Facebook Introduces Support for the Hashtag

Last Wednesday, Facebook hopped on the hashtag bandwagon. Joining Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr, Facebook now offers the use of hashtags to its users. The rollout is still in progress, so some users are already have this function  and others have yet to receive it.

What exactly is a hashtag?

A hashtag is the pound symbol (#) in front of a word or hashtagsElementslocalphrase. The hashtag will categorize your message by a single word. The word/words that you have prefixed the hashtag with will be grouped with like phrases, or tags. This is particularly useful in microblogging social media sites such as Twitter. When your only option is 140 characters, summing up your idea with a hashtag can add important context to your short message.

Facebook users can use this feature by searching or selecting a hashtag to see what others have commented about the same subject. For example; “Our company has just updated their blog about the use of hashtags #elementslocal.” When one selects #elementslocal, other posts containing this tag will show up in a new window. This is a great way to see what is trending in the online world.

This feature is beneficial to users, but Facebook itself also benefits from this release. Not only does Facebook have access to a user’s name, age, address (and any other information one offers on this social website), now the topics of conversation can be used for advertising purposes. Because the tags group together messages and like minded topics due to the keyword, Facebook can monitor trends that become popular among users.

Within the next few weeks, Facebook expects to have this feature rolled out to all users, with rumors of the use of hashtags on the mobile app as well … look for more about #hashtags, #mobile and #FranchiseMarketing from #ElementsLocal.

Elements Presents: MAACO.CA

local-top-canadaElementsLocal is proud to announce the re-launch of Maaco.ca, the Canadian corporate website for Maaco in addition to brand new websites for each of the Canadian franchisees. This endeavor was launched early last week.

The main difference between Maaco and Maaco Canada is the area served. With the launch of the new Maaco.ca site, the Maaco brand was made consistent across the borders. “The corporate and franchisee websites now have a great new look and cutting edge functionality,” said Tony Holt, Client Manager with ElementsLocal.

Along with the rebranding, other changes made to Maaco.ca consisted of website feature upgrades. “Franchisees can now update and access their websites through our CMS.  Functionality enhancements include total franchise control and push down of content, manageable jquery slideshows, advanced location manger, leads routed directly to franchisees from the corporate site and a great corporate mobile website, also capable of capturing and routing leads,” Holt added.

This group effort consisted of Tony Holt from ElementsLocal working closely with Gary Dohring, Master Franchisor for Maaco.ca, and Bruce Tokiwa, former Director of Marketing.  Behind-the-scenes efforts were supplied by Elements’ engineers and search engine optimization team. The project from inception to launch took only 2 months to complete.

As a final statement Holt offered up his opinion on this accomplishment, “We [ElementsLocal] are very excited to be part of this new launch and look forward to continuing to work with Maaco Canada and their online marketing needs.”



Have questions about what we can do for your site? Leave a comment on this article and a member of our  team will get back to you.

For more info and helpful hints in everything social media, franchises and marketing: follow us on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and, (of course), stay tuned on our blog.


Penguin 2.0 Roll out

Guest Blogging Post-Penguin 2.0Search Engine Optimization is big on researching keywords, keeping up with the latest trends, instituting best practice methods and studying algorithm changes that search engines put into place. The biggest word this month is about the new Penguin 2.0 webspam algorithm that is now officially out.

Matt Cutts, head of Google’s webspam team announced the roll out on Wednesday May 22, 2013. “About 2.3 per cent of English-US queries are expected to be affected to the degree that a regular user might notice,” Cutts said. “The change has also finished rolling out for other languages world-wide. The scope of Penguin varies by language, e.g. languages with more webspam will see more impact.”

Penguin is created to differentiate websites containing spam in order to add weight to those who are legitimate. These changes were implemented in order to decrease the rankings of poor quality websites that are using manipulative linking practices. The new Penguin 2.0 is a more aggressive Google algorithm aimed at decreasing the keyword value of links using unnatural anchor text or in other words, using keyword rich text to point towards a website in the hopes of higher rankings for those linked keywords.  Natural links generally have a company’s brand name within the anchor text instead of exact match keywords.  Penguin 2.0 dug deeper into interior links this time into pages such as category and article pages.  Websites using these manipulative linking techniques will be penalized with this update.  

Exact match keyword stuffed anchor links can be now be considered another Black Hat linking method. Other Black Hat linking methods that may get hit by the Penguin 2.0 algorithm updates are:

  • Link Farms: groups of websites that all link to each other in order to appear to have more genuine inbound links
  • Blog Comment Spam: comments filed on blogs merely to place links to other websites
  • Doorway Pages: landing pages used with the intention of enticing searchers with keyword phrases not related to the main content of the website.
  • Paid Links: purchasing many links on many low quality website or few links on high quality websites to give the appearance of more inbound links


Penguin uses Google’s spiders to tell if a website violates the Google Guidelines. The spiders can also tell if a site is badly written with grammatical errors or has content that offers little or no value. They will also distinguish websites that are up to date, from those that are obsolete.

