There is an ongoing misconception that search engine optimization (SEO) is primarily a concern for digitally-based businesses—that brick and mortar stores don’t have the same need to establish search engine visibility. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Even if your company doesn’t conduct transactions online, consumers use search engines to find local companies—and if your business isn’t present in local searches, you’ll miss out on significant foot traffic.
This begs the question: What can companies do to focus on localized SEO, bringing actual bodies into their brick and mortar locations? In this post, we’ll offer some proven strategies.
Optimize Your Title and Meta Description
For every page of your company website, you need a title and a meta description that highlight some of the specific values of your brand, and persuade potential consumers to explore your site further.
Remember: The title and meta description are what Google search engine users will see, the first impressions they have of your site and of your business. If you title your home page “Home,” that’s all that will show up on the search results page. Not very compelling, is it?
Ensure Consistent NAP
NAP stands for name, address, and phone number. This is the basic contact information you should include throughout your website, as it’s one of the key factors Google will use to determine local search standing.
It’s critical not only that you include this information throughout your site, but that you do so consistently. This consistency should spread to any other online mentions or citations you have: NAP information should be stated in exactly the same way, all the time. Don’t call yourself Al’s Pancake House in one place, and Al’s Pancakes somewhere else. Likewise, don’t state your address as 1234 Main Street here, and 1234 Main St. there. This seems very minor, but even a slight inconsistency can have an adverse SEO effect.
Earn Local Citations
A key to localized SEO is earning citations from other, localized publications. Ideally, these citations will include your NAP as well as your website link, though a simple website link can also be useful.
There are many opportunities to get citations—in industry-specific directories, local Chamber of Commerce pages, small business guild, and more. This is one of the great overlooked SEO tools, and it’s something enCOMPASS can help with; contact us directly to learn more about citation services.
Start a Google My Business Account
Speaking of getting citations in online directories, one of the easiest ways to do so is to start a Google My Business page. It’s free, and it’s Google-backed, which means the SEO value should be pretty clear.
Make sure you keep your Google My Business page up to date with your current hours of operation. Remember consistency with your NAP information. And finally, use good, high-quality images to really make your page look attractive.
One more note: Bing Places for Business—basically a Bing cognate for Google My Business—is also worth signing up for. People do use Bing!
Google likes to see social proof—real evidence that actual consumers use and like your business. This means getting online reviews from sites like Yelp and Facebook, but especially reviews on Google itself.
There are different ways to gain positive reviews. One recommendation is to email your best, most loyal customers and ask them frankly to provide you with a quick, five-star review. Including a link to your Google review profile on invoices and receipts can be smart, too—or better yet, include that review link on your website itself.
Seek Local Press Coverage
This is another valuable form of online citation. It helps your cause when you can get local newspapers, magazines, or bloggers to cite your company—but how? Being involved in the community is crucial. Have an appearance at local fundraisers, festivals, and public events.
Something else to consider is distributing press releases. This is especially valuable if your company actually has something newsworthy to report—for example, a charitable donation or fundraising drive. This kind of buzz from the local press can enhance your SEO in a big way.
Give People a Reason to Stay on Your Site
Getting people to visit your site is essential for SEO, but getting them to stay there is just as critical. To do this, of course, you’ll need some kind of value-adding content to capture their attention.
A couple of ways to do this are blogging and video. A regularly updated business blog can establish thought leadership, and provide a reason for users to become repeat site visitors. Embedded YouTube videos can also be effective for capturing attention and keeping people on your page.
Practice Internal Linking
While links and citations from third parties can be powerful, your own internal linking also has merit. You don’t want to go overboard, but, when you have an opportunity to link from one page of your site to a separate but relevant page, do so. Create opportunities for visitors to explore your site thoroughly.
Remember That SEO Doesn’t Work in a Vacuum
While these local search engine optimization strategies can all get results, SEO isn’t as effective when it’s done in a silo. Ideally, you’ll do SEO as part of a broader, integrative marketing approach.
One specific note is that paid ads, including AdWords, can augment your organic SEO efforts and help you to claim more real estate on the search engine results page. Consider how you can use SEO and PPC in tandem with one another.
Establish Local Visibility for Your Brick and Mortar Store
Your brick and mortar stores needs to be discoverable to the locals—and that means having a presence on localized Google searches. To make that happen, we’d encourage you to implement a robust online marketing strategy, with local SEO at its core. We’d love to help you with it, too. Reach out to the team at enCOMPASS to learn more about what we can do.
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