Is Your Franchisor Getting Google to Punish Your Local Franchisee Website?


Many franchises have built their websites by creating local pages, which are part of the main franchise website, for each franchise location.

For example:

In some cases these local pages reflect content that is unique to that location: specific store hours, location-specific specials, meet the staff of that location, etc.

In many cases, however, much of the content on each of those local pages is the same as the content on other local pages. Perhaps it is a welcome message, an introduction to products or services or some other general greeting for everyone who lands on that location's page.

With recent Google changes, this has become a very problematic issue.

Duplicate content (content that is written in exactly the same way) can have a very negative impact on search engine rankings. This means that if a franchise website is already at the top of local search engine rankings and it continues to have duplicate content on the local pages, rankings will likely drop.

If a franchise is not ranking at the top but is trying hard to get there, it will be a much more difficult process if there is duplicate content.

Considering other content alternatives might be the best option for franchises. Ideally, each location page would be written with unique content. Even if the subject matter were the same, the wording would need to be different.

Taking advantage of this to really craft location pages in a unique way could actually be a great benefit.

Franchises could consider using this opportunity really to highlight what sets each location apart from its competitors in that area.

Consider these thoughts: What makes the local team special? What makes the structure or setup unique and different? What could you show visually with photos or through action videos that would help capture the unique aspects of each location?

Having the franchisees provide input for their own content would help differentiate it as well.

Every franchise location is slightly different from all the others. Highlighting those truly unique aspects is a great place to start differentiating content. Then a simple rewording should do the trick for the rest.

Happy writing.

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Even if there is no Google penalty, Frances is making a good point that the franchisee's local marketing dollars should be spent on local features for their website.

SEO is ever-changing challenge for franchisee and franchisor marketers.

And many website configuration solutions chosen by franchisors for their brand's franchise systems are made not based on marketing reasons but rather administrative and franchisee control considerations.

Maybe its time to reconsider the decision making process basis and think about local franchise marketing needs?


It may appear that way, but that's only because Google is pulling out what it believes is most relevant content and not displaying the other similar content in the effort of presenting diversity of results.

Frank, if Google doesn't index the other pages, you have got a penalty!

Your local franchise location doesn't show up in search if you aren't in the index.

So, what are you referring to?

Of course Google is going to index all of the pages. But Google will only display the page it believes is the most relevant. Since the other pages on the website are similar, Google does not display the other pages, only the one most relevant to that particular search.

When we work with local franchises, each individual page should have its own unique address, phone number, and even local directions and business hours.

However, if there are similar paragraphs or statements from the main corporation on all of the local franchisee pages, it makes absolutely no difference. The relevant pages do not get knocked down in search results.

Google simply will not penalize for duplicate content. Once again it only appears that way because they display a diversity of results so they will only pick the most relevant result from your website. Sometimes they get it wrong. For example, they may display the Chicago franchise in Indianapolis when they should actually be displaying the Louisville franchise.

Hi Frank,

Thanks for the comments and for sharing your perspective. In my opinion the discrepencyt here seems to boil down to semantics. "Penalty" or "No Penalty"? While Google may not actually "penalize" websites with pages that have duplicate content, the "penalizing" effect is felt the same way. I can attest to this first-hand based on experience with client websites.

When pages within the same website had duplicate content, after recent Google changes they dropped ranking positions in their respective markets. When page content was modified using unique language, pages then began to regain their previous rankings in those local markets.

So I appreciate what you're trying to say, however I have to stick to my point here. If I didn't, my clients would be in trouble. Thanks to unique content modification they are now standing in a much better place, and I would be remiss if I didn't share that with other franchises out there.

Hi a followup...Frank, you say that "if there are similar paragraphs or statements from the main corporation on all of the local franchisee pages, it makes absolutely no difference."

With this I totally agree. If there are only similar statements made, we've found no impact. It's when exact blocks of language are used across the board (which is often the case when with franchise websites) that we have identified problems. Snippets here and there, and similar language have never presented a problem.

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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Frances Leary published on August 26, 2013 6:47 PM.

5 Simple Steps to Get a Better Return on Your Time Spent On LinkedIn was the previous entry in this blog.

How Can Franchise Buyers get Great & Affordable PrePurchase Legal Advice? is the next entry in this blog.

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