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When it comes to searching for local businesses on-the-go, consumers expect search results catered to their current location. Local SEO does just that, optimizing a business’ online presence for a specific location so it shows up in local listings like Google Maps, as well as in organic search results.
As a part of the ever-changing SEO guidelines, Google released an algorithm update in July 2014 called Pigeon, refining distance parameters, giving more visibility to review sites and integrating local results more closely with traditional website ranking signals. Since then, Google has released their My Business Guidelines to walk businesses through the first steps of catering to local consumers. Along with the guidelines, we’ve pulled together a few key tips to optimize your business for local search.
Make Sure Your Business Location is Optimized on Your Site
Include your city and state or other geographic region in relevant places on your website. This includes your About Us, Contact Us or Store Location page, as well as meta descriptions, headers, footers and body copy. Google references these signals along with your other listings and checks them for consistency.
Verify Your Listing on Google My Business
Google My Business allows you to create and update a profile on Google Search, Maps and Google Plus from one place. Complete your profile with pictures, hours of operation and a description of services. A few additional tips:
- Present your business the same way you would in an offline directory
- Don’t try to stuff keywords or attempt any other manipulative SEO tactics
- Ensure that your name, address and phone number are accurate
- If you operate out of multiple brick-and-mortars, be sure to claim all of your locations
Ensure Your Business Citations are Accurate and Widespread
Use online services like Yext, Bright Local and Whitespark to help you manage your business citations across the web and find new places to get listed. When it comes to local SEO, there are few things more important than a high number of business citations to turn the rankings in your favor and assure consumers you are a vital part of the community.
Encourage customers to leave reviews on your Google business listing. The more positive reviews you have, the better your business looks to search engines. Make sure the reviews are legitimate and honest, though. A business that has nothing but glowing reviews looks suspect to both search engines and consumers, which can alter your optimization efforts and buyer confidence in your store.
The Increasing Importance of Mobile Responsiveness
The importance of offering a great experience for mobile users cannot be overstated. Experts anticipate that mobile searches will surpass desktop in 2015. In addition, starting in April 2015, “mobile friendliness” of websites factor into Google’s mobile search results. Any business that does not offer a good mobile experience will likely experience declines in mobile search visibility.
Plan Your Website with Mobile Users in Mind
Examine how your navigation and design can best serve mobile users. Snippets of common information like store location, phone number and business hours need to be clearly visible and allow for fast navigation. Sometimes the informational needs of mobile users may be completely different than desktop, requiring a separate mobile site rather than a responsive design. Regardless of the approach, you must offer device-specific content and test your shopping cart to make sure the experience is flawless.
Put Your Mobile Friendliness to the Test
Google offers mobile-friendly guidelines and a test tool to measure how well your website scores. If your website meets the guidelines, it will be labeled “mobile-friendly” in Google search results. For Bigcommerce clients, you’re in luck. Most Bigcommerce themes are crafted with responsive design in mind.
Optimize Your Business for Local Search
The rise of mobile search has made local SEO more important than ever. Make sure your website and business citations all communicate where you are located if you don’t want to miss out on local search traffic.
Measure Your Conversions
Compare your mobile conversions to desktop in Google Analytics and gain insights into how users are responding to your mobile design. Watch the data and make adjustments to your content, design and functionality as needed.
What are your next steps?
Embracing the principles of clear communication and understanding how search engines view your website are the first steps toward achieving lasting results with SEO. Making continuous adjustments while providing unique informative content will put you on the path to prosperity.
For more information on advanced ecommerce SEO, download the free white paper below.
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