As Google has evolved to assume that users are searching for something in the physical world, terms like “near me” are now implied — and consumers are making an increasing number unbranded queries as well, searching for “designer shoes” rather than a “Manolo Blahnik near me.”
“It’s easy to rank for ‘Bloomingdale’s 59th Street’ or ‘Bloomingdale’s Soho,” said Darwin Giovanny, senior SEO analyst at Bloomingdale’s. “But that [doesn’t reflect] many of the ways that customers really search for things today.”
At Yext’s ONWARD conference, Giovanny caught up with GeoMarketing to talk about how to rank in the unbranded searches that consumers are making today — and why thinking local is still top priority when it comes to driving foot traffic.
Darwin Giovanny: Let’s talk about the evolution of intelligent search: Things are changing with the rising volume of voice searches — and with Google providing structured answers to users queries, fewer searches are resulting in a customer actually visiting a webpage. What’s your big picture approach to SEO today?
Right now, honestly, my biggest focus is on optimizing for our non-branded rankings on organic search.
We’re focusing on our local search pages, and the biggest initiative that we’re working on right now is to optimize for unbranded queries. For example, at Bloomingdale’s, we offer services like wedding registry, tailoring, personal shopping and more — but we’re not really ranking for those queries when they’re non-branded. It’s easy to rank for “Bloomingdale’s 59th street” or “Bloomingdale’s Soho.” But that [doesn’t reflect] many of the ways that customers really search for things today.
Right. They’ll search — by text or voice — “buy wedding gift,” but not necessarily include Bloomingdale’s in that query.
What steps are you taking to rank in these unbranded situations?
It’s all about building out the right content: Our location pages were straightforward, including the address and the manager’s name, but they were not telling the customers what services we offer or what brands we offer there.
As an example, at Bloomingdale’s 59th, we have a Nespresso café that’s pretty popular around the neighborhood. But when we searched for buying Nespresso machines around us, we didn’t pop up on the search. Now we know that we need to [optimize] the individual local pages to call out the specific brands that we carry at each location, and the type of products that we carry — and also to [write copy] that attempts to answer users queries directly.
Ranking for these unbranded searches is key. You mentioned that local search is a big priority for you was well; how do you think about local SEO, and why is it so important in driving customers to physical stores?
It’s obvious, but if you’re looking for something [in the real world], you’re going to look it up on your phone; that’s what people do. For example, if you’re on the street and you don’t know exactly where Bloomingdale’s 59th is, you would go to your mobile device and search “Bloomingdale’s” or “designer clothing store” — whatever services or brands that you want to purchase right now. [It’s all about] that moment of intent.
From a foot traffic perspective, if you’re not popping up on the top-three local pack of [mapped] results when someone makes that search, you’re in trouble.
Accurate [listings and] location data is really important for this. That’s something that working with Yext [full disclosure: Yext is GeoMarketing‘s parent company. More details on that relationship here] has really helped us on — improving our accuracy and ensuring that our stores all show up correctly.