WordPress Multisite for Franchise Business is a Total Win.
Here at Multiverse Media Group, we have quite a bit of experience when it comes to working with franchised brands. This includes everything from building and designing their websites (which we outline how we do it in this article) to their ongoing local SEO, content, and marketing campaigns for each of their specific locations.
With that amount of experience comes wisdom! In this article, you will read our 5 tips (and tricks) for what you, the successful franchise owner should be doing after you make the leap and get your business onto the WordPress Multisite hype-train, including: local SEO, plug-in best practices, and more.
Are you wondering what a WordPress Multisite is? If so, check out our previous article here where you can get caught up! If you are feeling extra froggy and want to know how to set up multisite yourself, you can check out the WordPress codex on that topic here.
How is multisite for franchise businesses useful? Let us explain…
Let’s say you are a successful business owner who has a niche in your product or service. After lots of success in your one location, you decide to take the next big step… opening another location! The second location does extremely well and you decide to keep expanding. Now let’s fast forward a few years and you now have 50 successful locations around the country!
I know exactly what you’re asking yourself now: “That is a great scene to imagine, but how exactly would I handle my online web presence for all of those locations? That sounds like a pain!”
Well a pain it is not! That’s the beauty of the WordPress multisite instance. Here are a few highlights on what multisite can do for your when it comes to simplifying your franchise’s web presence:
- Ease of adding new location websites.
- Unified settings for all locations.
- Update only once for all sites.
- Global page layouts and templates.
- Global and individual location analytics tracking.
- Easily tweak local SEO for each specific location.
Tip #1: Adding sites to your network.
Adding sites within your multisite network is about as easy as it gets, especially when you start comparing the other CMS platforms. Once multisite functionality is added to your WordPress install, you’ll notice a my sites link at the top of your dashboard. Click on this to be taken to your network administrator panel. Once here, go to sites > add new to create a new mini-site.
For detailed instructions on how you can set this up, check out this post.
Tip #2: Network Plugins (and How to Test)
Once WordPress Multisite is enabled, plugins can be handled on a network level putting you only one click away from applying global updates or revoking permissions for all of your users. Better than deactivating a plugin for each site one at a time, right?
How network plugins work.
Within multisite, plugins must be installed by the network administrator, but they also differ in how they function regarding the sites within the network. You can either do one of two things…
- Network activate the plugin so it is forced to run on all sites. Site administrators will not be able to turn this off.
- Just simply install the plugin so it’s available to the site administrator and they will have the choice to either turn it off or simply not.
Test ALL plugins before installing on your live network!
WordPress plugins have the power to take down a site (or in this case, an entire network of sites) if plugins aren’t properly tested to ensure they’re compatible your current version of WordPress. Even more important, it’s necessary to check the plugin for multisite compatibility.
Best practice for testing would be creating a cloned version of your live network, installing the plugin, then activating. Once this is done, visit the cloned site and look for either the white screen of death, or any weird errors. Also poke around in the settings to make sure all is functioning properly. If all goes to plan, go ahead and install/activate on your live network.
Tip #3: Local SEO for each of your franchise sites.
One of the most important things you should do for each of your franchise locations would be creating and tweaking the local SEO.
A quick list of things to do would be the following:
- Optimize title tags.
- Structure your URLs so they make sense.
- Optimize your images. Nobody like huge, slow loading images!
- Optimize your navigation menu so it makes sense structurally.
- Have consistent NAP details (name, address, phone number) for each location.
- Submit a sitemap
- Create your Google My Business listing.
…and more. I recommend this article that explains in 30 steps how to boost your local SEO.
Tip #4: Schedule Regular Backups
Regularly scheduled backups are what I would consider to be the absolute most important part of being at the helm of the franchise multisite.
Lots of hosting providers support server-side backup solutions that you can have run on a daily, or even hourly basis. Depending on how heavy your franchisees update their websites with new and unique content, these updates should probably be more frequent.
Monitor your multisite backups.
Hosting providers will also have some sort of notification system built into their backup solution that sends an email the moment the backups are successful. This is smart to do so you’re always on top of update failures. Depending on the provider, support for Slack or text notifications may be possible.
Tip #5: Monitor your multisite uptime!
Speaking of monitoring things, its also important to keep a close, vigilant eye on your overall website uptime. Most hosting providers to guarantee upwards of 99% uptime, but nothing in this world is perfect… and that includes your website server!
One of our favorite uptime monitors would be Uptime Robot. With this gem, you are able to connect it to services like Slack which will give you an instant notification when anything goes down. The sooner you know, the sooner your websites will be back up and running!
Being a successful business owner at the helm of their franchise web presence can definitely sound intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be thanks to the WordPress multisite functionality.
Once fully implemented, you will experience global control over your websites, themes, plugins, and all website updates. This in turn will give every one of your mini-site users the same user experience that WordPress has become famous for.
Interested in implementing the use of WordPress multisite for your franchise but don’t have the time? Don’t worry, we’re here to help! Get in touch with us today and let’s discuss how we can get your business on the right path to online success!