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Every year, Entrepreneur releases a list of the top 500 Franchises based on criteria like brand and financial strength, franchisee support, and stability. This year was their 40th annual Franchise 500 Ranking, and needless to say, things have changed quite a bit since that first annual list. With the rise of the internet and social media comes more online reach for franchises, and more competition.

So, how do these top franchises portray themselves online, and what lessons can we learn from studying their website designs, structure, and content? We investigated the Top 30 franchise websites to see what the strongest franchises are doing and learned some interesting facts along the way (Taco Bell has a wedding chapel at its Las Vegas location?). Read on to see our insights from studying the websites of these top franchise brands.

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Franchise website redesigns can seem like a daunting task.

After all, they are a lot to take on. There are multiple stakeholders (each with their own design preferences), folders full of brand assets, and the pressure to create a website solution that caters both to individual franchisees and the brand as a whole. At SpaceCraft, we've helped multi-location businesses build their web presence by creating eye-catching, functional franchisee website templates that can grow as their business expands.

Whether you're starting from scratch or looking to overhaul your existing franchisee website structure, there are a few key items to keep in mind. Read on to see the top considerations for a successful franchise website redesign, and tips on how to prepare for the design process.

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What are the benefits of owning a franchise? When starting a franchise, business owners can run a business that already has an established template for success. They have the power of a strong, established brand, a pre-delivered set of tools to start their business, as well as the peace of mind that comes with a corporate team that is there to help.

The franchise formula has been proven to work. However, many franchises struggle with creating and maintaining the online presence of their locations. Some franchises have one website that has little input from the individual franchisees. Others do not have guidelines for creating websites, which leaves franchisees on their own to build a website that may not work as well as it should. By utilizing a franchise website builder, both franchise owners and franchisees can utilize a website that strikes a balance between brand consistency and individuality.

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Google Analytics is a helpful way to understand how your website is performing online. It is often intimidating to log into Analytic and see tons of buttons, tabs, charts, and numbers. We’ve narrowed down some of the most basic, yet important metrics for you to look at to get an idea of how your site is working.

Once you have set up Google Analytics on your website, you can log in by visiting analytics.google.com. Use your Gmail or G Suite email address and password. In this guide, we will go over four reports: Audience, Acquisition, Behavior, and Conversions. Once you’re in, you will navigate between each report through a column that’s located on the left-hand side of the screen.

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How to Make My Website Searchable

Make the most out of local profiles

If your website is for a business, then you should make sure to have profiles on major local listing sites. At the very least, having listings on major aggregate sites like Google My Business, Yelp, and Facebook, are essential. These local profiles are important because they provide space for users to leave reviews. These websites also have a very high domain authority, so they appear prominently in search engine result pages. You should also create local profiles on industry-specific sites, like Angie’s List for home services or The Knot for wedding-related venues or services.

Of all the local aggregate sites, Google My Business is likely the most important. The information on your Google My Business listing displays in Google’s “local 3-pack” in the search results and on the map listings. If you want your business to have a strong online footprint, then you should make the most out of these listings by adding posts,...

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Optimize Google My Business Listing

Does your business or organization have a verified Google My Business profile? If you want your business to have a strong digital footprint, then a robust Google My Business listing is essential. The information in your Google My Business profile is what appears in Google’s “3-pack” and the map listing. Optimizing and verifying your Google My Business listing is important, especially after Google’s recent algorithm changes that favor local results

Luckily, the Google My Business interface is easy to use and customize. You can access via desktop or download it to your smartphone through iTunes or the Google Play store. It is also completely free to use. While it is easy to use, it does take some effort to live up to its full potential. Read on to see how to optimize your Google My Business listing.

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Why Am I Not Ranking on Google?

In the early days of Google over a decade ago, search engine optimization (SEO) strategies were very different. In those times, the best way to drive traffic to your site was to show up on the first page of search results. Over the years, especially recently, Google has made many algorithm changes. This means that search rankings are not the same as they used to be.

