Local SEO helps retail businesses to convert online traffic into in-store visits, utilizing geographical advertising and marketing in specific locations.
With the widening variety of unique tools to advertise your company’s products – for example, using chatbots for marketing – SEO is a great tool to be used in any organization’s IT strategy and should be used by all businesses looking to grow. In the current retail landscape, businesses are increasingly focusing on their online IT strategy to generate higher profits in their online stores. However, by investing time in local SEO, you can show customers that you still value their presence in your brick-and-mortar stores.
Creating a combination of customers who shop online and customers who visit in-store is always going to benefit your company and help you turn a higher revenue. Optimizing your online presence is a surefire way to make sure customers know about your brick-and-mortar outlets and are enticed to visit them.
This guide will give you a good understanding of what local SEO is and how you can use it to benefit your retail business.
What is SEO?
You’re probably already aware that SEO stands for “search engine optimization,” and refers to the process of improving search traffic to your website from search engines like Google.
In essence, search engines operate on keywords. The more keywords you include on your website, the more likely it is to appear at the top of a search query. There are other various important intricacies and skills within generating good traffic through SEO which we will discuss a little later.
The value proposition of SEO is clear: appearing higher in a search engine results in higher traffic to your website, and therefore higher profits.
Many businesses already use SEO to improve online sales. However, it can also play a major role in attracting new customers to your physical shops or stores.
How Does Google Rank Content?
Google ranks content based on a variety of factors, including relevance and authority. Relevance means that the content must be related to what users are searching for. Authority means that the content should come from a reliable source with accurate information.
Google also looks at other signals like backlinks, keyword usage, and user engagement when ranking content.
Backlinks, also known as inbound links, are incoming links from other websites. They indicate to Google that the content is of high quality and should be ranked higher in search engine results pages (SERPs).
Keyword usage is a factor when it comes to SEO, and local SEO is no different. When optimizing for local SEO, it’s important to include location-based keywords like city, county, and state in titles, meta descriptions, headings, and content.
User engagement is also taken into account when crawling websites for local SEO. Google looks at things like how many people are clicking through from the SERPs, how long they stay on the page, and how often they return to the website.
What are Google’s Guidelines for SEO?
When it comes to local SEO, Google has its own set of guidelines in order to maximize visibility for businesses in local search results. What was formerly known as “Google Webmaster Guidelines” is now called Google Search Essentials. This is a list of “what makes your web-based content eligible to appear and perform well on Google Search.
This includes claiming and verifying ownership of your business on platforms such as Google My Business, creating citations on other local directories such as Yelp or Angie’s List, optimizing website pages for local keywords, and building relationships with customers through reviews and social media engagement.
Why Does SEO Remain Important?
Search engine optimization continues to remain an important marketing tool for businesses of all sizes. A recent study from Rio SEO reveals that nearly 90% of consumers make purchases within a week of searching, indicating the need for companies to have a strong presence and follow the Google Search Essentials as laid out by Google.
Here are a few more important points for retail businesses from the aforementioned study:
- 61% of local consumers search locally every day.
- 53% of local consumers most frequently search to find information about retail stores.
- 51% of consumers said they feel more confident and trust in a local business when they see them actively responding to reviews.
Given these results, it’s clear that local search is an essential part of any retail business’ marketing strategy. Consumers are actively searching for information about retail stores every day, and they look to reviews as evidence of a business’s trustworthiness.
Businesses should be sure to monitor their online presence and respond to customer reviews in a timely and efficient manner. Businesses should also invest in local SEO strategies to ensure their business appears prominently in search results for relevant queries.
Ultimately, a strong local search presence can help build consumer trust and drive more customers to your store.
What Is Local SEO For Retail?
Local SEO refers to the process of using search engine optimization to focus on improving your website’s visibility on local search results.
If done correctly, implementing local SEO should result in more individuals from specific, relevant locations finding your company’s website and visiting your store.
This differs from global SEO, which looks to target individuals from across the planet. Local SEO is also distinct from national SEO, which focuses on targeting people from specific countries.
All of these strategies are valuable when done correctly. If you are a company that ships nationally or globally, you will benefit from national and global SEO.
However, for smaller retail companies with local businesses that don’t necessarily ship very far, focusing on local SEO can yield great improvements in revenue.
Paid SEO is effectively a non-organic way of boosting your position in search engine results.
By paying for search engine optimization, your business can appear as the top result if a person searches for any of your key terms. It’s costly but can work well if you require a quick fix.
This being said, most companies see higher traffic from organic search results. Investing the time and effort to create SEO content and optimized product pages can also be costly, but can result in big improvements in both online SEO traffic and in-person footfall.
How To Get It Right
Knowing where to start when it comes to local SEO content can be challenging. Online content creation and development takes time and energy to do well, but it’s not an impossible feat.
