National retailers’ digital divisions often think of their websites as e-commerce sites first and local store sites second. Columnist Andrew Shotland explains why this mindset may be hurting their ability to get the most out of organic search.
When I worked in NBC’s Internet group, I had this idea to aggregate all of their local station websites into a single network. When I pitched it, my boss’ initial reaction was, “Why do you want to bother with the local affiliates? They are a royal PITA.”
It’s been a while since NBC-IN, but even today I still see evidence that national-to-local companies, specifically retailers, pay short shrift to the needs of their locations, particularly when it comes to SEO. And while no doubt the locals are still a royal PITA, under-investing in their SEO ignores the reality of where Google has been heading for quite some time.
In my experience, national retailers’ digital divisions think of their websites as e-commerce sites first, and local store sites a distant second. Sure, the sites usually have store locators (still blown away when they don’t at this late date), and some of the more forward-thinking ones even have the ability to see local inventory. But I’d wager nine times out of ten, if you asked them what their top organic KPIs are, they would respond with standard e-commerce metrics: revenue, orders, visits and so on.
This makes sense because many local search KPIs are notoriously difficult for retailers to tie directly to revenue — clicks to call, direction and hours requests, reading reviews and so forth. And as we have previously established, local affiliates are indeed a royal PITA….
But Google’s got 99 local problems to solve, and your inability to prioritize Local in your organization ain’t one.
Why national retailers need to think local
Let’s look at Exhibit A in E-commerce v. Local, The “Mattresses” SERP:
“Mattresses” is a valuable commerce query. You may think you have to go to the nearest mattress store, slap a mattress on the top of the family wagon and drive it on home, but the pack and ship mattress industry is booming.
Too bad Google doesn’t care. In each city I have tested, the first organic results for “mattresses” are almost always three Local Pack results. So if you are a retailer, and you’re not optimizing your locations for “mattresses,” you are likely missing out on a lot of clicks and revenue.
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