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How To Get More Reviews

Many business owners are aware of how important online reviews are when finding new customers, but many struggle with actually getting people to leave reviews. We all know that the best way to get 5-star ratings is by perfecting your customer service, but actually getting that review can be a bit trickier. We’ve put together a few ways to get positive reviews, faster, so you can grow your online authority.

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As a business owner, you work hard to provide excellent customer service for your clients. Your may have perfected your customer service on the job, but what about on the internet? Your online presence is essentially an extension of your business, and online reviews bring extra opportunities to build relationships, solve problems, and also improve your business’s reputation.

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HTTPS Website Builder

At SpaceCraft, we're constantly looking for ways to improve our website building platform, and we're excited to announce that all SpaceCraft websites can now take advantage of HTTPS, the most secure protocol available for websites today. Read on to learn more about SSL web hosting and HTTPS, and discover the benefits it can provide website owners and visitors alike.

What Is SSL?

SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) creates a private session between a web browser and a website. During the session, the browser and the website use a cipher to encrypt data before sending it to the other party. The website, and the browser being used to view it, use a decryption key to decipher the data. Without the key, the data looks like a random jumble of letters, numbers and symbols.

What Are the Benefits of SSL Web Hosting?

SSL creates a safer web browsing experience, which is a great thing for you and your website's users, especially if your website gathers personal information such as credit card information, phone numbers, passwords, or medical...

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Improve CTA Webinar

At SpaceCraft, we're constantly looking for new ways to help our customers grow their businesses through our easy to use website platform. In our most recent webinar, we teamed up with the email marketing gurus at Emma to discuss what makes a killer CTA, and how to best capture potential customers at every step of the buyer journey. Listen in to learn more, and start growing your customer list today!

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We’re excited to announce that SpaceCraft has been added to Crayon, the website design search engine.

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Google has announced that a "significant" change is coming to their search algorithm. According to Google Webmaster Central, this change is starting on April 21, and will expand on Google's use of mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal.

A Googler even noted that this algorithm change will impact more than 40% of websites on the internet. This means that it will be the most significant mobile algorithm change to date.

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Let's dig into a hot topic for businesses with multiple locations. Franchises and multi-unit businesses have struggled to choose between having one website with a page for each location and having separate websites for each location. It’s tough to say if there is a right or wrong answer that will work for everyone. However, at SpaceCraft, we agree with Matt Cutts (Head of Webspam at Google) that having location specific websites is best in most scenarios.

"Make a web page for each store location. If you want your store pages to be found, it’s best to have a unique, easily crawlable url for each store” - Matt Cutts

Cutts even goes so far to say that neglecting to give your franchisee or local dealer their own website positions your business at a severe disadvantage against the competition.

Giving each location its own website provides the opportunity for each location to tell their own story. With SpaceCraft, each location can have their own blog and integrate their unique social feeds. They can add events and promote specials. And they’ll be set up to work...

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In the world of building websites, to say that forms are important would be an understatement. A majority of people assume that forms are used exclusively to capture potential clients' contact information, but they can also be useful in a variety of digital marketing strategies.

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Over the weekend, you may have noticed some nifty new functionality and a spiffed-up design in the SpaceCraft tool. Now, managing your SpaceCraft website is even easier - and prettier! We added drag-and-drop content reordering and also updated the tool's interface with a flatter design, new icons, and enhanced user experience.

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Austin, Texas - September 10th, 2013 - SpaceCraft announced today that it has merged with one of Austin's leading digital design and marketing firms, Element Creative. The combined company will retain the name SpaceCraft and operate under the co-leadership of current SpaceCraft CEO Adam Moore and Element CEO Dan Isaacs. This strategic merger will allow SpaceCraft to rapidly expand operations, improve product offerings, strengthen design capabilities and support customer growth.

