine literal barriers, like when a stair-heavy headquarters lacks any ramps for wheelchair access. And prior to 2010, they were right; the ADA was enacted in the pre-Internet 1990s, long before franchise websites and virtual barriers existed.

But in 2010, everything changed when the US Department of Justice issued an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking indicating that they planned to amend ADA language so that franchise websites are considered a “place of public accommodation,” and therefore subject to all the Act’s rules.

Today, website accessibility is non-negotiable. All businesses, corporations, and franchise websites, apps, and electronic media must comply with ADA guidelines, or face serious consequences. In addition to alienating a significant chunk of your audience (approximately 57-million Americans are living with disabilities according to a 2018 census report), failure to comply with ADA can expose your business to serious financial and reputational damages.

Is Your Business at Risk of a “Drive-By Lawsuit”?

“Drive-by lawsuits” are now being pursued by lawyers hoping to line their pockets under the guise of championing accessibility rights. If your website isn’t ADA compliant, your franchise might fall into their crosshairs.

“There is now a whole industry made up of people who prey on small business owners and file unnecessary and abusive lawsuits,” said Congressional Representative Ted Poe in a statement to NewsWeek earlier this year.

In an effort to nip these “abusive lawsuits” in the bud, Congress passed the ADA Education and Reform Act in February 2018 with a 225-192 vote.

The bill requires those filing lawsuits to first give the franchise owner 60 days to devise a plan to fix the problem, then another 120 days to implement the changes. Now business owners will actually have time to fix what is allegedly broken, rather than being sued upfront. In this way, the bill both protects accessibility rights and prevents predatory litigation.

But don’t mistake the ADA Education and Reform Act for an excuse to drag your feet.

Indeed, its protections might not be around for long. Disability rights supporters have called the Act “deeply shameful” and criticized the way that it ostensibly shifts the burden of ADA policing to disabled individuals by removing the “proactive incentive” of a noncompliance suit.

Since the Act was passed, members of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), National Bar Association, the Paralyzed Veterans of America, the NAACP, and more than 200 other organizations drafted and signed an official letter of opposition calling for the bill to be overturned.

Their voices were heard, and now the bill goes to the Senate, where its fate – and maybe the fate of your non-compliant business – will be decided. A ruling should be reached sometime this year.

But whatever the Senate decides, you’re still responsible for your franchise website’s ADA compliance. And it’s still a time-sensitive issue; if you don’t make time to plan and implement these changes now, you’ll soon be forced to do so on somebody else’s schedule, with a federal injunction hanging over your head.

Avoiding “Drive-By Lawsuits” With Clicktecs’ ADA Compliance Service

Opportunistic attorneys are now targeting franchise owners whose websites are not ADA-compliant. The most common violations include:

  • Images lacking inclusive alt text;
  • Failure to include audio tracks accompanying video-only content;
  • Failure to include captions for any pre-recorded audio;
  • Rigid website/content layouts that fail to accommodate different abilities;
  • Use of color as the only means of conveying visual information;
  • Websites that cannot be navigated through keyboard control alone;
  • Lacking option to turn off “time-limits” on any content;
  • Using page language that is not determinable by all users, and incompatible with assistive technologies;
  • Failure to adhere to the text and image contrast ratio of 4.5:1 (does not apply to large-scale text);
  • Lack of sign language interpretations for prerecorded audio content.

But this is only a glimpse of the 300-point checklist that your franchise website needs to adhere to.

Meeting these standards might sound overwhelming, but ClickTecs can help!

We are a digital marketing agency that specializes in ADA compliance. Members of our team are standing by to quickly audit your website, plan tactical fixes, and implement the changes you need to comply with these important accessibility regulations.

Don’t stress – call 905-564-0020 or visit https://clicktecs.com/ to book your free consultation.

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Franchise Website SEO 101: The 2018 Beginner's Guide

Today’s post is for newcomers to the art of franchise website SEO. Read on for a succinct beginner’s guide to this essential advertising strategy that factors in Google’s 2018 algorithm changes.

What is franchise website SEO?

Search engine optimization (SEO) is a combination of web marketing strategies used to boost your franchise website’s visibility and ranking in search engines.

Simply put, webmasters use SEO to tell search engine crawlers that their sites are of high quality and relevance, and that they’ll do a good job of answering the user’s specific search queries. In 2018, franchise website needs to go beyond playing to the crawl-bots and focus on giving the user the best possible browsing experience.

