With SEO to more customers for local retail businesses


More and more retailers are recognizing the huge potential that comes from improved findability in search engines. While online shop operators have been relying on search engine optimization (SEO for short) measures for a very long time, this online marketing strategy has now also reached the retail sector. After all, Google search has long become indispensable at the local level as well.

The goal of improving the findability of retailers on the Internet is by no means the same as creating an online shop. This is a separate sector and should play no or only a minor role in this article. Rather, it’s about picking up potential customers in Google search and directing them to your local brick-and-mortar store. Now is exactly the right time to do this: After all, in many regions there is still the chance to put your own store in the focus for search queries with a local connection.

Why is search engine optimization so important for retailers?

Both things for everyday needs and specific products such as PC keyboards, knitwear or bridal fashion are requested via Google search. The intention behind this is often not to buy these products online, but to find a retailer from the region who sells exactly these products.

Google automatically displays local businesses on the search results page that appear to match these search queries. The search engine also takes the user’s location into account. At this point at the latest, retailers are in demand and should check whether they are already prominently present in Google search for the products they sell. If this is not the case, it is time to act and initiate comprehensive optimization measures. There are some important things that can be done to make the most used search engine a profitable customer feeder in the long run.

Did you know? According to the Google study “Understanding Customers’ Local Search Behaviour” from 2014, every second Google user visits a shop that they found via Google search. Twenty percent of people even shop there the same day. Here are the results as a PDF.

What can ambitious retailers do on their own?

To get your own business listed well on Google, you don’t necessarily have to call in a professional (SEO) agency. For ambitious retailers who have the necessary time resources, it is easily possible to noticeably improve their own online presence at the local level. In principle, this does not even necessarily require a website, although this is a prerequisite for being found in the so-called organic search.

Retailer without a website

For retailers who don’t have their own website, the first and only place to go is Google My Business. This service is a much too often underestimated feature to improve the local presence in Google search. Retailers should therefore by no means leave this potential to the left, but take full advantage of it.

A registration for Google My Business should not be confused with a classic business directory entry. Rather, this Google service offers the possibility to optimally present the company in Google Search as well as in Google Maps. Potential customers can select the route to the business, view opening hours, view and submit reviews, and find out a lot of other useful information about the company.

Retailers can use the Google My Business platform specifically to present the company and its product range in the best possible way. For some time now, there has also been the option of publishing posts in Google My Business. This form of communication can be used, for example, to draw attention to new products, discount promotions and other news.

Owners of a Google My Business profile can also view and evaluate useful data. This includes (among other things) the volume of visitors as well as the frequency of requests for company name or company address. Last but not least, positive reviews on Google can ensure that the customer decides for you and not for the competition.

The Google My Business listing ranking can be positively influenced by considering the following factors:

  • complete and correct information
  • professional business description
  • confirm location
  • Add photos
  • Manage and respond to reviews
  • Always keep opening hours up to date

Furthermore, the position of the entry is determined on the basis of relevance, distance and conspicuousness. Further information is available at:

Retailer with website

In addition to Google My Business, retailers who have their own website have the opportunity to be found in the so-called organic search. These are the search results that can be seen below the paid ads. If top rankings are achieved here, this usually promises a permanent influx of customers.

Here, it is important to pay attention to the search terms for which the website is to be found by potential customers. On the basis of these search terms, it must then be analysed whether the content of the website is set up in such a way that it does justice to a good ranking. This means that if someone searches for “stationery Düsseldorf”, it must also be recognisable from the retailer’s website that it is a stationery shop from Düsseldorf.

There should therefore be a sufficiently long text that informs potential customers about the product range and establishes the reference to the store in Düsseldorf. Ideally, there is also an “About us” page, directions and a map section. All of this is information that potential customers would expect to find on the website. Additionally, there are some technical-structural SEO aspects to consider, which can be read in the following startup guide:

In addition, the Local Business Markup should also be implemented in the source code of the website for the findability for local search queries. What is this all about? Quite simple really: The markup enables Google to interpret the content and the orientation of the website even better. Especially for local search queries, this offers an excellent opportunity to signal to Google that it is a local business. Ideally, profit can then be made from this in the search results.

The following enterprise-relevant data, among others, can be defined in this markup:

  • Company name
  • Logo
  • URL
  • Phone number
  • Street, postcode, city
  • Country
  • Geographical data
  • Opening hours
  • Social media profiles

To create such a markup, the use of one of the many markup generators available free of charge has proven to be useful.

For example:


Further information on the Local Business Markup can be found at:

Implemented markups can be checked for validity using the test tool for structured data:

Entry in reputable business directories

Even if it is not at all advisable to enter one’s own company indiscriminately in umpteen different online directories, there are still reputable directories in the World Wide Web in which an entry is definitely worthwhile.

On the one hand, this creates a link to the own website and on the other hand, Google becomes more aware of the identity and the reference of the company. It is important that identical data is always stored in the directories. One speaks of the so-called NAP data. These are “Name”, “Address” and “Phone Number”. Certainly, things like opening hours are also included.

By the way, there have been changes in Google search on 22 February 2020: Google shows in some countries when entering a search term with a local reference like “dentists london” also entries from business directories like Yelp. In the future, this could be another reason for entries in reputable business directories.


Interaction with social media

Although signals from social media networks are not an official ranking criterion according to the official Google statement, they should nevertheless not be disregarded when optimizing the web presence. After all, there are often interactions that all pay into the account “online visibility”.

This means that potential customers who have become aware of the company via Facebook may use Google search the next time to find the route to the branch or the opening hours. In addition, social networks can be used perfectly to place ads. On Facebook, for example, ads can be played out specifically for the citizens of a particular place of residence. In this way, attention can be drawn both to the company itself and to special promotions such as discounts, sales or competitions.


Retailers definitely have a good chance to profit from the excessive use of Google search. The competition for local search queries is mostly very low, which increases the chances of getting a piece of the big pie. It may even be possible to win back one or two online shoppers and inspire them to shop locally. Experience shows that companies that present themselves online in an authentic and customer-oriented manner create additional opportunities to be well received by potential customers.


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