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Expert Column: Linguistic Analysis How-to Guide for Grocers


With four out of five shoppers using a search engine before making a local purchase, improving local rankings can mean massive increases in business for grocers. Those local searchers, the ones actively seeking out information about products and services nearby, turn into customers quickly. According to a whitepaper from Google, “Understanding Consumers’ Local Search Behavior,” 18 percent of local searchers convert to customers within a day, more than double the 7 percent of traditional searchers who convert within a day.

While dedicated landing pages, directory syndication, consumer reviews and search engine listings are all effective ways to improve local search rankings, one strategy is being commonly overlooked by grocers: local linguistics. 

Regional populations, which can be as small as a neighborhood or as large as a state, naturally have their own unique inflections, vernaculars and linguistic traits. Those small differences in how populations speak also influence how they search, meaning that people in New Hampshire may search and use different keywords for the same topics differently than people in Utah.

Search engines give results based on keywords and search engines give preference to websites that match those keywords exactly over those that use synonyms. Because of this search engine feature, businesses like grocers who put a priority on creating content that specifically appeals to segmented geographic locations will see an advantage over their competitors.

The key for businesses that want to take advantage of this opportunity is to research how different geographic populations search and optimize their local web pages to align with geographical queries. It all starts with thorough research of patterns and then creating a plan to capitalize on them. 

Phoenix Case Study – How to Conduct Linguistic Research and Analyze Results

Creating a local linguistic strategy begins with thorough research of search patterns. One way to research the search patterns of specific geographic locations is to use Google Trends and compare two or more search keywords with a location modifier. Taking a look at Phoenix, there is clear evidence that both “supermarket” and “grocery store” are both used frequently, but “grocery store” is used more often. Now, what the graph above does is average out searches or time to give a visual representation of what’s happening at any given moment. And while trends are easy to identify, it does not mean they can’t change in the future. 

It also doesn’t mean that within Phoenix, a large metropolitan area with several distinct neighborhoods, that there aren’t some communities that prefer “supermarket,” so it’s best to avoid assumptions. If a grocer does similar research on other cities such as Dallas (also seen above), they’d find that each region has specific tendencies.

The way for grocers to take advantage of this research is to alter each regional and individual landing page to specifically represent the linguistic trends of that area. For instance, it would be beneficial for Whole Foods to adjust its content to emphasize “grocery store” over “supermarket.” The places to make that adjustment would be in the page title, and sub-headers, links, HTML tags and any other content on the page that makes sense.

Local linguistic analysis and content creation has the ability to improve local search rankings, thus increasing website traffic and in-store sales. Grocers should invest in thorough local linguistic analysis and optimize individual landing pages based on the information. By following through with this underutilized local SEO strategy, grocers can gain an advantage over competitors.

For more information about how grocers can best levearge SEO strategies, visit ZOG Digital online.

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