If your business operates both digitally and physically, users must be able to quickly and easily find your store locations. This is exactly where website store locators can help.
Website store locators come in a variety of structures, including single-page location lists, search-only locator pages, geo-targeted location pages (GTL), locator index pages, state pages, city pages, and location pages. Each of these structures comes with its benefits and disadvantages, making it all the more important to have a clear understanding of each to make an informed decision about what will work best for your business.
Explore this blog to learn more about website store locators and how they play a pivotal role in the local SEO (search engine optimization) performance of your website.
What is a Website Store Locator?
A website store locator is a tool that’s integrated into a website that allows users to easily find physical stores or service points of that business. This is a common tool, especially for websites of businesses that have multiple branches or outlets. The primary goal of a store locator is to guide online users to a physical location where they can access services, make purchases, and gather more information.
Why are Website Store Locators Important for Businesses with Multiple Locations?
There are a variety of reasons as to why website store locators are important for businesses with multiple locations, including enhancing the user experience, increasing foot traffic, and local SEO benefits. Implementing a store locator makes it easier for customers to seamlessly transition from browsing online to making a purchase in store. Additionally, a store locator helps improve visibility in local search results, especially if each store location has its own dedicated page with unique content about each location.
Types of Website Store Locators
There are many different types of website store locators. Here are a few types help you to determine which option is right for your website.
Single-Page Location List
A single-page location list is a simple list of all store locations on one page with no interactive features or individual pages. This is an option that’s fairly straightforward and easy to set up without needing any advanced web design skills, however it offers limited SEO benefits. For example, a local bakery chain with five branches in a city has a “Locations” page on its website, simply listing each of the five branches with the respective addresses, phone numbers, and hours of operation in a bullet-point format.
While this may have been a simple option when first setting up this web page, the bakery runs the risk of missing out on local SEO opportunities because there’s no unique content or dedicated page for each location. This option also doesn’t offer an interactive experience for users who may want to see photos of the location or see the location on a map to easily get directions, which in turn, may negatively impact the user experience.
Search-Only Locator Pages
Search-only locator pages enable users to search for locations and often include some sort of map interface. These types of locator tools can provide a more interactive experience for online users; however, businesses may miss out on organic traffic due to a lack of unique location pages. For example, a national shoe retail chain has a “Store Locator” tool on its website. Within this tool, users can enter their zip code or city and the tool will display nearby store locations on an interactive map.
This tool allows users to zoom in/out on the map, click on store icons for more details, and even get directions. While this is an interactive and user-friendly tool, the chain may not capture organic traffic from searches, such as “shoe store in [specific city],” because there aren’t any unique pages for each location.
Geo-Targeted Location Pages (GTL)
Geo-targeted location pages (GTL) follow a hierarchal organization, meaning that the location pages are organized by state, city, and specific location. These types of pages allow businesses to target specific local keywords, while also providing users with more relevant content. For example, a multinational electronics brand has dedicated pages for each country it operates in. Within the US, there are pages for each state, and within each state, there are pages for major cities and each city page lists the brand’s stores or dealers in that city, with detailed information for each. In this example, the brand can target specific keywords like “electronics store in San Francisco” or “best electronics brand in California.” Additionally, each page provides an opportunity for the brand to create tailored content to the region based on the location, enhancing local relevance and SEO potential.
What is the Best Website Store Locator Structure for Optimal Performance?
Deciding the best website store locator structure is imperative for an effective local SEO strategy. Here are a few structures that work well for optimal performance.
Locator Index Page
Locator index pages serve as a pivotal point for users embarking on their location search journey. Designed for optimal functionality, these pages include essential features such as search capabilities, map integration, and direct links to state-specific pages. The streamlined user experience allows individuals to efficiently navigate and pinpoint their desired locations. The incorporation of a user-friendly search function empowers visitors to quickly access relevant information, while the integrated maps provide visual context.
Additionally, the strategically placed links to state pages offer a convenient pathway for users to delve deeper into location-specific details. In essence, locator index pages play a crucial role in enhancing user engagement and facilitating a smooth exploration of diverse geographical elements.
State pages establish a vital connection to every city in which the business operates within a given state. This systematic approach ensures comprehensive coverage and enables the optimization for state-specific keywords. By encompassing all cities, these pages serve as a gateway for users seeking localized information. They offer a straightforward avenue to explore the business's presence across different regions within the state. In addition to catering to specific search queries, the structure of state pages allows for the presentation of broader regional details. This enhances visibility for targeted keywords and provides users with a concise yet informative overview of the business's statewide presence.
City pages detail all business locations within a respective city, offering a comprehensive directory for users. This straightforward presentation ensures that visitors can swiftly access information about the company's presence in that specific urban center. Additionally, these pages serve as a practical platform to spotlight local landmarks, events, or news pertinent to the business. By integrating such relevant details, the city pages provide essential location-based information and help establish a connection with the local community. This no-nonsense approach prioritizes clarity and utility, offering users a concise yet informative resource to explore the company's footprint within a particular city while staying attuned to the local context.
Location pages serve as comprehensive repositories of information for a particular store, offering details on aspects of a business location like operating hours, available services, and ongoing promotions. The primary aim is to facilitate efficient user engagement by seamlessly incorporating key elements such as reviews, images, and promotions. The inclusion of user reviews provides valuable insights into the customer experience, while images offer a visual preview of the store's environment. Additionally, promotions showcased on the location pages serve as incentives, fostering a direct and practical approach to enhance user interaction and satisfaction.
Tips for Optimal Website Store Locator Performance
When it comes to creating an efficient online presence, the performance of a website's store locator is paramount. This section explains practical tips aimed at optimizing store locator functionality, ensuring a seamless user experience and enhancing the overall effectiveness of businesses in connecting with their audience.
