Being a small local retailer can be tricky.
You're reliant on a local customer base, and it seems impossible to take on the Walmarts and Targets of the world face-to-face.
Luckily, you can find success without the multi-million dollar marketing budget of the big-box chains. The secret is with search engine optimization.
With retail SEO, a few cost-effective strategies can drive more digital traffic to your website and more foot traffic to your physical shop. Here's how to get started.
One of the most powerful tools for boosting retail SEO is surprisingly underutilized.
Only 44% of companies claim their Google My Business page. So what is a Google My Business page?
If you've ever done a Google search for a local business, you may have been presented with an information box to the right of the regular search results. It includes the business name, phone number, address, website, ratings, photos, and other tidbits of info.
This infobox is done through Google My Business. With GMB, you can claim your business page and fill out your listing with updated and accurate information about your store.
As you'd expect, setting up a business page directly on the world's largest search engine can bring great benefits to your search ranking.
It gives your business priority in making the cut for Google's "Local 3-Pack" of top nearby businesses. It also connects and streamlines with Google Maps to help people reach your brick-and-mortar location.
While GMB is the king of business pages, it's also not the only one. Bing and Yahoo have similar features, and there are many other online directories to join such as Yelp, Foursquare, and Yellowbook.
Claiming your business pages across the web will ensure your information is accurate and build more connections to your website.
Blogs and other forms of content have long been the go-to weapon for SEO experts.
When you think about how people search the web, the need for content makes a lot of sense. People head to Google when they have a question or a need. They aren't looking for a specific company -- they're looking for whoever can give them the information they need.
Content is the vessel in which you can deliver your knowledge and answer people's questions.
As such, content is the gateway for people to enter your site. Most people won't enter your website through your homepage. They'll come in through your blog posts and content pages which they find via search engines.
If you hook them, they'll navigate to other pages on your site and maybe even make a purchase.
More content means you're driving more people to your site, improving your brand awareness, and nailing down more sales both in-store and online.
If you were searching for information on a national news story, Google would be more likely to link to the New York Times or Washington Post than a small news blog run from somebody's basement.
Those publications are well-respected and traditionally seen as news authorities. That understood authority gives them ranking priority.
If you're only now starting your company blog, you might not have much authority in the eyes of the algorithm. But as you add more optimized content to your site, you highlight your own expertise and build credibility.
Posting high-quality work will boost the search bots' opinion of your brand, and you'll see your rankings climb higher.
Keywords are perhaps the most important part of your content. Any blog post should focus on at least one word or phrase that's intended to match what people are searching for online.
Although the algorithms are getting smarter at analyzing synonyms and the intent behind a searched term, writing matching keywords is still the most direct way to associate your post with a given topic.
Keywords are especially important for local retail SEO. You're able to connect to both your industry and location. Writing a blog post titled "How to Find Women's Accessories in Atlanta" will make what you sell and where you sell it pretty clear.
It's important, though, not to overstuff your keywords. Using the same phrase too often will get flagged as spammy and actually hurt your ranking.
For best results, try to use no more than 1 keyword per 100 words of copy. For example, a 1000-word post should use between 5 to 10 keywords.
Online reviews are incredibly influential in bringing your more traffic and sales.
91% of people at least occasionally read online reviews, and 84% trust reviews as if it were a friend making a recommendation.
On Google, Yelp, or any number of other company finders, businesses with lots of reviews - especially good ones - are going to take center stage.
When it comes to local retail SEO, it's vital that you're able to leverage online reviews to your advantage.
Lots of reviews show that you're getting a lot of business, which is reassuring to many shoppers. It also allows your customers to be brand advocates. Earned advocacy is 84% more impactful than traditional advertising.
Whether they're complimenting your fancy product packaging from Jansy or raving about your customer service, reviews can shine a great spotlight on your company.
Online reviews can help you show up on more results pages. Make sure you're asking customers to leave a review after they've made a purchase.
Mobile shopping is skyrocketing.
Almost half of all online retail traffic on Black Friday 2017 happened from a smartphone, an increase of 15% from the previous year.
Better browsing, streamlined payment options, and improved security make shopping on your phone easier than ever. Shoppers no longer need to pull out their laptop when finalizing a purchase.
It's clear that having a good mobile site is essential to securing more sales. But it's also a big requirement for good SEO.
For any retailer, an optimized mobile website must be a priority.
Small local retailers rely on SEO to earn traffic and beat their big-box competitors' massive advertising budgets.
Local retail SEO is both an art and a science. For more help on optimizing your online presence locally, check out our local search toolbox.
Search Engine Marketing Columnist
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