The A To Z Guide to Local SEO for Ecommerce

With Google making local results more and more prevalent these days, especially with the incoming “buy now” button, Local SEO is more then a convenience, it is quickly becoming another necessity for businesses to succeed.

The internet has opened the doors to countless opportunities. For artists and writers, it has allowed them to showcase and promote their work online and reach out to new audiences they might not have otherwise reached. For businesses, this allows you to expand your presence while not having to worry about investing in more brick-and-mortar stores. If you run a business that has an online store in addition to its brick-and-mortar locations, you should seriously consider investing in your online presence. Not only is it cost-effective, but when done right, can help you attract the right customers faster. The solution: Local SEO.

Why Local SEO?

As most of you know, operating in the online space has become paramount for success. Everyone is online and competing for those coveted top rankings on the first page of Google searches. SEO is vital to online promotion on a large scale; but, what about on a smaller more local scale? This is where Local SEO comes into play. But, before we get knee deep into talking about Local SEO, here’s some quick statistics about why it should be included in your marketing efforts.

  • Studies show that over 72% of consumers use online reviews when making shopping decisions
  • 90% of smartphone users use their phone before shopping, and 84% use them while they’re shopping
  • 50% of consumers use their smartphones to find local information and have “local intent” or searching for something and including location identifiers (i.e. antique furniture Saratoga Springs NY)
  • Over 4 billion desktop searches in the US have “local intent” as well
  • Prospects that search and find localized results are more likely to convert into sales, because when they look for a service or product and find it locally, they will want to take advantage of this option
  • Local SEO has the highest ROI when compared to other online marketing strategies

Alright, now that I’ve shown you the data, let’s get started in how to get your local SEO off the ground.

Getting Started with Local SEO

In today’s online landscape, there are literally, tens of thousands of places to list your business online, and at the fundamental level, creating local listings is a key component of any local SEO campaign. But, let’s understand why this is important before we go into how to build it.

To help explain the importance of listings and citations, let’s look at the motivations and experiences of two of the most important variables in local SEO: search engines and the consumer.

Consumers today are buried under the number of options available to them. It doesn’t matter if they’re looking for restaurants, shopping outlets, or the closest and cheapest gas station. Search engines help ease this pain by allowing consumers to input a few keywords, which in turn return a plethora of options that make it easier for them to choose one and be happy at the end of the transaction. If the results are satisfactory to the consumer, they’ll come back to the search engine and use it again, allowing that search engine to monetize via advertising.

To make sure this happens, search engines review Exabytes (1 Exabyte = 1 Million Terabytes of Data) of data to be able to serve up the most relevant and best-reviewed options sorted by geography. Additionally, the quality of this data that’s used to process the information can make or break a service. So how is the high quality benchmark for data ensured? Through cross-referencing the data points across the internet. However, there are three major information brokers whose data powers Google, Bing, Yahoo, and many others, and they are:

The information these data stars provide is then cross-checked with more popular business listing services like; Google+ Local, Yelp, Bing Places, Yahoo Local, Foursquare, and others. If your data is consistent across many of these data providers, the more trust is invested in your site and in turn more likely to be served up by Google or the other search engines when someone types in a keyword associated with your business. Quality and relevance above all else is the key.

Now that we’ve explained the “why,” let’s get into the “how.” To begin with, in order for your business to qualify for a local listing in any index, it needs to meet the following four criteria:

  1. Your business must have a name or a DBA
  2. Have a local phone number that matches the city you’re located in
  3. Have a dedicated physical street address
  4. Make face-to-face contact with customers

Next, we’ll look at two factors that have a heavy influence in how search engines and other web services find out about your business:

  • The quantity and quality of links that point to your website and tracking the sites where those links appear
  • Tracking the number of citations of your business and on which sites these citations appear

Now you’re probably thinking, “I get links, I’ve done link-building in the past…but what the heck is a citation?!?” In the simplest terms, a citation is a mention of your business name on web pages other than your own and it usually includes either your business address, phone number, or both, regardless of whether there is a link to your website or not.

For example, let’s take a look at Yellow Pages, where your business is listed, but not necessarily linked to.

Yellow Pages Business Citation

When it comes to creating your business listings and getting citations, you have a couple of options available to you. You can take the DIY approach and list with all the major players (Yelp, TripAdvisor, Yellow Pages, Google+Local, Bing Places, Yahoo Local, and Foursquare), hire a marketing agency, or you can turn to a location-based CMS (Content Management System) like Yext, or Moz Local, where you upload your address once and then use the software to push your listing to everywhere you want to be. Each CMS has its own pros and cons, outside of the cost associated with it. So, if you’re going to look at the CMS route, make sure to do your due diligence and invest in the best one for your business.

