If you have more than one physical location, in addition to your ecommerce site, you need a store locator. By placing all the addresses of your stores on the same web page and calling it, you can not reduce the number of buyers or improve natural search performance.
An optimal store locator should be searchable for your customers and also explorable for search engines. Buyers of your site are looking for an experience that targets their location or offers them at least a simple way to select a store, for example a location search box to enter their zip code.
The Home Depot Locator is a typical example.
To host crawlers – and to direct local consumers to your stores instead of your competitors – your location locator must have a clear crawl path to an individual page for each store.
This does not mean that you have to contract with an expensive local search provider if you only have a handful of stores. Use the examples below to create your own. However, if you have more than 10 stores, you may want to consider a more scalable solution that provides both the distribution of data to the necessary location drives and an optimal on-site location experience for search and navigation.
Optimal location directory
The idea is to provide a path of exploration that organizes and gives access to a single page for each store and organizes your locations into manageable blocks.
If you have five locations, it’s pretty easy. You only need one landing page with five links to five separate site pages, one for each store.
If you have 500 locations, the task is more difficult. Let’s say your stores are located in 32 US states. Your locator should be connected to 500 individual pages. This is an overwhelming list for anyone to navigate – yes, buyers will also be browsing.
Instead, create a short trip that will take customers and crawlers from the landing page from one location to another that lists the states in which your company has stores. From there, if you click a report, another page lists the cities in which the stores are located, including the store name if a city has multiple locations. Finally, clicking on the name of the city or store will take you to the detail page of each store.
The Home Depot provides a great example of this flow from one page state to the other. The landing page below lists all the states in which The Home Depot has a store.
Clicking on a status will take you to a new page that shows the city in which the store is located with the associated address and phone number. For cities where there are two locations, the store name is more accurate, for example “W Mobile” and “Mobile”, for both stores in Mobile, Alabama.
But the most important for natural search, the experience does not stop there. Home Depot offers a detailed page for each location, accessible by clicking on the name of the location from the Status page.
These pages of location details likely contain most of the items that buyers might want when they are looking for a home improvement store. This includes a map, an address, a phone number and opening hours.
Beyond this, the detail pages contain information about local events, store features, and three short paragraphs of unique local content that describe each store and its immediate area. The longest part of the content is the most popular, as are the popular categories below. But the critics are not. They are a good way to bring the relevance generated by the user.
If you do not offer this search path to search bots for storing location details pages, the only other way to provide access is via an XML sitemap. This may result in indexing detail pages, but this does not give them contextual relevance within your site, and it can not pass the internal link authority. When an XML sitemap is the only way to index the location details pages, your ability to categorize them in traditional search results will suffer.
Convincing user experience
Also pay attention to the user experience on these detail pages. If the search is natural in the page, allowing researchers to enter the stores, buyers will first land on these pages. They must have experience that meets their needs and represents your brand well.
For example, the sitemap page of the store blander directory ranks to search for Home Depot locations, not its intended visual map page, which is more user-friendly. The location directory sitemap is better optimized for winning search, with text that targets keywords, titles, and relevant links to each store. In other words, Google understands the store directory sitemap page better than the visual map version.
If Home Depot wants the page with the main store search card to be sorted, it must merge the two pages with the visual map at the top (for customers) followed by a directory experience on the same page (for search engines crawler).