Recent research on search trends cannot be ignored. SEO has changed dramatically in the past two years due to the increased prevalence of mobile search and preferential search rankings given to local storefronts. It is crucial that business owners align internet marketing strategies with trends in local search to maximize returns. Many business owners miss meaningful opportunities to dominate their stakes in respective local markets. It is recommended that business owners consolidate local SEO efforts for optimal results. There are numerous benefits to shifting strategies when gaining visibility and driving ROI. Internet access is at the fingertips of smartphone owners at almost all times. Instead of worrying about new trends in technology and consumer behavior, capitalize on them.
Statistics on Search and Local Commerce
BIA and Kelsey reported 97% of consumers use online media when engaging in local commerce. Multiple studies suggest that online search is increasingly connected to local commerce. There has been a major paradigm shift in internet marketing and local business marketing in the past five years. There is also overwhelming evidence that today’s consumer is likely to involve online search in the decision making process before completing a transaction at a local establishment.
Furthermore, recent research published in the 5th Annual 15miles/LocalEze Local Search Usage Study (2012) suggests that consumers prefer local search results compared to organic search results or paid search results. The study reported that 61% of online searchers reported local search results to have increased relevancy, and over half of searchers (58%) reported that they considered local search results to be more trustworthy. 90% of online searchers reported that paid search results were the least relevant and trustworthy.
Many large B2C enterprises currently separate online marketing efforts from individual storefronts. However, segregating marketing efforts from individual storefronts might result in lost profits in addition to lost opportunities when gaining visibility in local markets. In other words, creating a standardized method in which all storefronts that belong to a single enterprise are included in a single SEO campaign can realistically drive ROI while dominating multiple local markets simultaneously.
How to Capitalize on Multiple Storefronts
Creating a strategy to optimize local leverage for internet marketing campaigns might be more straightforward than the process initially sounds. Rather than developing a complex and unique strategy for fully utilizing revenue growth opportunities at multiple locations, it is recommended that large enterprises initially apply best business practices to each individual storefront.
Analyze Individualized Market Opportunities in All Geographic Locations
Identifying and analyzing all local market opportunities can require ample time. However, periodic reassessment of local storefront success is integral to the overall success of a brand. Engage in best practice by following several simple steps listed below:
- Identify all regions in which storefronts currently are operational.
- Conduct keyword research to find the top five most effective topics or keywords for each storefront.
- Estimate anticipated search volume and conversion rates (in-store or online).
- Estimate the amount of market share for each storefront.
- Determine the average order value for each storefront.
- Multiply the estimated market share by the estimated order value to set a benchmark for estimated total market opportunity.
- Troubleshoot the number of storefronts that are hyper-local and do not have first page rankings for each of the five topics or keywords.
- Account for market area and individual storefronts that are not currently optimized for local search. Estimate the amount of lost profits due to storefronts and corresponding market areas that are not currently accounted for.
Market area and storefronts that are not accounted for can be conceptualized as market opportunity and revenue essentially left on the table. It is crucial to recognize that open market space might not remain open. Local competitors often capitalize on local marketplaces before others are given the same opportunity.
Ensure Information is Consistent and Accurate
Information for online business should remain consistent across different locations. It is important to start the habit of correcting any inaccurate online citations, which include contact information, location, store hours, etc. Create necessary data for optimized business listings on all major search engines. Instead of focusing exclusively on Google, Bing, or Yahoo, focus on best practice first. Ensure that information for all storefronts is correct and consistent across all online platforms. Update individual social media sites for business in addition to local business listing services. Consistently and accuracy can improve local SEO efforts and improve market share. In addition, dissemination of consistent and accurate information is best practice for storefronts in general, online or offline.
Publish and Distribute: Get Relevant Information Online and Optimize IYPs
Different search methods use information to increase relevancy in local search. Publish data that includes geographic location in the form of a street address and hyper-local data (e.g. a specific neighborhood within a larger city). Different types of relevant data that include store hours (holiday hours, regular hours, etc.) and maps can all boost local SEO efforts. Fee-based information services such as LocalEze, InfoGroup, and Acxiom can further standardize local SEO procedures for enterprises with multiple storefronts.
In addition, publish different types of relevant media. Have clear pictures of each storefront, and add information that is unique to each storefront. Take easy measures to publish different types of highly relevant data which can be used to further establish individual local storefronts as major players in specific geographic areas.
Standardization is Crucial for Sustainable Success
New trends in local search can be used twofold. First, individual storefronts can use leverage to optimize general SEO strategies. Second, local search for individual storefronts can help enterprises dominate local marketplaces. It is important to think in terms of “hybrid” consumer behavior. Consumers currently use online search data when making local purchases. Consumers prefer local search results, and consumers use online resources in the decision-making process. The online world is at every smartphone owner’s fingertips. Instead of worrying about substantial change, use it to drive returns and dominate untapped local markets. Standardize the process for local SEO while engaging in general best practices for business (e.g. ensure all citations are correct). Look at recent data. Look at anecdotal evidence. Look at new and better ways to connect with the right audience and maximize ROI.