Here goes the most comprehensive guide to local eCommerce SEO you’ll ever come across.
The covid-19 pandemic did not spare the retail sector. The industry took a big hit, with many stores closing their doors for good. A few that managed to weather the storm did so by adapting their business models to the new reality. One such adaptation is local eCommerce SEO.
What’s Local Ecommerce SEO?
Local eCommerce SEO is the process of optimising your online store for local search traffic. It’s a subset of general eCommerce SEO but with a focus on ranking in local search results instead of national or global SEO results.
Local e-commerce SEO helps you reach customers who are searching for your products or services in a location near you.
Why Is Local Ecommerce SEO Important?
As the world moves increasingly online, local eCommerce SEO becomes more important. Here are a few reasons why:
- People are searching for local businesses online
- Google prioritises local companies in its search results
- Local SEO is cost-effective
- Local SEO generates qualified leads
- Local SEO builds trust and credibility
- Local SEO drives offline sales
- Local SEO is an evergreen marketing strategy
- Local SEO is essential for mobile users
The Connection Between Local SEO and Ecommerce
There are five categories of local business:
- Brick and mortar businesses with a physical location
- Online-only businesses with no physical location or those that travel to customers (handymen, plumbers, etc.)
- Hybrid businesses with a physical location and an online presence
- Service-based businesses (lawyers, accountants, etc.)
- Businesses that cater to a defined area (such as parcel delivery services)
All five categories can benefit from local eCommerce SEO, but the connection is strongest for businesses that have a physical location.
Statistics on the Effectiveness of Local SEO on Ecommerce
Consider these statistics on the effectiveness of local SEO:
1. 90% of consumers say they have used the internet to find a business in their local area (BrightLOcal 2020).
In this age of digital nomads and the gig economy, it’s no surprise that people are using the internet to find local businesses.
2. 82% of consumers read online reviews when researching a local business (BrightLocal 2020).
Online reviews are a critical part of local SEO. They help potential customers learn more about your business and decide whether to patronise you.
3. 46% of all the searches made on Google are for local information (GoGulf 2019)
This stat underscores the importance of local SEO for businesses that want to be visible in Google’s search results.
4. 72% of consumers that do local search visit a local store within a five miles radius (HubSpot 2022)
Local SEO doesn’t just drive online sales; it also drives offline sales. If you want people to visit your brick-and-mortar store, you need to optimise local SEO.
5. An average customer spends about 13 minutes 45 seconds reading through reviews before deciding on whether or not to buy a product (BrightLocal 2020)
This stat should be a wake-up call for businesses neglecting their online reviews. Potential customers are reading them, and they’re influencing their buying decisions in a big way.
6. 97% of people say they learn more about local companies online than anywhere else (SEO Tribunal)
It’s hard to ignore local SEO. As the preceding stats show, it’s an increasingly important part of marketing your business.
7. 18% of local searches lead to the same-day purchase. 7% of non-local searches lead to a sale (Think with Google)
This stat is a testament to the power of local SEO. When people search for local businesses, often they’ll be looking to make a purchase.
8. “Close by” and “Near Me” searches have grown by more than 900% over the last two years (Chat Meter)
As people become more and more mobile-oriented, they’re using phrases like “close by” and “near me” to find local businesses.
You should make sure your store is optimised for these two particular phrases.
10. 28% of local searches result in a purchase28% of the time (Joel House Search Media)
More than a quarter of all local searches result in a purchase. That’s how much you’re missing out by not optimising your eCommerce store for local SEO.
Google My Business Stats for Ecommerce
Need help optimising your Google My Business listing for eCommerce? Check out these stats:
1. Only 44% of businesses have claimed their Google My Business listing (LSA Inside).
This stat shows that businesses still have a lot of opportunities to improve their local SEO by claiming their GMB listing.
2. 86% of people say they rely on Google maps to find local businesses (Backlinko, 2020)
Google Maps is a key part of local SEO. Make sure your business is listed on Google Maps and, most importantly, the listing is accurate and complete.
