Search is becoming increasingly local and mobile. “Where to buy” and “near me” search qualifiers are growing exponentially year-on-year, as users’ intent grows increasingly local. Not only that, there’s also a growing trend toward search users ditching those qualifiers altogether as consumers grow more aware of how search engines use location settings and AI learning to determine results pages. All of this has resulted in a greater focus towards developing Local SEO for businesses, from experts looking for ways to optimize it to the further development of tools like Google My Business.
Local SEO is a straight-forward enough for Shopify merchants with a brick-and-mortar storefront, but what can merchants do with Local SEO when they don’t have a physical location?
Why you need a Local SEO strategy, even if you don’t have a physical location.
You may be questioning what the point in Local SEO is if customers can’t even visit you. The answer is you’re looking to make the most of any opportunity there is for new customers to discover your Shopify store. Whether you offer pick up and delivery, or are completely online only, you still have a large local audience that you can make the most of.
Let’s use an example - your store sells baking supplies. You do some competitor research and discover a few baking supply shops in the area, some of which are brick-and-mortar stores and others ecommerce with a physical storefront. You are still local to the area, and you still want to rank when people in that area are looking for baking supplies.
If you’re still not fully convinced, then here are a few reasons why fostering a loyal local customer base is beneficial:
Lower fulfillment costs and effort required
If you offer a click-and-collect option, then the costs associated with fulfillment are obviously much lower than delivery. However if you only offer shipping, the costs for this in your local area compared to around the country or the world are significantly lower.
Word of mouth recommendations are powerful
Think back to a time where you had a really great experience with a store, chances are you mentioned it to a friend or relative. We’ve written previously about the power of social proof, and that word-of-mouth recommendation in your local area is extremely valuable.
Consumers want to support local
A growing trend is the desire for consumers to support local businesses. In 2020, 57% of consumers in the US and Canada said they specifically sought out local businesses to support, and 34% reported buying more from local businesses than they did prior to the Covid-19 pandemic. This is a trend many experts expect to be long term.
There are a few different types of business each with their own variety of reasons who can take advantage of Local SEO without a physical storefront for example Service Area Businesses such as plumbers or ghost kitchens, or home-based businesses such as home bakeries and dog walkers. For today we’re going to look solely at online-only ecommerce stores.
How to boost local organic search
Unlike other types of businesses without a physical storefront, an ecommerce only business cannot take advantage of tools such as Google My Business. Therefore you need to get more creative - literally! Your best tool in improving your Local SEO is to be driven by compelling, creative, SEO-led content tailored to your local area. There are a few ways you can do this:
Write blog articles relating your business to the local area
An excellent way to get make your business more relevant to Google when it comes to local search intent is to create content that relates your business to your local area. You want to do this in tandem with considering local search intent - what questions will local search users be asking in relation to your products? For example if you sell vegan snacks in Houston, perhaps you write articles such as “The 5 best Houston stores for vegan snacks”, or “Where to buy the best vegan chocolate in Houston”, and create content related to how your business makes their products based in that location.
Use locally relevant keywords in site content
As with all exercises in Search Engine Optimization - do some competitor research. Identify trends and keywords that local competitors and big brands are using in order to rank for local search intent, and find ways you can cleverly use these in your on-site content. Pay special attention to larger brands that aren’t necessarily local but who are still ranking for local search intent - what are they doing content wise?
Incorporate your local area into key landing pages
An organic and natural way to boost your Local SEO is to incorporate your local area into key landing pages throughout your site. It might be including your location on your homepage or on product pages. This is easily achieved, for example including a “Designed & Made in [city]” tagline throughout your site. Even better, you can include it on your About Us page and FAQ. For an additional layer of complexity, look at what pages local traffic are already landing on versus pages you want them to land on, utilizing your research to determine what content you need to develop further on those pages in order to attract local traffic.
Create a local landing page
Landing pages are another solution to boosting your organic search traffic from local search users. Using that local competitor and keyword research you conducted previously, determine what content you should include on the landing page in order to appeal to local search intent.
Whilst online-only businesses can’t take advantage of some of the more robust tools for Local SEO, there is still plenty opportunity to appeal to local search intent with a bit of clever content creation and keyword research. By making the most of organic Local SEO, you can turn your online-only Shopify store into a locally loved business.