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Product Management Blog

An approach to local SEO for stores

(This post was previously posted in December 2011 as part of a SEO Advent Calendar series. It has since been amended and updated and reposted here for greater reach. To view the original post, please visit the LBi blog.

‘Location, Location, Location’ was once a popular show on Channel 4,  now stolen for describing the the importance of local SEO for physical store locations.

The online visibility of local stores is quite commonly extremely low on many digital marketing managers radars. In turn, it should in fact be key for many online /offline hybrid retailers whom operate brick and motor stores. Retail stores tend to lack the range of products their online counterparts do, with the web acting as a best of breed for everything within the retailer’s portfolio.

Approach local SEO for stores by thinking about location initially  then the the services or products that location actually offers. Loyal customers may just turn up at your store if the need for is time sensitive, or if they just prefer shopping in person. If information on the store is not available online, your customer may either struggle to find it, visit a closed store or even go elsewhere.

##A. Onsite promotion Shopping at the last minute is not an alien concept for many at Christmas. In the run up to Christmas, many people will be trawling the internet for details on local stores in a number of scenarios;

  • The standard delivery window for mail order has expired
  • They discover that only expensive ‘next day delivery’ options are available.
  • Risk of weather related delivery delays.

We can now begin to identify the journey from online to offline customer as being of vital importance as a revenue stream. Thus, make store locations and how to find them visible on site.

  • Promote from the homepage
  • Provide within your standard navigation, be it a footer or sub-navigation

##B. Individual Store Pages

  • Guidelines should be in place to ensure all individual store pages provide the most up to date information, so that as changes take place these can be reflected on site.
  • Where stores are individually operated or franchised with separate social profiles, think about what social feeds or real time updates you can pull into these pages.
  • Customer reviews of that location will be common online, something you wish to include?
  • Use easy to remember URL’s.
  • Want to take it up a notch? Promote the store landing page from within each location - it may well help create a loyalty aspect that not many other online retailers can match.

##C. 3rd Party Location Platforms Offsite promotion plays the most important part. Location based platforms such as Google+ Local, Here Places (Nokia), Bing Places and Yelp will transform traffic to location pages in many instances.

  • Be organised and maintain a list of your locations
  • Claim listings currently out there and close / amend where required
  • Build upon this and add new listings, alongside new information as appropriate
  • Use link tracking and PROVE it works!

Identifying, documenting and maintaining profiles and information contained on 3rd party websites ensures customers do not end up at stores that do not exist, or have since moved after the information was made available. These 3rd party profiles can all be closely integrated with any associated store pages on the 1st party site.

##TLDR;

Ensure you’re ready for Christmas, update your store pages to truly reflect their offering, promote them on site so they become a viable option for customers AND FINALLY ensure all 3rd party profiles and store details are also up to date. Not everything is this post might be applicable, however throwing some ideas can be the beginnings of a great thing!

Merry Christmas!