Business Reviews and Online Reputation

In 2012, Search Engine Land released a study, and according to the study, 72% of consumers say that they trust online reviews on the same level as personal recommendations. Let that sink in for a moment, people are trusting the reviews of strangers who’ve interacted with your business on the same level of trust as a friend or family member. That’s not all though, in the same study, 52% say that positive online reviews make consumers more likely to use a local business.

Reviews not only help drive a higher CTR (click-through rate) but are listed on search results where your business is shown. So it should go without saying that businesses cannot afford to ignore their reputation on the internet.

Google Review Screenshot

When dealing with online reviews the two main activities are inviting people to leave a review, and managing your online reputation. Getting people to leave a review can be as simple as having a call-to-action at check-out, or bringing it up while you’re conversing with your customers. Managing your online reputation is the other end of the spectrum. Rep management deals with alleviating customers who’ve left negative reviews and self promotion of your reputation as social proof of your goods or services.

On-Site Optimization for Local SEO

Lastly, let’s take a look at what you can do to get your website optimized for local SEO. To start, it’s recommended that you have your company’s NAP (Name, Address, Phone Number) information listed on every page. If you have multiple locations, you can either use multiple landing pages for each location, or have it all listed on a single “contact us” page. One thing that you’re going to want to test when setting this up, is to make sure that your NAP is crawlable by Google, because Google can sometimes include it as an image instead of HTML coding.

Additionally, you’ll want to make sure that you’re optimizing for local based keywords, over larger, broadly based keywords. For example, if one of your keywords is “fish market” you’ll want to do, “fish market Seattle, WA” over the broad keyword, “fish market.” Also, you’re going to want to make sure your website is optimized for mobile. As I mentioned in the beginning of the post, 50% of searchers are using a mobile device to help them with a purchasing decision and/or purchase via mobile device. This number is only going to grow, and it’s predicted that mobile use will be 80% of e-commerce traffic by 2018.

Bridging the gap between offline and online experiences needs to be one of the top priorities of businesses today if they wish to survive in today’s digital world. By concentrating your efforts on what I explained here today for optimizing your local search marketing efforts, and you’ll be on your way to better rankings, increased traffic and conversions.

Have any questions for us? Leave them in the comment section below. Want to talk with us about how we can help your business succeed? Email us or give us a call!

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5 Things To Think About With Mobile Landing Pages

Mobile Friendly Landing Page Blog Graphic

With us now more than a month into Google’s “Mobile-Friendly” update the writing is clearly on the wall to make sure your customers can reach your content anytime, anywhere. Just to give you an idea how important it is to make sure your landing pages are mobile friendly, last year, eMarketer did a study predicting that smartphone usage was going to break the 2 billion mark. Additionally, earlier this month, Google released a statement saying that mobile has surpassed desktop usage for search. So with that in mind we’ve put together 10 of the best top practices you should consider when updating your landing pages to meet your audience’s mobile needs.

Start Here

Building a mobile site from the ground up is pricey and takes up a lot of time. The best way to get started to see if you need a mobile solution is by tracking your analytics and finding your customer’s pain points and see where the drops in conversion on your website are. Once you’ve found these points, you’ll know where to start focusing your efforts. Two of the key things you should keep an eye on when tracking your mobile conversions are buying patterns and traffic.

Short and Sweet

When designing your mobile landing page, you’re going to have a lot less room to work with than you get with desktop pages. Headlines are going to need to be short, I mean really short. Consumers are more fickle than ever as well, don’t even try to use a click-bait style title (“This happened, but what happened next brought me to tears”) or you’ll have more bounces than a trampoline in the summer time. Four words or less is what you want to aim for.

Organization is Key

When designing how the content will sit on the page, make sure your call-to-action is instantly visible. You have to see the page from the customer’s perspective, would you spend minutes at a time trying to pinch and scroll around a page to try and find something? Neither will your customers. One good method to try when condensing your material for your landing page, is “vertical chunking.” Think about how you can describe what you’re offering in 3-4 sentences.

White Spaces Are Friends, Not Wasteful

I know I’m spinning a line from Finding Nemo here, but the concept sticks. You must resist the urge to fill every pixel of white space on your pages with imagery or text. If you try to do this, you’ll have so much going on that the customer will get confused and lost on what they’re trying to do and will probably end up with them leaving. If you are going to use a template during the design of the landing page, remember – white space is your friend, not waste.

Mobile Landing Page Examples
What NOT to do with a Mobile Landing Page

Time Is Money

On mobile, you only have seconds to pitch what you’re offering to your customers, and I mean that literally. When it comes to mobile, speed is everything. I know I’m preaching to the choir where this is concerned, but it can’t be repeated enough, the longer your customers have to wait for a page to load, the more likely they are to leave. When coding for a mobile landing page, try to use streamline technologies like HTML5 and jQuery, these will help improve your page load times. Additionally, keep the number of HTTP requests to a minimum, this will help further improve your page’s load time. Lastly, remember not all mobile connections are the same. Some may be using Wi-Fi while others might be on a 3G or 4G connection. Aim to design the page to load quickly on the worst of connections and they’ll be like lightning on the faster ones.