One of the most important aspects of creating an optimized store locator is creating unique content for each location. By avoiding generic or duplicated descriptions for locations, businesses can maximize on the local SEO benefits through the implementation of tailored keywords. Additionally, ensuring that each location's content reflects its distinct attributes and offerings cultivates a more personalized connection with the audience. It also helps foster a sense of relevance and authenticity that resonates with users searching for specific location details.
Local Points of Interest
When creating content for individual location pages, be sure to mention nearby landmarks or events occurring in the area. Not only does this enhance user engagement, but it also boosts local relevance on search engines and provides more opportunity for unique keywords.
Maximizing the impact of location-based content involves strategic measures such as internal linking between location pages to establish a seamless web that enhances user navigation. Additionally, optimizing images with locally relevant keywords ensures enhanced visibility in search results, aligning content with user intent. Targeting specific local search queries further sharpens the website's focus, delivering precise and valuable information to users seeking location-specific details. By implementing these strategies, businesses can fortify their online presence and cater to the nuanced needs of local audiences, optimizing overall website store locator performance.
Having reviews on location pages boosts local SEO and builds trust with potential customers. Reviews show website users how others interact with a business and how the business interacts with it’s customers. In the same vein, including responses to these reviews shows that the business cares about the consumer experience and is continuously looking to make improvements.
Common Mistakes to Avoid When Building a Website Store Locator
There are many common mistakes businesses can make when building a website store locator, including thin boilerplate content and NAP consistency. When including physical locations of a business on a website, it’s imperative to maintain a consistent name, address, and phone number (NAP) across all listings, otherwise businesses run the risk of losing trust or confusing potential customers.
Additionally, using the same content across multiple location pages can lead to SEO penalties, meaning businesses could lose visibility on search engines. If a business is looking to create location pages, it’s imperative to ensure that there’s high-quality, in-depth content. If there’s not, it may negatively impact the user experience. In order to add more content into a location page, consider including content about the community surrounding the location, directions, or possible landmarks to assist users in finding the location.
Out of the Box Store Locators vs. Custom Coded Ones
In regard to implementing a store locator on a website, businesses often grapple with the decision to use an “out-of-the-box” solution or opt for custom coding. It’s important to understand that both approaches have their advantages and disadvantages, as outlined below.
Out-of-the-Box Store Locator
Out-of-the-box store locators redefine convenience by offering a seamless and user-friendly experience. With intuitive interfaces, users effortlessly navigate to find store locations, operating hours, and services.
Out-of-the-Box Store Locator Advantages
One of the biggest advantages of out-of-the-box store locators is that they are ready-made solutions that can be set up quickly with just a few clicks or minor configurations. The simplicity of these solutions is reflective in their user-friendly interfaces, which allows even non-technical users to manage and update store information.
These solutions typically come with standard features such as search functionality, interactive maps, and a responsive design. Additionally, businesses who implement these solutions can also benefit from the customer support and regular updates from the provider to ensure compatibility and security. The initial costs of these solutions can be lower than custom development, especially for businesses with standard requirements.
Out-of-the-Box Store Locator Disadvantages
While some customization of out-of-the-box store locators may be possible, businesses are generally restricted to the features and designs provided by the solution. Some features or integrations of these store locators may come at an additional cost, which may hinder businesses who could benefit from additional features. Finally, using a standard store locator may result in a solution that looks and functions similarly to many others, meaning less differentiation from competitors.
Custom Coded Store Locator
Custom-coded store locators provide a tailored solution for businesses seeking precise control over functionality and design. These solutions are developed to meet specific requirements and seamlessly integrate with a website's unique architecture, ensuring a cohesive user experience. This customization empowers businesses to showcase their brand identity, optimize user interaction, and streamline the location discovery process. With the flexibility to adapt to evolving needs, custom-coded store locators stand as a robust tool, reflecting a commitment to delivering a highly personalized and efficient way for users to explore and connect with business locations.
Custom Coded Store Locator Advantages
There are many advantages to implementing a custom store locator, including full customization, unique user experience, integration capabilities, and scalability. A custom solution allows businesses to tailor their locator to meet the exact requirements in terms of both functionality and design. Custom store locators offer the opportunity to create a unique user experience that showcases the brand’s identity. Additionally, these solutions can be seamlessly integrated with other systems or databases that the business uses. Finally, the scalability provides businesses the opportunity to adapt their store locator as their brand grows or changes.
Custom Coded Store Locator Disadvantages
While custom store locators provide businesses with many advantages, it’s important to also understand some of the disadvantages to make an informed decision. First, custom development generally requires a larger upfront investment compared with ready-made decisions. These solutions can also take time to develop, from planning and designing to coding and testing to ensure a high-quality locator.
Additionally, businesses are responsible for maintaining their custom solution, which includes addressing any bugs that may occur and ensuring compatibility with other systems and updates. Finally, in order to make changes or updates to the store locator, businesses may need to rely on developers or IT teams, which can inhibit businesses from making quick changes.
When it comes to deciding between an out-of-the-box store locator and a custom-coded solution, it depends on the business’s specific needs, budget, timeline, and long-term goals. While some ready-made solutions are great for quick implementations and standard features, custom development offers flexibility and differentiation for businesses who have unique requirements or visions for their website features.
How Americaneagle.com Can Help Your Business Build and Optimize a Website Store Locator
Americaneagle.com’s teams have a great deal of experience building websites on various platforms including WordPress, Kentico, Sitecore, and BigCommerce. Our teams can assist businesses in either setting up an out-of-the-box solution or creating a custom solution. If your business is looking to learn more about our experience and expertise, contact us today.
If you're interested in learning more about local SEO, check out our whitepaper, "Cracking the Local SEO Code: A Beginner's Guide to Dominating the Local Search Results."