It’s time to face the facts: small and medium-sized retailers have difficulty competing with bigger clients on the web. As a small local business owner, you know how hard it can be to navigate the digital landscape. Everyone seems to be competing desperately for the same few keywords to gain a competitive advantage. That is why visibility in local search results is essential for increasing sales and driving more leads.
For this reason, local SEO for retail websites is a must-have tool in the marketing arsenal of any retailer. It targets nearby customers who are looking for products or services like yours and encourages them to purchase from your website. Local SEO increases your number of monthly qualified leads, improves your conversion rates, and expands your local customer base and online presence.
What Is Local Search Optimization?
Today, businesses devote more workforce to digital efforts than traditional marketing methods. However, many local companies that prioritize digital marketing are sticking to the basics and not taking advantage of the most powerful tool for local retailers: Local Search Optimization (LSO).
- Local search optimization (a.k.a “local SEO”) is a form of SEO that optimizes your website for local results found on Google, Bing, and Yahoo.
It’s probably the most effective way for a small business to improve its highly-targeted, cost-effective online visibility. But how does it differ from its big brother, SEO? SEO is about making sure your website is visible to people who are looking for your product and services based on your site’s content and search engine rankings, regardless of location. In contrast, local search optimization ensures your website is visible to people searching for local businesses.
The Google Local Search Algorithm
Google can tell where you’re located by looking at your IP address, but most people don’t know just how much influence your location has on the search results you see. Google uses your location to decide whether or not to show you particular local search results, as well as for more specific searches like “X near me.” For example, when you search for “sushi near me”, Google recognizes your location as relevant and returns local results. But if you search for sushi restaurants without a location, Google still returns local results, but they are less prominent in the organic listings.
Google uses complex algorithms to rank websites in the SERPs. One such feature, called the local search algorithm, ranks local businesses higher when they’re relevant to the user’s inquiries. The Google local search algorithm allows Google to use geographic locations more effectively to provide relevant results. Not only does this result in more engagement from users who click on these types of Google search results, but it also allows the local business to show up higher in specific areas.
Local SEO Tips for Retailers to Reach Customers in Specific Areas
- Understand your current state and where your competitors are in your target local search
Understanding your local search landscape is crucial for any business targeting a localized market. What’s even more critical? Finding out where your competitors are currently ranking and what they’re doing to rank in the first place. This means that you need to understand your business and ranking position and the businesses with a local presence. After all, your clients may prefer one business over another due to the location, quality of service, or price. To gain this knowledge, though, you need to do some research about your competitors as well as yourself. If you lack a USP (unique selling point), it’s time to step back and assess the industry to try and better understand what makes your business or service different from all your competitors.
If you’re a small local business, seeing where you appear on the SERPs at every location might be difficult. The local rank checker solves this issue by tracking your results and giving you a full understanding of how well you’re ranking in your chosen location. It monitors the local rankings of each location separately, tracks both regular search rankings and Local Pack, and gathers the data to give you a clear picture of how each location is doing over time.
Source: SE Ranking
- Local Keywords to Improve Local Visibility
If your search engine optimization strategy involves using local-specific keywords, you will see an increase in your local search rankings. Local SEO requires detailed keyword research for every location you are targeting, namely of the terms that potential customers will use when searching for your products or services. Many retail brands can gain traction in their target market by optimizing for local keywords and climbing the related SERP results.
Local keywords are easier to rank for because you don’t have to compete as much with other global eCommerce businesses. Moreover, long-tail keywords are even easier than average head terms resulting in lower competition. Using less competitive keywords helps you push your content up the rankings without using as much of your marketing budget. But before starting with long-tail keywords, you should first try to understand how local search works. Understanding how people search and what they’re looking for is crucial when ranking higher in local search results.
- Carry Out Local On-Page Optimization
On-page SEO is about creating a structure that will draw search engine traffic to your site and improve conversion rates. In other words, it requires you to do a lot of hard work that will translate into a direct ROI for your business. The name ‘on-page SEO’ comes from the fact that you perform these activities right on each page. Each page should have its own meta title, meta description, and keyword tags, which means a new set of tags and content for every single page that you own in order to rank locally within Google search results.
Begin by optimizing the titles of all the pages using the product name and business location, then place the keyword at the beginning of the meta tags (H1, H2, etc.), which will help improve rankings for local searches. A full-length article using the keywords you want to rank for can also help increase your website’s position on the SERPs. Moreover, always try to approach meta descriptions to engage users and send them to your website.
