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GravityStream Does Local SEO: Now Fixes Store Locator Pages

I’m pleased to announce that GravityStream [1] can now optimize store locator pages for those retailer sites which provide search utilities for their local outlets.

GravityStream Compass Rose [2]

As you may recall, I’ve written before about how dealer locators are terribly optimized [3] and how store locator pages can be optimized [4]. A great many store locator sections of major corporate sites are not allowing search engine spiders to properly crawl through and index all the locations where they may have brick-and-mortar outlets.

Most large companies seem fairly unaware that their store locators are effectively blocking search engine spiders and are making it impossible for endusers to find their locations through simple keyword searches. I’ve also listed out a number of top store locator providers which produce locational services like this for many Internet Retailer 500 companies.

Read on for details on our results…

In the last two months, we’ve optimized the store locator sections of two different GravityStream client sites, resulting in major improvements in rankings and traffic for both.

For client #1, their store locator section was already moderately passable for search in the sense that they’d constructed the section so that spiders could easily crawl through and index their pages. However, they’d failed to really tweak the individual page elements that could “sing to the search engines” about what the pages’ core content was really about. For instance, the Titles and H1s of the pages were all identical for all the various locations where they have stores across the country, and some of the page content was ineffectual, such as a lack of good Meta descriptions and image ALT content.

We fixed all those items, making each store profile page uniquely titled to make it apparent to the search engines as to what the content was about, and we further kicked it up a notch by rendering the store address and phone content in hCard Microformats.

The results were fantastic!  In 136 local search combination queries, these store locator pages improved in their rankings in 80 of the queries. (This company only has about 30 locations in the US market.) The majority of the improvement was in rankings in Yahoo! and Microsoft Live searches — this is primarily because their pages were already ranking well in Google (#1 position in most cases), apparently due to Google’s superior capability at identifying authoritative content and associating it with the keyword search terms effectively.

But, in 11 cases, our changes allowed the company’s store pages to move up in Google’s SERPs, too, popping into position #1.

Some of the ranking improvements were very dramatic, allowing the site’s pages to improve in rankings by anywhere from 10 to 20+ positions.

The test search combinations were typical searches that consumers could be expected to make when looking for this company’s stores, using the company’s brandname:

This particular company has a fairly well-known brand name, making it natural for users to search for the store by tacking locality parameters into the search phrase when looking for the store locations. Also, it’s our general philosophy that companies with unique brand names can and should be able to rank well for their brand name searches, and our results as shown by these test queries back this up.

For client #2, the GravityStream optimization of their store locator pages was even more dramatic.

Client #2 is a very well-known nationwide retailer with stores in most major metro areas, and their store locator section, provided by a third-party, was constructed in such a way as to bar any of their dealer location pages from being indexed at all. (The location pages were all behind a search form, which is one of the all-time classic major barricades to search engine spiders.)

Through GravityStream, we created a linking structure to expose the content, and generated location pages for 107 cities in the US with optimal formatting. This is just the beginning for this client, however, since they have many more locations available. But, we wished to ramp them up slowly to insure a natural progression and to iron out any potential kinks before widening to expose more content.

We tested on 107 representative local queries (similar to client #1, we searched for combinations like “BrandX in Boston MA”).

Only a small fraction (about 4) of the pages have been slower to get crawled/indexed, so client #2 now has about a hundred pages showing up in SERPs which they’ve never had exposed before.

Achieving position number one for many keyword searches where you’ve never enjoyed rankings whatsoever is just the sort of thing we like providing to our clients.

Our GravityStream system is provided as a sort of web service to companies. Large, complex sites partner with us by installing proxy code on their server, allowing GravityStream to dynamically fix technical elements and to inject human-tweaked keyword content to insure best potential for ranking in search engine results.

Unlike many search marketing firms, we are so confident of our work that we charge clients based on the number of clickthroughs we drive to them from search engines, and we discount their brand name keywords on the assumption that they should be already getting their branded search traffic already without our assistance.

Those of us cooking up cool functionality in the GravityStream labs have even more stuff that we’ll be deploying on behalf of our clients this year, so stay tuned for more developments.