SEO Tip: Content Management at the Franchise Level

Managing SEO for a franchise can get overwhelming to say the least, so it helps to break SEO down into parts to determine what strategies work best. Once you determine who is going to manage SEO (I recommend putting your budget and management into the hands of the national branch, which you can learn more about here), you can focus on different aspects. Of course, content is the biggest and arguably the most important, so understanding different content strategies for franchises is a good place to start.

Different Content Management Strategies for Franchises

Content management encompasses a few different things: First, you have to make sure that you have fresh content on all of your franchise websites (if you have more than one) and you have to make sure the content is relevant. Second, you need to be able to market that content, particularly through social media. Third, it’s important you consider the content you have on other websites across the web in order to earn visibility, links, and hopefully foster leads.

Below lists a few of the different strategies you can use when you’re talking about just the first step: Creating content. You need to know who is going to write your content, who is going to edit and publish, and how you’re going to keep it all organized.

  • Manage content at the national level to keep things consistent and affordable.

This will depend upon whether you have one website for your franchise or a different website for each branch. If you have one website, it helps to keep things at the corporate level so that your website remains consistent. If you have more than one website, it might make sense to have each branch determine what content goes on the website, but make sure all content is recorded in one spot so that you (the national manager) can make sure things are unified across all websites and the quality of the content is up to your standards. It’s also a good idea that the content goes through the national branch to be published.

This is also a great way to keep your costs down. You want your content to be incredibly relevant and personalized, and this will involve collecting different data and using different tools to determine what readers really want. If different managers had this power, it could get expensive and money would go quick.

  • Hire writers based on certain criteria and divide up the different roles.

Different content roles include writers, those who come up with topics based on analytics, publishers, and editors (you could also put social media and promotion into this category, but that’s a story for a different day). Have one set of standards you want for each of these roles, and have those on the corporate level go out and hire. After all, they will be doing most, if not all, of the management, so it makes sense to do the hiring.

  • Find content management system (CMS) software that works for you.

This is one of the more important things to consider. Choosing a CMS can be tricky, but this is particularly useful for franchises because they have more to manage, especially if you own quite a few different stores/locations. There are many choices out there, but all work to help you stay organized—create assignments, make scheduling easier, setup alerts, etc. Visit this link to see a list of the top rated 2014 CMS software including ExpressionEngine and eZ Publish.

  • If CMS software doesn’t fit your goals, try creating one master spreadsheet or Google document, and create different tabs for each branch.

If you own a franchise, I recommend using Google Docs to stay organized if a CMS isn’t for you. You can share your document with whomever you wish, and all updates are made in real time. You can have different tabs and can switch over to those tabs easily if you need to do any comparisons or keep anything separated. Have a column for a few different things:

–       The date the article is due

–       The date it was submitted

–       The date it was published

–       The writer assigned to the article.

–       The title of the article.

–       URL of the live article

It’s important to understand that how you manage the actual creation of your content is going to be different than small businesses that are not franchises. You have much more to worry about and much more to keep organized, so having a solid plan is an absolute necessity.

Now what? Once you know the what, when, where, why, and how of creating your content, you have to move on to the next steps that are listed above: marketing the content and publishing content across the web. You can read this article to learn more. These steps will also be slightly different if you’re working with a franchise as opposed to a traditional company, so it’s important to take your time setting everything up.

Do you own a franchise and have found a content strategy that works for you? Have you tried anything that didn’t work? Let us know your story and your thoughts in the comments below.

Adam Heitzman is the Co-Founder and Managing Partner at HigherVisibility, a nationally recognized SEO firm that offers a full range of Internet marketing services.

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  • SEO’er

    Great piece! But may I add in a few things I’ve been seeing? Last year I was approached by a franchise owner in Florida. His issue was overcoming the highly competitive KW use which is a given challenge for his type of business as it is shared by a VERY broad market, including other franchises from the same entity. With so many venues, companies and businesses using the same KWs, this poor franchise owner was at a loss as to how to compete along a SERP. He’d gone to website/content managers and they threw Google-centric terms at him quoting stats from Google analytics and such. Personally, I think the lost art of just checking via search engine the way an average user would look for something far outweighs the reliance on analytics. IMO, too much reliance is given for the analytics rules and not enough of the “old-school” educated eye for just knowing what the most likely KWs would be. That and, too many site owners rely on their CMS content providers for all of their content pieces. So many of these corporate franchise providers, while good, don’t hyper-localize for their franchisees and their respective markets. So, in turn, the franchise owners simply take the content provided and post it to FB, Twitter…etc. Or even on their main or satellite sites, as-is, without hyper-localizing/optimizing it using relevant KWs. While they may garner a few nods via a search, using relevant KWs to their area (namely location names; towns, venues, current events etc…) wholly bolsters the hits. Using originally written/unique articles, his CMS provided content (hyper-localized by me using applicable KWs) and a weekly blog… all of which are referenced one to another and linked via social media (only one), this client now, consistently, owns the top 5 spots in Google over a broad range of browsers using minor KWs based on his location and main product lines. But, aside from all of this, updating with fresh, new content is paramount. I often see franchise owners who set up their site/s and social media, only to let it sit there. Don’t do that! It is time-consuming, yes… but necessary to fill a SERP, generate leads and gain conversions. I suggest changes weekly on main and satellite sites. Don’t bleed content into social media too much as it becomes annoying for followers. Don’t let bounce rates scare you as many are on mobile devices which are fickle in their use; walking, working, waiting on an appointment. They rush in, get information and rush out again. Again, great article! These are just the pet peeves I have been running across as far as franchise provided CMSs are concerned.

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