Rachel Lindteigen recently penned a great piece on how to manage SEO for different local branches of a franchise. This presents a real problem for SEO because there are often individual websites, or pages on a single domain, for each location. They all represent the same brand and try to rank for the same keywords—often in very nearby geographic areas. We’ve found that different locations of any chain business can have similar problems, even if they’re not actually franchised. So how do you get them all to rank without cannibalizing each other?
Rachel offers a few solutions based on her own experience with franchises. They boil down to two main steps:
- Separate landing pages with non-duplicate content.As a business branches out it does make sense to create a separate landing page for each local branch, franchise or not. This allows you to optimize each page using localized versions of keywords (“Atlanta real estate” instead of just “real estate”). That’s stronger than a single home page trying to cover every location, and a lot better than every branch fighting over the exact same search strings. But for this to work it’s absolutely crucial to create non-duplicate copy on the individual web pages. Rachel used a mix ‘n’ match system where franchise owners could combine different paragraphs from a menu. We would actually go a step farther—that still leaves the possibility of duplicate pages and guarantees the use of duplicate paragraphs. The cost of writing individual landing pages is small and worth it to avoid a red flag with Google.
- A central landing page for the metro.Rachel ran into a problem where users were searching from work—often in the city center—but needed to be connected to local results for their suburban homes. Her solution was simple and effective, creating one landing page for the inner metro that offered links to all the surrounding local branches.
We agree with both of these steps, but we’d add a few suggestions of our own. Optimizing local branches is in many ways no different from optimizing for one-location local businesses, and many of the same tactics apply. For example:
- We would heavily emphasize the value of offsite local SEO. By “offsite” we mean all the local resource pages—mainly maps and review sites—that people often go to instead of the SERPs. Priority one for optimizing local branches would be making sure that each individual location appears on Google Maps, Apple Maps, Bing Maps and Yelp. (For a how to, see our guide here.) We’d make sure there are great pictures and that all details correct, and try to build up reviews. Since these resources are based more on geographic proximity than search strings, they offer a space where branches can become prominent without competing over keywords.
- This is where it would pay to invest in an AdWords campaign. This is another tool that doesn’t directly depend on page rank or SEO. It lets local branches reach search users immediately, even while building up their local SEO chops.
These tips don’t apply only to chain businesses. It’s smart for any local business to use offsite SEO and PPC campaigns. But it becomes particularly important when a number of local branches are all struggling to stand out, because these are tools that let you get around the keyword competition and reach local consumers.
EverSpark has worked with a number of regional chains and exceeded client expectations. We create high-impact landing pages for each location using 100 percent original content. We also offer a free consultation. Contact EverSpark Interactive for your consultation today.