Five Ways to use Google for Franchise Opportunity Research

Many online marketers fail to see how their skill sets can improve the success of entrepreneurs both on-line and off-line. In particular, search engine marketing gives us an ability to peak into the wishes of consumers across the world. Not only does this give us an idea of their online interests, but when considered in tandem with geographical data, it gives us the ability to predict more intelligently where particular businesses may or may not succeed.

In this discussion, we are going to look at franchising research: that is, how one can use Google Adwords, Google Analytics and Keyword Discovery to identify the best locations to start a particular business. We will try to give examples from 2 vantage points – the entrepreneur trying to decide which franchise will perform the best in his or her area, or the franchiser deciding which city to place their next location.

Using Google Adwords for Franchise Research

The potential research available via Google Adwords is amazing. Within a few hours, any business can have data on their industry across the United States. With access to analytic data, even more can be known.

In this first example, we are going to use Google Adwords and Analytics to determine which franchise is most likely to succeed in our own city. This would be valuable for an entrepreneur looking to start a local business but unable to determine which franchise would meet the community’s needs the most.

First, you will need to set up a new Adwords Campaign from which you will run the prospective advertisements.

Second, you will limit the geographical area for your campaign.

Third, you will create ad groups for each of the potential chains you may be interested in opening (like Subway, McDonalds, etc.)

Finally, create ads for each and launch.

You will then need to watch the impression data more than the click data. We are interested in the number of people searching for the franchise names in your given area, not whether they are willing to click on your ad. After running the campaign for a few days, you should have a ballpark idea of what customers in your area WISH they had available.

Using Google Analytics for Franchise Research

Imagine, instead, that we have a web page that ranks for the primary term which describes the franchise. Keeping with the same trend, let’s assume that this is With Google Analytics, a webmaster can dive down in their traffic to look at organic search traffic by location. First, you will want to navigate to the Visitors > Map Overlay section.

You will probably want to go state-by-state, as city details will give you the best data for franchise opportunities. You will need to segment your traffic by non-paid, as shown in the image below.

analytics segmentation franchise research

Finally, identify where existing franchises appear on your map (not a feature, must be done by hand) and identify the highest density of search traffic in areas where a franchise is not within a certain radius (depends on your franchise).

analytics franchise research

Using Google Trends for Franchise Research

Imagine, instead, that you are interested in determining the best city for a particular franchise but currently do not have a website, ruling out Adwords or Analytics. Similar keyword-geographic relationships can be determined using Google Trends.

First, you would visit Google Trends and search for the keyword or keywords which describe the franchise you are interested in opening. Let’s assume, once again, that it is Ruby Tuesday.

Google Trends will reveal to you the top countries at the bottom of the screen. Assuming you are interested in the United States only, click on it. Of course, you could choose any other country in the list as well.

You can then drill down state-by-state and export the top-cities data using their “Export to CSV” button at the bottom of the page. Cross reference this list of cities from across the country against known locations of the franchise. Any location in the Google Trends data that does not have a franchise yet represents a community directly interested in the product, but is currently unserved.

google trends franchise research

Using Google Keyword Suggestion Tool for Franchise Research

You can use the Google Keyword Suggestion Tool to compare a large number of cities. It is important to note that this tool will only allow you to discern between queries where the city name is actually used. The other techniques we have discussed so far, and those to follow, look at the geographic origination of the user, not the actual phrase used.

Fill the keyword list (one per line) with your franchise + city name + state. For example, ruby tuesday Durham NC, ruby tuesday Raleigh NC, and so on and so forth. Deselect “use synonyms” and select “Don’t show ideas for new keywords”. We want to compare the same term, just for different cities. Press “Get Keyword Ideas”.

Finally, choose “match type” exact and order by Global search volume. This will then list, in descending order, the cities with the greatest amount of related search traffic.

Using Google Traffic Estimator for Franchise Research

If you already know the prospective cities in which you may want to open a franchise, Google’s Traffic Estimator is another tool you can use to identify which city would be best suited. There are several steps involved.

First, type in the franchise name, set the bid amount and daily estimate and choose “Regions and Cities”

Second, select your country from the drop down.

Third, choose cities and type in the city in which you would like to determine potential traffic volume.

Finally, record this data and compare against other cities to determine which city has greatest number of potential customers.


Hopefully with all of this geotargeted data you will be able to make a more informed decision about franchising. While there are certainly real-world tools available (often at a premium), the Internet and, in particular, Search Marketing offers inexpensive solutions for making real-world decisions.

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1 Comment

  1. Lyman
    Jan 27, 2010

    Hello. Great info. Do you accept guest bloggers?

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