Let’s say you own a moving company or other home service business. This business has locations across corporate’s home state as well as scattered across the country. This type of situation is common and creates a dilemma for this business owner and their marketing team when it comes to having one franchise website versus multiple ones for all the different locations.
This decision on multiple websites and domains can have a long-standing impact on how Google (and other search engines like Bing) decides to rank your site(s) organically. This directly affects your bottom line, as the companies on page one are going to get more calls than those on page three.
So, what direction should your business go in? We’ll explain why just a single domain with subsites/a subdirectory structure is (usually) the ideal way is to get your business to rank higher.
What Is a Subsite/Subdirectory Structure?
Subdomains and multi-site structures are at a disadvantage since they are seen as separate entities and ranked as such by Google and other search engines. A “subsite” or website with a “subfolder” or “subdirectory” structure is seen as the same domain in a technical sense.
For example, Black Tie Moving’s website follows this subdirectory structure for its various locations: https://www.blacktiemoving.com/ is the main corporate domain, and https://www.blacktiemoving.com/dallas/ is the subsite for the Dallas location. This subsite then has its own set of unique content design to rank in that given area for targeted keywords.
Other companies that follow the subsite/subdirectory model:
- One Hour Air Conditioning & Heating®
- Next Day Dumpsters
What Are the Advantages of the Single Domain & Subsite Model?
The main benefit of this strategy is that the subsites are seen as one domain. But why is that helpful? This means less time, money, and resources are needed to put into each location’s individual website — “A rising tide lifts all boats.”
No Competition for Branded Keywords Between Locations
With multiple websites for each location, when a potential customer searches your company’s brand name, they may be presented with all the various location websites as they compete within the search results page. With the corporate and subsite model, this completely removes this competition from the equation. Instead, there will be one search result with sitelinks underneath.
Prevents Shared Content & Site Templates
Google and most search engines are not particularly fans of multiple websites having the same site structure, template, and content. Having one corporate website with offshooting subsites avoids these issues as the website is crawled as one single site.
Creating Sites for New Locations is Simpler
Another important advantage of a single domain to consider is the process of adding new location sites when franchises open. With the multi-site model, a new website must be launched from scratch with a new domain. This often comes with additional financial costs per location, such as hosting and domain purchases, in addition to the cost of getting this new website’s domain authority up to snuff.
Shared Backlink Benefits
Because all your locations are hosted on the same domain, they technically share an overall domain authority and backlink profile. Though this “link juice” gets diluted on the subsites, this means they don’t start from scratch and get a boost from the corporate domain.
Easier Tracking Capabilities
Having multiple domains for your various franchises can make tracking their performance in platforms such as Google Analytics a little more complicated and time-consuming as there aren’t multiple data sets across the locations to deal with. Also, tracking must be set up separately per site, which takes time and energy. One domain allows all your traffic data, etc., to be in one place with the ability to filter by subsite or location.
Higher Ranking Potential With Less Effort
By now, you’ve read through the major benefits of choosing a corporate and subdirectory model for your company. Many of these advantages listed above contribute to improving your organic ranking potential and decreasing the time and money spent doing so.
When Are Multiple Websites Appropriate?
While the single domain and subdirectory model is usually the recommended option for a corporate entity with franchises, there are many instances in which having unique individual websites and domains is the right move. These situations include:
- Your franchises and/or locations each have unique brands.
- Your franchises and/or locations offer entirely different services, e.g., one does only plumbing and one does only electrical work.
Simply put, the answer to whether franchises need multiple websites to rank is no. Having one corporate website with subsites for your franchises/locations is a more cost-effective and SEO-friendly strategy that will ultimately improve your company’s visibility in your target markets.
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