Own a Franchise? Top 5 Things that Make Your SEO Different (and How to Adapt)

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Many people are aware that owning a franchise is different than owning your own businesses; however what many do not realize is that there are certain aspects of franchise ownership that require you to make a different decision than you would normally make. In other words, things you may have never considered before might be put on the table simply because of the type of business you own. Plain and simple, there are certain things that work better for a franchise company than if you were starting your very own startup.

Unfortunately, many franchise owners are still doing things their own way. While this might work for a while or for certain franchises, it’s a good idea for most to take a step back and consider what works best for their type of business. You have to ask yourself: Is this really the right decision for a franchise?

How to Run a Franchise and Revise Your SEO Plans

When it comes to SEO and social media, franchises still require the basics—link building, landing page optimization, social promotion, etc.—but they might require them to be completed in a different way. Below are a few aspects of online marketing and things that are specific to franchise owners, as well as what you can do to make sure you’re adjusting and revising your plans accordingly:

  • Landing Page. According to Oli Gardner of Unbounce, there are three different categories of landing pages: standalone pages, microsites, and internal website pages. Within these categories there are other factors that can play into a landing page, so a company should analyze each type and determine which works best.

How to Adapt. Microsites often work well for franchises because it allows each branch to have its own small section where it can post deals and announcements. If you’re a franchise and you have your own website, you might want to consider a microsite as a way to get users back to the main site for more basic information.

  • SEO Services. Every individual franchise requires some type of SEO, and in most cases this involves some type of SEO service. Whether that be an in-house expert or an SEO agency, there are quite a few decisions that need to be made. The difference here is that your franchise is not the only franchise needing SEO—you have other locations and a nation branch to deal with. This then poses the question about whether or not it is the job of the franchise owner or the national branch to make SEO decisions.

How to Adapt. As a startup owner, you would likely want to make the SEO decisions for your company. However, this isn’t always the best choice when it comes to franchise ownership (and often your national branch will let you know it). So that the brand remains consistent throughout and different branches aren’t competing with each other, most advise franchises to let the national branch make the SEO decisions. It’s more organized this way, and you can still remain in the loop without being in charge.

  • Social Media Promotion. Social media promotion is social media promotion, right? Most people don’t realize that even this simple task has a lot of different layers that differ based on whether you own a franchise or a startup company. The biggest difference is determining whether or not you should have your own social media channels or share with the other branches.

How to Adapt. This is the exact same situation as your SEO decisions. You don’t want too many hands controlling social media because social media can spread so fast. One wrong step or one wrong word on a social channel and your franchise could be the one to hurt the brand in the blink of an eye. Once again, it makes sense to allow the national branch to take control. One thing you can do, however, to help is offer assistance. The national branch might give you the password and permission to post on things specific to your branch.

If you haven’t noticed, the theme here seems to be this idea of control. As a franchise owner, you will likely have to give up a bit of control over your business, which can be incredibly tough for some. In most of the cases discussed above, it’s not up to you so much as it is up to your national branch (but it’s still important to understand!). However, it’s important to remember that there are many benefits to franchise ownership that you just don’t get when you’re starting a traditional startup. You can read more about these benefits here.

Have you found that any of these things are true when it came time to run your franchise? Anything you disagree with? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

Photo Credit: princessofhashem.blogspot.com

Amanda DiSilvestro

Amanda DiSilvestro

Online Content Editor/Writer at HigherVisibility
Amanda DiSilvestro gives small business and entrepreneurs SEO advice ranging from keyword density to recovering from Panda and Penguin updates. She writes for HigherVisibility, a... Read Full Bio
Amanda DiSilvestro
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  • Ken Jansen

    Hi Amanda,

    Helpful article. One thing I see with with franchisees is they have a hard time with Local SEO, Especially if there are more than one franchise in the same city. Or individuals who are trying to found for themselves, such as insurance agents, where there might be 50 or 500 people at the same company same address same main phone number. So it makes it harder for the individual to stand out for Local SEO for lead generation. Any suggestions on that front?

    • Amanda DiSilvestro

      What I always recommend for that problem is having all SEO and local SEO efforts be put into the hands of the corporate branch. My company works with lots of franchises and find that it is easiest and most successful when SEO decisions are made at the national level. Thanks for reading!

      Does anyone else have any suggestions?

  • Ken Jansen

    I agree that having it at the national level would be the best idea. It seems that not a lot of companies follow that advice> Of if they do, the only difference in xyz franchise and abc franchise in Spokane WA is the address and the phone #, without any space for the individual owner or manager to add some unique content.

    Thank you again.

  • Toby Danylchuk

    Amanda, nice post. I just wanted to add that if the franchisor is serious about lead gen for its franchisees stand alone websites for each regional/metro market are the most effective strategy in terms of growing leads, and sales online. When implemented correctly we have seen franchisees outperform their single page peers under the corp website by 30% or more. One regional site in particular I know of received more than 1,000 different non-branded organic queries in 30 days from Google, which is just not possible if franchisees are only given a single page under the corp umbrella. I think it’s important to remember too that search is becoming more and more local, and sometime in 2013 or 2014 it’s estimated that 50% or more of queries will be with local intent. I wrote a detailed post about it here if you’re interested, http://www.39celsius.com/franchise-seo-marketing/

    • Amanda DiSilvestro

      Thank you very much for all of those great stats. It’s really interesting to think about where search will be in the future and how that could potentially change everything I’ve said in this article. I think franchise SEO can be tricky, but when you look at the numbers it sometimes gives you a clear answer. I also checked out your article and thought it was great–so I hope others do as well!

      • Toby Danylchuk

        Thanks for the reply Amanda!

  • Joe Jimenez

    Amanda great article, but I feel that Franchisors have an opportunity to work together with franchisees when it comes to SEO and online presence of franchisee websites. As you mentioned in your article many times franchisees are forced t take “matters into their own hands” when it comes to websites and content. But all this can be resolved and both the franchisor and franchisee can benefit form the results. A great way to do this is to establish an online marketing strategy from the top that is scaleable across many sites .
    At Empowerkit.com we have come with a solution that helps franchisors and fanchisees have an online presence focused on SEO and content.