Change of URL in Google My Business due to change of organic URL structure.

kcolapop

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Nov 12, 2014
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7
Thanks to all the pros on this site. Long time lurker first time poster :)

Our company is preparing to change the URL structure for our site for all of the local franchise pages.

Example Old: www.oursite.com/dallas_Tx_tradename.php

New Name:
A. Dallas-Tx.oursite.com (This is 301 redirected to the exact site below)
B. http://Dallas-Tx.oursite.com/local-trade-home.html)

The new CMS looks great, adds a lot of capabilities but I'm stuck wondering how this URL restructure will affect our local rankings.

Some questions:

1. Do our local business owners need/should go change their 'anchor' URL in Google My Business, or leave it on the old URL (The old URL's are being set up on a 301 permanent redirect).

2. Will verification scripts, My Business Badges, webmasters tools scripts and codes 'pass through' the 301 to the new site? For example, if someone just transfers their Google verification script, my business badge, webmasters script to the new page (literally copy and paste) is that ok or do they need to 'redo' some process to ensure all of those scripts are correct?

3. If we should change the anchor URL, what version or the URL would you recommend putting in My Business? (A or B above)

4. Is there likely to be a penalty organically for making this change?

5. For those who have done extensive NAP work, is it ok to leave the old link in the NAPs or should they be changed? Immediately? Over time?

6. We are at the 'final' hour for launch of the new site, what would you advise your client?

7. Lastly, if this does 'screw the pooch', what would you have in mind as a contingency plan? Go back to the original URL structure? How long would you wait to see if it it corrected itself?

I've done some brief searching for this topic here but the terms I'm looking for all so common that I'm not really finding a specific previous thread so sorry if this has already been hashed out. I'd happily follow a link :)

Thanks in Advance!!!
 

CodyBaird

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Jan 4, 2013
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341
I may be able to offer an opinion but I am a little confused. What are the reasons for changing url structure? Does the business have one or multiple locations? Can you share the actual website?
 

kcolapop

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Nov 12, 2014
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7
Cody,

Thanks for the reply.

The URL structure change is due to strategic input from the organic team for SEO purposes and to give more local focus on the sub-domains. I appreciate their input but would be remiss if I didn't seek some discourse on the subject.

We have approximately 250 locations.

Here are two exact samples:

Pop-A-Lock Locksmith Mobile, AL | 251-633-8474

would become

This is the Dev Site: Pop-A-Lock Local Locksmith Home Mobile, AL Pop-A-Lock Local Locksmith

This is the non-existent future routing: http://mobile-al.popalock.com/local-locksmith-home.html?fileid=8&fid=346
 

CodyBaird

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Jan 4, 2013
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341
Another question, are panda penalties part of your reasoning for going to subdomain?
 

kcolapop

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Nov 12, 2014
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Thanks for the dialog Cody.

The rationale, as I understand it, is to localize as much as possible the organic sites. The mechanics of which I'm not 100% sold on as there are mechanics that I don't fully understand. I've seen evidence posted that suggest that it is a better mechanic for local sites, but ultimately for many it's a question of 'If it's not broke, why fix it.' But any progress based change could be met with the same criticism.

The second rationale is to enable us to use Google webmaster tools more specifically to the local sites.
 

kcolapop

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Nov 12, 2014
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Yes, what we refer to as vanity domains will be maintained.

Another related connection, is some franchise maintain an external URL but redirect to the corporate local site.
 

CodyBaird

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Jan 4, 2013
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You might want to read this post stating some of the pros to using subdomin instead of subfolder.

A con that I currently see is that subdomain will not benefit from domain authority. However, the franchisor will benefit from any subdomain that creates authority.

Another issue is when franchises still have their own website that has conflicting NAP with the franchisor domain. This is going to be an issue regardless of subfolder or subdomain.

Hunter Douglas had a similar issue with their dealers. The hunter douglas subdomain listings rarely ranked and the duplicate NAP had a negative effect on the dealer sites that often ranked better as stand alone.

One more thing I noticed was your url structure for mobile http://mobile.dudamobile.com/site/popalock2?url=http://www.popalock.com//franchise/mobile_al_locksmith.php#226

I lack experience with dudamobile and effects on rankings but those urls seem...like a challenge to search engines. You may need to visit the actual page and then look at the url because the forum is not allowing me to display this url.
 
Last edited:

kcolapop

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Nov 12, 2014
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It looks like the bottom line is that moving to the sub-domains is a bad move because any individual sub-domain doesn't benefit from the domain authority of the primary site, which is our strongest factor for many locations.
 

CodyBaird

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Jan 4, 2013
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A couple more thoughts for consideration.

Going with subdomain will in essence create new site. However this doesn't make sense to me if that franchisee already has their own domain. Because the NAP from both will dupe against each other. And because the franchisees solo site will probably do better ranking solo than the subdomain.

If all of the location pages have the same content (only swapping city info/modifiers) could create some duplicate page conflicts - 250 pages that are all essentially the same in the subfolder scenario. It can also be challenging with your ongoing content efforts, blogging etc. Which may not be the case with a subdomain.

The upside to each franchise having their own site - ranking will probably happen faster. Maybe this is why we see Hilton franchisees with their own sites. The downside is all the work for each site. Or the franchisor may want more control. It could also be confusing to visitors looking for more uniformity.

