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You don’t need to be a large corporation to benefit from optimizing your local SEO.
Small business owners already have limited resources, so it’s essential they get the most value out of these limited marketing dollars.
Optimizing your local SEO is essential for small businesses, however, there’s often a lack of understanding and resources required to optimize for local search.
In this post, we’ll share how to market a local business effectively, even in the smallest market.
What Is Local SEO for Small Businesses?
Local search is how users locate the business they want, whether it’s a plumber, a real estate agent, a lawyer, or any other local business.
The beauty of local SEO is that some searches aren’t that complex. When a user types in ‘plumber’ or ‘lawyer’, do we really need to go into great depth?
Those key terms are pretty straightforward and don’t require much research.
When you factor in that 50 percent of Google searches are local, it’s clear that local businesses have a major opportunity to rank for their top keywords.
The challenge, however, is that it is a complicated process to rank well in local searches.
Let’s start at the very beginning with the basic, key component of any local search marketing strategy: listing your business in local search directories.
Why Is Local SEO Important for Small Businesses?
According to Google, 50% of all Google searches are location-based. That could be anything from “seafood restaurants in Denver” to “personal injury lawyers near me.”
For anyone with a small local business, being able to show up in local search results is especially important if you want to show up in an organic search.
Think of it this way: Say you’re a restaurateur. People in your area are probably looking for a place to grab dinner. They’re looking for outdoor seating, and they need to be close to your office (or home).
This is a great opportunity for you to show up for local search results because chances are, you’ve invested time into developing a solid local SEO strategy.
And because they’re searching for something local, it’s likely that they’ll pick a business with local search engine result visibility.
Whether the search is broad, like “restaurants near me,” or specific, like “modern Italian restaurants near me,” you have the best chance to show up at the top of search results if you can rank local SEO.
In fact, according to Google, 42% of people will not look past the first page of search results in their local area. So, if you’re able to rank your site to appear on the first page, you could find yourself owning the local business.
Finally, as a final note, don’t be afraid to leverage mobile SEO strategies. People are constantly using their smartphones to search for local businesses. In fact, 20% of Google search traffic comes from mobile devices.
In fact, because local search relies heavily on location, using mobile optimization and SEO in your local strategy, especially if you’re a local business, will put you ahead of the game.
12 Local SEO Tips for Small Businesses
With close to 3 million local businesses in the U.S. alone fighting for visibility on search engines, local SEO is more complex and challenging than ever before.
More than ever, local businesses need to be hyper-strategic with their SEO tactics, use data to tell them what’s working, and be willing to try new things.
So whether you’re a local business owner trying to better understand and dominate your local market or want to develop an agency that helps local businesses grow, it’s important to know the tactics and trends for thriving in local SEO.
Read on for 12 local SEO tips any business can use to outmaneuver the competition like a local SEO expert.
Perform a Local SEO Audit
Whether you are starting a new business or looking to expand your existing brand, you need to understand the importance of local SEO.
There is a new wave of buyers who rely on their phones to find local services, go shopping, and make quick decisions. According to a recent study, 56 percent of local mobile searches result in the user visiting a store within a day.
One of the reasons for local SEO’s rise in popularity is because of the shift to mobile search. Mobile devices can help searchers quickly decide whether they want to do business with your business.
If you want to stay competitive, you need to make sure your business is reliable and stands out. Here are five steps you should take to perform a local SEO audit:
1. Explore your online presence
Make sure the information you have on your website is consistent across the web. People should be able to find your phone number, website address, hours of operation, and location with a click of a button. 35 percent of customers report that they will visit your website if they can find all the information they need.
2. Analyze the competitive landscape
You should also look at your competitors to see what keywords they are using. Use keyword tools like Ahrefs to find the best keywords for your site. You can also use Moz’ Keyword Explorer tool to see how many competitors are ranking for these keywords. By looking at which keywords your competitors are ranking, you can come up with a list of keywords you can rank for.
3. Evaluate the customer experience
Local SEO is all about helping customers find your business. Your customers should be able to easily navigate your site and find the information they need. If they have a problem or question, they should be able to quickly find the answer. If you are not providing reliable customer service, people will be less likely to choose your business over your competitors.
4. Research local SEO trends
Since local SEO is constantly shifting, you need to stay up to date on new developments. Use tools like SEMrush to monitor how your competitors are performing with their SEO strategy. You should also consider increasing their budget if your industry is competitive.