Local SEO Stats for Ecommerce Mobile Users
The number of people using their mobile devices to search for local businesses will only continue to grow.
Here are some stats that show the importance of mobile-optimised eCommerce sites:
1. More than half of internet users (52.94%) use mobile devices to search for local businesses (StatCounter, 2021)
This stat shows that consumers rely heavily on mobile devices to find local businesses.
2. 84% of “Near Me” searches are from mobile devices (Google, 2021)
The more people become mobile-oriented, the more they use phrases like “near me” to find local businesses.
3. 67% of smartphone users are more likely to buy from a location-optimised website or app (Google, 2020)
Ninety-seven billion local searches are conducted every month via mobile devices. As a local business owner, you should try and capture even a tiny fraction of those searches.
How to Improve Ecommerce Using Local SEO
Now that you know the importance of local SEO, it’s time to start Optimising your eCommerce site for better local visibility.
We’ll start by sharing a simple local SEO guide for eCommerce and online ordering sites.
Maximising Retail Listing for Online Ordering
When searching online for an item to buy, consumers are likely to interact with a business listing as their first touchpoint.
Having a listing set up to direct consumers to place an order (such as your eCommerce store) is a critical first step.
The ordering link should take the customer directly to the order flow to begin the purchase process.
You also want to make sure there’s as little friction as possible when ordering.
In most cases, you want to lead the customer to the menu page, a simplified search function, or a product detail page.
Within the listing, you want to include the option for receiving the order: same-day delivery, curbside pickup, in-store pickup, or home delivery.
You also want to make sure that you list the correct hours of operation, as this can be a critical factor in converting a customer.
Local Inventory Ads for Ecommerce
Local Inventory Ads (LIA) allow businesses to feature their products on Google Search and Shopping.
Businesses can showcase their in-stock items with real-time availability and pricing.
When customers search for a product available in your store, they may see a Local Inventory Ad for that product.
It is an excellent strategy to get your products in front of more customers and increase sales.
The ads allow you to rank for a specific product a customer may search for, even if you don’t rank organically for that term.
It creates a simplified way for customers to find and purchase products from local businesses.
The above ad listing shows what products are in stock at different locations.
When users click on any single one of the listed products, they’ll be directed to the Google-hosted storefront for that particular retailer.
Google provides all the requirements and instructions to take advantage of this ad listing fully.
They even have a metric to track how well these ads perform.
Currently, the ads are only available in a few limited brick-and-mortar locations: Australia, Canada, Brazil, Germany, Japan, Poland, Switzerland, the UK, the US, Netherlands, Ireland, Denmark, and Norway.
If you’re not in one of those areas, you can still sign up to be on the waitlist for when they become available in your area.
If you’ve implemented the basic setup, such as listing your eCommerce store and having a direct ordering link, you can proceed with the optimisation features provided by Google.
These include enhancements such as displays to order, merchant-hosted local storefronts, pick up today, and more.
Google even allows you to contact their inventory ads support team for more personal assistance.
Online Ordering for Restaurants
If you have a restaurant, there are a few ways you can use local SEO to increase online orders.
The first way is by optimising your Google My Business listing.
That includes ensuring that your hours of operation are up-to-date and accurate.
You also want to include the option for online ordering and delivery or pickup.
You can manage this functionality directly within your restaurant’s Google Business profile. All you need to do is navigate to the left panel and click on the food ordering option.
A pop-up will appear with all the necessary instructions.
You can turn it on by setting up the “Order Online” button.
This option also allows you to choose between pickup and delivery. Once the user makes an order, they’ll be directed to https://food.google.com for their respective locations.
Here’s how it looks in practice:
Users will be shown the different ordering options available to them.
That can include the option to pick up, as well as delivery.
The customer can also order directly from your restaurant or third-party delivery services, such as DoorDash, UberEats, Seamless, Grubhub, or Postmates.
For integrated locations, customers can directly order within Google.