What should we expect to see in the next few months in terms of SEO for Google? Check out this video.

Will your site be affected by  Penguin 2.0? If your site is full of unique organic reader friendly content then keep on keepin’ on.  If not, penalties could be in your near uture.

Have questions about SEO? Leave a comment on this article and a member of our SEO team will get back to you when they can.

For more info and helpful hints in everything social media, franchises and marketing: follow us on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and, (of course), stay tuned on our blog.


Elements’ CEO Has Article Published in Franchise Update

Franchise-Update-LogoJeremy LaDuque recently had an article published in Franchise Update.

Author Authority: The Next Wave in Higher Google Rankings touches on the important subject of social media links influencing our rankings in search engines. Click the article link to find out what this means for franchise marketers.

For more info and helpful hints in everything social media, franchises and marketing: follow us on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and, (of course), stay tuned on our blog.

Jeremy LaDuque is co-founder and CEO of Elements, a provider of online marketing tools for franchise companies. In 2001, the firm created ElementsLocal, a franchise marketing tool used by more than 3,000 clients to manage their local online marketing activities. Founded in 1999, Elements is based in San Luis Obispo, Calif. Contact him at (805) 547-1160 or info@elementslocal.com.


Elements Teams Up With California Fresh Franchise

calfreshimagesThis past Saturday night, Elements employees teamed up with California Fresh to prepare food for the Los Padres Division of the US Forest Service.

You may remember last year, when Elements and California Fresh fed the fire fighters during the “Lookout Fire”. This time the call came at Saturday night and no time was wasted preparing food for over one hundred workers fighting the flames.

Chad Jordan, Senior Client Manager, developed a catering group called California Fresh along with Steve Bridge, ElementsLocal’s CFO. Chad coordinated meal preparation along with an on-call crew which included Theresa Phillips, Client Services and SEO Specialist. Steve Bridge stepped up to deliver and serve the food along with another California Fresh crew member.

The “Rock Fire” was located off the 166 and successfully contained that weekend.

Once again, we would like to acknowledge the USFS to protect our region here in California.
For more information about the Los Padres National Forest, please visit http://www.fs.usda.gov/lpf

The Next Revolution in Google Ranking May Be Author Authority

Do you want to know the next big thing from Google? Buy the new book, The New Digital Age, coming from Google’s Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt and Jared Cohen, the director of Google Ideas. This book talks about the future, both physical and digital, and discusses the promises they bring the world.

From the Wall Street article on the book some interesting items were outlined.

Will we be able to have anonymity? Not likely in the future, cyber union of countries where censorship and monitoring is the standard will swamp tech companies with privacy, security and user protection concerns, and cyber war will prevail. In fact just this week, cyber security topped terrorism as the highest threat reported by the US defense department.

But one of the most interesting concepts from the book is “Within search results, information tied to verified online profiles will be ranked higher than content without such verification, which will result in most users naturally clicking on the top (verified) results. The true cost of remaining anonymous, then, might be irrelevance.”

The significance of that statement is if you are unknown to Google, you are irrelevant. To say the least, this is interesting, but for companies that want to continue to rank high, this will be extremely important.

Base on these statements the “<a href=”[profile_url]?rel=author”>Google</a>” may be a very important attribute in future Google algorithms. In fact early implementation may already be taking place. Information on the web will be tied to your online profile. So, content attributed to valid online profiles will rank higher than content, which does not have these attributions.

This means you should start building your author authority now!

How Bing and Yahoo will react to this is unknown, however social ranking will have to be addressed and while these organizations may not like the standard, it is here. As Google implements the standard it will also most likely drive adoption of this concept across the entire search ecosystem.  Since Bing has direct feed access to the Facebook cosmos, a true wild west divergence may begin to develop as the social media ranking come into play. I am not sure where this leads, but careful tracking of this divergence (if it occurs) will be mandatory for the success of any companies online marketing efforts.

So what will get measured.

There are relatively reasonable  items for Google to grab, Facebook likes on a piece of content, tweets and retweets, and Google + citations. Heck we all wear those statistics right on the articles as badges of honor. Google can simply grab them.

There are also secondary items that are relatively easy for Google, things like, the speed at which those numbers are growing, how many discussions are going on related to the content and how long it lasts, i.e. does it have legs. What other authorities are referencing your article

But for those of us who are concerned with rankings one of the key issues I see coming is Who owns the authority is it my company or me.

