The way most multi-location brands use store locators is a massively missed opportunity. If you’re counting on consumers to realize it’s your brand they want, then find their way to your store locator page and pick a location, you’re leaving the vast majority of that business on the table. That outdated store locator method just doesn’t jive with the way people search for local answers to their needs today.

Smart brands are tapping optimized store locators for higher rankings and greater local visibility for each of their locations. Even better, through these optimized local business listings they’re creating experiences and interactions that convert searchers to customers. Here are six reasons you need to make optimizing your store locator your top local SEO and marketing priority:

1. Consumers are Searching for Nearby Stores, Usually from Mobile

The amount of Google searches for “near me” businesses has increased 34x since 2011, nearly doubling since last year alone. According to Google, the vast majority of these queries come from mobile — 80% in Q4 2014.

What do these on-the-go consumers see when they’re searching for businesses and products or services like yours?

2. Local Searchers Are Often Motivated Consumers

These people who are searching for local businesses are highly motivated buyers. In fact, Google found that 50% of consumers who conducted a local search on their smartphone and 34% who searched on computer/tablet visited a store within a day. Further, 18% of local smartphone searches lead to a purchase within just one day. These are people who have an explicit, expressed need and they’re looking for the best solution.

Do your local business listings and presence across the local search ecosystem make it clear the best solution is yours?

3. These Searchers Have High Expectations of Content

Not all decisions are made in the spur of the moment. Adobe’s recent State of Content study found that 88% of consumers say they multiscreen and the vast majority of those (73%) say “content must display well on the device.” Wherever they’re searching and whatever device they’re using, they expect your content to perform.

Is your content optimized to be found and displayed on the devices your prospects are searching on?

4. They Expect Relevant Local Content, Too

Consumers also expect to see content that meets their unique needs. In fact, 74% of consumers in a recent poll said they get frustrated when presented with irrelevant web content.  When searching for stores “near me” or services for which there’s an immediate demand, consumers simply don’t have the patience for regional or generic pages that don’t answer their immediate need. They don’t want to see a product promoted only to learn it’s not available at their local store, either. Their content experience needs to be accurate and relevant to deliver on their need.

Do your local landing pages contain locally relevant content that speaks directly to the needs of consumers in that location’s area?

5. Optimized Store Locators Appear More Often and Rank Higher in Organic Search

Hopefully by now you can see how important an optimized store locator is for optimal user experience, but it’s also a critical component of a successful local SEO strategy, too. Within one year, pet specialty retailer Petco was able to increase its search volume by 42% and drive 27% more organic search traffic to its store locator pages with a customized and branded store locator and optimized hyperlocal specialty pages.

petco

Are your webpages appearing as often and ranking as high as they could in organic search?

6. Social Content Integration with Local Pages Key for SEO & Conversion

Social validation is important for consumers. People want confirmation from others that we’re making the best choices. According to Econsultancy, 63% of customers are more likely to make a purchase from a site which has user reviews, and the publication B2C tells us that 72% of customers say they positive reviews make them trust a local business more. What’s more, those reviews are just the kind of fresh, unique and relevant content the search engines love. That’s why we launched Bazaarvoice integration, which adds rich user-generated content to each of your Local Pages.

Are you using locally relevant ratings and reviews to convert searchers on your store locator pages?

You should be feeling inspired now to take steps to help your location pages rank higher, better answer local searchers’ needs, and convert them to take action. Give each of your locations an online presence that commands top rankings and creates interactions with customers.