The online ordering feature will display menu items available at that particular location.
You can also add photos of your food, as well as specific dishes.
That will help customers get an idea of what they’re ordering.
You can also set up a delivery radius so that customers only see the restaurants that deliver to their area.
Customers can choose from the menu items provided and check out directly from Google.
They’ll even be able to track their order and receive updates on the estimated delivery time.
It’s a convenience that allows customers to stay on Google while using their saved credit card information to order food online.
It creates a simplified and seamless ordering process where the customer never has to leave Google, and checkouts happen in a matter of seconds.
Setting Up Orders with Google for Restaurants
Does your restaurant want to take advantage of the ordering features Google provides, but you’re not sure how to get started?
It’s pretty simple when you look at it.
First, you need to visit the order with the Google help page to see if your restaurant qualifies for it.
First, your restaurant must work with at least one approved third-party order provider to qualify.
These order providers include Seamless, Grubhub, Eat24, Olo, Delivery.com, and ChowNow.
If you are using one of these approved order providers, you’re good to go and move on to the next step.
That is required since most of these third-party order platforms are integrated with Google.
The next step will be to fill out an interest form with Google.
You’ll need to provide your name, email address, phone number, and website.
Be sure to review this documentation to ensure your business meets all the required launch requirements.
Lastly, Google will provide you with a launch readiness checklist once you’ve been approved.
That ensures your business is ready to start taking orders through Google.
Optimising Location Pages for Online Ordering
Location pages also need to be optimised for online ordering, the same as location listings.
First, you have to make sure they have a clear call to action (CTA) to let customers know how to place their order.
The CTA should highlight the available order delivery options, such as pickup or delivery.
It should lay out all the critical information about delivery or pickup procedures.
Including the estimated delivery time, any fees associated with delivery, and contact information for customer service.
Take Target, for example.
Their location pages list all their available pickup and delivery options: “Same Day Delivery,” “Drive-Up,” and “Order Pickup.”
It then pushes the customer directly into the ordering process with a clear CTA.
That is what you should be aiming for with your location pages.
Make it easy for the customer to know where to order and provide all the necessary information they need.
The Basics Steps of Optimising Your Local Ecommerce Business for Local SEO
Create Your Google My Business Listing
As the first step, you need to make sure your business is listed on Google My Business.
In this way, your business will be visible on Google Maps and in the SERPs “Local” section.
To do this, go to google.com/business and click on “Manage now.”
You will be asked to sign in with your Google account or create one if you don’t have one already.
Once you’re signed in, you’ll be asked to fill out all the details related to your business.
You will need to provide your business name, address, phone number, website, and category.
Be as detailed as possible with all the information you provide.
That will help Google correctly identify and list your business.
Choose a relevant business category. For example, you do not want to choose “hotel” as your category if you are a restaurant.
Add as much information as possible about your business, particularly your operating business hours, images, services, website URL, and payment methods.
Make sure all this information is consistent across your listing, website, and other online directories.
Be careful to define your location correctly. If your business has multiple locations, you need to create a separate listing for each one.
If you have one physical location but serve customers in multiple cities, you will need to create what’s called a “service area.”
Note that the overall boundary of each service area shouldn’t exceed a 2 hours drive.
A service area is a geographical area where you provide your services.
You can learn more about service areas and how to create them in this guide.
Complete the verification process. That is required in order to make sure that the information listed is accurate.
Build Local Backlinks/Citations/Mentions
Now that your GMB listing is complete, you need to build local backlinks and citations.
Local backlinks are inbound links from other websites to your own.
They help improve your website’s SEO by signalling to Google that your website is a reliable source of information.
Citations are similar to backlinks but are not links.
They are simple mentions of your business name, address, and phone number (NAP) on other websites.
Mentions are when your business is mentioned online without links or citations.
All of this will help improve your local SEO ranking.
The number of high-quality local backlinks, citations, and mentions you have is a strong indicator of how authoritative your website is, and the higher Google is likely to rank you.
