Governing a franchise or dealer advertising program is challenging for corporate-level marketing departments. Accurately positioning a brand and product or service descriptions is difficult when dealing with entrepreneur-minded managers at the local level. With the intent to protect the entire dealer network, corporate marketing teams often institute rigid product or brand standards related to local marketing. For years, this has been the corporate textbook method to marketing – but does it help or hurt the brand’s desire to connect with the local consumer?
While there are many benefits to corporate standards that we support (message consistency, properly displaying the brand, etc.), when it comes to SEO, original, local content is critical. Herein lies the dilemma: How does a corporate marketing manager control its content, while allowing the dealer or franchisee to establish favorable page ranking for their website on key search terms at the local level?
In late 2013, Moz.com surveyed 100 SEO experts to identify key influencers on Google page rankings. Unique site content was cited as one of the most critical components; “unique” being defined as content that originated on that site, not copied from another site. When a dealer’s website copy includes product or service information lifted directly from a parent corporation’s website, the dealer’s site gains little to nothing in-terms of SEO value.
Why is this important?
According to a June 2013 study by Chitika, 92% of people find what they are seeking on page one of the search results. Consequently, the lack of local visibility by dealers leaves open a window of opportunity for competitors to sell against the dealer and thus, against the brand.
Therefore, some degree of content flexibility at the local level is required to achieve optimal organic search results. Variable content is critical to search performance, which means allowing the local dealer to convey the same sentiment, or information, using his or her own words. Marketing guidelines need to reflect modern realities if national brands want to achieve success at the local level. SA would encourage corporate oversight to ensure the sentiment written by the dealer is following the original message, in addition to being grammatically correct. But in this day when original, fresh content is “king” in terms of local visibility, its time for outdated mandates to be revisited.
Bianca Carbonara also contributed to this post.