One SEO professional asked John Mueller during a hangout about having too many microsites.
So they explained a scenario: say you have a franchise with one hundred franchisees. Every franchisee has a microsite of the domain – such as domain/branch1, and their corresponding URLs.
Their question is: what are the best practices involved in making sure all the content is displayed well?
It’s really hard to have a hundred branches with many hundreds of different content pages. Most of them will be staying the same because they are part of the same franchise.
But, they are offering the same two services. They are following the same rules and procedures for these pages.
Is it a problem from Google’s perspective, like from a user perspective? It doesn’t matter if a user is looking to solve a problem in a given location.
And so, for the user, it doesn’t matter if that same content, or nearly the same content is visible on one hundred other pages. What does Google think?
John believes there are several aspects he would examine here.
On the one hand, he would watch out for creating doorway sites and doorway pages. This is something that Google has mentioned in their webmaster guidelines.
Usually, doorway pages are more about swapping out one word on a page, where the rest of the content is the same.
If you have a specific service that you create pages for every city nearby, or every street or region nearby, and you create hundreds of these pages that are driving traffic to the same business.
This is one thing John would watch out for.
However, with franchises, John thinks it’s likely less of an issue because these are, essentially, separate businesses.
The other thing he believes is more of a strategic question: which is about how you want your content to be found, and what you consider to be important regarding your content.
This happens at approximately the 04:30 mark in the video.
John Mueller Hangout Transcript
SEO Professional 2 4:30
Hey, John, I have a question. Imagine a franchise with 100 franchisees. Every franchisee has a microsite of the domain like domain/branch1 and their corresponding URLs. Now, what would be the best practice to have the content displayed well? It’s really hard to have one hundred branches with hundreds of different contents.
Pretty much it will be saying the same as they are part of the same franchise. They’re offering the same two services. There’s they’re following the same rules and procedures. And is that a problem from the perspective of Google, like, from a user perspective, it doesn’t matter if a user is looking to solve a problem in a given location. And so for the user, it doesn’t matter if that same content, or nearly the same content is visible on 100 other pages. Now, what does Google think about it?
I think there are two aspects I would look at here. On the one hand, I would watch out for creating doorway sites, doorway pages. And that’s something that we have mentioned in the webmaster guidelines. Usually, doorway pages are more about kind of like swapping out one word on a page, essentially, where the rest of the content is the same.
So if you have a specific service that you create pages for every city nearby, or every street or every region nearby, and you create hundreds of these pages that are essentially just driving traffic to the same business. That’s one thing I would watch out for. I think with franchises, probably that’s less of an issue, because these are essentially separate businesses. It’s not the same business that has like hundreds of different location pages. It’s really, essentially separate businesses, at least from what I understand from your case.
SEO Professional 2 6:32
Yes, yes, exactly, exactly.
And the other thing is, I think, more of a strategic question, which is around how you want your content to be findable in search and what you consider to be important with regards to your content. In particular, if you take the critical content and you duplicate it across these hundreds of pages, then you’re kind of diluting the value of that content across these hundreds of pages.
And you kind of have to balance the aspect of people trying to find individual locations with the competitiveness of your primary content. So for example, if you have, I don’t know, information on how to do some specific, I don’t know, service on your car or something like that, then that’s something where maybe there’s a lot of competition in the search results, and you want to have a really strong page.
And if you want to have a really strong page, then usually you don’t want to kind of dilute that page across all of these hundreds of other kinds of separate location pages. So that’s something where I think from a strategic point of view, some content you’ll want to kind of like keep in one place, and other content will make sense to separate out on these individual pages.
SEO Professional 2 7:53
It’s not, it’s not like being 100 percent duplicate, probably like 70-80 percent, because there will be some uniqueness due to the different specifics of every branch of the success rate in closing deals, et cetera et cetera, because they’re in the real estate. So yeah, but essentially, it will be pretty much the same. They’re doing sales, they’re doing lettings. And so you can’t hover much around, especially if you have that many locations.
Yeah. But I still think like you, you need to figure out which of these kinds of content are very competitive, where it makes sense for you to have one central version that is kind of like highly competitive. And which of these pages are essentially trying to target a very specific kind of question from a user where they say, Oh, I would like to rent a home in this city, for example, then going to that location page is fine. Whereas if it’s a question of like, I don’t know, how do I calculate the rental fees, then that might be something where you have one kind of central page across all of these different…
SEO Professional 2 9:02
Yeah, that makes sense. Thank you.