Do you run a local retail outlet in addition to your online store? If yes, how to reach your local audience online? You should be aiming for getting your business on top of Google SERP for location-based search queries. Thinking how’d Google rank your store higher in search results? It’s here where local Search Engine Optimization (local SEO) comes into action. 

Are you an online business owner having no physical address? And confused whether you’d be able to take advantage of local SEO? The answer is YES! In accordance with your industry and target audience, localizing your online business would help increase your visibility on search engines.

So now you’d want to know what local SEO is and how it impacts your business. Let’s find it all here.

Local SEO – To boost your local search rankings

I shall help you understand with a simple instance. Just assume that I am a bookstore owner, running an online book shop along with a local outlet. Also imagine yourself in the shoes of a customer desiring to purchase a particular book. And you’re least interested in buying an ebook. You’d rather prefer traditional print books. 

You could buy it online. But you don’t want to go for it because you wouldn’t want to wait for a couple of days to get it delivered. So, how’d you make the purchase? You’d just grab your phone and ask Google to help you find the “bookstore nearby..” or “bookshop near me..” or simply “bookstore”. And immediately, Google generates the results showing all book sellers within your vicinity. This is what you call local search results.

From these results, you would be able to easily identify the nearest bookstores, their exact location, customer ratings/reviews, days/hours of operation, contact details, and other specifications. And this makes your purchase a breeze!

Now, coming back to you. Instead of a bookstore, let yours be a medical store, a boutique shop, an interior decor store, a spare part shop, or whatever else. Thinking how’d Google fetch the details of your store information and show it to the searchers?

Solution: You’d have to set up local SEO for your online store. All you have to do is ensure your website meets the standards of local SEO to its best. Local SEO helps search engines crawl and index the fundamental data about your business such as its name, address, phone number, and time of operation. And thus you’d be able to have your store listed in the Google SERP for a location-specific search query. 

The State of Global and Middle East E-Governance – Statistics and Trends

Infographic by – GO-Gulf

How to optimize your online store for local SEO?

Selling products locally and optimizing local SEO can boost your sales significantly. By optimizing local SEO for your online store, search engines give more accurate and meaningful information to the local searchers. When your business becomes more visible in search results, you can easily attract potential customers. 

The following tips help you optimize your business to reach the target audience who performs local search to find the products and services they’re interested in.

1. Create and optimize your “Google My Business” listing

If you want to make your online store more discoverable to local users, you shouldn’t miss setting up Google My Business or claiming your GMB listing. GMB is a free, easy-to-use tool that helps you increase your online presence so that you could easily draw consumers’ attention to you. Therefore, “Google My Business” is a real boon for upcoming small/medium local businesses. 

By configuring Google My Business, you can feed the details of your online store into Google’s database right away. As a result, your target shoppers could be able to instantly find your website details, contact address/phone number, hours of operation, photos, reviews and more.

GMB enables your business to be listed in maps and local pack listings. Google’s local pack displays a list of businesses based on the location-specific queries of the searchers. Apart from the name of the business, these listings include information such as its address, phone number, customer ratings etc. If your business gets listed in the local pack, it means you are likely to get more clicks. 

Local search result

If you’re new to Google My Business, you need to sign up and fill in all the required information about your business, and verify your business profile to confirm your authenticity. And the process is not complete yet. In order to unleash the benefits of GMB for local SEO, you should optimize your listing to the maximum extent possible. 

Here’re some tips to optimize your GMB listing, thereby helping your business show up in the local pack of search results.

  • Represent your business name accurately.
  • Ensure your address is valid and complete.
  • Provide the phone number that connects to your individual business location.
  • Include the link to your website that is owned and managed by you.
  • Make sure your hours of operation is exact.
  • Set categories for your business to help customers get specific search results.
  • Upload relevant business-related photos and a high quality brand logo image.
  • Set up a street view for your business.
  • Create posts using GMB to highlight your offers, events, products, and services.
  • Request your customers to leave reviews.
  • Make quick responses to the questions from your visitors.
  • Add your payment methods.

2. Focus on local citations

Any reference of the name, address, and phone number of your local business on the web can be termed as a local citation.

Citations are vital for local SEO because they play a significant role in expanding the local visibility for your business. 

When your business information is listed in trusted online directories, local media outlets, regional magazines, or any other local publications, Google considers you as popular in your area.

The quality and quantity of the online business directories can also influence your local rankings. The web directories like Yelp, Whitepages, YellowPages, Manta tend to consistently rank higher in local searches. So getting your online store cited across these directories creates new opportunities to drive more local traffic to your business.

