Modern digital marketing experts likely have a strong grasp of search engine optimization (SEO) for a small business or a company with a single establishment, but the rules are a bit different when it comes to SEO for franchises and businesses with multiple locations. Many industry experts bemoan the common frustrations of managing franchise SEO, but it can be simpler than you expect if you have a few best practices to guide you and a firm understanding of the basics of modern SEO.
Key Differences for Franchise SEO
To successfully manage SEO for multiple franchises, you need to understand that SEO for any multi-location organization is very tricky, requires constant attention, and may feel like a battle of attrition at first. Some of the most common frustrations facing franchisees and their marketing teams include:
- Lack of centralized listings. Multiple locations or franchises mean multiple Google AdWords listings. Some franchisees may have claimed their locations on Google My Business while others have not, and the marketing team responsible for managing multiple franchises’ listings will need to reconcile multiple accounts. This can be a tremendous undertaking for some teams.
- Miscommunication between franchisees and corporate. A franchisee may receive instructions from the corporate head office to purchase SEO services without really understanding why, or even without an understanding of the basics of those services.
- Lack of basic understanding of franchise SEO at the corporate level. A franchise owner who doesn’t understand SEO is one problem, but when the corporate leadership doesn’t know how to handle multi-location SEO, things can get very messy very quickly.
- Conflicts between corporate marketing strategies and franchisees’ local marketing strategies. A franchisee may have a local marketing strategy that works but does not necessarily flow with corporate’s overall marketing plan. It can take a great deal of convincing to turn a local franchise owner away from a local marketing team that likely costs much less than the one selected by corporate.
Franchise SEO faces many more challenges than these and managing SEO for multiple locations can quickly become a nightmare without a cohesive and holistic strategy.
Tips for Successful Franchise SEO
The goal of any franchise SEO campaign is to ensure that each location reaches top placement among search engine result pages in each location. If your company owns franchises in Los Angeles, Chicago, Miami, and New York City, you would need to configure the SEO settings for each location specific to those geographic regions. This will prevent users in New York from accessing your Los Angeles location’s information and vice versa, streamlining the user experience for potential leads in all your franchise service areas.
It’s also imperative to understand the role of your published content for franchise SEO. For example, a franchised company likely has different webpages for the different products and services offered, but it is not wise to simply publish the same content to each iteration of the website for each franchise location. If a company operates franchises in three different locations, the company must develop uniquely worded content for each franchise.
If you develop location-specific pages for each franchisee, provide Google with as much detailed, accurate information as possible for each location. The Google My Business tool is a great way to ensure your franchise location pages are properly indexed, and you can upload location data for each franchise to Google.
Google penalizes duplicate content quite heavily. By contrast, webpages that feature information-rich original content see a boost to their SEO results. Google will penalize every franchise page that holds duplicate content. If developing unique content for each franchise location’s webpages isn’t feasible, one way to circumvent the duplicate content penalty is to include links from all franchise sites to a centralized site that contains information pertinent to all franchises.
Develop a Cohesive SEO Network for Successful Franchise Advertising
Ultimately, every franchise location within an overarching franchise corporation should have individual SEO content and use individually tailored SEO tactics for each location. However, each franchise location must flow with the overall SEO of the franchise corporation or central content hub for the company.
While developing your cohesive marketing network for the different franchise locations your company operates, it may seem natural to link the various pages together intuitively to build a strong internal link profile. However, this is not exactly the case. Too many internal links between different franchise location pages could lead to punitive action against your brand if the Google algorithm deems the linking structure suspicious.
Ultimately, the key to success with franchise SEO is to consolidate your resources where possible to prevent wasted resources and create a network effect with all your franchise location webpages. Providing Google with perfectly clear information for each franchise location is a crucial first step in any successful franchise SEO strategy. Ensuring each franchise has location-specific content optimized for mobile should be another cornerstone for your franchise SEO efforts. Overcoming search engine penalties may require collaboration between the head office and different franchisees, but the effort put into this will be well worth it in the long run once you’ve successfully developed a cohesive franchise SEO strategy.