Many small businesses struggle to compete with big e-commerce brands, such as global giants Amazon and Walmart, who seem to rule the whole world.
Their lower prices and affordable shipping have made it difficult to compete; for some time, this created a challenging scenario for local community stores.
Enter The “Buy Local” Movement
In an amazing turn of events, local retail business owners are suddenly benefiting from a renewed customer desire to support their local community.
Customers want to “Buy Local.”
The already growing “Buy Local” movement massively increased in popularity during the pandemic.
Before 2020, local shopping was a top priority for more than 46% of American consumers due to practicality, necessity, and appreciation of local commerce.
With the pandemic, 53% of Americans say their consumption behavior has changed, and they have started making everyday purchases, even local ones, online.
At the same time, 57% of consumers throughout 2021 gave preference to local businesses, with 34% claiming they started to do this more frequently after the start of the pandemic.
More customers want to support local businesses online.
Your next move in 2022 is to make sure you’re capturing the benefit of the “Buy Local” wave.
How Can SEO Help Local Retailers?
Local SEO can bring retailers closer to their target audience, creating a link that directly influences the purchasing decision.
Local SEO is a series of webpage optimization strategies that highlight a business in local searches. A local company can become the first option in its region.
For retailers like you, local SEO can boost sales for online products and brick-and-mortar purchases in a city, region, or even a specific neighborhood.
A few examples of businesses that can benefit from optimizing their website for a local audience are:
- A physical store that sells fishing items in a lake region.
- A frozen vegan food producer who delivers only to a small set of neighborhoods.
- A fashion e-commerce brand that only delivers to a specific city.
Get High-Impact Results With Reduced Budget Spend
Businesses that serve specific regions can impact their entire audience in a very objective way, with little budget. Imagine a small shop that sells fishing items in a lake area. Its audience is much more restricted than a large e-commerce that delivers nationwide. This makes budget spending more contained.
Another positive point for small businesses, especially retailers, is the possibility of segmenting their audience more easily and avoiding budget waste by impacting people from other regions.
Attract The Most Qualified Shoppers
Suppose you only sell to the state of California. With a well-structured local SEO strategy, you prevent your marketing investment from attracting Arizona consumers interested in the same product from wasting time on your site without converting.
You can effectively increase your ROI by incorporating local SEO into your marketing strategy.
How Does Local SEO Differ From Traditional SEO For Brick-And-Mortar Stores?
Traditional SEO can reach any user, anywhere in the world, as long as they do an online search.
Local SEO helps highlight a business in local searches, specifically targeting the audience located near that business and the areas it serves.
You’ll attract more of the right consumers by using the right keywords, phrases, and intents that are customized to reach more people in your local area.
46% of all Google searches come from users seeking local information.
These local searches are usually for products, services, or businesses in a specific area.
For the most part, this consumer search is close to the time of conversion, as local searches are typically made at the bottom of the funnel.
Why Is SEO Important For Local Retailers & Who Should Invest?
Local SEO brings many advantages such as, but not limited to:
- Higher ranks in Google.
- Increased visits from a segmented audience with strong conversion potential.
- Increased awareness to attract new customers.
- Budget optimization.
When done right, local SEO allows people to find information about your business easily, putting them one step closer to a transaction.
This strategy enables companies to meet their ideal customers where they are — literally.
It’s a cost-effective, accurate way to attract consumers that might convert.
You should invest in local SEO if your goal is online sales to specific regions or operating a brick-and-mortar location.
Online Sales Of Products For Specific Regions
Although most e-commerce businesses currently deliver worldwide, there are some businesses that opt to only work in specific regions due to:
- Specificity of their products.
- Validity (food and beverages, for example).
- Having an audience that shares the same cultural and community values.
If this is your business type, local SEO is very important because you need to be very assertive with your strategies to ensure your expected ROI.
After all, any investment has a big impact on a small business’s cash flow, right? As local SEO is more targeted, it attracts the right audience without throwing away this investment.
In this case, your goal is to drive users from Google’s SERPs directly to your product pages where they can shop, especially on mobile devices where 56% of online consumers in the U.S. searched for local businesses.
Stores Operating Physically
If you own a physical location, local SEO is extremely important for you as well.
Over 74% of in-store shoppers searched for the closest store near them, in-stock items near them, hours, and directions before going to the store.
Your goal is to make sure you show up for these searches by leveraging local SEO techniques.
You should have a corporate website to concentrate all the information related to your company and its offerings. One page per product category will do the trick.
Additionally, you should consider using or updating your Google Business Profile, being sure to include:
- Your business’s address.
- Directions to your location.
- User ratings and comments.
How To Build Your Local SEO Retail Strategy
A local SEO strategy can have different facets, but these are the areas you’re most likely to focus on:
- Keyword research with local terms.
- Study of local behavior.
- Inclusion of local elements in the domain structure.
- Creating pages that meet the search intent.
- On-page optimization.
- Using Google Business Profile.