5. Update your website
The top ranking factors for local SEO are always changing. Google’s algorithm is constantly working to improve the user experience. You should use tools like Google’s Keyword Planner to research keywords that your local audience uses. You should also update your site’s content. Make sure that all your content is well-targeted and includes local keywords. You should also make sure your website has fast load times. That’s because 40 percent of mobile users will leave your site if it takes more than three seconds to load. Still, local SEO can be overwhelming. If you feel overwhelmed by SEO, don’t worry. You can hire an SEO agency to help you manage your local SEO strategy.
Optimize Your Google My Business Profile
Believe it or not, Google My Business (GMB) is one of the most underutilized tools in local SEO.
In truth, using Google’s business profile when used correctly, it can be one of the most powerful and amazingly valuable tools in your arsenal for increasing your visibility.
So why do so many people skip it?
CEOs are often incredibly busy and don’t always have time to sit down and disable reviews or write compelling descriptions.
At the most basic level, though, GMB profiles are simply missing or incorrect.
For your local business, the first step to being successful on social media and getting more visibility is to fill out your GMB profile.
Think of GMB as one of your local directories. People look you up here to get more information, see what your business is about, and view reviews.
If you don’t take the time to fill out your GMB profile, you could be missing out on a huge opportunity to get more visibility.
Submit Your Business to Local Business Directories
As your business grows, you will likely start receiving more inquiries than ever.
While these inquiries are certainly a good thing, having fewer people contact your business directly can be bad for your bottom line.
While your SEO tactics are an important part of getting your business seen online, local directories are one of the best ways to get your business at the top of consumers’ minds.
Local directories have deep search algorithms that allow customers to not only find you but also see what other customers think of your business.
By claiming and filling out your profile on local business directories, you can help ensure that you show up in Google Search when potential customers are looking for businesses just like yours.
When you fill out your profile, be sure to include your full business information as well as a link to your website and the services you offer.
It’s critical that your business information be consistent across all of your local directories.
Make sure to let your customers know that you can be found on local directories and encourage them to leave reviews for your business.
Good reviews are a great way to get ranked higher in local rankings, so collecting them should be a priority.
Reviews are a great way to build your reputation as a business, so you should be reaching out to your customers regularly to ask for reviews and encouraging them to post them.
Finally, it’s critical that you monitor the reviews you get on your business profile.
Be proactive about responding to criticism and praise, both positive and negative. Be friendly and show your customers that you appreciate their feedback.
These are some of the most important things you can do to start building your business’s brand locally.
Target Local Keywords
Believe it or not, there are hundreds and thousands of local keywords that come up in Google every day.
If you’re looking to rank high for a local keyword, here’s our checklist:
Determine your keyword.
This is critical. You need to find the exact keyword you want to rank for.
Do some keyword research to see where local keywords fit in.
Use the Google Keyword Planner and Keyword Explorer tools to identify the top search volumes and level of competition for your target keywords.
Use long tail keywords to target more targeted local keywords.
Okay, so keyword research is complete – now where do we go? You want to build a website for your business on a platform like WordPress.
Write Content Optimize for Local SEO
According to Google, consumers have changed the way they buy and how businesses need to market to them.
When Google started digital marketing locally, businesses could stuff keywords and content all over the web and manipulate Google’s algorithms to their benefit.
Now, with a plethora of tools allowing users more control over their searches and immediate feedback, it has become much harder to manipulate Google’s algorithms.
However, search engines have not changed. The principles remain the same.
Keywords still need to be optimized, but content needs to be written for the user, not the algorithm.
Create local content that addresses the user’s intent and solves a problem they may have.
Local SEO is as much about providing unique and useful content to your current and potential customers as it is about creating unique and useful content to receive backlinks from sources that Google trusts.
When creating content, focus on the following:
- User Needs.
- Local Search Addresses Searcher’s Intentions.
- Provide Content That Suits Your Address Area.
- Go Through Keyword Research.
- Structure Content as It Should Be Written.
- Publish Content Consistently.
- Deliver Your Core Message in the Content.
Implement a Local Backlink Strategy
The start of 2021 brought big changes to the way Google handles local results.
First, its name changed. Google’s Local Pack now simply became Google’s Local 3-Pack since the company decided to add a Knowledge Panel with basic business information.
Second, the number of local businesses Google showed users had doubled.
Many of the companies affected were not happy with this change, and a lot of marketers were left wondering how their optimization efforts would impact their local search results.
Google’s answer was simple: The company only showed three local businesses in Local 3-Packs, regardless of how many the search engine believed were best.
Now consider the likely impact on SEO. It’s clear that Local 3-Packs are now more crucial to local businesses’ SEO efforts than ever.