When anybody searches a question or phrase in google, there are three main factors that impact the results they receive.
- Relevance – How closely related is the information input into the search bar to your web page?
- Prominence – How does your business stand out amongst other businesses? Do you have a higher volume of positive reviews or a uniquely large amount of traffic?
- Proximity – How physically close is the individual to the business they are looking for?
This is more or less the most important factor when it comes to search results and Google is pretty good at defining what’s relevant. The ultimate goal is to ensure that your SEO content matches the keywords that searchers use.
If you are a retail business that has physical online stores in a particular location, the key here is to use terms that Google will match with searches of those people.
For example – if you run a greeting card store in New York and a potential client wants to find one nearby, your online content needs to include that key phrase as much as possible. The next step is then to dive deeper into that topic and consider all of the potential key phrases that customers might search on Google.
Using the above example, “get well soon cards New York” or “personalized greetings cards New York” would be the types of relevant keyword phrases that you need to consider including on your website.
Here’s a quick list of important aspects of maintaining relevance:
- Use the right keywords; descriptions of content or product pages.
- Ensure that the content you create is relevant to your company or to businesses associated with your field.
- Get your business included in other relevant website SEO content to help generate further traffic.
- Include the place name throughout your content to ensure local people can find your business.
- Maintain good knowledge of what SEO is and how to consistently improve your search engine optimization content.
How well does your company stand out from competitors? That’s the question you need to ask to improve your business’ prominence.
So how do you stay prominent in a world where it’s increasingly difficult to separate yourself from the crowd?
- High-quality customer support can help to engage with your customers and create great experiences for them. Customer support software is one example of a way you can achieve this level of support. Most importantly, make sure these experiences can be documented online. Google prioritizes trustworthy companies, so requesting that both online and local customers leave feedback is essential.
- Staying active on your website and social media pages will not only keep your content relevant but also ensure you are prioritized in Google searches.
- Look for opportunities to engage with local press or journalists who will include your business name in content that local people read. This increases the number of times your business is mentioned online and is great for SEO.
There are three usual ways that a person may search for a local business online.
- Non-geo-modified searches.
- Geo-modified searches.
- “Near me” searches.
Let’s take a look at some examples of these using our above greetings card business.
Non-geo-modified searches are where there are no specifications made about location. A person would simply search “greetings cards.” For this type of search, it’s about highlighting that you are a “greetings card” company repeatedly, sharing or creating content that includes this key phrase.
A geo-modified result would be the same search term as above but include a specific location: “greetings cards New York.” Similar to a near me search, you need to include your company’s store address clearly on your website.
The most important factor in featuring highly on a “near me” Google search is your website’s information being completely correct and up-to-date. Google will do the rest of the legwork – locating where the search is coming from (of course whilst maintaining data integrity) and offering them relevant companies in the search results. Just make sure your details are correct to make the most out of Google’s powerful search engine tools.
Creating A Local SEO Strategy – 5 points For Consideration
When businesses are considering what an IT strategy is and what theirs should look like, they’ll often limit themselves by focusing solely on their online presence. You can get a step ahead of your competitors with a robust local SEO strategy that boosts your in-person sales as well as your online presence.
Here is a quick-start guide for local SEO with ideas you can implement right away:
- Optimize your website for local search terms by posting local content, updating your on-page SEO, and including your addresses on your website itself and in the HTML code.
- Research keywords that are searched often and are relevant to your business. There are tools online which can help you do this.
- Use Google My Business to get listed as an official company on the search engine.
- Encourage your customers to leave online reviews.
- Improve local customer engagement with social media websites. It’s a great way of increasing traffic and the relevance of your pages. Liking, tagging the location, or your pages are all great!
As our understanding of the impact of effective SEO use changes, we are starting to learn that there are benefits to a good online presence and how customers can interact with local businesses. Using your online presence to benefit your physical locations is a great way to increase profits.
Yes, shopping online might be more popular than ever, but that makes it more important than ever to attract customers to your physical stores. Customers still appreciate when businesses make them feel valued, wanting to meet them and cater to their needs in person.
Local SEO can be difficult to get your head around. If you want to read more into the subject, there are plenty of resources out there to give you great ideas on how to keep your SEO strategy relevant and high quality.
Ultimately, the key to getting the best returns from local SEO is persistence. If you continuously invest time in your online content, considering the intricacies of details of using keywords, you will attract local customers to your stores immediately.
Jessica Day is the Senior Director for Marketing Strategy at Dialpad, a modern business communications platform that takes every kind of conversation to the next level—turning conversations into opportunities. Jessica is an expert in collaborating with multifunctional teams to execute and optimize marketing efforts for both company and client campaigns.
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