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October 23, 2019

Using Short Links to Market Your Franchise

You’ve decided to invest in a franchise and now you realize digital marketing isn’t going to be easy. Especially when it comes to search engine optimization (SEO). That’s because you have brand competition from other franchise owners (or even yourself) who happen to have the same name. Things can get slightly confusing online when marketing a well-known name.

Multiple Locations

In a business with several locations, it can be tempting to give them all their own websites with unique URLs or put them on sub-domains. Why choose? One solution to marketing a franchise online, with multiple locations, is to do both.

For example, if my brand is and I have a location in Los Angeles, I may want to register However, this can be a bad marketing move. Not only are you starting from scratch with a new domain name, but you are also stretching your brand thin.

The new site has no history or authority so it will take time to even rank on search engines. This page will not be able to share in the history and authority held by the head office franchise. It’s like throwing them to digital wolves.

Vanity Links and Franchise Marketing

Domains by location can seriously damage a brand’s SEO opportunities. That’s because the franchisee is unable to share in the ranking potential of the franchiser. They must start from scratch.

Utilizing a vanity URL can circumvent this issue. You can point your FROSTY LA domain back to the main page and still have a nice short link for print and social media.

Although a vanity link is often a completely unique URL, it can also serve as a sub-domain that uses a 301 redirect. This is a permanent redirect that passes between 90-99% of link equity (ranking power) to the redirected page.

It helps to point to a page deep within a sub-folder that makes it easier for users to get there. Vanity links are like building a bridge between the domain you use and the URL you want people to see. This is a great strategy for multi-location franchises.

Sub-Folders and Micro-Sites

Think of this like the pages of your website. The main franchise will serve as the centerpiece and each location will have its own micro-site. For the FROSTY brand, it may look something like this:

Main Site:


The Los Angeles location has its own page with appropriate keyword placement to rank in that city. It should also have the right internal linking, so the search engines know what the page is about. This is better than creating a separate site and having your own pages compete against each other for keyword dominance.

A vanity link can be used to navigate the issue franchises face of self-cannibalizing in SEO. The vanity URL for Frosty cupcakes in L.A. might look something like one of these:

Vanity URL:

You can also use a branded short link:

The URL can then be seamlessly redirected to its sub-folder using a 301 redirect. This helps to avoid any common SEO pitfalls a franchise might face when promoting multiple locations for the same brand.

Another great thing about the 301 redirect trick is that if anyone accidentally links to your vanity URL, the link authority is automatically sent through the 301 to the micro-site (where all your keywords lie). So, even if you get links to either domain, Google will still know which to index and assign authority thanks to the 301.

It sounds more complicated than it is, but search engines can be fickle creatures. The ultimate goal of a site like Google is to return the most relevant search results to people possible. When running a franchise, it can be easy to cross wires online. It’s critical that you pay attention to SEO standards to ensure every location in your enterprise gets equally seen.

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