Are microsites or landing pages better for franchise SEO?
This can prove to be much more of a challenge with franchises than with traditional one-location businesses because very often franchise internet marketing involves the management of many different websites or landing pages in order to represent each local franchise.
The first big dilemma that franchises must answer regarding using websites as part of their overall franchise online brand management strategy is this: Should we have landing pages on the corporate site for each location or should we create microsites separate from the corporate site? Which approach is more effective?
The answer is...there's not one right answer. However, there are a number of factors to consider that will help you make your choice.
- Control and Management
If your franchise internet marketing model relies on a great deal of corporate control, then creating a landing page for each franchise location is the best choice. Microsites are more well-suited if franchisees are responsible for their own online marketing and corporate will not play a role. For what it's worth, we do not recommend that corporate take a hands-off approach to online marketing. If you choose to go with microsites, make sure that corporate still has access to these sites or that they are setup within a greater corporate website infrastructure.
- Brand Consistency
Obviously it is much easier to maintain brand consistency when landing pages are used rather than microsites. Make sure that if you choose to go the microsite route, that you well-define the branding requirements to ensure that your franchise still looks and feels similar from one microsite to another.
Who will be responsible for promoting their website to increase search engine rankings? If the franchisee is solely responsible, then they may see faster results by promoting their individual microsite through initiatives such as pay-per-click advertising. However, This does not provide them with the opportunity to leverage traffic to the corporate site, and it truly means that each franchisee is on his/her own. Choosing landing pages allows franchisees basically to pool their efforts. As one franchisee drives traffic to his or her landing page, all the others benefit overall because the more traffic to the site, the better. Having landing pages also allows corporate to create inbound marketing campaigns that will generate leads for all locations and promote all the landing pages collectively for the benefit of the individuals and the franchise overall.
- Website SEO Maintenance
While the entire online marketing process shapes franchise SEO, it is also essential to determine who is responsible for optimizing the website. If the franchisees are all responsible on their own, they will have an easier time optimizing individual microsites. However - many of them many not do it at all. Landing pages would make it easier for the corporate team to ensure that the entire site remains consistently optimized with proper keywords, H and alt tags, etc.
Whatever route you choose, it is essential that the pages or sites dedicated to each location can be easily viewed on mobile devices. If everyone has landing pages, then it's a matter of ensuring that one website is responsive. However, if franchisees use microsites, make sure you provide them with guidance to help them choose sites that will display well on mobile.
The most important thing is to make the decision about what website route you are taking before your franchisees start just doing whatever they want on their own. If you choose the microsite route, franchisees should understand what they are responsible for doing and what choices they have regarding that process. If you choose the landing page route, franchisees should also know what access they have to those pages and how they can modify them or tailor them to their own needs.
In most cases, we tend to recommend using landing pages rather than microsites because they are easy to manage and will benefit each location from collective marketing. Remember that it's not too late to create a well-defined franchise internet marketing strategy that will benefit your entire organization, and your website management needs to be part of that strategy.