Whether they’re searching for a nearby sushi restaurant or the closest furniture store, many people turn to Google when looking for a particular type of business. When they unlock their phones to ask for a list of “coffee shops near me,” you want to ensure you show up at the top of the search engine results page (SERP). That’s where local search engine optimization (SEO) strategy comes in.

If you run a brick-and-mortar store, it’s crucial to do everything you can to stay competitive, particularly as virtual purchasing continues to surge in popularity. E-commerce retail sales totaled approximately $870.8 billion in 2021, up 14.2 percent from 2020, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce. While e-commerce only accounted for 13.2 percent of sales last year (meaning in-person interactions still account for the lion’s share of shopping), online transactions are still rising.

What’s the Most Effective Strategy for Local SEO?

With the right SEO strategy, you can attract more potential customers to your commercial retail space. A November 2021 survey found that 35 percent of U.S. consumers used the internet to search for a local business multiple times per week, and 21 percent did so daily, according to Statista. That means taking steps to appear at the top of the results page for those localized queries could significantly increase sales.

There are many ways to optimize your online presence and increase your visibility in SERPs for location-based searches. Here are some tips for attracting the attention of potential customers in your area.

1. Target geographic queries on your website.

The content on your site (including the URLs, metadata, headers and body content of the pages) should include location-specific phrases that people use to search for businesses like yours, according to “A Comprehensive Guide to Local SEO in 2022” from HubSpot.

For instance, if you’re running a coffee shop, you might want to create a page or blog post explaining why you’re one of the best coffee shops in Chicago (or whichever city you’re in). Then when someone pulls up Google to look for “best coffee shops in Chicago,” your site has a chance of showing up at the top of the results.

If you have multiple brick-and-mortar sites, you can improve local SEO by adding a unique page for each location. Include information such as the specific location’s address and phone number, case studies involving local clients, parking details, and any deals available exclusively at that store.

2. Create and optimize a Google My Business profile.

Whenever you look up a store on Google and see a sidebar with images, contact information, reviews and more, that’s because the business has a comprehensive Google My Business profile. If you haven’t already done so, verify your Google My Business page, as HubSpot recommends. This will improve your visibility in local search results and make it easier for potential customers to find you and learn more about your products and services.

3. Ask your clients to leave reviews and consistently respond to their feedback.

The Google Business Profile Help document “How to improve your local ranking on Google” lists managing and responding to reviews as one way to boost visibility.

“High-quality, positive reviews from your customers can improve your business visibility and increase the likelihood that a shopper will visit your location,” the support page states.

You can improve your odds of showing up in SERPs for location-based searches by getting more positive reviews. Please don’t shy away from asking your regulars and customers who seem happy with their purchases to provide feedback on Google and Yelp. The occasional bad review isn’t the end of the world either – if anything, it makes your reputation seem more real and believable since no one can please everybody.

It also helps you look more engaged and responsive to clients’ concerns if you take the time to respond to each review, good or bad. Thank the reviewer for taking the time to give feedback, and let them know you’ll pass it along to the rest of your team. If they had issues, specify how you plan to address or have already resolved those problems.

Note: Many review platforms will penalize you for giving discounts or free merchandise in exchange for reviews, according to Search Engine Journal.  

4. Maintain local business pages on social media platforms.

Social media can provide a considerable boost to your local SEO efforts: For example, two-thirds of Facebook users worldwide report visiting a local business page a minimum of once per week. Like Google My Business, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other platforms can provide information on your products and services, location and hours while allowing you to post about local events and promotions. Clients can also leave reviews and ask questions via your social media profiles.  

While your social media presence doesn’t directly impact your site’s SERP ranking, it will increase brand awareness, distribute your content to a broader audience, and drive more traffic to your website. All of this will make your brand seem more authoritative, which can drive better rankings by search engines, according to Search Engine Journal. Additionally, your social profiles might show up in the SERPs for your target keywords.

Ultimately, your store can significantly increase sales if you invest in local SEO and ensure you show up in location-based search results. Don’t let potential customers slip through your fingers by neglecting SEO.

If you’re interested in learning about Chicago commercial retail space for lease, please look at our property listings or get in touch with the Avalon Realty Associates team to discuss commercial properties. Connect with us today by calling 847-506-1000 or emailing info@avalonreal.com.