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3 Search Opportunities Retailers Can’t Afford To Miss

3 Search Opportunities Retailers Can’t Afford To Miss

As competition intensifies, it becomes increasingly more difficult for retailers to thrive, with big retailers like Sears, JC Penney and Macy’s resorting to Every Day Value Pricing.

To succeed, retailers must avoid missed opportunities. This article identifies three opportunities retailers can take advantage of: (1) use every available local search tactic, (2) have your site ready for smartphones and tablets, and (3) be able to identify new, incremental sources of traffic and conversions.

The Marketing Sherpa 2012 Search Marketing SEO Edition Benchmark Report, which surveyed over 1,500 organizations, found that local business listing tactics are underutilized.

Since local business listings and reviews are displayed before natural search results, it’s now more important than ever for retailers to be found in local search.

This report indicated only 37 percent of the businesses  surveyed claimed their local business listing on search engines. Of those that did, many did not use every available listing tactic, as shown in the chart below.

Local Business Listing Tactics Used For Local Search


While many businesses optimize for local search as part of their SEO strategy, few utilized every local search tactic such as encouraging customer reviews on Google Places and Yelp, posting directions, store/product images, etc.

This is an opportunity retailers don’t want to miss, as local search gains more visibility in the SERPs with more local searches conducted by consumers on smartphones and tablets.

The Future Of E-commerce

Every retailer should know by now the future of e-commerce lies in tablets and smartphones. A new study, Mobile and Tablet Ecommerce: Is Anyone Really Ready?, by mobile services provider Zmags found that only one-third of the U.S. top online retailers are optimally ready for mobile e-commerce today.

That means two-thirds of U.S. top retailers are overlooking this market opportunity. Many retailers aren’t ready for today’s shoppers on tablets and smartphones and also don’t have the ability to identify new, incremental sources of traffic and conversions.

Readiness For Tablet & Smartphone Shoppers

Tablets and smartphones are used more than desktop and laptop computers to make purchases today. Additionally, tablet users spend more per purchase (Adobe Digital Marketing Insights).

Other studies show that people are buying and spending more from tablets and smartphones. A new study by comScore, 2012 U.S. Digital Future in Focus, reports smartphone and tablets are drastically altering “consumers’ digital media consumption,” concluding the majority of mobile phone owners used their devices for accessing the Web in 2011 for surfing, shopping, banking or any desired action.

The increasing number of U.S. tablet users is gradually changing the way people shop by purchasing online rather than visiting stores. Twenty percent of all mobile e-commerce sales now come from tablets, wutg 60 percent of tablet owners using them for purchasing goods. Evidently, this beats the heck out of fighting traffic and standing in line in crowded stores.

By 2016, mobile commerce is expected to increase to $31 billion in the U.S. – a substantial increase from $3 billion in 2010.

While most retailers are not ready for today’s’ shoppers on tablets and smartphones, another opportunity is being overlooked that can be even more costly.

Retailers make blind commitments in Local, Organic and Mobile search. Armed with little or no data, they engage in optimizing these channels without knowledge (or measurement) of their local, organic and mobile presence.

Ability To Identify New, Incremental Sources Of Traffic & Conversions

It’s important for retailers to run a search for their primary keyword/s in every city and state where they have physical storefronts, offices, dealers or franchises, etc. All three major engines will display performance and coverage.


The above example shows an automotive retailer without first page coverage in 39 of 100 top metropolitan store locations.

Assuming a $50 Average Order Value (AOV) and one percent (1%) market share, this retailer has the opportunity to be in front of an additional $16,309.00 of monthly local market opportunity, per location.


The second example shows a department store accessories retailer without first page coverage in 72 of 100 top metropolitan store locations. Assuming a $20 Average Order Value (AOV) and one percent (1%) market share, this retailer has the opportunity to be in front of an additional $9,090.00 of monthly local market opportunity, per location.

It is valuable to identify what percentage of improvement is available, and which locations have no coverage. Incremental monthly unique visitors (MUVs) are available when you define a very specific missed market opportunity. Without this information, retailers are moving forward blindly.

Local Market Opportunity

When we drill down to the local level, we can identify the local market opportunity.


Assuming a $250 AOV and one percent (1%) market share, the insurance company above has the opportunity to be in front of an additional $76,576 in monthly local market opportunity, per location.

Specific Measurable Results

Once a retailer has identified its lack of coverage, it can begin to track the improvements moving forward, while capturing incremental MUVs in local, organic and mobile search.

Analytics at the local store level reveals valuable information, e.g., the number of coupons downloaded for the store, the number of click-throughs to weekly ads, the number of users clicking on map directions and other in-store related events specific to an individual storefront location.

Lack of coverage translates to a local market missed opportunity.

  • 82% of local searches result in an action (phone call, store visit, purchase). Of these, 61% made a purchase. (TMP/comScore)
  • 76% of Internet users first look at Local Search or maps area of the 1st page, then Organic and last, Paid Search. (Neilson)
  • 73% of online activity is related to local content. (Google)
  • 63 percent completed a purchase offline following their search activity. (comScore)

Proprietary software, such as digital storefront software and mobile store locator software, can uncover these opportunities, providing insight to discover sources of new and incremental traffic and conversions. However, this type of software is only available to interactive and traditional agencies. Contact me if you’re an agency interested in software solutions, or if you’re an end user and would like to be put in touch with a licensed agency.

Disclosure: I advise enterprise level organizations and interactive/traditional agencies on local search and semantic SEO and am not a licensed agency selling software solutions.