Having an online presence is extremely important for any business, but it is especially important for small businesses. One way to increase your online presence, grow footfall and stand out in your geographical area is to optimise your website using local Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) techniques. In this blog we discuss what is local SEO, how it works, the techniques involved and how it can increase footfall in your retail store as a result.
What is Local SEO
Local SEO, also known as local search engine marketing, is the way to increase your online visibility for local customers who are searching in your geographical area for goods and services. Ultimately this leads to getting more customers through the door of your retail shop.
Local SEO uses a wide variety of methods and strategies to get your retail business seen. These techniques are ultimately used to make your business’s details appear when someone googles, for example, “Businesses near me”.
The importance of local SEO and how it works
46% of all Google searches are seeking local information, meaning they are looking for goods and services in their surrounding area. What’s more, 78% of location-based mobile searches result in an offline purchase. The importance of Local SEO cannot be underestimated. The fact is, anyone can google generic phrases or how-to questions like ‘how to fix a car’, but searches like ‘mechanics near me’ or ‘best mechanics in London’ have much more search intent to purchase, which makes them much more valuable to brick-and-mortar businesses.
Based on these searches, search engines will recognise that the user is looking for business suggestions or products and services on offer close to their location, so will generate the most suitable results nearby.
Google uses three principles to present the best search results, which are:
- Relevance – how relevant the local listings are to what is being searched for
- Distance – the distance between the individual searching and a business’s location
- Prominence – how well known your business is; this includes Google reviews and your online presence
Why use Local SEO?
Most local SEO techniques are free to use. Google My Business, Bing Places for Business and hundreds of online directories are free. This makes it extremely cost effective for your retail business!
Local SEO also provides the opportunity for a great return on investment for your business, particularly the time you spend optimising your listings and website. Other forms of local marketing such as direct mail and leaflets can be costly and hard to track due to the small amount of attention they grab, but when it comes to local SEO there is little wasted exposure, making this method much more cost effective.
Having a Google My Business page
These are generated in local Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs). Here is an example of what is shown when ‘butchers in Birmingham’’ are searched for.
You’ll notice that all these results that appear in what’s called a ‘local pack’, are generated from Google My Business results. Learn how to set up a Google My Business page here.
This profile encourages customers to make contact with your business, including in person. This increases footfall in your local retail business.
Having a strong, up-to-date Google My Business profile helps customers find important information such as your opening hours, pictures and contact details, as well as reviews. However, this is just one aspect that goes hand in hand with other local SEO techniques.
Image source: Google
Having your NAPW in Listings
Okay, first let’s understand what NAPW is. It’s nothing complex and simply stands for Name, Address, Phone number and Website URL but it is vital if a business wishes to rank well in local search results. Search engines like Google take these details into account, so it’s important they’re accurate and consistent across the web.
Start by ensuring the details on your website and Google My Business listing are accurate. If these details change at any time, like your address or phone number, it is important to update them as soon as possible.
Next, make sure these details are listed consistently on other websites. This suggests to search engines that the business is legitimate, and therefore more likely to rank well and appear in local results.
Where can I list my NAPW details?
As well as your own website, social media pages and Google My Business account, you can list your details on reputable directories. These include local directories as well as Yell, FourSquare and industry-related websites. For example, you may wish to join a retailers’ directory or, if you have a cake shop, join a cake shop directory. These can be found easily by searching online.
Put simply, if your details are not listed on these websites, you will lose visibility in local search other local businesses that do have them listed.
More importantly, if these details appear across multiple sites, they need to be identical (or near enough). Consistency is key to appearing in search locally and will also help your customers find you, which in turn will increase footfall in your shop.
Website localisation means that your city and location need to be mentioned frequently across your website (provided you have one). These mentions must appear naturally on your website and will help your chances of appearing when users search for a related service or product in your area.
What If I have multiple business locations?
If your business has more than one location across different areas, it will be worth creating separate pages on your website dedicated to these locations. This will increase the likelihood of your website appearing for your locations successfully.
Another way to do this is by becoming involved in local community events in your area and mentioning these as blog posts on your site. This will help with brand recognition and awareness, and therefore help to increase footfall to your business.
Getting relevant, quality backlinks
Gaining quality backlinks is an important part of getting your website listed successfully. Backlinks are simply links from other websites which point to yours.
Local SEO can benefit hugely from relevant backlinks, especially from local sites. For example, if your town has a website noticeboard that would be willing to link to your site, or a local online newspaper, it can be very helpful.
Backlinks will help your local position in search engine results when users type in queries related to your products in your area.
It is important however, that whilst you encourage these links, you don’t force them. Links should be built naturally from your personal relationships, such as sponsoring local sports teams, attending local events and featuring in local news.
Types of backlinks that benefit local SEO
There are several different types of local backlinks that will be beneficial to you:
Organisation backlinks – When helping out other local businesses or charities, they’re bound to have a website. If they’re local this could really help your link relevance and authority in your area.
You can gain links by contributing to their website if they publish news or blog pages. You could also provide services or sponsorship in exchange for an affiliate link. Even having your company listed as a sponsor on the site would be useful.
However, it needs to be said that carrying out community work for professional gain is not the intention of this exercise. If you already have a presence in your local community (which as a business you should do!) this can be a valuable way to get noticed online and as a result increase footfall in your retail store.
PR backlinks – If you’re a local business owner and the local newspaper are looking for commentary on an issue or running a news story that features your business, get involved and offer to help in exchange for a link to your website. You can ask journalists to provide a link once published.
How These Local SEO Techniques Increase Footfall to your Business
Rather than looking in the phonebook for details, more and more customers are turning online to look for local businesses. That’s where local SEO strategies are extremely useful.
Using local SEO allows you to promote your business and place it in the best position to be noticed by customers. As a result, you’ll have an increase in customers coming through the door who were looking for your kind of business online.
Want to take your digital marketing further?
Implementing local SEO techniques to increase footfall to your store is a great way to attract new business, but it isn’t the only digital marketing you can do. If you’re a small business looking for support and tools to help take your online presence to the next level, you’ve come to the right place.
Stronger Business, Stronger Future
At The Retail Mutual, we have launched our “Stronger Business, Stronger Future” campaign to help independent businesses utilise digital marketing to attract more customers and increase on and offline sales. But, even if you do have an online presence, are you making the most of it? What are you doing to encourage customers into your business? Is your business in the best shape it can be?
We have teamed up with Wonderful Creative Agency to create an in-depth marketing promotion guide. The purpose of this guide is to help business owners (like you) get the most out of your digital marketing to attract more customers and increase your on and offline sales.
This guide includes information about:
- SEO – How to improve your website so that it has a better chance of being found online
- Google My Business – A free way for your local community to find your business online
- Social Media – How to make the most of social media for your business
- Paid search – What it is and how can paid search work for your business
- Paid social – How advertising on social media can help you find new customers
- Video – Use video to promote your business and engage your customers
- eCommerce – How to use your website to sell your products
- Reporting and monitoring – Find out if your marketing is working from measuring data
- Bringing offline, online – Use traditional marketing to drive online sales