If you are a small, local business owner and you’re not investing in your online presence, you are missing out on an immense opportunity to tap into consumers that are right in your backyard, online.
We know that SEO is a critical component of any online marketing strategy, but Local SEO allows brick-and-mortar stores with an online presence to establish their brand within their physical community, winning additional foot traffic.
It may seem confusing – you’re an eCommerce business, meaning you sell your goods online. Which the whole point of an eCommerce business is that your products are available to anyone you’re able to mail to – not just those who can stroll by your storefront.
So, why would you focus on local SEO? To draw in local customers that may not have previously been the target of your other online marketing efforts!
Here are three ways you can optimize your online store locally:
1. Google My Business (GMB) Optimization
If your business has a physical location but also has an e-commerce store to support online sales, registering with Google My Business is a must – the only requirement is that you have some face-to-face interaction with your consumers.
GMB is a free online listing that business uses to boost their visibility on the SERPs and Google Maps.
Every month there are over 5 billion searches on Google for restaurants, 3 billion for hotels, 1 billion for clothing stores, 600 million for hair and beauty salons, and 5 million for coffee shops.
If your business falls into any of those categories and you don’t have GMB set up… well, we will just let these details marinate in that now-panicked brain of yours.
The process is simple; you will first need to create an account and claim your business, entering all the essential information regarding who you are, where you’re located, and how you can be contacted.
Google recommends choosing as few categories as possible to describe your overall business core, which in turn helps the search engine understand and rank you accordingly.
Next, you get verified by Google, by way of phone, email, postcard, instant verification, or bulk verification, some options being simpler and more efficient than others.
Finally, you optimize your listing with photos, important amenities (such as we validate parking or free Wi-Fi), your hours, and any other crucial selling points. If you aren’t sure, think about the kind of information you seek when looking up a business.After all, you are yourself a consumer!
Here’s what you’ll need:
- Your business name, as known to customers, and as used consistently on your storefront, website, stationery, etc.
- An accurate address and/or service area that can receive mail.
- A local phone number connected to your business location as directly as possible, or one website that represents your location.
- Your hours of operation and the ability to make in-person contact with customers during stated business hours.
The more details you include, the more likely someone will be to click your listing. We are naturally drawn to visuals, so you can understand how a GMB listing without photos may turn potential customers away.
With GMB, businesses can track how their consumers engage with their listing, whether by clicks, calls, bookings or follows. In fact, if you really want to get creepy, I mean in-depth, you can learn about specific customers and how frequently they are connecting with your business.
You can even encourage customer reviews on your business profile, which will only influence people to give you their patronage (more on that to follow).
Customers want access, and they want it now. They are ready to connect with you, and with GMB, they can. So, what are you waiting for?
2. On-Site Optimization with Geo-Targeted Content
As we know, keyword research and integrations are essential in digital marketing. How else will you rank for those coveted search terms? Using geo-targeted keywords within your content is a powerful way to boost your local SEO and be discovered by your neighbors.
What is the difference between regular keywords and local keywords?
Regular SEO/keywords address general search engine queries that don’t include localized terms, such as summer beach reads or nail art ideas. The results for such a search could lead you to just about anything, including websites that don’t actually sell products or services.
You are unlikely to find results that point you to where you can buy summer beach reads in your local area.
Local SEO/keywords deal with explicit local terms, such as used book shops in Houston or walk-in nail salons in San Jose, even grocery stores near me. These terms will tell Google to return results that will guide you toward the most popular (and search engine-friendly) stores to buy used books in Houston, get your nails done in San Jose, and find grocery stores close to your physical location.
This allows you to target a concentrated customer that may not have been on the receiving end of your other online marketing strategies.
As you can see, local keywords include terms such as street, town, city, state, country, “near me,” “local,” and others that are clearly localized. These keywords should appear on your website, in your advertisements, in your social media posts, and on your landing pages.
However, before you can optimize your content, you need to know what keywords are being used in your area and your industry. Use SEO tools, like AuthorityLabs, to find geo-specific keywords + your seed keyword and learn out how much search volume you are working with.
For example, a pool maintenance contractor in Miami, Florida may research geo-specific keywords + pool maintenance and find a volume of 50,000 monthly searches in Miami, but also 40,000 monthly searches in Hollywood, Florida, which is in close proximity. This indicates that the pool maintenance contractor should target both Miami and Hollywood.
3. Online Customer Reviews
Reviews legitimize your business, make you more trustworthy, and improve your ranking on local search engines. The more evidence of people frequenting your store or website there is, the more Google will favor your business. And the more likely potential customers will be to make a transaction.
We trust and rely on honest feedback in every stage of the buying cycle.
When consumers shop on a local eCommerce store, they most often have not yet seen or held the physical product in their own two hands. Because this piece of the shopping experience is missing, most seek out customer reviews to help in the decision-making process.
Whether they want to learn about the company and their customer service, or they need insight into the quality of the product they are about to buy, consumers want to feel comfortable in their purchase.
They are also usually more than willing to share their opinions in the form of an online review. This is especially true when someone has a bad experience, whether in their interactions with the company or with the product that they received.
Or, when they are so thrilled with their purchase or how they were treated in the process, that they think that their peers need to know.
These buyers are the ones you want to leave reviews, obviously. Encourage your buyers to leave honest feedback on Google, as it will help you greatly from a local SEO standpoint.
If you have an eCommerce store and are looking to optimize locally, begin with these three essential local SEO tips!