Every visitor that comes to your website is unique, and with the advent of big data and the Internet of Things, we have more information about them than we have ever had before. Metrics like browsing history, click-through rates, shopping preferences and more are now freely accessible pieces of data that leaders and web managers can pull anytime they choose. The question is, how do we use simple location information to make the user’s experience with our website more personal? Here are some tips.
The easiest information to gather about your customer is where they are from. Unless they are using a VPN, their IP address quickly gives you that information. Additionally, if they have location services enabled, the search engine they used to find your site will know it as well.
The user’s location reveals a lot about them and can help you in a number of ways. The first is that you can tailor your homepage or landing page to their geographic location. If you are selling shoes, different styles will be better for different areas. What will appeal to an audience in Nashville may not appeal to users in New York.
If you have several physical locations, your users can be directed to the one closest to them. The information they get can include hours, local menu items, and seasonal and local sales. This personalization helps them feel valued.
Multiple Domains vs. Subdomains
So how do you personalize these home pages and landing pages? There are a couple of choices and each of them has their advantages and disadvantages.
For franchised businesses, sometimes the parent company wants each location to manage their own social media presence and domain name. The primary reason is this is done is to save the company both money and effort in maintaining several websites, or a large site with several subdomains.
It also allows the site owner to create a more personal experience for their target and recurring demographics. They’re the ones who interact with customers face-to-face and live in the area, so they know who their client base is, or who they need it to be, better than anyone at the company headquarters is liable to.
This often creates other issues though. In leaving social media and websites to each location, the company does lose some control over messaging, menus, seasonal promos, and consistent branding.
The other disadvantage to this is that if the franchise closes, the parent company loses all of the SEO and other work that was put into that site unless they take it over. Also, they do not get the links and social signals of that site to the primary company site, which can help boost search engine rankings.
Using subdomains is generally a better idea. Links and social signals pass along juice to the main site, the company has control over content and messaging, and the site is not lost in the case of a franchise closure.
These subdomains also give the local franchisees to retain the degree of control they’ll need to continue creating that customized experience for their demographics. They can maintain blog posts and post stories, reviews, and more.
The advantages of using location is that you will increase your rankings in local search. You can increase these chances even more by using metro and local pages to drive search query results.
For example, if you have a restaurant in the Gaslamp District in San Diego, but you also have other locations in the same city, your URL would look something like this: www.myurl.com/sandiego/3173/gaslamp. This would indicate that your restaurant #3173 is located in that particular neighborhood, but would also let you rank for the search term “restaurants in San Diego” or “restaurants near me.”
Since many of these searches are done on mobile or even in Google or Apple Maps because users are looking for directions, these location sites must also offer precise information about your address, phone number, and email address. If your information is incorrect in Google for whatever reason, you can correct it right away.
Of course, with voice search on devices like Google Home and the Amazon Echo, the ultimate prize is to rank #0, and be the first answer these devices provide users. Having metro and local pages, with accurate location data prominent on the site, is essential for this to work.
While finding and securing multiple domains can sometimes be tricky, for each location to have its own Twitter or Facebook page is a great idea. This allows you to do a few important things.
One of the most important is that you can get more reviews with localized pages, and those signals will translate to your subdomains as well. These reviews are an essential part of how Google ranks businesses; the goal of Google is to provide the user with the best results and an experience they are going to enjoy. Poor reviews can drop you from top rankings as fast as users being unable to find you easily.
Getting traffic to these local pages is essential, which means that your PPC campaigns and content marketing must get the right kind of social signals to do so. This may mean creating more local or regional content, as well as landing pages and geo-targeting PPC campaigns, but the resulting social signals and click-thru rates will ultimately improve your ranking.
This means each of these pages will have to provide a great user experience to lower bounce rates. Be sure your message aligns across all of your platforms.
Using location to personalize the user experience at first seems like an easy thing to do, but getting it right is essential, and there are a lot of strategies to do so. Use the one that is right for your business and what you do. By carefully analyzing the location and demographic data provided, tied with a personalized experience that matches what your customers are looking for, your organic traffic, conversion rates, and sales will increase exponentially.