Local SEO Optimizations vs. Organic SEO: What’s Better for Your Business?
As businesses look to an entirely new set of strategies to guide them through re-opening, one thing remains clear: local SEO will be the key driving force behind maximizing in-store traffic in this time. The consequences from the pandemic have created new behaviors among consumers, with an astounding 50% increase in internet traffic as people continue to spend more time online.
This increase in time spent online led to an additional spike in online purchases, highlighting that consumers still had strong buyer intent prior to reopening. As more and more businesses reopen, online search traffic will begin to shift back to local intent, which has risen dramatically over the last few years:
- Mobile queries for “Where to buy” + “near me” have grown by over 200% in the past two years.
- Searches for “shopping near me” have grown over 200% in the past two years.
- Restaurant and food-related searches like “restaurants,” “restaurants near me,” and “food near me” commonly appear in the top 20 searches for many retailers.
If businesses want to capture purchase-ready consumers with local intent, they need to leverage local SEO to attract today’s consumers who are using the internet now more than ever.
Bring Customers from Online to In-Store with Local SEO
Listings – U.S. businesses made 3.2 times the average number of updates to their listings during the first month of COVID-19. With so many changes in hourly services, temporary closures, and more, the last thing consumers want is inaccurate business information that could potentially lead them in the wrong direction.
Listings are one of the first interactions consumers have with a business during the customer journey, so it’s important that every business listing is accurate. Consistent NAPWCHD data across Tier 1 directories will improve search rankings and give consumers the information they need. Take your business listing management one step further by leveraging these COVID-19 services and attributes to inform customers about additional offerings your business is providing during this time:
- COVID-19 Google Posts
- GMB Attributes
- GMB Schema
- GMB Special Hours
- Yelp COVID-19 Advisory Alert
- Yelp Virtual Service Offerings
- Bing COVID-19 Info Links
- Bing Schema
- Facebook Temporary Service Changes
- Healthgrades Telehealth Services
- Caredash Telehealth Services
More and more consumers are starting to feel more comfortable with returning to physical retail stores. Informing consumers about all your COVID-19 services, products, and offerings will give them the information and confidence needed to arrive at your business’s storefront.
Local Pages – If you’re a multi-location brand, each store may abide by different regional guidelines. Local pages are an integral part of an optimized local SEO strategy because it organizes location-specific information to each store front. Nearly half of Google searches are for local businesses, so local pages give brands a big opportunity to improve their online visibility and connect with consumers who have local intent. Location-specific information on local pages such as business hours, driving directions, FAQs, and product/service offerings will address common customer questions and help them easily locate the location closest to them.
Reviews – This is a critical period in which businesses must strive to answer all reviews and Google Q&A. Protecting brand reputation must remain top of mind for businesses since COVID-19 has caused many brands to rebuild an entirely new business model with accompanying operational changes. Businesses can look to reviews for key insight into how these new business changes are affecting customers. A prompt response to customers will show that you care about their feedback and will help deliver a great customer care experience.
Localized Content – If your brand wants to reach audiences local to your business, your local SEO strategy needs to have localized content as well. Localized content should be distributed through areas such as local social pages, local store pages, and Google posts to reach consumers in your target market. Here are some content ideas to help your business reach local customers during reopening:
- Share Your Reopening Process – By sharing the inside scoop on your reopening process with video tours, employee spotlights, and other behind the scene moments, your brand will garner more excitement from customers who have been waiting patiently for you to reopen. Consumers are interested to see what steps you’ve taken and what new changes they can expect. You can share this on your local social pages, through GMB Posts, your website, and email newsletters.
- Share Community Outreach – Although COVID-19 brought on unprecedented circumstances, there has also been a lot of inspiration from this situation. Many brands during this time have given back to their community and partnered with other local organizations. Brand loyalty does not come easy in today’s society, but community outreach is one of the ways in which businesses can drive customer loyalty and acquire a larger base of fans. Giving back to your local community is an inspiring way to contribute positivity and spread the word about your brand.
- Show Customer Appreciation – Whether it’s a regular or a new customer, it’s important to show your appreciation to customers who are giving your brand business during reopening. This is part of an elevated customer experience strategy that will make customers feel valued and spread the word about your reopening. With permission, you can share customer shoutouts through user-generated content on social media stories and posts.
Unbranded Keywords – This is an integral part of an optimized local SEO strategy because over ⅔ of the impressions on local listings come from non-branded keywords. Currently, consumers are asking unbranded searches such as “dine-in restaurants that are open near me”. Optimizing for these unbranded keywords by adding relevant keywords to your website, review responses, and listings, will improve your online visibility and help consumers discover your business.
Although this is a difficult time for many businesses who are figuring out the best way to reopen, there is also a unique opportunity to take advantage of consumers who are spending more time online and bringing them to your store through local SEO.