A Local SEO Strategy for Your Online Store
In the ever-growing digital marketing landscape, ranking high in search results to get noticed by customers has become more difficult than ever, especially for local businesses. This is why investing in some basic SEO strategies is not enough to generate qualified leads or more sales. To put your store in front of the right audiences, you need to boost its exposure in local search results. And, this is where local SEO comes in.
Here are a few steps to take to get the most out of your local SEO strategy.
In the world of ecommerce, your website determines how your customers will perceive you. Precisely because of that, it needs to be perfectly optimized for both your users and search engines. For starters, this means adding your NAP (name, address, phone number) information on every page of your website. If you’re operating from multiple locations, create dedicated contact pages and make sure that the information about each location is correct.
To boost your chances of being listed high in the local SERPs, you need to optimize your pages for regional keywords. There are a few elements you need to pay special attention to:
- Page URLs
- Page titles
- meta descriptions
- Blog posts
- Product descriptions
- H1 and H2 tags
- Image alt text
Apart from providing your potential customers with the additional information about your page, these elements help Google understand the context behind your content and overall website.
Optimize your site for your mobile searchers
Did you know that 30% of mobile searches are location-based? And, as 76% of local search queries result in a phone call to a business, not making your ecommerce site responsive means losing a notable share of your market.
For starters, make your site mobile friendly, remove annoying ads and popups, use large fonts, remove unnecessary fields from your forms, and make sure your page elements like links or CTA buttons are easy to tap on.
Produce Quality Local Content
Integrating quality content and SEO from the very beginning is a key marketing rule for every ecommerce business. Your articles can give you more visibility on Google and help you become a credible source of information people will come back to again and again.
However, not every piece of content online is equally valuable.
For example, writing self-serving content all about selling your business and products is a big no. Instead, put yourself in your local customers’ shoes, looking at what type of search queries they use and what questions they ask.
You need to understand their needs, preferences and problems and then create a solid narrative around them. Each article you publish needs to be highly informative, data-backed and helpful to those reading it.
Here are a few types of local content that may work for you:
- A list of significant local events
- Guides to local areas of interest
- A roundup of local bloggers and influencers in your niche
- Local news and trends
- Articles on related local businesses and organizations
Also, since your ecommerce business is a local one, you want your content to be visible to the people in the right locations. Precisely because of that, make sure you add your city or neighborhood information to your keywords. For example, if you’re running a New York-based store selling dresses online, "best dresses new york" will perform better on Google than just “best dresses”.
Create a Google My Business Listing
This is one of the most critical steps you need to take once you start optimizing your online store for local searches. In short, Google My Business is a free platform that helps small, local businesses enhance their online exposure and control how they appear in Google search.
For starters, you need to visit the Google My Business homepage, fill out the form fields, and verify your account to prove you’re an actual business owner. This is an inevitable step, as only business owners can claim a Google My Business account. Of course, if you decide to hire an SEO agency or build an in-house SEO team to help you with your local rankings, you can add them as the "managers" of your business profile.
However, just entering and verifying your business information is not enough. Google My Business has a huge potential for local SEO and, to harness it you need to optimize your listing to the max.
Give a solid description of your location
Offer business categories
Ensure your NAP information is correct.
Highlight your working hours
Make a list of the payment methods you accept
Make sure your logo and photos of your products are quality and relevant
Include your website URL
Encourage your customers to leave reviews
Add posts to promote events, products and services
Reply to questions asked by your visitors
Remember, the goal of optimizing your Google My Business listing is to inspire people to visit your online store and make a purchase.
Appear in Relevant Local Directories
Before hiring a service provider or buying a product, people will usually research them on them online, looking for company reviews or product ratings. These listings of businesses and reviews appear on what are known as local directories.
Your aim should be to use these platforms to build trust among your target audience and help them move down the sales funnel towards making a purchase.
Now, you can start with popular local business directories, such as:
Amazon Customer Reviews
Better Business Bureau
However, directory listings can’t be done without care. In the old days of SEO, directories were a quick and easy way to create a lot of links for your site, so lots and lots of extremely low quality, relatively useless directory sites popped up. Listing your business on these sites could actually have a negative impact on your SEO.
Additionally, focus on those business directories that are relevant to your business’ location and niche. Promoting your local business on large directories that have nothing to do with you may result in attracting people that have no intention of making a purchase.
Ask for Customer Reviews and Testimonials
Potential customers often thoroughly research a product before making a purchase and want to hear from people who have already bought from you. According to some recent studies, 84% of customers trust online reviews as much as their friends and families’ recommendations, while the majority of them are eager to review your business if asked.
This is a great opportunity for you to use customer feedback to position your online store as trustworthy and authoritative.
There are numerous ways to collect your customers’ feedback:
Social media can be an invaluable tool. These platforms are where they go to express satisfaction or frustration with brands, write reviews, and share content. To stay on top of your brand mentions on social networks, you can use social media monitoring tools like Hootsuite, Buffer, or Zoho Social. Finally, you can always ask your customers to leave feedback and write testimonials.
You can even create online customer satisfaction surveys and promote them via email, social networks, and your website to gather customer information. Encourage them to give honest and timely feedback by offering exclusive deals, free products, large discounts, free shipping, and similar incentives. Based on the data you collect you could publish case studies and testimonials on your site.
Start Guest Blogging
The content you publish on your blog is a massive link earning opportunity you cannot afford to ignore. Creating blog posts that resonate with your target audience and local communities will help you inspire them to share, comment on, and link to your site. However, to improve your backlink profile and be seen as an authoritative source of information, you should start guest blogging on other local websites.
Before you write a guest post and find a relevant guest blogging opportunity, you should keep in mind the following:
The quality of your blog posts.
Just like with your content, your guest posts position you as a credible online resource and drive more traffic to your site. This is why they need to be unique, spam-free, data-oriented and highly informative. Above all, they need to give actionable tips and make their readers’ lives easier.
The quality of the site you’re targeting.
You first need to choose sites relevant to your niche. For those conducting a manual search, strings like *inurl:blog "city name" intitle:keyword *may work. Once you have the list of your potential guest blogging opportunities, choose highly authoritative ones. Being a contributor to a suspicious site with low rankings and domain authority won’t help your SEO efforts.
Pay attention to their domain authority, rankings, and the overall appeal. Too many outbound links, popups, promotional posts and aggressive monetization are just some of the numerous signals that a site is not worth your while.
Finally, consider their target audience. Go with the sites with a large, engaged online following to make your online store available to new audiences.
Wrapping It Up
Local SEO remains one of the most significant marketing strategies for local stores with an online presence. By building a solid strategy, you will boost your exposure in local search, drive qualified leads to your site, boost conversion rates, and give your bottom line a notable boost. Above all, you will rise above the sea of competitors and build trust with your target audience.