The question then becomes whether you can still go after links.
The answer is yes, you can.
First, the best local links are all based on links that come from within your local community. For example, if you’re a local pizza shop, a link to your website from your local chamber of commerce will likely be much more valuable than a link from a local guest blog post or a popular local directory.
Second, there are still plenty of other local marketing opportunities that can result in high-quality, relevant links to your website.
Of these opportunities, both paid and unpaid are often equally important.
Local paid marketing can help you reach your target audience that many other links fail to reach. If you aren’t leveraging paid ads, you aren’t truly optimizing your link-building efforts.
And, like all things SEO, it isn’t always about buying your way in.
Some links, like local word-of-mouth recommendations, don’t cost you anything other than time. For other local links, you can get free press or online features with high reach.
If you’re going to build links, don’t give up on local businesses. Just keep in mind that Local 3-Packs, Reviews, and Google Posts are all places where links can get your business noticed.
Monitor & Respond To Local Reviews
Google is increasingly focused on local search, and, therefore, reviews are central to local SEO.
Google reviews do not carry as much weight as in the past, but any review will directly impact how your business appears when someone searches locally.
Not all reviews are created equal. Google uses the following considerations to help determine how to rank a business:
Trust: Google looks at the different signals it uses to determine trust.
Relevance: Based on the search, Google looks at the quality and accuracy of the review.
Freshness: Google looks at the reviews posted recently.
Positive reviews are important, but Google also ranks the reviews. This places a lot of importance on monitoring reviews, as well as responding.
Use Relevant Local Schema
Schema is a set of common HTML tags used for structuring your content so Google can better understand it and show it in search results.
Before you get too excited; this is just one form of structured data. Structured data can be done in many different ways, such as a graph, object, product, event, article, or recipe – depending on what you are offering.
Since local search is important for your business, it doesn’t hurt to add schema to your location pages. Start by making sure your church has a Google My Business profile.
Next, you will want to leverage schema.org to add geographical, product, event, or other information to your business listing. You can also add schema.org markup to your website or blog posts.
If you want to dive deeper into local SEO, see this guide about my post about Local SEO strategists on how to get your local business ranking in local search engines.
Optimize Page Structure
Next week, we’re planning to release a post that discusses one of our favorite ways to optimize your site’s structure and content, and it’s something we recommend all of our clients do.
While we have plenty of posts on this site that discuss proper page structure across various verticals, we found one that does a great job of breaking it all down – and best of all, it’s super simple to read.
For this post, we’re really excited to share this post by Brian Dean, because it’s incredibly comprehensive and walks through five steps that will help you optimize your site’s structure.
Step #1: Create A Logical Structure That Makes Sense to Humans
Step #2: Find The Content That Fits Your Structure
Step #3: Create A Content Map
Step #4: Analyze Your Content (and analyze some more)
Step #5: Make Adjustments Based On The Analysis
Once you’re done implementing the steps above, you’ll notice your webpage is loading faster
It’s also been proven to lead to increased conversion rates and reduced bounce rates
We think it’s one of the most important things you can do, and we can’t wait for this post to be live! In the meantime, check out Brian’s post for more great insights and tips.
Get Involved on Social Media
Social media can be an incredibly powerful tool for SEO.
By leveraging social media, you can increase domain authority and links to your website to improve your local SEO. But there are ways to go about it the right way.
When you start building out your social media profile, always keep in mind Google’s guidelines about building brand pages, profiles, accounts, and communities.
Make sure the links to your website are set up properly. The ideal way is from your website’s homepage, or another lower than home page.
When you do this, make sure you include the right keywords in the title and a description of the profile.
A good place to start is by documenting your social media profiles. This should include links to your website, keywords, and description, all available at a glance.
Once you have all of your profiles documented, you can leverage social media groups and collaborations to increase your domain authority.
If you work with other websites that also provide valuable content, you can strike up a partnership on social media by sharing content and leveraging each other’s audiences.
Participate in Local Business Events
Community involvement is very important when attracting or retaining customers. And many local businesses, both large and small, are finding that investing in community events is a great way to connect with both current and future customers.
An event marketing program can help you increase sales, boost customer retention, and build relationships that will create an ongoing stream of revenue and referrals.
If you frame your participation strategically, you can get a lot of business value from your local community events.
Now that you have a better understanding of how to market your small business effectively on the web, you can implement these new keywords, phrases, and local listings to your website, blog, and social media profiles.
If you’re a small business website owner, I hope this article has given you some helpful insights into how to optimize your local business on the web. Let us know if you have any questions or thoughts about this in the comments!