SpaceCraft's cutting edge software builds responsive websites for small businesses that work seamlessly across smartphones, tablets and PCs. SpaceCraft debuted its web-based software in May 2012. Since then they have seen an influx of customers, powering over 1,000 websites for restaurants, musicians, fitness studios, business professionals and more. Joining with Element Creative allows SpaceCraft to sustain its rapid growth rate while continuing to offer exceptional customer solutions.

Dan Isaacs,...

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We recently started using SumAll to track our website traffic, social media presence and AdWords campaigns, and have been pleasantly surprised by how easy it makes it for us to analyze our effectiveness over time.

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We stand by the assertion that responsive design is the most sustainable and user-friendly way to approach multi-device display of your website. Google, Bing, and many, many news sources and tech industry players agree. Per Google’s...

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Selling software using SMS texting

Anyone in sales or support at a SaaS (Software as a Service) platform knows the importance of improving your conversion rate and decreasing churn. On a basic level what this means is simple: obtain as many clients and lose as few as possible.

In most software sales positions, you can accomplish these goals by staying organized, learning the product inside and out, listening, treating clients fairly, staying driven, and being honest. But the rules of the game change when you're just getting started, as any entrepreneur or new small business owner will tell you. And being able to adapt and analyze these new rules can help accelerate business growth at every level.

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Email marketing is a great tool for every small business owner’s arsenal. It’s one of the most accessible versions of permission marketing, a method of business development which is much more effective than many more expensive types of advertising. With email marketing, you’re able to send information about your business to someone who asked for it. That means there’s a level of buy-in right off the bat.

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Today, Cloudant, our database service provider, published an interview with our CTO, David Wood, on their blog. We appreciate the work and vision at Cloudant, which closely aligns with our own: to support small businesses and make it easy for them to do more online. Read on for the full interview.

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How to use Pinterest with SpaceCraft

Pinterest, the visually-driven social media website with over 25 million users, is a powerful (and fun) way to generate buzz around your business, drive traffic to your website, and engage your visitors. We make it easy to optimize your SpaceCraft website for Pinterest users so you can reap the rewards of this quickly-growing social platform.

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Dallas Crossfit team page on their SpaceCraft website.

We all want our websites to look great and graphics play a large role in this. Here's some practical advice on making graphics for your SpaceCraft website.

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In our first installment of Ecommerce 101, we examined six solutions for website owners who are interested in selling online on a smaller scale. Today, we're looking at two, more robust platforms, Retailr and BigCommerce, for business owners whose primary goal with their web presence is to sell products or services over the interwebs.

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A few days ago, we noticed a free trial signup that was a little out of the ordinary. The website was created by a nonprofit organization for famine relief, and within a few hours of signing up, they had added a background pattern, some decorative typography, a bright green navigation bar with a dark grey header and footer, and had even customized some of their content blocks with containers and drop shadows. They'd also added colorful photos of smiling Africans and interesting information and statistics about famine. What caught our eye, though, was what they said on their "About Us" page.

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Ecommerce logos

Shopping online has never been more popular, more secure or more accessible. More and more people are taking the convenience of online shopping a step further by purchasing from their mobile devices. (In fact, mobile shopping has burgeoned into a $20 billion a year industry.) There are several options for taking advantage of this opportunity with your SpaceCraft website. Read on and decide which of the following six ecommerce solutions works best for your business.

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Raleigh Hager contact form

There are so many things you can do with a custom-built form on your website, and SpaceCraft offers connections to two top-notch formbuilders, Formstack and Wufoo. Use them to gather information about your website visitors, take orders, open the lines of communication, and more.

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Image Optimization Tech Talk

Web designers and developers have recently been digging deep into new approaches to serving images on responsive websites.

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We've built into SpaceCraft a straightforward way to verify the ownership of your website to major search engines.

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Chalk Wall SpaceCraft

Sometimes I wish, I really wish, I could give people a peek into what goes on here at SpaceCraft. So today I'm going to.

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Playground Workshop

It’s Friday.

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