Consumers are hungrier than ever for local information — context is everything for decision-makers, and it’s available online.

Smartphones enable customers to save time and streamline purchases with improved access to digital content and localized search results. In fact, according to Google, 50 percent of consumers who conduct a local search on their smartphone visit a store within a day, and 18 percent of those searches lead to a purchase within a day.

Search engines rely on many local SEO signals to deliver the most relevant local results to the user. After optimizing on-page and off-page local search elements, encourage consumer action.

Build Brand Preference With Convenience

While consumers are making in-the-moment decisions, convenience often trumps brand loyalty. This is an opportunity to steal business away from competitors and earn revenue from local SEO tactics with local optimization built around consumer intent. Strive to load digital touchpoints with as much relevant and localized information as possible. For example, use location extensions to provide at-a-glance ratings and incorporate local inventory ads to show searchers that the product they want is in-stock.

More importantly, ensure the user experience is streamlined across all devices. For Target, three-fourths of consumers now start their shopper journey on their smartphone — streamline the process with interactive click-to-call and directions buttons to enhance the customer journey and streamline the discovery process.

Visibility On The Road

Consumers often look for a specific product or service when conducting a local search. They travel with intent to purchase — it pays to be visible when they use search to locate a destination. When consumers have made the decision and need to find directions, ensure the functionality is seamless right from the query.

According to Google, “near me” searches are more common when people travel. Google search interest in “near me” has increased 34x since 2011 and has nearly doubled since 2014. In Q4 2014, 80 percent of that traffic came from mobile search.

In these intent-rich moments, brands that provide relevant, frictionless local search experiences come out on top. Of note is that with these searches come Google Maps listings — ensure your name, address and phone number are consistent across Google Plus, Google My Business and any landing pages relevant to local searchers.

When consumers are already in the car, Google Maps listing visibility becomes the most important part of local search discovery. It can be easy to overlook Apple Maps despite the app having 3x as much usage as its nearest competitor, Google Maps. Because of this, brands are missing out on interactive ROI opportunity that takes minutes to set up. That’s why the same search between the two apps has such different results:

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Improve your local exposure on mobile devices by optimizing local listing sites, such as Google My Business listings, with consistent and optimized information focused around user intent. Conduct research to see how user search differs in local markets and incorporate keywords and business information to position your brand for optimal exposure in high traffic searches. Consistency across a variety of directories, citations, and online review sites will help improve visibility to users making purchases on the go.

It’s essential to be discoverable on mobile, but it’s even more important to create rich and relevant experiences that connect your stores with shoppers whether they’re in-transit or about to walk out the door. Encourage shoppers to come back again by staying centered on consumer context and intent to deliver on their needs.

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