January 3, 2013
The New Year is going to center around SEO and different SEO strategies, and this can get a bit tricky when you’re dealing with franchises. Google will no doubt be updating and working with new ideas to help offer the most relevant results for users, so SEO is really the only way to make sure that your website makes the cut to those first few pages. The biggest question, however, is how to make this happen when you have several different branches of a company all with different locations, managers, staff, and customers. It is the most beneficial for each individual branch to focus on its own SEO, or is this something that should be taken care of at the corporate level?
Why Corporate Needs to Control SEO Efforts for All Franchise Branches
In the vast majority of situations, it makes the most sense for a national branch to make the SEO decisions and hire SEO services for all different franchise locations. Even if you have a manager and someone in charge at each branch, even if you have an entire marketing department at each branch, there are far too many risks involved in putting SEO into so many different hands. A few reasons include:
Uniformity is key when it comes to branding, and SEO does affect your branding. This is what people see about your company online when they visit the website, so you want to make sure that all of your websites are the same from location to location. When it comes to updates on the website, design changes, and especially new content and the tone and style of that content, you want everything uniform so that customers are 100 percent sure what your company entails. This also helps to keep things organized for your brand.
SEO isn’t always the easiest thing to understand, particularly when you get into more advanced decisions. Putting every manager in charge of making SEO decisions means you might be putting someone in charge who doesn’t really understand what makes good SEO. There are unfortunately quite a few companies that claim to offer great SEO services, when in fact it’s quite obvious that they are a scam. A novice wouldn’t know this, so making sure that there is only one group of people in charge helps eliminate the risk of hiring a bad SEO agency. If one of your mangers were to make a wrong decision, there could be poor linking or duplicate content involved which will cause your site a lot of trouble or penalties with Google.
Very large companies might have several stores in one location. This makes trying to rank locally difficult because you are likely going to be targeting the same keywords. In other words, it seems as though you’re competing against yourself (or if you put SEO into the hands of all your franchise owners, they would be competing against one another). The best way to get around this problem is to regulate all of the keywords being used and when they are being used. This would be nearly impossible if you tried to split up your SEO efforts.
Plain and simple, working with an SEO agency isn’t always cheap. Getting involved with one agency for several branches will almost always find you a deal, but trying to work with many different companies will cost you a pretty penny.
This point goes back to uniformity and brand awareness. Not only do you want to make sure your website and your content are set to go for Google and for your readers, but your social media accounts will also need some attention. Social media is usually the job of the same person or people who are working with your SEO. You want to make sure that you don’t have too many hands working with social media because whatever is said is said quickly and immediately. Your readers will likely see this before you have time to do any damage control, so avoid the risk by putting corporate in charge.
Some company owners are worried that controlling SEO will take away some of the authority that branch managers may have and appreciate, but the truth is you can still get your local franchise owners involved. Just because you are working with the SEO agency and making decisions doesn’t mean that your franchise owners can’t chime in with some ideas. Make sure this is made clear and most likely you’ll have your team on board.
How to Get Started with a Franchise SEO Strategy
Having a company with many different franchises generally means you’ll need a very detailed SEO strategy. This can be tough, so it’s best not to try and manage SEO all on your own. In other words, the very first step is getting some help by hiring an SEO agency. When it comes to a franchise, an SEO agency often works better than hiring a few SEO experts to work in-house because there are so many different elements of franchise work. Keeping everything organized will take the work of an entire team, and hiring an agency will help give you that team.
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