3. Ensure your NAP data is consistent throughout the internet

NAP refers to Name, Address, and Phone number. In addition to your NAP listed in “Google My Business”, you’d have it listed in every page on your website, various online directories and some other social media profiles. Hence, you need to ensure the consistency of your NAP data not only in GMB, but also across all other citation sources.

While placing NAP in your website, you should make sure that it is not included within an image alone. The images cannot be crawled from search engines like HTML text. The most preferable location to place your NAP information is the header or footer of your website.

4. Implement on-page optimization

Basic keyword research is an important aspect that influences your local rankings. To achieve higher local visibility on Google, you need to optimize your pages for regional keywords. 

Every time you create a piece of content, you need to optimize it for search engines by using high-volume keywords in your URLs, title tags, headline tags, meta descriptions, image tags, and within your website content.

While selecting keywords, you should consider their search volume and ensure they are related to your products or services. In order to find the search volume data of a keyword, you could make use of the intuitive SEO tools such as SEM Rush, Moz Keyword Explorer, and Google Keyword Planner.

You could use keyword modifiers that people might use in their searches. Keyword modifiers are those words or phrases used to modify your main keyword so as to generate a more specific long tail keyword (Eg:- Best bookstore; Here, “Best” indicates the modifier whereas “bookstore” is the core keyword). 

When you want to optimize your website for local SEO, you must ensure to place the location-based keywords (Eg:- Best bookstore in London) in the titles, headers, main content, image tags, and meta descriptions of your web pages. This increases your local visibility considerably.

5. Create guest posts more often

Guest posting/blogging is a powerful strategy to improve your local SEO. It lets you connect with more local audiences. Guest blogging could pave the way for featuring your business in local search results, thereby increasing your exposure. It increases your social media presence and also helps drive more quality traffic to your e-commerce store. Therefore, building blog posts on local community websites is an important factor to consider if you really want to boost your local SEO.

6. Produce local content

If you’re running a local e-commerce store, most of your target audience would be from the same location of your store. So creating geographically relevant content keeps your local consumers engaged with your business.

For instance, if you own a bookstore in Buckingham, you could write a blog post entitled “Top 5 bookstores in Buckingham”, as this will help you reach potential consumers in Buckingham who are interested in buying books.

When you specify directions on your website to enable customers to visit your regional store, make sure that you incorporate popular or important landmarks within your content. This gives search engines a better understanding of your store location. You’d also include information about the local events on your website that are relevant to your business, as this will enhance your local visibility.

7. Optimize your online store for mobile searchers

Currently, most of the mobile searches are location-based and a huge volume of search queries result in store visits. Consumers generally use your website or store in a mobile environment to find your contact information, look up directions to your location, and see the ratings or reviews posted by fellow customers.

“Mobile Will Influence $1.4 Trillion In Offline Sales By 2021” 

Forrester

Therefore, you should ensure your website is highly responsive and mobile-friendly. On your mobile website, you would preferably use large-sized fonts or buttons, remove unnecessary form fields, verify the proper working of all the web page elements, and better remove all the annoying ads and popups.

8. Promote customer feedbacks and testimonials

Potential customers often make purchasing decisions only after conducting a detailed research based on their desired products or services. They might want to know the opinions and experiences about your business from your previous customers. So always encourage your customers to leave reviews, as it is a wonderful tactic to build business credibility online. 

You could also create online surveys or questionnaires that can be sent to your customers who’ve made a purchase from you. Thereafter, you’d publish case studies and testimonials based on the data that you’ve collected from your consumers.

Customer reviews and feedback impact your local search rankings tremendously. These reviews can also convince new customers to visit your store. If your online store gets lots of excellent customer reviews, you’d have more chances to secure a high position in Google.

9. Use local SEO tools

There are various SEO tools that improve your local search rankings. With SEO tools, you could manage, track, and optimize your local SEO efforts. 

Moz Local is one of the best and most popular local SEO tools available out there. “Moz Local” is an automated listing management tool that monitors your regional data to optimize performance in local search.With Moz Local, you could enhance the local visibility of your online store and make sure that your business listings are accurate and consistent across the web. 

You’d also like to see some other powerful local SEO tools such as BrightLocal, Listing Management Tool by SEMrush, and Whitespark

Final words

Did you know what happens when you extend your business services locally? The competition gets confined to a specific region, which means you don’t have to compete with the whole world. This simply indicates that a business with local intent has every chance of success. 

If you own an e-commerce business, you should necessarily optimize it for local SEO so that you’d be able to achieve a top position among the hundreds of billions of local search results. 

With a well-optimized local SEO strategy, you could increase your local presence, improve keyword rankings, show up higher in the search engine result pages, thereby placing your business in the eyes and minds of a large group of local audience.

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