Does your store locator receive natural search traffic, or do Yellow Pages and Yelp sites gain clicks from keyword searches for your brand? Without an SEO friendly store locator, you can give an edge to your competitors.
Store locators are tricky for search engines because they tend to be interactive tools that generate map results that search crawlers can not decipher. There are actually two barriers: the input used to drive the results – the search box and the location sniffer – and the map-based output that is almost always unavailable for search engines.
A simple HTML link to a directory of old-fashioned store locations helps avoid these obstacles. Search engines can crawl the directory, index store-specific pages, and provide relevant results to search locator queries.
Otherwise, if the search engine bots do not find the relevant pages, they may drop the searchers on the store's landing page. This creates a bad experience for buyers because they have already asked for a search engine for a specific location – why should they ask the same thing to your store locator?
Instead, your store locator must provide detailed information to the search engines so that they can redirect the searcher to the detail page of the most relevant store location.
Alternatively, search engines may rank other sites that offer more indexable solutions. In this case, your site is missing an opportunity to make a brand impression, and may even attract customers to make a purchase, whether online or in a physical store.
Store locators optimized for SEO
Many vendors offer store locators. Almost all say that they are favorable to SEO. A handful of them are, although some are not optimal. Look for the following telltale signs of SEO usability when choosing a store location provider.
First, the link between your header or footer and the store locator must be able to be analyzed. If the search engine bots can not access the locator, they can not index the pages. Features that allow you to search for a location directly from the header can be useful for usability, but in order to be crawled, they must be encoded in order to degrade into an HTML link.
Then the page that you link to questions. Each click of the homepage is viewed by search engines as a deeper level in the site's hierarchy. The lower the hierarchy, the less the internal linking authority of a page tends to collect, which makes it less interesting.
In some cases, sites with store locators link their headers to a marketing-oriented page, which then links them to the locator itself. This places the valuable store locator in two clicks, instead of positioning it to be linked directly from the header, depriving it of this critical internal link authority.
Macys.com is an example of this hierarchy with two clicks. The site does so much with its store locator, as I will do in the next few examples, but it's an area where the desire to market the customers outweighs the desire for a stronger SEO.
It's here that stops the criticism of Macy's store locator. The locator is very user friendly. He understands this important link to the repertoire of old school stores.
Learning from Macy
Let's see what works well for SEO in Macy's example. The directory-type structure of the status pages, which bind to the city pages, which in turn link to the individual store location pages, creates a navigation path that search engines can easily explore. and index. To be sure, 99.9% of buyers will not use this navigation path. But it is essential to index your site pages.
The other important distinction is the inclusion of a separate page for each store. It is not enough to list all the locations on one page. Each site needs its own page, with its own unique information. Typical data points are the store name, address, phone number and hours.
The retail page of the store location must also contain a map. Remember that these pages are important for search engines, which need to discover and index their signals of relevance and authority. But buyers will end up landing on these pages from the search results pages. The pages must therefore give a positive brand impression and give buyers all the information and conversion possibilities they are looking for.
To this end, Macys.com goes beyond basic information and offers additional details about the store, such as: store pickup information; services, departments and stores featured in the store; popular brands sold in stores (with e-commerce links to encourage immediate sale); and shops nearby.
Stores with more convenient services, such as appointments with a consultant, could also offer the opportunity to make an appointment directly on the page.
Macy's navigation path avoids a common SEO error for store locators: having localization pages on the site with no links to them – "orphan" pages. They are difficult to discover and index, and do not benefit from the internal linking authority provided by navigation.
Similarly, the inclusion in an XML sitemap does not replace the navigation links. XML sitemaps can help with discovery and indexing, but they do not convey the internal link authority, which is an important factor when rankings are competitive.