The Guide to Handling Duplicate Content on Franchise Websites

September 10, 2021
By   Alyssa Nguyen
Category   Franchising
Devices with blog website at home office, 3d rendering

If your multi-location business has been facing a duplicate content problem across your local websites, there are ways to fix the situation. 

Franchisors with multiple franchise locations are often faced with the challenge of executing franchise content marketing that not only ensures brand consistency but also avoids duplication. If, for instance, you have a main website for your franchise brand that explains your mission, products and services, you will likely also have websites or webpages for each of your locations that tells a similar story. How do you differentiate that story to avoid being penalized by Google for duplicate content?

Let’s take a closer look at how you can build a united content strategy with the flexibility to allow franchisees to localize their content in a way that stays true to your corporate identity. 

Why is duplicate content an issue?

One of the biggest challenges for franchises or multi-location businesses is having unique content that is not duplicated anywhere else online. For search authority and to help your customers find their nearest location, it is recommended that each store or location in your company have its own website or webpage. However, that leads to many opportunities for repetitive or duplicated content (which is content that appears in more than one place on the internet), which Google frowns upon.  

When it comes to SEO (search engine optimization), having the same content repeated across multiple pages affects your ranking success and brand visibility. Since Google works to diversify the results shown on the SERP (search engine results page), duplicate content confuses search engines and they may omit some identical results they believe add little to no value for visitors. If the search engine sees multiple websites that have the exact same content on them, it will choose which one to display and hide the others. As a result, your local websites may face a drop in rankings or not be visible at all. Plus, if Google thinks your website is spam, it may be blocked in search results.

When it comes to SEO, having the same content repeated across multiple pages affects your ranking success and brand visibility.

From a user perspective, it’s important that the local franchise sites provide authentic, relatable and engaging content that has the ability to influence consumer behaviour. Conversion rates are higher if the content-driven user experience is smooth and unique. Therefore, it’s important to ensure your local websites are search-engine friendly with compelling content that is somewhat different then what is on the main brand website, and other location sites.

How to ensure unique content for all franchisees?

If your multi-location business has been facing a duplicate content problem across your local websites, there are ways to fix the situation. 

  • Consolidate everything under a single website 

Don’t establish a website structure in which all of your locations are competing with each other. For example, instead of having separate websites for each store or location (i.e., www.store-abcchicago.com, www.store-abcnewyork.com), put all of your location websites under your main site (i.e,. www.store-abc.com/chicago, www.store-abc.com/newyork). 

This helps consolidate search equity. Instead of having to maintain/promote several sites, the optimizations made on a single site will help increase the visibility of the network as a whole. There are also benefits from a tracking perspective, where insights for a single website are easier to gather than multiple sites where the overall individual site traffic is much over the brand guidelines. 

  • Take advantage of duplicate content checker 

If you have a lot of franchisee sites or webpages, it can be difficult to assess content duplication across all sites. It’s always a good idea to double-check everything you create to make sure your content is unique. Here are some free tools that can be used to keep your content strategy on the right track.

  • Webmaster tools: This service is offered by Google to help automatically send you a warning if it realizes some of your site content is prone to be penalized.
  • Duplichecker: This checker tool enables you to conduct text searches, Doc X, Tex file and URL searches. 
  • SitelinerCheck your entire site once per month in order to find out duplicate content. 
  • Plagspotter: This tool can automatically check the originality of your content pages across the site on a weekly basis. 
  • Set up customizable content templates  

To prevent franchisees from delivering off-brand and fragmented content, franchisors need to provide detailed guidelines for website content. Start by giving each franchisee a local content template that encourages them to create highly localized copy relevant to their community, and grant them access to update the content on their local site. 

The template could include any information which describes the uniqueness of each location on a local level. Encourage them to add localized keywords in the copy and metadata to help yield higher search volumes. For example, a user might search “best florist in downtown Toronto” or “florists near the CN Tower” – if your franchise system has a flower shop in that area, be sure the local site content mentions that their location is downtown and near the CN Tower.

Other local copy ideas include:

  • any products/services they offer that may be different from others in their franchise system
  • where they’re located (intersections, neighbourhoods they serve, etc.)
  • nearby landmarks
  • parking availability
  • local transit options
  • team bios
  • upcoming events/activities
  • number of years in business
  • partnerships with other local businesses/charities
  • membership in community organizations

This article provides useful tips on how to design a local franchise website that sets your local franchise branch apart.

  • Images and videos 

Images and videos are key to making your local content shine online and engaging and retaining a visitor’s interest. Customers love to see their community reflected on the websites of local businesses in their area. Therefore, local franchise pages should include photos of the local team and storefront instead of using stock or brand photography. 

Google treats individual pieces of media as part of the content. When you’re creating a webpage, adding visuals improves the overall user experience, helping websites rank well on the Google search results. Be sure to include very descriptive alt text and meta descriptions with each image or video (i.e., “The team at Boutique ABC standing outside their store on Main St in Ottawa”).

  • Information MUSTs

There are some pieces of content that should always be on your site, such as an About Us page. This type of content is easier to localize and personalize than other pages, such as Services. Telling each store’s story in About Us and adding local testimonials helps to build a higher level of trust with the community. 

Content duplication may affect your website ranking and user experience. By implementing local content on each franchise page or site, you will be able to present an extremely localized and authentic web presence that’s relevant to each community you serve while avoiding duplicate content penalties. 

TAGS

content strategy Franchise Website franchising

WRITTEN BY

Alyssa Nguyen

Alyssa is a digital marketing specialist at Reshift Media.

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