Businesses with franchise models have terrific search visibility opportunities for both the franchiser and the franchisees. Too often search visibility opportunities are lost because the franchiser did not consider how search engines, especially Google, will respond to the website architecture setup for the brand’s websites.
Duplicate Content Across Websites
To make it easy for each franchisee to have a website, as well as to control the message, franchisers often build websites that have the same content for all locations. Duplicate content across franchisee websites will result in penalties by search engines keeping the websites from enjoying the search visibility they deserve. Therefore, franchisers need to build websites with content that varies from site to site.
A variety of website templates with the navigation and html being substantially different is a strong start. The content needs to read differently on each website, especially the Home page content. Leave open the option for each franchisee to develop its own content. When message control is a priority, provide content templates that say the same messages in different ways, then allow the franchisee to revise the content at least in a limited way.
Search-friendly Links from Franchise Website to Franchisee Websites
The cross-linking between the franchise website and its franchisee websites is extremely powerful SEO. These links create a strong topic sphere that Google responds well to. Unfortunately franchisee websites are often islands without links that search engines can follow, thus undermining search visibility potential for the franchisee websites.
If the only way to find franchisee websites from the franchise website is from a location search, then search engines will not find links to the franchisee websites. If search engines cannot find them from following links, then search engines figure that those “orphan” franchisee websites are not important, and thus, do not deserve search visibility. So make sure architecture is setup so search engines can follow links into the franchisee websites.
Franchisee Domains Can Help or Hurt – Depending on How Domains are Handled
Are franchisee websites all under the franchise domain? Do they have their own domain? Or do franchisee websites use both the franchise domain and their own domains? Any of these domain options work as long as the domains are setup so search engines do not view these websites as Spam.
If franchisee websites are under the franchise domain, then build href links into the websites. If the franchisees have their own domains, then it is simply a matter of linking to them. If franchisee websites use both the franchise domain and their own domain, then the domains need to be aligned to have the same Administrative Contact, Technical Contact and Domain Name Servers (DNS). If there are redirects involved, they need to be a search engine-friendly 301 redirect.
This can become confusing. But you need to understand that search engines often view innocent behavior as spam in their quest to remove spam from their search results. All these tips are meant to help your brand avoid the appearance of spam.
Are You a Franchiser or Franchisee Who Believes You Should Have Better Search Visibility?
You need to consider how content, links and domains can generate or hurt search visibility. You need to consider how you deploy these details can make your websites look worthy of search visibility or Spam. If you think you deserve better search visibility, then you should analyze whether your websites look like Spam to search engines.
About the Author:
Larry Stopa is President of E-Power Marketing. He has 15 years of Search Engine Optimization experience and thirty-five years of marketing communications experience. His knowledge of traditional marketing enables his interactive marketing skills to guide highly effective online marketing programs. Follow me on Google+