There was a time when it looked like e-commerce websites might put brick-and-mortar retailers out of business. Funny how things change! Today, you could easily make the argument that brick-and-mortar retailers have an advantage in SEO over their purely digital competitors. If retailers with physical stores execute their off-site SEO campaigns properly, they stand to reap the rewards as never before. Here are a few key tips.
Set Up And Optimize Your Google Plus Page
Organizations with legitimate physical addresses can set up Google Plus Local Business pages, which can be created in addition to a Brand page — here is a high level overview from Google. Having local pages enables stores to appear in Google’s organic results as part of its “Local Pack” and Localized Organic Results. These sections of Google’s SERP (search engine results page) are very prominent and attract lots of attention from users.
Once your local page(s) is set up, don’t let it just sit there. Google wants to see companies actively develop their local page, not merely go through the motions of setting one up in the hopes of improving SEO. The best ways to optimize your page include: adding fresh content such as alerts to in-store promotions and sales, adding video and image content relevant to the store, and encouraging customers to review your store on the page.
Cultivate Local Links
A physical store retailer with an online presence has options available for earning links that are hard for an online-only store to pursue. Here are a few examples:
- Join the local Chamber of Commerce. These organizations have websites and often list members with links to member websites.
- Become a Better Business Bureau Accredited Business. Local BBB chapters publish profiles of members with links to their websites.
- Join other local business, educational and charitable associations in your community. These groups may also provide write-ups about your business and links to your website.
- Sponsor a scholarship, offer faculty and student discounts, or otherwise support educational institutions. Doing so may earn you extremely valuable — and hard to come by— links from .edu websites.
Get Natural Links By Doing The Above
Nothing impresses Google more than “natural” links — i.e., links that people create to your website through no direct intervention on your part. Google’s logic is, if your company is great and your content is great, people will link to it on their own initiative.
With this in mind, consider the benefits of cultivating local links covered in the last section. By taking an active part in the community and by participating in local organizations, you interact with people in a very positive way — motivating them to talk about your business on their blogs, social media pages and perhaps in local online and print media. These conversations and online content not only lead to high-quality link opportunities, but also do wonders for brand awareness and brand affinity building.
Good SEO Is Good Business
That last point is a great illustration of how following SEO best practices is not just good SEO, but also good business. When you diligently do the work, rather than take shortcuts to try to game Google’s system, Google sees the work, respects the effort, and gives you greater organic search visibility. This is in Google’s best interest, because its organic search engine users are after high-quality companies and reliable information — not businesses that are taking the easy way out.
If you are a retailer with a brick-and-mortar location and take shortcuts, you could be in trouble SEO-wise, since online-only retailers have plenty of SEO weapons at their disposal, too. The key is to do the work, and do work where you have a built-in advantage. Then, and only then, will you make your SEO investment pay off.
Brad Shorr is the B2B Marketing Director of Straight North, an Internet marketing firm helping retailers run their SEO campaigns. You can read more of Brad’s work on Forbes, Moz, and Fox Small Business.
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