Broadly speaking, franchise website SEO consists of:

  • Franchise website content;
  • Franchise website structure;
  • Number of links to a franchise website.

How important is franchise website SEO?

Assuming that the goal of your site is to generate traffic – whether that’s to drive customers to your franchise unit or to attract qualified candidates to your franchise opportunity – franchise website SEO is non negotiable.

Some franchise owners generate an impressive amount of traffic from their social media platforms and outreach, but search engines are still by and large the primary source of visitors. Search engine traffic is also generally more valuable to franchise owners because it is highly targeted, as opposed to non targeted social media visitors with no real intent to buy your product.

What should I look for in franchise website SEO packages?

  • Keyword research. Your franchise website content needs to pinpoint search terms that your target audience uses to connect with those potential buyers. This boils down to determining audience intent, as well as useful industry jargon, which will be different for every business. Get in touch with our franchise website SEO team for more on keyword research.
  • On-page SEO. Fit your keywords into title tags; leverage SEO-friendly URLs; and add modifiers to your title (years, “best,” “guide,” or “review,” for example) to rank for long-tail versions of competitive phrases. Wrap your titles in H1 tags; use H2 tags for keyword-loaded subheadings; and be sure to drop your keyword in the first 100 words of any targeted copy. Use high-quality outbound links to boost your page’s relevancy signal, and add 2-3 internal links to every post for better indexing.
  • Emphasize site speed. Google has publicly stated that page speed is used as a prominent ranking signal, which makes it a major part of franchise website SEO in 2018. Most users won’t revisit a site that takes longer than 4 seconds to load, and 60% won’t even let the page finish loading! Switching to faster hosting, compressing images, and content delivery networks (CDNs) will all up your site speed.
  • Regular, long-form content. The old franchise website SEO adage that “length is strength” should not be ignored. Expand content you want to rank with to at least 500 words for best results, but don’t go overboard with 3000+ word posts unless you have a specific reason to do so. Regular content is best, since Google rewards sites based on the “freshness” of their posts.
  • Off-page SEO. Some of your franchise website SEO takes place on other people’s sites, namely link-building. Getting links from Wikipedia, social bookmarking, blog comments, and guest posts are all viable tactics. You can read more about sustainable link-building tactics in our blog this month, or contact a member of our team directly at https://www.clicktecs.com/contact-us

That’s all for today’s introductory guide, but you can keep the conversation going by visiting our blog or calling 905-564-0020 for a free consultation.

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Setting Smarter, Measurable Goals for Franchise Marketing

By now everybody knows that quality franchise marketing and SEO is essential for keeping brands visible and profitable. But too many brands sink dollars blindly into their franchise marketing without really knowing what it’s getting them in return.

Today’s post will improve the efficacy of your franchise marketing and keep your agency more accountable by teaching you how to set smarter, measurable goals that produce actual results for your business.

Setting smarter franchise marketing and SEO goals in 2018

When you sit down with your franchise marketing team, it may sound like a good idea to flesh out your SEO goals from the get-go.

Instead, start by talking about your company goals. After all, monthly conversion or budgetary goals will drastically affect how you approach your franchise marketing. Though two companies may have an SEO goal in common – maybe they both want to rank #1 on Google – a Fortune-500 company will approach this very differently than a start-up trying to survive a lean quarter.

Next, dial in on specific franchise marketing goals. Once you’ve figured out your company goals, determine how your franchise marketing will contribute. For example, if your brand intends to increase sales, your franchise marketing could approach that in any number of ways – is their job going to be improving the conversion funnel, or getting more traffic into it in the first place? Though franchise marketing goals will obviously vary from company to company (and indeed, from individual to individual), they should also be tied directly to the company goals you laid out upfront. This is the essence of result-oriented marketing.

Once you’ve got your franchise marketing goals in place, it’s time to determine your SEO goals at last. Let’s say you’ve decided your franchise needs to direct more traffic to the top of your sales funnel. This means your franchise marketing and SEO might want to widen the net and target bigger keywords and shorter queries so that you make more impressions and generate more leads.

