If you put yourself in your customer’s shoes, it becomes clear that today’s consumers are empowered enough to search for products that are close to them geographically.
Mobile devices are designed to point us towards local businesses, and Google and Bing are well aware of online shoppers’ locations, which is why search engines are starting to prioritise local results. In this article, we’ll cover what local search is, why it is important, and how Trustpilot and location reviews could help you stand out from your competitors.
Why location search is important
Local search can be extremely competitive, but there are many ways for multi-location businesses and franchises to stand out today. This can be done by either optimising your webpage, appearing in the Knowledge graph, or using products such as location reviews, which can help deliver a steady stream of customer reviews.
Even though eCommerce has demonstrated its importance in 2020, local search is still growing fast. Today, 61% would rather shop from brands that also have a physical location than ones that are available online only. In fact, according to Google, “near me” searches are becoming a prevalent factor in how we all make our purchasing decisions. Google explains:
“You might typically associate a ‘near me’ search with something like ‘restaurants near me’ or ‘gas stations near me’, but we’re seeing growth in ‘near me’ searches for very specific items, from ‘cowboy boots near me,’ to ‘where to get a facial near me,’ and ‘tarragon near me.’”
If we look at Google Trends, we can observe that "near me" searches have gone up by over 500% in the past five years. Forrester predicted that by 2021, mobile would be driving $1.4 trillion in local sales in the U.S. We all know from personal experience how frequently we use our phones, which - this is no secret - track our location in order to show us the most relevant and local search results.
Today’s consumers are trying to buy from more local stores, in a desire to help out local businesses. And although eCommerce is continuing to grow, 90% of worldwide retail sales still take place in physical stores, according to a Deloitte report. But for physical stores to compete with the convenience and endless aisle assortment offered online, meaningful customer experiences and brand engagement is crucial.
How to stand out from the crowd
Did you know that 97% of consumers go online to find local businesses, and 76% of people who search on their smartphones for something nearby usually visit a business within a day?
If you are not present in the first two pages of local search results, your chances of being visible to consumers are extremely low, and so are your chances of getting new offline customers through Google.
So how can consumers find you in this highly competitive environment? And how do you stay on top of local search results?
Businesses with multiple physical locations, or even franchises, should start thinking about current consumer trends, and how they can adapt to the new digital rules of shoppers’ behaviour today. Here’s a list of things you could do to improve your ranking:
Make your site mobile-friendly and responsive to make it easier for consumers to search your store. Google loves mobile-friendly sites and gives them priority in search results.
Add schema markups for your organisation or local businesses. This helps search engines understand your information better, and helps provide Google with enough information to include your local businesses into the Knowledge graph.
Create a URL structure with different pages for different locations. This makes it easier for search engines to gather relevant information, including the NAP (name, address, and phone number) for each location, as well as working hours. Don’t forget to list your branches on Google my Business too.
Use review platforms to your advantage. According to a Canvas8 report, today, 89% of consumers report checking reviews before making purchases, whether online or offline. Some open review platforms such as Trustpilot can connect you with your customers, and more importantly promote their experience. Collecting location reviews is always a great way to share your reputation online.
Mastering local search with Trustpilot reviews
To help local businesses stand out from the competition when lockdown comes to an end, we are introducing a new feature: Location reviews. Location reviews are here to help multi-location businesses and franchises better manage their local branches’ reputation when stores reopen.
This product is completely free, so any business can set up Trustpilot location reviews to start ranking in relevant local search results now. But how does that work, you may ask?
Well, all business profile pages on Trustpilot, free or paid, rank amongst top search results because of Trustpilot’s high page authority. This authority is earned through tens of millions of visits and reviews the platform gets each month, ranking it amongst the top 400 most visited websites in the world, according to Alexa.
Once you set up different locations on Trustpilot, you will automatically create different profile pages for each of your locations, and start collecting reviews for them. The more reviews you have, the higher your profile pages will rank on Google, because reviews provide a stream of fresh content and increase consumer traffic to the profile page. All of which is great for SEO.
Adding location widgets to your location pages will help optimise those pages with location metadata, telling search engines to include those pages in local results. In addition, widgets can also help you increase trust and conversion rates, you can read more about that here.
If you’re interested in location reviews and would like to prepare your business for life after lockdown by starting to rank higher in local search results now, find out how to optimise your pages today to gain competitive advantage in a couple of weeks. Sign up for a free location reviews demo.