For a local eCommerce store, the source of your local backlinks and citations should be primarily from directories, customer websites/blogs, news sites, business groups, reviews websites, forums, etc.
There are two types of directories: general and niche.
Niche directories are specific to your industry or business type, while general directories list businesses in all industries.
It’s not just about backlinks, but even if other relevant sites in your niche talk about you, search engines will still count that as a positive ranking signal.
Here are a few things you should know about citation/link building:
- Avoid reciprocal links and citations. Google does not like them and may penalise you for using them.
- Make sure all your NAP information is accurate and consistent across all websites.
- Don’t purchase links or use any black-hat SEO techniques.
- Focus on quality over quantity. Try to get links from authoritative websites in your industry.
- Another great way to build local backlinks and citations is by submitting your website to local directories.
- There are tons of local directories out there, but not all of them are worth your time.
- Set up a dedicated email account to avoid spam marketing emails.
Here are a few reputable local directories that you can start with:
Get Online Reviews and Customer Feedback
Online reviews are another critical ranking factor for local SEO.
They help potential customers learn about your business and decide if they should do business with you.
Encourage customers to leave reviews on popular review websites such as Google, Yelp, and TripAdvisor.
You also want to make sure you’re responding to all reviews, whether positive or negative.
That shows that you care about your customers and their experience with your business.
Positive reviews also improve CTR (click-through rate). And the higher your CTR, the higher you will rank in local search.
To encourage customers to leave reviews, you can send them follow-up emails after they purchase your product or services. The follow-up emails must include a link to your review profiles as a CTA or in the email signature.
You can also include the call-to-action buttons on your website and social media pages.
Localise Your Website Content
Make sure your website content is relevant to the geographical areas you serve.
For example, suppose your local eCommerce store deals with travel products in Sydney. You want to make sure your website content is about Sydney and has travel information about the city, such as local attractions, events, etc.
Think about the keywords and phrases people in Sydney would use to find your website.
Let these phrases guide how you generate your website’s content.
Also, when giving directions to your offline store, you want to begin by identifying all the popular landmarks near that location. Next, use these landmarks as part of your website’s directional content.
Lastly, add details about local events or anything else you deem relevant to your city on your website.
Involve Local Influencers
Local influencers refer to people with a large following in your geographical area and are considered experts in their field.
They can be bloggers, social media personalities, journalists, or even everyday people with a large following.
The key is to identify the right influencers for your business and then reach out to them.
You can do this by looking for mentions of your business online and then reaching out to those people.
You can also search for relevant hashtags on social media and then reach out to the people using those hashtags.
Once you’ve identified potential local influencers, reach out to them and see if they’re interested in working with you.
Offer to collaborate with a few of them on blog posts, social media posts, or even offline events.
The goal is to get your business in front of a large audience and build relationships with people who can help promote your business.
How to Handle Local SEO for Multiple Locations
What if you have multiple physical locations? How do you handle local SEO for all of those locations?
Here are a few tips to help you out:
Step 1: Start by Creating Separate Landing Pages for Each Location You’re Targeting
The first step is to create landing pages for each of your locations.
These pages should be specifically designed for that location and include relevant information, such as the address, hours of operation, local attractions, etc.
You also want to ensure you’re using the correct schema markup for each page.
Step 2: Create Separate Google My Business (GMB) Listing for Each Location
Next, you want to create GMB listings for each of your locations.
This is important because it allows you to include additional information about each location, such as the hours of operation, services offered, and more.
It also allows customers to leave reviews for each specific location.
It’s the same with all the other directories. You want an individual page for each physical store.
Step 3: Optimise Your Website’s Title Tags and Descriptions for Each Location
The third step is to optimise your website’s title tags and descriptions for each location.
Make sure you’re using the correct keywords and phrases, as well as city and state names.
Step 4: Embed a Map on Each Location Page with the Correct NAP Information
The fourth step is to embed a map on each location page with the correct NAP information.
That will help Google understand your locations and improve your chances of ranking in local search results.