Conversely, if you want to improve the performance of your sales funnel, you might narrow the targeting with more specific keywords. Consider using industry jargon and forming long-tail phrases to target niche consumers, or employ modifiers like “best” or “review” to get your website or offer in front of people who intend to buy your product on the day they make their query.

Once you’ve got your SEO goals in place, you can isolate franchise marketing metrics and use them to monitor your progress. Measurable goal metrics include:

  • Page rankings (global, national, and local);
  • Organic search visits, which is just raw traffic being generated by search engines;
  • SERP ownership and reputation;
  • Branded search volume, which is the measurement of how many users search directly for your brand name;
  • Hyperlinks and link metrics, which refers to the quantity and quality of links other people are sharing to your website;
  • Referral traffic, which tells us who referred traffic to your site via links, and whether they were sharing the pages you intended them to.

What are some examples of smart, measurable goals for franchise marketing and SEO?

  • Company goal: “I want to grow my online sales.”
  • Franchise marketing goal: “Increase the top of funnel website traffic by 35%.”
  • SEO goal: Boost organic search visit by 50%.”

Let’s talk smart franchise marketing and measurable SEO

Give us a call at 905-564-0020 and let’s brainstorm some ideas for your brand.

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The Changing Role of Social Media in Franchise Digital Marketing

The days of using social media as a content link hub and promotional soapbox may be over. Big brands have begun penalizing posts that include external links in hopes of keeping users from navigating off-site.

But that doesn’t mean social media’s a dead asset. Different social media platforms still have tons of utility for savvy advertisers, and they still deserve a prominent place in your franchise digital marketing strategy.

Today’s post shares some tips for making the most of social media for your franchise digital marketing in 2018.

Stress quality over quantity

Posting on your social media accounts more often does not translate to more audience engagement. On the contrary, flooding your feed with posts usually gets you unfollowed or ignored.

The “more is more” misconception is an artifact from the 1990s approach to franchise digital marketing, which leaned heavily on spamming links and keywords in hopes that some would stick.

And the “feed flood” approach doesn’t only gets a bad reader response. Now social algorithms are set up to penalize spam posters, so that greater posting frequency directly lowers the number of feeds your content appears on.

Stick to 1-2 posts per day, and really make them count for something. Anything more than that overloads the user on branded content and triggers an adverse reactive. Be cut-throat about this: if you have 10 posts under consideration, don’t hesitate to weed out the weaker ones.

Recognize cross-platform variability

Franchise digital marketing teams sometimes get caught up referring to “social media” as a single amalgamation. In reality, every social media platform is unique, with variable engagement rates, user expectations, and uses. For example, Instagram boasts an engagement rate of over 1% and obviously favors compelling visual content. In contrast, Twitter’s engagement rate sits around 0.46%, and users value concise, pithy posts in almost exclusively written form.

Knowing which platforms do what and how different audiences prefer their messages presented is crucial when it comes to hitting your franchise digital marketing goals.

Accept that social media algorithms evolved away from engagement

Social media used to be a soap box from which to speak directly to your target audience and share valuable links and discounts. But as the previous point showed, engagement rates are way down – 1% for Instagram and as low as 0.46% for Facebook.

Why did engagement rates drop? Are all social media users just feed-scrolling zombies?

It’s actually not hard to understand when you consider how the algorithms have changed. Whereas social media feed used to be largely controlled by the user, since they filled out based on similar accounts you chose to follow, the feed is now 100% curated by algorithms. That means the user has less direct control over what they see, and thus are less likely to engage with content.

Does that mean social media is no longer worthwhile? Not at all. It’s still a high-value asset for general branding, promotion, building intrigue, gauging interest in potential products and services, and online reputation management. But it should not be treated like the link hub or referral traffic factory it used to be.

Show local audiences you’re there (and you care)

As social media platforms expand into product and service review hubs, their utility for online reputation management (ORM) increases.

While daily post engagement may be down because the news feed is such hotly contested online real-estate, Facebook business reviews stay pinned to your page and are archived for potential users to browse at their leisure.

Reviews will be prominently displayed on your business page, along with any comments or interaction your representatives had with that post. This is great for both positive and negative reviews, as you can either show readers your appreciation for the kind words, or display your commitment to customer service by offering to make it right for somebody with a complaint.

Learn more about social media management and franchise digital marketing

Visit https://www.clicktecs.com/contact-us to book a free consultation with a member of our team and bring your social media campaigns up to date!

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