3 Tips to Improve Local SEO Efforts
When it comes to local search, what do retailers need to do to get ahead in 2019? We surveyed 1,400-plus local business owners and marketers in our State of Local SEO Industry Report, an industrywide temperature check to determine what real local marketers are experiencing in the digital world. Today we’re highlighting three key strategies uncovered within the report that retailers should implement to be competitive in 2019.
Google is Retail’s New Homepage
A majority of respondents agree that Google meets many of your potential customers’ needs right within the search giant's own interface, often removing the need to visit websites. After all, why navigate to a Contacts page when you can see store hours right beneath your search bar? Because of this, retailers should fully utilize the Google My Business dashboard so that they can fill out the information that consumers will encounter in the Google Business Profile, local rankings, and maps rankings.
You can enter your basic contact data, hours of operation, photos, videos, a description, Google Posts, Google Questions and Answers, Google’s real-time inventory feature called See What’s In Store, and more. Edit incorrect information and provide everything a consumer might need when making plans to visit a retail location.
Every Retailer Should Operate a Website
Don’t make the mistake of thinking your retail business doesn’t need a website anymore just because Google is being called the new “homepage.” Sixty-five percent of respondents agree that the organic rankings you earn strongly correlate with your local rankings, and the only way to gather organic strength is via your website.
Keep investing in a user-friendly website with excellent content and relevant links. Note, too, that your website is one area in which you’ll never have to pay Google a commission, and that’s good to remember as Google continues to increase its monetization of many kinds of search engine results.
Retail Reviews Rule the Day
The overwhelming majority of respondents are convinced that the various aspects of Google-based reviews impact local rankings. These include ratings, quality, sentiment, the presence of keywords, and recency. Every competitive retailer must have a strategy for acquiring, responding to and analyzing Google reviews to enjoy the ranking benefits they can provide.
However, the role of reviews runs deeper than rankings. Google recently stated that 27 percent of local searches actually have the intent of finding reviews of a particular store. Shoppers rely on reviews to help them choose the best possible retailers, and what they read in your body of reviews clues them into how they can expect to be treated at your store. Because of this, every competitive retail brand must put significant investment into staff hiring and training practices that result in positive consumer experiences. Complaint resolution strategies (both in-store and via online owner responses to reviews) are literally worth their weight in gold.
An Extra Tip for Bonus Consumer Credit
If you pay attention to consumer surveys and industry news, you’ll notice that over the past year there’s been a growing expectation that brands should stand for more than just revenues. Nike’s stock soared as result of its highly aware campaign featuring Colin Kaepernick, while cultural insensitivity in an offensive ad cost Dolce & Gabbana millions when it had to cancel a runway show.
For retailers in 2019, success depends on the ability to put the needs, feelings and ethics of customers at the core of every campaign. Catering to your customers’ needs and going the extra mile to contribute to the common good will yield significant rewards in terms of reputation, rankings and revenue. But more than this, retailers can take real pride knowing that the brand loyalty they’ve earned is the result of a dedication to service — retail’s reason for being. When serving your customer is the heart of your strategy, the outlook for 2019 is rosy indeed.
Miriam Ellis is a local search marketer associate at Moz, an SEO software and community platform.