Local SEO guide for petrol stations

Breton Towler
April 1, 2024

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Local SEO guide for petrol stations
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If drivers run low on petrol when in a new area, it can be difficult for them to know where to go to fill up. Thankfully, petrol stations can optimise their online presence to ensure they are easily searchable for motorists needing to access fuel and essential services around the clock.

Given petrol stations tend to have convenience-based customer journeys and low brand loyalty, they need to ensure they get their fill in this competitive space. While location plays an important role, effectively marketing your petrol station to a local audience can also help acquire footfall.

Mirador Local explores how petrol station brands and local filling stations can capture a driver’s search intent and guide them to their location.

What is local SEO for petrol stations?

A local SEO strategy utilises a wealth of tactics, from garnering and replying to Google Reviews to exploring insights and search trends to feature highly in local organic search. For petrol stations, this means ensuring consistent branding and up-to-date information across all your locations. You earn their trust before they drive to you to top up their tank.

Incomplete or inaccurate petrol station information, such as opening hours and electric car charging points, can lead to frustrated customers and missed ranking opportunities. But how do we go about understanding this unique search behaviour?

Understanding how drivers find petrol stations

In most cases, customers will choose petrol stations based on convenience, such as its proximity to their location. Their search is need-based and carried out to solve a “dire” situation in a specific geographical area. They are running out of fuel and must top up their vehicle to reach their destination.

Remarkably, some searchers still favour a particular brand or petrol station. For example, around a third of consumers (34%) who frequent Co-op petrol stations say they choose the brand because they have a good loyalty scheme. But even then, sometimes the need for fuel can override this. Brands with multiple stations across the country, like BP and Shell, must ensure all their stations are visible in online search and map services to target this demographic.

Typically, most users will use location-based search queries like “petrol station near me”, “nearest petrol station”, or even “24-hour petrol station near me”, depending on the time of day. 

They will either search these queries on Google, input directly into Google Maps, or use an in-vehicle navigation system. That’s why it’s important you claim your Google Business Profile (GBP) location so your petrol station displays on Google Maps. 

By claiming your GBP, you can edit all the information about your filling station as it appears on Google, including giving a precise, accurate address. It’s no secret drivers who struggle to locate your pumps will go elsewhere for their fuel (unless their fuel level is critical).

The petrol station industry serves a truly brand-agnostic customer. You’ve got minutes, if not seconds to illustrate that your petrol station can deliver what they need.

Why is local SEO important for petrol stations?

With the ban on petrol cars pushed back to 2035, the demand for petrol and diesel pumps won’t be running dry anytime soon. Of course, it’s not always fuel that searchers are looking for. If your petrol station offers things like toilet facilities, food and drink, and self-service air pressure pumps, you must inform potential customers of this in local search.

Petrol stations have to contend with thinner margins than other retail industries. This means an effective online local content marketing SEO strategy is essential for getting them leads and visitors.

How to optimise your petrol station for search engines

Petrol stations have become more than a place to top up your vehicle. You need to showcase all the attributes, products, and services you offer, from accepted payment methods to free air and water.

Let’s look at ways petrol stations can optimise their online visibility to drive them to the top of the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs).

Optimise your Google Business Profile

Your GBP is the equivalent of a 24/7 virtual storefront. However, optimising it is an ongoing task, not a one-time thing.

Motorists rely on an information-rich GBP to help make convenience-based decisions in seconds. Use the fact that motorists aren’t loyal customers to your advantage by adopting strong optimisation habits to attract new visitors. This includes updating your holiday opening hours, uploading high-quality images of your fuel facility, and promoting special offers through Google Posts.

You can also use this feature to post valuable content, such as eco-friendly fuel options or ways drivers can improve their fuel economy. This will help establish your petrol station as a trusted source of expertise and information.

Encourage reviews

If other motorists are encouraged to leave a review about the “fantastic sandwiches” you sell or your staff that are “always friendly, helpful, and polite”, it can entice new customers. Positive reviews also enhances trust in your brand and improves your search rankings position and overall local SEO performance.

Don’t ignore your reviews either — respond to both positive and negative ones. This can deter potential customers and search engines, as it appears you don’t care and aren’t active online.

Not every customer will think of leaving a review without some kind of push or incentive. Your job is to make it as easy as possible for them. Create a clear process for asking for reviews. If necessary, consider offering discounts on things like de-icer during the winter months or a morning coffee if they are a frequent driver in the area.

Promote user-generated content

Images, videos, and other content submitted online by your customers can be extremely powerful and capture attention more effectively than text on its own. Motorists turn to reviews for authentic information, feedback, and inspiration based on real experiences others have had at fuel stations.

For larger brands and even more humble-sized filling stations, it provides different types of onsite content that builds trust and community. For example, a video submitted by a motorist showing how clean their vehicle is after using your car wash facilities. Alternatively, a delivery driver could post an image on social media of them enjoying your new bakery range on their lunch break.

These user-generated content (UGC) types can make your business listing even more appealing, optimise your marketing efforts, and help achieve your business goals.

Consider all your petrol station locations

If you’re a petrol station brand with multiple locations across the country, your local SEO presence must be consistent. For example, your fuel station in a small town needs the same attention as your busiest service station just off the M6 motorway. While their opening hours, fuel prices, and the facilities they offer may differ, it’s still imperative they both have a strong digital presence to help solidify your brand’s identity.

Posting regular updates and integrating local keywords will make it easier for potential customers in that specific area to find you when they’re running on empty. Remember, your customer’s journey doesn’t end once they’ve found you on Google or Apple Maps. They still might struggle to locate your petrol station (even with directions) and therefore need to contact your facility to help. This is why an up-to-date contact number is a basic fundamental.

Create local content

Fuel interest in the local area with engaging and relevant content. Storytelling is often overlooked when it comes to filling stations. Does your petrol station have a fascinating history? Perhaps a celebrity popped in recently?

Sharing stories can humanise your brand. Also consider behind-the-scenes looks, using local geographical references and getting involved in hosting and sponsoring community events. Car wash events, free fuel giveaways, and other methods can be used to engage with your local audience to build a strong community presence and customer loyalty.

How Mirador Local can help

Mirador Local’s software was developed to help brands with multiple business locations manage all their GBP’s from a single, intuitive dashboard. As well as petrol stations, this includes hotels, pet-friendly establishments, and restaurants.

Even though motorists are convenience-based customers with much lower brand loyalty, it’s vital you maintain consistency across all your profiles to ensure they’re as accurate and visible as possible.

Book a demo to discover how our local SEO tool can save your petrol station brand time and pave the way for efficient fuelling experiences.