Despite the growth of ecommerce, physical stores continue to play a fundamental role in connecting with people. In a changing context in which the physical and virtual worlds tend to merge, the Brick and Click models and local SEO are presented as the perfect idyll.
Today the segment of the population that makes purchases online is much larger than it was a few years ago. Even so, there are many types of customers who continue to prefer physical stores. Mixed business models, with a physical and online presence, are beginning to expand and require specific recruitment strategies. In today’s post, Elena Díaz, SEO at Flat 101, shares some tips on how to do SEO for ecommerce with physical stores, or more specifically, local SEO for Brick and Click businesses.
Local SEO for mixed local businesses
Some time ago we gave some brushstrokes about local organic positioning and how a good local SEO strategy could benefit local businesses in Covid times. Although it is redundant, we remember that local SEO includes all those organic positioning actions aimed at gaining visibility for local searches or in specific geographical areas.
One of the business models that can benefit the most from these local SEO strategies are the so-called Brick and Click, mixed businesses that combine physical presence with online experience. This type of business has three characteristics that customers value highly: human interaction, personalized attention and closeness. This last point is where local SEO can help us the most. Let’s see how…
Factors that Google takes into account in local positioning
First of all, we are going to identify the criteria that Google uses to classify a business within its local ranking. Broadly speaking, the positioning factors in local SEO are very similar to the general ones: user orientation, quality content, loading speed, backlinks, etc. However, for local searches we must highlight 3 differentiating aspects:
Distance: it is the most important factor and is exclusive to local SEO. We will only appear in local searches if our business is close, either to the user’s location at the time of making the search or to the location that they refer to in their query.
Prominence: This factor is a kind of digital popularity. Google uses a series of indicators to know how trustworthy our business or our brand is. Among other factors, it is based on reviews and ratings, but later we will see how in Brick and Click models you can also work on prominence by offering EAT content through your website or ecommerce.
Relevance: it consists of the greater or lesser coincidence of your company profile with the searches carried out. To be relevant, you must make it very clear to Google what you do and where you do it, as far as possible, using the appropriate keywords. You must offer a result that satisfies the need of the search, since the greater the match, the greater the relevance.
Being close, offering trust and satisfying the needs of your potential clients is what will make you gain greater visibility at the local level.
Research and search typology
When carrying out your keyword study, you must identify each type of search. Pay special attention to those keywords in which you observe that there may be local search intent.
At this point we must bear in mind that keywords with local search intent do not always have to be accompanied by a geolocation term since there are two types of searches associated with local SEO:
Explicit searches: those that include a geolocation term in the query (eg ‘bookstores in Valencia’).
Implicit searches: those that, without including a location, are associated by Google with a local search and therefore, generally, will trigger the local pack (eg ‘king size memory foam mattress’).
The keywords that you are interested in working to position yourself are those from which a local search intention is inferred, whether implicit or explicit.
Pay special attention to voice searches and conversational keywords. In many cases they can be focused on local searches with purchase intent. According to a study conducted by Google “44% of people who regularly use a voice-activated speaker say they order products they need, such as groceries, household items, etc., at least once a week.”
And be careful, at this point, speaking of voice assistants and smart devices, Bing also has something to say. Despite the fact that Google is still the main search engine in many parts of the world, when it comes to virtual assistants, the distance between competitors is reduced.
Cortana, Bing’s virtual assistant, is not one of the most used in Spain, but there, the difference with Google’s voice assistant is minor. According to data from the Statista website on the use of virtual assistants in 2019 in Spain, the difference between Google Assistant and Cortana, from Bing, did not reach 3 percentage points.
Flat 101 Respondents
Most used virtual voice assistants in Spain in 2019
If we also take into account that there are other search engines (eg Yahoo or Ecosia) and virtual assistants (eg Alexa) that draw from Bing, apart from all the Microsoft technology that indirectly generates searches (Teams or Skype) , the share is growing.
Likewise, it is not so unreasonable to suggest that through Bing and with the appropriate local SEO actions, your ecommerce can achieve greater visibility and improve profitability.
In these proper actions don’t forget to implement Schema markup of type Speakable. This will make search engines take your website more into account when offering results for voice searches.
Searches in local languages
Another niche you can explore is local language searches. One of the advantages offered by local SEO is that, by limiting the geographical area to which you are targeting, you reduce competition, which makes it easier for you to stand out and reach your potential customers more efficiently. For this reason, it is highly recommended that you adapt your website, as much as possible, to the territory you are targeting and your target audience.
In some sectors you may find a greater use of local languages than other official languages for certain searches. This is a very interesting fact to analyze and that can allow you to develop unique local SEO strategies.
As an example we can see that in the training sector there are certain search terms that, limited to the same territory, in this case Catalonia, return a higher volume of searches in Catalan than in Spanish.
In this analysis we can see how in Catalonia there are certain terms associated with the same search intention that group together a greater volume of searches in Catalan than in Spanish.
In addition, you can take advantage of local searches to identify seasonality or new business opportunities in certain areas.
Identify the local searches that your potential customers do, analyze the terminology, the language, the moment and the way in which they search and adapt to it, you can find very interesting niches to exploit.
Web structure for local SEO
Once you have analyzed all the terms of interest for your local business, design a web structure adapted to the needs of your offer, but above all, adapted to the needs of the demand. In other words, identify what your target keywords are going to be in order to devise a web architecture that allows you to generate sufficient and necessary content to satisfy those searches; no more no less.
In general terms, referring to a more or less standard structure, we would work with four types of page, giving them a different approach depending on whether we have one or several physical locations:
Home or home page – on this page it is advisable to work with brand keywords and business keywords at a general level. You should also include your location if you have only one store or office.
Product/service pages (PDP) and categories (PLP) – depending on the search terms you have identified and that you want to attack, you must have the appropriate pages for it. Think carefully about the scalability of your project and create only the necessary URLs to satisfy the searches of your target audience.
Be very careful about duplicating content by creating practically the same pages that show the same offer in different locations. It is not a recommended practice, unless your offer varies a lot from one location to another (eg excursions, tourist accommodation, etc.).
Ideally, you should have a page for each product/service and indicate in them which locations it can be purchased. For example, if you are a Brick and Click business and you offer the Click and Collect option (buy online and pick up in store) you can indicate from the PDP in which locations the purchase can be made.
Location pages or location pages – these pages are especially important in Brick and Click models. In them you must indicate where your stores are and what products or services can be found in each location. Include your NAP (Name, Address, Phone), use geolocated images if applicable and of course, incorporate maps and links to your Google Company Profile (Google My Business) files. In case of having a single location, it is recommended that this content be integrated into the home page since this way you will gain more strength.
Blog – is a great channel to work on recruitment. You can use this section of your website to give your content a local focus (eg local events, area guides, references to local entities, etc.). Generating this type of content will help you strengthen your brand as a local benchmark, as well as your locations. In addition, you will be able to build internal links with anchor text associated with local searches, in order to reinforce some of your target keywords.
Avoid creating an overly complex and convoluted web structure. If you intend to reach all corners of the world with specific URLs for it, you could fall into problems of duplication and cannibalization. Also, having a high number of pages without proper focus could dilute your domain authority and make it difficult to crawl and index your most valuable URLs.
The consumer is in a continuous process of change. Analyze how they search for you, identify what type of queries can give your ecommerce and physical stores greater visibility, and create a web structure that meets their needs by providing differential value. Apply the necessary segmentation that allows you to get closer to your target audience and personalize your message. Make local SEO an ally in the positioning strategy of your ecommerce.