Writing in her regular column in HuffingtonPost.com, Allie Gray Freeland, Public Relations Director at iAcquire, says that when it comes to SEO and franchises, the same standard rules apply, but the way you go about SEO is different.
A franchisee has unique issues and responsibilities that many other companies wouldn’t see — differing audiences, different products and promotions at different stores, multiple social accounts and/or websites and multiple managers and locations. “Because of all of these variables,” writes Freeland, “it’s almost mandatory you work with an SEO agency or a strong SEO in-house team in order to succeed.”
Given the strong presence Sintel Systems has in the retail, restaurant and service industries’ point of sale marketplace, we share these search engine optimization and social media trends with our customers and franchise hopefuls looking for key insights and opportunities in order to help them make the best decisions from the very beginning. Whether you’re a first-time franchise hopeful, a small business owner or an established chain, it’s always smart to stay on top of information technology and social media trends.
Here are some of the highlights of the many insights from Freeland’s post, “SEO Questions Franchise Owners Need to Ask.”
Freeland points out that while many of the SEO questions you need to ask yourself are the same as any type of company, franchises have a few extra things to consider when creating and updating SEO plans. “Unfortunately, this does typically mean your SEO might seem a little bit more complicated, but knowing the right questions to ask can help keep you on task and help you cover all your bases.”
“One of the biggest mistakes franchise owners make is treating their SEO as if they were a traditional or ‘normal’ company,” Freeland writes. Her post includes some of the extra questions that franchise owners need to ask themselves when creating and growing an SEO strategy:
Does it make sense for you to have one website for your whole company or one website for each of your locations?
– Freeland sees many franchise owners thinking one way or another and never really considering the alternative, and urges franchisees to ask themselves this question and weigh both the pros and cons.
– In terms of SEO, what route you choose in this regard will completely change your strategy. Freeland’s example: having more than one website means you need to worry about keyword research and not competing with your other websites. “You also have to worry about navigation and local SEO to make sure people are being sent to the right pages.”
– Having several different websites makes the most sense if you only have a few locations and if those locations differ drastically in the products you offer, audience, setting, or a mixture of all three. Other than that, Freeland typically recommends having one website for an entire franchise. “Managing SEO at the national level makes the most sense for consistency and branding, and this is always easiest with one website,” writes Freeland.
Are you going to have a location page on your website?
– Having just one website, a franchise has to think about a potential location page to give visitors the choice to click on a particular location for customized local content.
– However, this approach can seem confusing if you only have a few stores or if your different locations are so similar that customized content just makes things more cluttered.
– Freeland says Google actually does recommend having a location page, writing, “You will have to do a few different things to make sure that Google is indexing the page properly and you are not getting penalized for duplicate content, so it’s something to definitely consider.”
Do you want to manage your SEO at the national level? And what is going to be most cost effective?
– Freeland believes that if you only have two or three locations and are going to give each location its own website, managing SEO at the local level might make sense. But in every other case, for consistency, she highly recommends having the national branch manage all SEO.
– Much like buying in bulk, Freeland writes, “It’s usually less expensive to manage SEO efforts from the corporate branch because you can hire one agency for all locations.”
Were there any SEO efforts made before you bought the franchise?
– If done incorrectly, SEO can have lasting consequences. Before buying into a franchise, go back and check to see what was done in terms of SEO.
– Look for a website full of duplicate content, broken links, negative SEO impacts, poor navigation. These will all need to be fixed before you can move forward with your own efforts as an owner.
– Freeland quotes Scott Langdon, Managing Partner of HigherVisibility, who cautions that if you are planning to redesign your website or change who is managing your SEO, you will want to make sure you’re not losing any of the good SEO that was built in the process. “Part of doing this is knowing what links and content is out there in the first place,” says Langdon. “It’s incredibly important to complete a link audit and a content audit first before diving into any new SEO practices; especially as a franchise owner.”
Ask all the same questions about social media that you did for SEO.
– Freeland notes that in addition to questions about SEO, you also have to remember that social media will typically fall under the SEO umbrella. A franchisee must figure out how many accounts they’ll want to have, who is going to manage them, and whether or not the franchise is already represented on social media.
Freeland’s takeaway is that these are crucial questions for people considering a franchise. “Franchises are constantly growing and by nature have a lot of people working higher positions, so the managers working with you are constantly changing,” she writes. “This makes it even more important for a franchise to have an SEO strategy in place that caters to the franchise model.”
Read Allie Gray Freeland’s full HuffingtonPost.com post here.
For more insights into the technological and social media underpinnings of a successful franchise relationship, check out our related posts, Shape, Or Be Shaped By, IT, and Quick-Serve Brands Move to Localize Their Social Media.
Sintel forms lasting partnerships with our clients that you simply can’t get from a reseller, allowing larger franchises to grow and providing startups the foundation for future growth from the very beginning by acting as a franchise incubator. Our expertise can help you avoid common pitfalls of entry into this thriving but complex industry — including the rapid pace of technological change.
If you are interested in learning more about Sintel’s point of sale systems and how our knowledge and support can impact your future success, call us for a complimentary phone consultation.
Sintel Systems is the only direct to end user full-service provider of tailored Point of Sale systems across retail, restaurant and service industries, including frozen yogurt shops, pizzerias, sushi restaurants, cafés and retail stores.
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