Right now, a customer is trying to find your local business. How quickly are you delivering the NAP, directions and other details he needs, on the go?
Volumes of excellent free advice have been written for small businesses about creating quality,optimized local landing pages, but today, I’d like to talk about a topic that has received much less attention: helping customers discover locations when you’ve got a ton of them. This article is for the medium-to-large business with 50, 1,000, even 10,000 physical locations and a pressing goal to have each one be found by the customers local to it. Let’s talk about store locators!
A business with 5 or even 10 locations can easily work them into a menu tab labeled ‘Locations’ and trust that customers hitting the site will be able to click to their landing page of choice to access NAP, hours of operation, photos, reviews, etc. But when your company has grown beyond this, it simply isn’t practical to list dozens of locales in your top level navigation, whether on desktop or mobile devices. The solution, then, is a store locator widget that enables customers to enter a city and/or zip code, or click on an interactive map, to be guided to the right resource.
There are six main things you are looking for when assessing the quality of a store locator widget:
Keep all of these necessary and optional features in mind when evaluating Store Locator widget choices. Capterra has recently done a good job of profiling a number of popular options which should help you hone in on the right solution for your company.
Pricing varies widely, from free to upwards of a $1,000 initial investment with reduced rates for subsequent years of service. Wordpress offers a number of free and premium store locator pluginswith varying degrees of popularity. For any paid product, I recommend choosing only those which offer a free trial period of at least 1–2 weeks so that you can be sure the solution works for you.
I’m now going to write something kind of shocking you thought never thought you’d read on the Moz Blog: you can evidently get away with thin and duplicate content on location landing pages — if your brand is established enough.
I’m writing this because, having looked at a considerable number of live store locators while researching this article, I found landing pages like this one with next to zero content on them,landing pages like this one with a very meager attempt at content that is observably duplicative, andlanding pages like this one with some duplicate content, but also, some added value for local users. Not trying to hurt anyone’s feelings, but, with the exception of the last example, the sheer volume of locations operated by these companies has likely caused their marketers to settle on the most minimal effort possible to differentiate between landing pages. The last of these (REI) has actually done a good job of adding interest to their pages by including a regional event schedule. I like what they’ve done, but is it necessary?
In a word: no. Google is correctly finding for me each of these businesses in the right cities, both organically and locally, when I search for them. While I would never advise a small business to take a least-effort approach with their store landing pages, it’s my conclusion from my research thatestablished brands can get away with a great deal, simply because they are established. It seems you can get the right data in front of the customer with a very minor effort, and that the minimum requirements for data on those pages would be that they have correct company NAP on them and are indexable.
Are lax standards a good reason to go with the minimum effort and call it a day? In another word: maybe. The investment you make in landing page development for your brand is going to be dictated by:
If funding is modest, you may need to spend elsewhere in your marketing for now. If you have hundreds of locations, the cost of going the extra mile on your store landing pages may not show any easily-discernible ROI. If your marketing department throws its hands up in the air regarding differentiating store #157 from store #158, there may be a lack of available creative solutions to the scenario. But this last bullet point — competition — this is where things get interesting.
Let’s say you’re operating one of three sporting goods stores in town. Competitor A has zero content beyond NAP and hours on his landing pages. Competitor B has thin, duplicate content on her landing pages. But, you, you smartie, have not only got a unique paragraph of text on your pages, but also store-specific reviews, and a maintained schedule of guided hikes in the region. All three of you link to your respective landing pages from your Google My Business listings. If you were Google, would A, B, or C look like a more authoritative resource to you?
And let’s look at this from the perspective of me on my cell phone on a winter’s day, looking for a high end snowboard and being given raw NAP by one competitor, a generic message by the second, but a promise of a free cup of hot cocoa (according to your reviewers) and a welcome message from you that states that every employee at your shop is a fanatical outdoors enthusiast, ready to show a novice like me the ropes of investing in sporting goods.
In a competitive scenario, if your store is the only one maximizing the potential for consumer engagement on your store landing pages, you are working towards impressing not just search engines, but customers, too. You could end up earning more than your fair share of those 50% of local-intent mobile queries, in city after city.
Here’s a quick brainstorming list of both typical and optional content you could include on store landing pages to make them extra useful and extra persuasive:
Looking for more inspiration? Try this Moz Academy video to spark extra landing page content ideas.
You may necessarily end up with a minor amount of duplicate content, but by brainstorming a list like the above, you will be making a maximum effort to inspire bots to consider your pages authoritative and to inspire searchers to become customers.
Now that you’ve made the effort to create all of these individual landing pages for your locations, your top priority is to be sure they can be discovered by customers and indexed by search engines.
The first is really easy: be certain your Locations or Stores link is in your top level navigation, at the top of every page of your website. Don’t count on users finding it if you’ve stuck it in a box somewhere within your homepage layout. Many users will not be entering your website via the homepage and you want to deliver the link to find the store nearest them immediately. Don’t make them search for it.
Comscore/Neustar Localeze have estimated that more than ½ of desktop local searches and more the ¾ of mobile local searches result in an offline purchase. The same study asserts that almost half of the searches surrounding services, restaurants and travel are performed by users looking for companies with whom they’ve never had any previous transactions.
In this lively scenario, the smart business will be that one which gets name, address, phone number and driving directions in front of the customer fast. The winning business in a competitive environment may be the one which not only extends the courtesy of basic data to the customer, but which offers extra inducements (in the form of additional useful information) to be that customer’s choice.
Store locator widgets and local landing pages have become an established component of customer service. Properly implemented and developed, they may be the very first sign you give to a major percentage of your incoming customers that you are there to serve their needs. Serve them well!
This Post Was Last Updated On: May 25/2016 12:00 AM By Author : Jessica Biel