In Cyprus most online companies, and especially those in the retail sector, are actually companies with a pre-existing brick and mortar physical existence, which also decide to acquire an online component as well. However, often they fall into the trap of functioning as separate entities and one of the biggest challenges they face is being able to come across and operate in way that is mutually beneficial and complimenting to one another, following broadly the same marketing guidelines. Instead of doing so, many times they operate in rivalry and in a competitive manner, “fighting over” attracting the same customers, instead of working together and in synergy to offer an enhanced customer experience that will help attract more customers to both the company’s offline and online component.
Within the Cypriot business landscape, the online spectrum of which is still largely under development, there exist many opportunities for retailers who retain both a physical and an online store and one effective tool they can use in order to promote the synergies between their physical and online stores and bring them closer together is the incorporation of a store locator to their website. A store locator is very useful for all online users since through it they can easily find their closest physical store and take their custom there.
Nowadays, the newest store locators created carry the added benefit that they may be optimized through the appropriate content and contribute towards attracting traffic to the website on their own merit. In terms of a site’s SEO, optimizing the content of the store locator carries key advantages and paves the way for enhanced potential rewards.
The first direct effect of effectively using a store locator through optimizing its content is the increased visibility it results to as well as the remarkable improvement in rankings especially in local search instances, where the searcher aims to locate something within a specified geographic area, e.g. “shoe shops in Limassol”. Since more than 40% of all online searches performed pertain to a specific geographic location the absence of location specific pages for your own store means missing out on considerable traffic and ranking lower on the results pages of search engines.
Another advantage of having an optimized store locator included in your page is that it beats the results of business directory sites when relevant searches are performed. This is good because the results generated via the various business directory sites often contain inaccurate or outdated information that could drive away or put off potential customers.
Branded content gets a boost from the major search engines and especially Google, which is known to give preferential rankings to branded and relevant local content when delivering results to location-specific searches. If you are able to optimise your store locator to the extent of creating site specific content for each different location, then you not only improve the experience of online users but you will score highly in terms of SEO, outranking many sites and thus boosting the website traffic.
Including and optimizing a store locator then is sure worth your while and creates significant added value , without requiring excessive effort. In fact, by using a few simple tricks, optimizing your store locator for local search and improving its SEO is rendered simple, easy and almost effortless.
The first step towards this direction is the inclusion of the right links to all of the store location pages so that it will be easy for search engines to follow and index them properly, thus improving their ranking in web searches’ results.
To illustrate things further, if you are a retailer in Cyprus with brick and mortar shops in each town then you need to create a separate, standalone page for each store.
Another important trick to apply is making sure each store page features content that is as unique as possible. This content should be updated and accurate and include information pertaining specifically to each physical store location, such as contact details and opening and closing hours as well as information on any promotions or special offers currently available.
When it comes to tricks of a more technical nature, remember that every page needs a unique title tag including the vital business info in more than 60 characters, as well as a meta-description of 300 characters long at maximum that should contain a short description of each location separately.
A final trick when optimizing the content of your online store locator is utilizing the power of images and the appeal they have on people. Since users prefer pages with pictures and images, make sure you upload photos of each physical store at each store’s online page. This will not only improve its online appeal, but also make it easier for offline customers to physically locate the store.
Although the number of businesses in Cyprus which have grasped the significance of SEO techniques is rising, the benefits to be had by optimising the content of store locators is still being overlooked by many. However, store locators are very useful in terms of SEO and have the added benefit of being able to drive both virtual traffic to your online site or store as well as real human traffic to your brick and mortar shops, allowing you to reach and serve both new as well as your existing customers.
Lead Generation & Business Growth Specialist
Natalie is a prolific part of the global SEO community worldwide and she regularly contributes to e-marketing and promotion publications on and offline as well as best practice guides and round tables.