With global purchasing habits irrevocably altered throughout the course of the pandemic, more and more retailers have turned to omnichannel marketing with a particular focus on digital. Studies have found that 97% of consumers use search engines to find local businesses, showing the importance of local SEO. It’s never been so important to have your business be accessible, both online and in person. Local SEO strategy covers not only the top organic search results, but also “pack” results that appear above organic search for localized searches.
These search results appear above the top organic searches and include local businesses based on the search query. They also show up as pins on the map function and include business-specific details such as address, business hours, and contact information. The main factors to keep in mind when optimizing your pack results include:
- Your GMB (Google My Business) rating
- Verified location/business information
- Responses to online reviews of your company and engagement with your target audience
- Photos of the store/products for the listing
Local SEO Organic Search
In terms of local SEO strategy for organic, there are three main components that Google considers when determining your ranking: relevance, prominence, and proximity.
The first major tactic to improve your local SEO strategy concerns relevance. This relates to your content and how useful it is, and is similar to global SEO. Ensuring high quality content should always be the cornerstone of your online strategy, where the key differentiators between local and global/national SEO include targeting local and region-specific keywords. Additionally, ensuring that your business is listed in the correct local directories and has links to other local sites will help boost online visibility and relevance.
Being more prominent than your competitors is a key component of improving local SEO strategy. This helps the Google algorithm find and index your site, as well as deem the content trustworthy. A few key tactics that can help with business prominence include reviews on third-party sites (Google, Facebook, etc.), having a verified, active profile, and building backlinks from local/region-specific sites. The most important of these factors are the reviewers, with 41% of shoppers citing positive reviews as a key differentiator for their purchasing habits, as shown in this study by Shopify.
The final metric to consider for the algorithm and arguably the most important differentiator for local SEO strategy is proximity. Many retailers struggle to compete with the likes of Amazon and other global organisations, and 89% of retailers believe their biggest direct competitors come from online. Identifying customers who want to search for local businesses has never been more important. There are two main variants on standard searches that end customers use in order to find local results: geo-modified searches and “near me” searches. Optimizing your content to account for these types of searches should lead to a corresponding rise in your local SEO performance. Geo-modified searches include the location, city, or region. The “near me” searches help identify customers who want to find a particular good/service in their immediate vicinity and, as such, is a key metric of local SEO.
In order to maximize the value of the above methods to improve local SEO, all of this work must be underpinned by excellent keyword research. We’ve written a more in-depth article here (include link to the keyword research article Brian wrote) about the importance of keywords for search. This is even more important for local SEO, as large enterprise retailers tend to focus on top-level keywords. Consequentially, there is less focus on local SEO terms, which represent a less competitive area (and a more cost-effective one) that smaller retailers can capitalize on to maximize their digital footprint.
If you’re interested in learning how TPT Digital can support your business and improve your local SEO, please contact us for a no-obligation chat to discuss your options.