We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: Franchise SEO is tricky. A lot of the strategies you will want to employ will overlap with the SEO methods that traditional companies and startups use, but there is an extra layer to consider when it comes to a franchise. There are quite a few things you need to have figured out before you can even begin to create an SEO approach:
- How many websites are you going to have? Will you have one for each local branch, or one website for all branches? If you have one website, how will you cater your content to specific audiences? Will you have different pages for each branch?
- Will you have a centralized or local approach when it comes to the management of online marketing tasks such as social media and SEO?
- How much time and how many resources do you have to devote to SEO? How will you spread out these resources?
The answers can sometimes be pretty standard, but having all of these franchise considerations out of the way before thinking about SEO is absolutely necessary. I recommend checking out an article I wrote here that details questions you need to ask, specifically if you own a franchise, as well as the answers and options for each.
Once you have a solid website in place, you have to navigate the many SEO myths that come with franchise ownership. Fortunately, all you need is a little bit of information about some of the most popular myths and you should be good to go—it just takes a little bit of time and effort.
Franchise SEO Myths to Avoid Falling For When Creating Your SEO Strategy
1. You only need one location page for the corporate headquarters.
This is the absolute biggest myth out there. Fortunately this myth is slowly starting to diminish, but if you’re still hearing this around the block then it’s important to realize that following this myth could get you in big trouble. If you want to have one website for all of your franchise locations this is OK, but you need to have separate location pages for Google, Bing, Yahoo, Yelp, and any other location based search you can find. Local search is all about finding those local companies, so if you don’t have location pages for all of your locations then your locations will not show up when someone types in a relevant query that isn’t near your corporate headquarters. You can learn more about local search and franchises here.
2. Franchise directories will get you in trouble with the Google bots.
Directories have a negative reputation amongst most SEOs, but franchise directories are actually slightly different and are considered some of the more trustworthy directories out there. They help people sort out different franchise opportunities, make it easy for consumers to compare and learn about different franchise options, and are great places to connect. Although there are some spammy directories out there that you need to keep an eye out for, the majority of directories offer a lot of benefits and are not going to get you in trouble with Google.
3. Franchise SEO is all about rankings.
This is a myth no matter what type of SEO you’re discussing. Franchise SEO isn’t just about getting the rankings so that people find your website—it’s about offering relevant content to users and building visibility for your brand.
4. A local approach will never work when it comes to SEO management.
It’s true that SEO is much better managed at the national level because it’s easier in terms of organization and cost. This is also the recommended route because many franchise managers don’t know much about SEO, which can cause problems in the future. You also have the confusion of ranking for similar keywords across locations if you have too many separate parties working with SEO.
However, just because this is the recommended route doesn’t mean that managing SEO at the local level is never an option. For a few select types of franchises, this is actually the better approach to take. For example, if you are a franchise with only two or three locations and your managers already have a lot of responsibility, it makes sense to have them also manage SEO (especially if you have separate websites). It all completely depends on your needs.
5. If you’re looking to buy a franchise, the national branch will take care of the SEO for you, so you have nothing to worry about.
For some this might be a negative and fall under the “there is no freedom in franchise ownership” myth, but however you feel about it, this is something to keep in mind. It is recommended that those at the national level manage SEO for all branches, but that doesn’t mean that local managers have no say in the matter. SEO is all about optimizing your website not only for Google, but also for your visitors. You want to offer relevant content and information, and sometimes local managers are going to be the ones with the real insight into what customers want. As a local manager, you know what deals are going on in your store, you know what your customers are asking for and how they found your website in the first place, and all of this information can be incredibly important to use when making SEO decisions.
Do know you of any more franchise SEO myths? Let us know in the comment section 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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