Webmasters and content writers focus a great deal on optimizing their website’s content and structure (navigation elements, internal links, etc.), yet they often overlook the importance of keywords in their site’s images. It is vital to optimize at least the alt texts of your images and make sure that the filenames and descriptions of your media content match what you have written on the rest of your page.
- Optimize your Google Business Profile
Google wants to help small business owners build some sort of online presence. That’s why it offers a free Google Business Profile tool that lets you list your business information and services, so you can rank in the local 3-pack. All you need to do is to add or claim the free Google Business Profile listing through Google Maps or the Search function from either mobile or desktop. Google Business Local, or simply GBP, provides an excellent opportunity for SEO retail, local service providers, and regional companies to optimize their profiles with the right information and tools to build credibility and drive more traffic toward their stores. Having a Google Business page or listing means thousands of customers get directed to your store.
Source: Google results
To start with, you are advised to select at least one category that best describes your business and enter pertinent information (name, address, contact details, e.g.). Additionally, you should add as many user-friendly features to your Google Local listing as possible. This will help your listing stand out from your competitors and place you in a favorable spot when someone needing your services performs a search using one of the relevant keywords. The right keywords are extremely important here, so you can use the keyword planner tool to determine what your potential customers might search for when conducting a search. The next step is to provide links to both websites and social media profiles, so customers can find out more about you. Ensure that your images are high resolution and also provide an opening hours field so that potential clients know when you’re available. Moreover, make sure all information is consistent across all platforms, including Google My Business listings and Yelp profiles.
- Create Pages That Meet the “Location + Product” Search Intent
Local SEO for retailers can get pretty complicated, but one strategy that tends to stay the same is creating pages that meet the “Location + Product” search intent. This lets search engines know where your web pages are specifically located so they can pique the interest of users looking for businesses in that area. Customers want to find what they are looking for as local as possible so they can go straight to your store, which gives you a greater opportunity to convert a lead into a sale.
For this reason, as a part of your ongoing work on optimizing your pages for local, it’s important to test the effectiveness of adding location information to the product, category, and landing pages. It’s high time to go through your site again to ensure that every single product and category page is optimized for the location + product search intent. This will ensure that every possible client viewing your site and searching for local products will be able to easily find you. By adding the specific name of the location where the product is located to product page titles and other page meta information, you can fulfill the needs of both local search engine users and users who want to buy online.
- Optimize for Structured Data
Structured data has been used for years by Google to improve search results. It’s especially important to reach local SEO. It can help your business stand out and get new customers who are searching for products or services like yours. Bots rely on structured data to guide their actions. Structured data is that extra piece of information added to the HTML code of your web pages. This extra data is designed to help Google better understand your content and index your site accordingly. Leveraging structured data increases your chances of appearing in rich snippets and knowledge panels, thus increasing your conversion rate.
Structured data helps search engines understand your content so that users can easily get the most relevant, timely, and accurate information. If your website sells various products, it would be helpful to tell Google which page is about a product and give it extra meta-details, such as price range and shipping details. That is why retailers need to optimize for structured data.
- Local Link-Building Strategy
Backlinks from authoritative sources with lots of social shares, comments, and mentions are very effective for boosting search rankings and increasing traffic to your website. Local link-building is also crucial for building awareness, trust, and credibility for local customers. Providers of “expertise, advice, and peer referrals” – the social currency consumers value when looking for services or buying goods locally – are ideal platforms to raise your profile.
Building a consistent link-building strategy for your local business requires dedication and a fair amount of time. At times, getting the first links seems like an uphill battle. The most effective strategy is to create content that can serve as a valuable resource for your local audience. If the content you’re creating resonates well with users, generates lots of comments, and gets links from authority sources, it’s more likely to rank on Google’s first page since quality and authoritative links help Google recognize your site as a locally relevant resource.
- Get More Customer Reviews and Testimonials
You can provide great service and have a wonderful product but without reviews and testimonials, your business will not grow the way it should. People love sharing their opinion. They love to tell others about how great or terrible a product or service is — which makes testimonials a powerful tool for marketers that are looking for more sales and brand awareness. To give your customers confidence in what you provide, you have to show them what other people say about your services and products. When you want to attract new clients, getting the word out about your business is essential. Reviews and testimonials can help you increase your conversion rate from website visitors to leads and customers.
Consumers trust their peers more than your advertising. Considering this, encourage and incentivize customer reviews. You can offer two types of resources that you can offer as incentives to your customers. The first is obvious — rewarding them with free or discounted products and services. The second is less obvious but also very effective: allow them to leave reviews about their experience with your brand on third-party review sites.