Let’s dive into the practical steps of creating a local SEO strategy for retail.
Step 1 – Be Clear About the Target Location
The first step in structuring your content strategy with local SEO in mind is to be clear about which location would be impacted.
76% of “near me” searches result in a physical store visit.
You want your business to show up in a “near me” search. That’s why your business’s location needs special attention.
Make a list of the locations where your business delivers. The whole city? A set of cities? Just a few neighborhoods? Which ones are they?
Use this list with the next steps.
Step 2 – Map The Products You Sell
The next step is to map all the items your store offers.
If you’re an ecommerce business, you’ve already completed this step. You will already have a list of pages for each item, so you can move on to the next step.
If you own a physical store, your next step is to transfer the items from your sales catalog to a spreadsheet and identify categories following these steps:
- Understand how your audience might want to bundle and buy items.
- Understand how your products fit into related groups, such as “snow coats” or “snowboard accessories.”
- Sort your products into categories you create from these related groups.
Let’s pretend you own a physical winter sports supply company. Because you don’t plan to sell products online, it wouldn’t be appropriate to create a page for each product, as buyers will purchase in a physical establishment.
Instead, you should create a page for the categories only, such as “snow coats” or “snowboard accessories,” and display your grouped products on those category pages.
Step 3 – Create Pages That Meet The “Location + Product” Search Intent
After compiling all of your product or category pages, you’ll need to make sure your new pages contain location information.
You can easily do this by using the “location + product” formula and adding the resulting phrase to your page.
- aspen snow coats
- woody creek snow boots
- colorado snow accessories store
These search intent examples show us that the user is very close to the moment of purchase and is effectively looking to buy these products in that region.
As a reminder, ecommerce stores should build or update their individual product-specific pages.
Physical stores, alternatively, should only develop overarching product category pages (boots, gloves, etc.), describing items within that group.
Step 4 – Carry Out Local On-Page Optimizations
Now, it’s time to apply on-page SEO. Just like in traditional SEO strategies, you’ll want to:
- Create SEO titles for all pages using the product name + business location.
- Put the keyword in the meta tags (H1, H2, etc.) when describing the product or company.
- Optimize the images (alt text, file name, etc.) considering target keywords.
- Write at least 300 words on each page, exploring key expressions naturally along the whole content.
- Create meta descriptions that hook the user’s attention and reinforce the business’s location.
After all, the essential difference between local SEO and traditional SEO strategies is the location-based search intent, in which users consider physical locations to make a purchase.
Step 5 – Optimize Your Entire Website
Once you’ve updated your product or category pages, it’s time to bring the rest of your website up to speed.
To help Google crawlers understand the localization of your pages, you should:
- Insert a Google Maps widget at the footer with your business’s location. If you only sell online, use your headquarter’s address.
- Create a page describing each store and its location.
- Use location-related terms in home page meta tags whenever possible.
- Create a blog with product and location-related tips.
Step 6 – Don’t Forget To Use Google Business Profile
Despite not being a true part of your website, Google Business Profiles are 100% integrated with your domain, and you should use it to generate traffic in businesses that operate physically.
Keep your Google Business Profile updated with the following information and optimize it for local searches:
- Opening hours.
- Store photographs.
- Contact phone number(s).
- Website link(s).
- Answers to comments and ratings.
How It All Comes Together — A Real Example From Rock Content
Rock Content is a global content leader and has more than 2,500 customers, with many in the U.S., Brazil, and Mexico, comprising big and small businesses.
To help you understand how an SEO strategy works for a local retailer, look at this example from a real small business. For contractual reasons, we can’t mention its name.
A traditional Brazilian fabric brand needed to reinvent itself to reach its audience online in Rio de Janeiro, one of the biggest cities in Brazil.
This company invested in local SEO and applied each step of the process described above and targeted relevant keywords.
They opened physical stores in the neighboring cities of Rio de Janeiro, Niterói, and Itaipava. On top of that, their online store delivered to the entire state.
The ecommerce business went through different optimizations. They updated all product descriptions to mention the cities where the store delivers its products. In addition, the store locations were included in the footer.
Some keywords used on the product pages were:
- silk rio de janeiro
- jacquard niteroi
- linen itaipava
Some examples of terms from the ecommerce homepage:
- fabric store rio de janeiro
- niteroi fabric store
- itaipava fabric store
Examples of planned content for the brand’s blog:
- 5 Interior Design Trends From Rio de Janeiro That You Can Expect
- Fabrics In Rio de Janeiro: Where To Find Good Stores?
- Fashion And Heat: Which Fabrics Work Best In Rio?
Now, you know how to nail a local SEO strategy in retail, so you can help your community in this “buy local” movement.
Get organized, document all items, and attract targeted customers anywhere your business operates. It’s up to you now!
This article was originally published in the Search Engine Journal ebook “Local SEO: The Complete Guide to Improve Your Local Search Rankings“. It’s an awesome read, download it right now!
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