This probably means that companies will be investing in developing internal people with authority rankings. Processes, procedures and contracts will begin to develop around the authority and who owns it. Does an employee that has developed a high authority through investments by companies have the right to take that authority and take it to a competitor?

So if anyone felt online marketing and search engine ranking was complex now, stand by the future is online, and for you to succeed make sure you have people either internal or on your team that are keeping track of these trends and keeping you ahead of the curve.

How to Maximize User Buy-In for Franchise Clients You Service

As a follow up to our IFA Takeaway post, we thought this article from Dan Martin, CEO of IFx was appropriate. Maximizing your Franchisee’s buy-in is something  near and dear to every systems heart and this article gives you a great method of doing that.



The process flow necessary to achieve the highest franchisee buy-in incorporates franchisee (and/or FAC) INVOLVEMENT. It is critical for the franchisor to include their franchisees (or key franchisees or FAC) IN the process even if the franchisor knows that their franchisees will buy-into the innovation simply because it is the best thing for them.

Involving franchisees in the consideration of new products, services and/or innovations provides valuable input from franchisees. Further, politically it serves to empower franchisees.

The A-Z formula or process flow that relates to franchisee buy-in is based on INVOLVEMENT. The premise being: How often do franchisors turn to their franchisees and ask them what they think? Not often enough.

A. Consider a new product, service or innovation at the franchisor level

B. Build-in a component that benefits your franchise development efforts

C. Incorporate political, practical and legal elements at franchisor level

D. Incorporate political, practical and legal elements at franchisee level

E. Obtain buy-in from the franchisor’s management team

F. Incorporate tracking/analytics

G. Negotiate an individual or cumulative break

H. Provide the break back to the franchisee or;

I. Provide the break as a supplement to the National Ad Fund noted in FDD

J. Develop examples of the products/ service for FAC/ Beta Group

K. Indicate that their input in needed to determine viability

L. Encourage brand-specific input that based on political, practical, legal

M. Ecnourage input that you already know that answers to (trial lawyer)

N. Assemble Feedback

O. Make adjustments to the product/ service for pacification

P. Re-roll out to FAC/ Beta Group

Q. Obtain additional input/ testimonials

R. Channel introduction via existing franchisee(s) (not the franchisor only)

S. Name the product/ service so it’s unique to the brand

T. Refer to the renamed product/ service as an asset in operations

U. Implement the benefits for franchise development use

V. Provide self- analytic capabilities to franchisees to determine metrics

W. Incorporate micro and macro use reports (franchisees/ franchisor)

X. Incorporate micro/macro reports on cumulative break progress

Y. Further incentivise franchisees for breaks

Z. Publicize process, net benefits, analytics and breaks to franchise

About Dan

Dan Martin, CFE began his career in franchising in 1983. After a few years of working with some well known franchise organizations and franchise law firms, Dan decided to move to the next level and start his own Franchise Management & Marketing Firm that would ultimately result in a 300+ franchisor client base servicing 23,000+ franchisees in 23 countries. Dan has always recognized opportunities and capitalized on his knowledge of franchising and his desire to expand his knowledge base, as well as his company’s client base. Dan’s experience as both franchisee and franchisor is an absolutely invaluable combination that allows him the ability to recognize new opportunities, identify mission critical issues and develop powerful and practical strategies and solutions beneficial to virtually any type or size of franchise organization. For any inquiries e-mail Dan directly at dan@ifxonline.com

Jeremy LaDuque to be Featured Speaker at FranCamp 2013

ElementsLocal’s CEO, Jeremy LaDuque, will be headed to IFA’s newest conference: FranCamp 2013: Digital Marketing & Technology Best Practices for Franchising on May 14-15, 2013 in Atlanta, Ga.

This conference is “designed to help marketing, communications and information technology franchise professionals navigate the maze of digital marketing and technology solutions available to franchises today.”

Mr. LaDuque will be leading a panel discussion about mobile marketing technologies in Franchising.

Click here for more information and to register https://member.franchise.org/ebusiness/Meetings/Meeting.aspx?id=3131

ElementsLocal Honored to be Part of GIFA

Elementslocal will be headed to the Google Headquarters, as part of the IFA and Google’s first annual Franchise Summit. Google and the International Franchise Association have joined forces to create an event with the newest insights to the franchise industry. It will be held March 29th.

Thanks to many people’s hard work at IFA as well as Lee Plave and Ken Colburn, Chairman of the IFA’s Social Media Task Force and IT Committee’s, this is sure to be a very exciting event.

If you cannot attend this event, let us know your burning questions and we’ll see what we can do about getting them answered by Google.

For more information about the event, click here https://sites.google.com/site/franchisesummit2013/home/section-one