Best Practices for Improving Search Visibility and Driving Online-to-Offline Retail Traffic
A brand’s visibility in local search results is the foundation on which all other marketing efforts are built. After all, consumers can’t convert if brands don't have an online presence. Appearing in organic search results is key, but there’s another important piece of online real estate just as worthy of attention — Google’s Map Pack results.
In today’s digital economy, consumers are performing on-the-go mobile searches to find immediate solutions to their needs at exponential rates. When tasked with a query, Google uses the searcher’s location (among many other signals) to return what it believes to be the most relevant, reputable results nearby. Consumers can then see store hours, read customer reviews, scan photos, click to call a business or receive instant directions. Map Pack results are increasingly converting online searches to in-store visitors without any brand interaction at all — at least not the type measured with traditional web analytics. In fact, Rio SEO experts have found that only one in 60 local searches result in a clickthrough to a website.
The best way to drive performance improvements and online-to-offline traffic is to optimize brands’ websites for both organic and local search results. For organic search, Google needs to be able to understand a site’s content and how it relates to the query at hand. Rankings are driven by traditional search engine optimization best practices, including the use of structured data, an optimized website structure, and logical crawl paths. Google then looks at quality and engagement signals in an effort to choose the "best" answer for each individual query.
As for organic SEO, there are a few key areas of focus to move the needle in Map Pack rankings. First, verify the brand has clean, consistent data across all locations to build and keep search engine trust, as well as enhance the consumer experience. Then, implement a local listings management tool to eliminate duplicate listings, quickly correct errors, and flag listings issues that need manual intervention to further ensure the correct information proliferates. The more places a retailer's store location information can be found, the greater confidence search engines have in that business, which results in improved local rankings.
Furthermore, reputation management has become increasingly important for a brand’s local presence and search rankings. In fact, 72 percent of consumers will not take action, complete a purchase or visit a store until they have read reviews. In addition to consumers, Google reviews are equally as important for local ranking signals. As a best practice, Rio SEO recommends implementing and promoting a proactive consumer reviews strategy to empower local managers to actively seek out and engage with their customers in real time. Without a constant influx of positive customer feedback, a brand’s location won't appear in the Google Map Pack as often as it would like, if at all.
For retailers, the ability to appear in local search results with a compelling, engaging presence that converts to in-store traffic is crucial. Is your brand keeping pace with consumer behavior and optimizing for both organic and local search? See below resources for additional tips and best practices for how to get started.
- How to apply organic SEO best practices to influence Map Pack results.
- Learn about Google My Business’s recent changes to its platform.
Brian Smith is the director of data partnerships and local strategy at Rio SEO, the leading local marketing platform for enterprise brands, agencies, and retailers.
Brian Smith is the director of data partnerships and local strategy at Rio SEO, the leading local marketing platform for enterprise brands, agencies, and retailers. In this role, Smith works with community partners to expand localized product and service offerings to meet the growing digital needs of clients. Smith brings more than 16 years of digital strategy experience to Rio SEO, specializing in paid and natural search optimization, conversion and attribution modeling, web design and development, as well as research design and measuring ROI.