Step 5: Add Photos and Videos for Each Location
The fifth step is to add photos and videos for each location.
Give your customers a glimpse of what it’s like to visit your store or office in that specific location.
Step 6: Publish Blog Posts About Each Location
The sixth step is to publish blog posts around each of the locations.
You can write about the local attractions, the best places to eat, or anything else that’s relevant to that area.
The content you post may include customer stories, hyper-local news, or anything else that would be of interest to someone in that area.
Step 7: Claim and Optimise Your Listings in Local Directories
The seventh step is to claim and optimise your listings in local directories, such as Yelp, Foursquare, Citysearch, etc.
Ensure you’re using the correct NAP information and that all of your information is up-to-date.
Step 8: Monitor and Respond to Online Reviews for Each Location
You also want to monitor and respond to online reviews for each location.
That will help you build trust with potential customers and improve your chances of ranking higher in local search results.
Step 9: Monitor Your Rankings in Local Search Results
The ninth step is to monitor your rankings in local search results.
Make sure you’re tracking your progress and adjusting your strategy as needed.
5 Must-have Local SEO Tools For E-Commerce Merchants
A major aspect of Local SEO revolves around a series of activities:
- Tracking and monitoring your progress
- Finding new citation opportunities
- Conducting regular backlink and citation audits
- Comparing your local SEO effort to the competition
All these activities require different toolsets:
Whitespark is a widely used local SEO tool on the market. It’s an all-in-one local SEO tool that lets you manage all aspects of your local SEO campaign — from tracking identifying citations opportunities to prospect for links to auditing your backlink and citation profiles.
It also offers a free tool called the Local Citation Finder that allows business owners to find citation opportunities by website data and keywords.
BrightLocal is another all-in-one local SEO tool that offers a wide range of features, such as backlink and citation audits, rank tracking, and competitor analysis.
One of its most popular features is the Local Citation Builder, which helps build and improve your website’s local citations.
BrightLocal is a lot like Whitespark, just more advanced. In addition to featuring a citation finder and tracking your local rank, the tool also features a local SEO audit tool called Google+ Wizard, which can monitor online reviews and social signals.
It’s a complete suite for small business owners who want to improve their local SEO.
Moz Local is a toolset used for managing your business’s online presence across different directories.
One of its primary functions is to help you track and correct any incorrect or incomplete NAP info across different directories. It also offers a free listing scan that will show any errors or duplicate listings.
Moz Local is a great tool for business owners who want to ensure their online presence is accurate and consistent across different directories.
SEMrush is an all-in-one digital marketing suite that offers a wide range of features, such as SEO, PPC, and social media analysis.
One of its most popular features for local SEO is the Competitor Analysis tool. This tool allows you to compare your website to your top competitors and see what keywords they’re targeting and how they’re ranking for them.
You can even specify a location to track and compare your website’s ranking against local competitors.
LocalVox is a local SEO powerhouse.
It’s a full-suite local marketing platform that helps business owners with everything from online reputation management to social media marketing.
Even better, the tool allows you to publish on your website, Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn with only a touch of a button.
The tool has solutions for small businesses, multi-location ventures, and franchises. You can use it to manage various aspects of your local SEO campaign, including reputation management, customer targeting, news and announcements, and more.
LSEO was created specifically for local SEO professionals.
It offers a wide range of features, such as rank tracking, backlink analysis, and competitor analysis.
One of LSEO’s most powerful features is the ability to track your website’s rankings in multiple locations simultaneously.
LSEO can analyse your website and the SEO strategies you’ve applied. It will then give you recommendations on how to improve your SEO.
The tools also feature a special scoring system that rates your SEO on a scale of 0 to 850, estimating your website’s visibility at every level.
Local SEO isn’t as simple as optimizing your website and waiting for the leads to come in. It’s an ongoing process that requires constant attention and effort.
But if you’re willing to put in the work, local SEO can be a great way to get your business more exposure and generate more leads and customers.