I think the core issues to address first:

Are franchisees going to have their own websites or is the franchisor going to carry this responsibility?

Is the franchisor/ee going to create content ongoing (blogging or addition long tail info about services)?

If you go the subfolder direction - my advise/opinion would build out urls like this popalock.com/al/mobile/locksmith, popalock.com/tx/austin/locksmith

if i created another page to tackle long tail for that same location it would look something like this popalock.com/al/mobile/how-to-choose-a-locksmith etc.

It would be a good idea to make content unique for each location page after tackling core content that the brand requires to be on the page regardless of subdomain or subfolder - but yes, that is a lot of work. Or maybe something that each franchisee could be responsible for. That way the language has local flavor and 250 different perspectives are less likely to duplicate each other.

No easy answers for multi locations. It is usually a matter of picking priorities and understanding the pros and cons of each. Hopefully this helps.



Answering those questions may help you decide to subdomain or to subfolder.
 

kcolapop

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Nov 12, 2014
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A couple more thoughts for consideration.

Going with subdomain will in essence create new site. However this doesn't make sense to me if that franchisee already has their own domain. Because the NAP from both will dupe against each other. And because the franchisees solo site will probably do better ranking solo than the subdomain.

Yes, if setting up the sub-domain doesn't borrow any of the domain authority from the primary site then local site vs sub-domain are of similar value...namely less valuable than being associated with the trust of the primary domain through the sub-folder strategy.

NAPW consistency is based on the location URL at this time of their individual site not as a national site and this holds up very well in practice. On point to your comment, there are a very small handful of franchisees that operate an 'offsite site' and I suspect that these simply cause conflict with consistency etc but it is within their purview to do so, even if it is against best practices from other franchises. That is the minority portion of this question versus the arrangement.


If all of the location pages have the same content (only swapping city info/modifiers) could create some duplicate page conflicts - 250 pages that are all essentially the same in the subfolder scenario. It can also be challenging with your ongoing content efforts, blogging etc. Which may not be the case with a subdomain.

This is a bit of a red herring question, of course they aren't duplicate content. The individual sites rarely/never have the same content. They are specific to the location. All of the local sites are individually managed and local content driven. The purpose of this site change is to extend their ability to further localize their sites with more individual site depth by implementation of a superior CMS.

The upside to each franchise having their own site - ranking will probably happen faster. Maybe this is why we see Hilton franchisees with their own sites. The downside is all the work for each site. Or the franchisor may want more control. It could also be confusing to visitors looking for more uniformity.

Again after 15+ years of seeing individual sites/off corporate sites fall short in ranking, vanity sites is well accepted as the wrong direction. This is not so much related to control or consistency but just simple ranking factors like domain age, trust and quality and quantity of inbound links that rule out 'off site' sites as a strategy.

The question here is simply keeping the old domain structure vs adopting the new sub-domain structure. Trial and error over the years have demonstrated that the vanity domains or off-site domains are inferior, at least within our weird category (Locksmith), which may be the most competitive and complicated category to rank within on Google local.

I think the core issues to address first:

Are franchisees going to have their own websites or is the franchisor going to carry this responsibility?

Franchisees are provided with the ability to have their own sites, but are provided with the franchise sub-sites that typically rank well. Keep in mind that the majority of the current sites rank extremely well both organically and locally (locally provided there are no technical problems with the local listing.) If they didn't I really wouldn't have a question about this issue, the motivation for the question is do we risk extremely high local rankings for nearly 200 hundred sites?

For example, scammers will frequently use the the local franchisees domain for their local listing to gain ranking. For example try a local search and block private results for the terms Locksmith Indianapolis, Locksmith Houston, Locksmith Mobile. These are all hyper competitive terms and in a problematic category and the corporate sub-folder sites do well.

In many cases franchisees had to abandon the use of local vanity sites that never performed well in favor of the franchise sub-folder sites, so again I don't think the question of corporate vs off-site sites is even at question, only the question of changing the strategy from sub-folder to sub-domain.

Is the franchisor/ee going to create content ongoing (blogging or addition long tail info about services)?

Franchisees hyper localize their sites and have total access to content through the CMS. Though the franchisor does engage in content generation etc for the primary site. This is for the local sites, which of course aren't duplicate content of each other, they are hyper localized per each market.

Answering those questions may help you decide to subdomain or to subfolder.

Thanks!
 

kcolapop

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Nov 12, 2014
Messages
7
This change involves hundreds of locations and at least 10 local SEO companies and nobody has been able to definitively tell me if the new URL structure is 'hero or zero' so I really just wanted to do some due diligence and hear some discourse on this. Thus far nothing has changed my mind that shifting to the URL structure will be of sufficient advantage to justify the risk involved.

Anyone who has ever gone in and done nothing but bolded a word on their My Business account knows that some of this isn't strategy just simple problematic mechanics that I'm worried about, then multiply that problem by 260 individual businesses :)
 

CodyBaird

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Jan 4, 2013
Messages
341
Good luck on your work. Glad to hear you're sticking with subfolders. I'll look forward to seeing your new url structure. Part curiosity, part sickness. I'd love to hear you chime back in later and let us know how it (organic outcome) goes!
 

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