- By Nick Frost
Anything with a name as cut-and-dry as “store locator” sounds like it should be the most basic requirement for every local business’ website. After all, potential customers need to know where your stores actually are, what time they’re open, if there are any location-specific services offered, to name a few.
But while almost all companies have some form of store locator, there are still many who — whether they realize it or not — aren’t taking full advantage of it. Businesses that do it right know that there shouldn’t be anything at all basic about a store locator.
With expectations growing for localized search results that automatically factor in one’s current location, ensuring your information is always front and centre has never been more important. A store locator built for SEO and the customer has the right features (more than just a glorified directory or map) and will go a long way towards helping your local marketing efforts.
You’ll be more easily found in search results
In addition to having up-to-date NAP (name, address, phone number) data, the best store locators drive traffic by integrating content with best SEO practices — that means, your content also needs to have the right keywords, location tags and images. Think of it this way — the richer the content, the higher the chance our business has to stand out against its competitors, and therefore convert the searcher.
Accurate and updated NAP data is the first key step, as Google, Bing and Yelp are sticklers for accuracy: squeaky clean information across every page will send positive “signals” to major directories, which will then strengthen your local listings. Think of store locators and local listings as two complementary burger ingredients: lettuce and tomato. You love both on their own, but together, they really complete the full, delicious flavour. The caveat? Both the lettuce and tomato need to be fresh to get that incomparable taste.
Directories are crawling for accurate information that’s up-to-date. If your store locator pages compliment your local listings — you’re getting there.
You’ll drive more traffic and collect more data.
Naturally, the more searchable your store information is, the more likely it is that you’ll drive better traffic to your website. That’s ranking for local search 101.
The added upside to that, however, is that the more people you’re driving to your store locator, the more information you’ll be able to collect about your online searchers.
While it’s possible to get key pieces of information directly from Google Analytics, through Store Locator pages you can experiment with new forms of content and collect information along the way. For example, you might find that promotional content (say, 15% off coupons) in your Atlanta store locator pages generate a ton of traction, while your New York local audiences respond well to an inspirational brand video.
The key takeaway: test, test, test — and combine your best results for highly optimized, engaging pages that drive people to your front door. That’s the goal.
You’ll engage customers right away, at the right moment, with unique content that speaks to their needs
One of the best (and, often, most overlooked) places to start engaging potential customers right away is from your store locator page.
If they’re on it, it’s because they’re on their path to purchase — but interest and a little bit of info doesn’t mean you’re going to get a visit. Especially if you’re attempting to measure up to competitors.
Here’s an example: It’s a sweltering hot summer day, and you’re looking for a nearby spot to grab some lunch. Warm food is totally out of the question, so you search for “best salad shop”, and the results that you receive are pretty solid: Google is pulling up results of 4 and 5 stars, all within walking distance, with extensive menus. However, one result changes the game: on its local landing page, you learn that they have air conditioning (a must)… and the best iced lemonade in the city. Hello, happiness! Add a call-to-action button that allows them to make a reservation — and you’ve won.
In short, If your business is aiming to optimize its local presence, having a store locator that features rich, adaptable content is it allows searches to not only discover you, but learn about “make or break” pieces of information.
So, when winter hits — how will the salad franchise change its content to match seasonality? “For a cozy place to escape the cold and enjoy a light lunch, our salad shop has big cozy chairs and excellent tea selection.”
Together with SweetIQ, we can work to build your business’ store locator pages.
Not only do we follow all of the guidelines we’ve mentioned (best SEO practices, CTA button and filter integration, up-to-date NAP data), we also provide maps and driving directions, third-party integration, multi-language support and a whole host of other useful features, all fully developed within the look and feel of your existing website.
Let’s get your business’ local data to the forefront — and drive customers to every location.