What other tips and tricks do you have for building the best mobile landing pages. Let us know in the comments below! Want help getting one built for your business? Our marketers are inbound certified and can help you get your landing pages off the ground! Shoot us an email or give us a call!

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10 Essential Tips for Ecommerce Web Design

When selling your products online, the design of your e-commerce website can greatly impact your online sales. The design of your e-store has gone from a convenience to a significant strategy element for businesses. It can help a business establish their identity, develop its brand, and make its products stand out from the competition. However, you need to tread carefully when designing your site. The wrong web design could cost you potential income and have an overall negative impact on your business. But, there is a silver lining to this cloud, following these tips will get you on to a better user experience and improved sales numbers.

Are You Mobile Friendly?

It’s 2015, a responsive, mobile friendly e-store is no longer a competitive advantage or customer convenience, it’s a necessity for doing business online. With ComScore releasing a recent report that mobile internet use has now surpassed desktop use, being mobile-friendly is needed to keep up with your competitors. This change from desktop to mobile shopping will impact B2C and B2B customers alike.

A Professional and Polished Logo

The logo is one of the most important parts of your brand. It’s the watermark that sticks in people’s memories when confronted with something you sell. Make sure it is clean and fits your brand image. When placing it on your site, make sure that it is a high-resolution image and it’s prominently featured. Usually this is done by placing it in the upper left hand corner of the site. Additionally, you’re going to want to link the image back to the home page so that customers can easily navigate to it.

Keep Pages Clean

It’s very easy these days for a customer to have a visual overload when they go to a website and they leave because of too much choice. To keep visitors on your site, make sure to not have competing calls to action or lots of visual clutter (i.e. images, videos, etc) that would draw the customer’s eyes away from what is important.

Don’t Be Afraid Of White Space

Controlling white space through design is a great way to keep uses focused on the content. Creating this space in-between your text and images gives some “breathing space” for customers to digest information before continuing on their journey. With visuals becoming more and more the focus of competition for user’s attention on the web, less is more. Controlling what you do with white space will help improve the user experience, and increase returns for your e-store.

Use Color To Stand Out

When using colors for your website, the rule of thumb is to use a mostly neutral color palette which will help you project an elegant and modern experience. Using small dashes of colors for headlines and key graphics can draw the user to the most important information. Additionally, make sure that the color that you do use complements your logo and is consistent with your other marketing materials.

Don’t Use Generic Photos Found On The Web

Today’s consumer is extremely savvy, and can sniff out generic stock photos quicker than you can say Getty. When visitors see generic photos on your site for your services or products, they’re pulled out of the experience, and will gain a generic impression of your company. Investing in professional photographs of your products or investing in professional stock photos can really make the difference. Good photographs will catch the eye and can invoke an emotional response to the written content.

Button, Button, Where’s The Button?

The submit button is usually considered the ugliest part of a website. To help change this you could do it a number of ways. Make the button interactive, when you hover or click it, have it change color. You can also change the text so that it doesn’t say ‘submit.’ No one wants to submit to anything, so take a different approach and change it to something fun or related to the product.

The Dinosaurs Called They Want Their Flash Plug-in Back

The days of Flash have come to a close. While it was a great innovator for rich media on websites, today, there are many more alternatives that are site and user-friendly. One of the most popular options is using HTML5. With search-engine friendly text and the ability to function on practically all mobile operating systems without a plug-in, it really is the way to go if you plan on having embedded videos  or other rich media on your website.

Make Reading Easy On The Eyes

When choosing fonts for your website, keep in mind, most people are going to be on the site from a mobile device. Some large scale fonts, might read well on a computer screen, but when scaled down for the mobile screen, they lose the desired look and feel, and in the worst case scenario end up being unreadable. To get around this, it is recommended that you choose a universal font, and make sure to pick one that can be easily read at 11pts or less.

Don’t Forget To Test The Design

Finally, whenever you are changing around a current design, or planning on implementing a re-design, always make sure to test the changes. In actuality, all design decisions are really a hypothesis waiting to be tested. By using different testing methods such as A/B testing and user testing, your customers can help you improve your designs by providing feedback from real people on your different design experiments.

By using these tips, you can help bring your website to the fore and help it become an even greater revenue generator for your business. Need help designing a new website, or is your e-commerce platform caught behind the times? Feel free to drop us a line or shoot us an email, we would be happy to help your business reach even greater heights.

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