Content. One of the main reasons sites succeed or fail. You’ve probably heard that content is king and that you should do everything in your power so it reigns over your franchisee sites. Still, it takes time and money, in which case, it may just be easier to resort to duplicate content and spread it across your franchisee sites.
But beware! That’s a BIG no-no, most commonly known as “Content Duplication”. While it may seem like a simple solution, it can be harmful and deceitful.
So, what is it exactly? It refers to when multiple sites (or multiple pages in a site) have the same or very similar content. The need to constantly produce content may force some franchisors to go down this road.
Furthermore, to ensure brand compliance and consistency throughout franchisee sites, it may even be necessary to include somewhat the same information.
Still, having duplicate content in your sites may be detrimental to them.
Is duplicate content really that awful?
Now you’re probably wondering why content duplication is so bad. So you’re copying and pasting the same content all over the Internet without adding some real value to it, who cares? Oh, I’ll tell you who! Google! While there has been a number of clarifications going over how “Google doesn’t penalize duplicate content”, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t any consequences to doing it.
Do you remember why you’re producing content on a regular basis to begin with? Yeah, that’s right, to rank higher in the search pages and to engage visitors. And those are the ones that end up getting hurt.
First, let’s go over SEO.
Imagine this: you’re doing a search and the first 20 results have the exact same information. How would you feel? You’re researching something and you have no diversity in your information, that’s not user friendly.
That’s what Google thinks about when sorting through the results in a search: they need to give the users diversity.So, they “omit” some of the results and your franchisee site may get lost in there. Sure, the user could repeat the search with the omitted results, but that’s a gamble you wouldn’t want to take. Make sure they find you in a first try!
Plus, if Google thinks that you’re spamming the system, it may freak out and stop or lose your site in the search pages.
Now, your visitors.
The whole point of having franchisee sites is to provide local information to them. Standard content that doesn’t speak to their problems won’t be as engaging. Yes ranking high is nice, but you’re putting up a site for potential leads, and they are looking for real, compelling and relatable content.
As you may know, not all customers are the same so you shouldn’t try to mix them all together under one category (especially if you have the chance to speak to them on a more personal level!).
What to do Against Duplicate Content?!
Again, content is a tricky subject but there are a number of ways to ensure that duplicate content doesn’t start creeping in your franchisee sites. Google has a post (and even a video) on this subject that goes deeper into the technicalities of it, but here, we’re going to concentrate on one of their advises: “Minimize similar content”.
Wondering how to go about it? Well, here are a few ideas:
1. Hiring Experts:
A copywriter is a person that focuses on content marketing. Having one in your team will help you take the burden of content off your, and your franchisees’, back. Giving them a clear idea of your business and the aforementioned goals, will enable them to help you in that department. They could write up content for your franchisees or provide customizable texts so the franchisees can localize it.
Furthermore, and since this also pertains to your SEO efforts, I would advice hiring an SEO expert while you’re at it to research and manage your search engine visibility. With both experts in your team, you’ll be on your way to a higher rank and engaged visitors!
2. Providing Customizable Templates:
Life would be much easier if all your franchisees were writers but, depending on the franchisees that work with you, they may not have the time to do it. To make it easier for them, be it you or your content team, can provide templates that your franchisees can customize to fit the local audience.
Make sure they’re really (really!) well customized so that there aren’t any duplicate content issues.
When they’re done, someone at corporate (maybe your marketing or content team) should go over the information to ensure brand compliance issues and just proofread the content before it’s published.
3.Inspiring Franchisees to Write
Now, if you have a more tech savvy franchisee team, you may want to inspire them to write. After all, who knows the local market better than the franchisees who serve it? You can suggest weekly topics through a newsletter, encourage them to read and draw ideas from similar blog post or even have them communicate and come up with ideas together.
If you need more help in this department, go back to the post linked above (about Content Solutions). Remember to let them know the goals and train them to accomplish them. Again, you’ll need to proofread and go over brand compliance before their posts are published!
What to take care of to avoid content duplication?
Ok so, now you know what to do but what exactly should you customize?! Here are a few ideas of content that can be “localized” to avoid content duplication. Plus, you’ll get some examples of how other franchises are doing it! (not that you should copy them but it will give you inspiration on how to go about it in your own franchisee sites).
Images and Videos
Images and videos are some of the easier things to customize in franchisee sites. Remember, people want to see their community and the faces and places they know. By, for example, including a photo of that specific franchise instead of a generic one, you’re already engaging visitors because they feel related to it.
Furthermore, if, like the franchise below, you include your OWN customers in your site, they’ll most probably feel connected to your franchise and may even want to spread the word about it. People may want to share their photo or video featured in your site and with it, your company! Again, make sure you include relevant and local content and you’re good to go!
So you know that there are some pieces of information that NEED to be in your site (or else your visitors may be a bit confused). Information like the services you offer, the “About Us” page, your testimonials and others are in a weird middle ground: there needs to be some consistency to them but there also need to be unique.
Again, have your franchisees or content team go over them to try to make them more personal. Not all units in a franchise have the same services, for example. Or, the “About Us” page doesn’t need to be about corporate alone: include some of your own unit’s story.
In these examples you’ll see that their “About Our Bread” page is not an exact copy of the other. They each let you know about their product in their own way while being consistent!
The blog is on of the most important content-related elements in your site! Nonetheless, blog posts on a regular basis take up a lot of more time to produce than changing images or testimonials. It can be tempting to turn to duplicate content to cover the blog post quota. But after everything I mentioned in this post, why would you do that?
Instead check out two examples from a same franchise.
To the left, we have the perfect example for relevant and relatable local content. The Louisville unit of this franchise posts information that is relevant to their community. In the image below, you can see the title of one of their blog posts: “Louisville Water Damage and Applied Structural Drying”, where they give tips on the subject.
To the right, you’ll see that the unit in Portland also has a blog where they go over topics that interest their community. Blogging regularly? Check. Local Content? Check. No Content Duplication? Check. It can be done!
Content duplication may be dangerous for your site: with ranking and visitors! Make sure you avoid it at all costs. By implementing some of the ideas in this post, you’ll be on the right track to having a customized site that’s relevant in its community.
More over, if you’ve already made the decision to include a site in your online marketing strategy, why wouldn’t you try to take full advantage of this opportunity? Don’t hesitate and get to it!
If you have any questions regarding this post or Empowerkit, feel free to ask!