Local SEO Strategies for Small Businesses: Getting Found in Your Neighborhood

Although the potential is high, a lot of great local SEO methods can go unnoticed because there is no one true method or a concrete curriculum for it. Local data can vary country to country, locale to locale making a nearly infinite amount of situations a search engine can try to address. However trial and error with an understanding of general results of local ranking behavior can lead to systematic methods that can be a great method for tried and true companies and excellent experience for those practicing white hat SEO service.

Studies have revealed that 50% of mobile users that search for a local business will visit a store within a day which shows there is a need for information on the go. Local data markup can result in being shown in mobile GPS searches and being included in the Google my location option on a mobile device. This can be a significant source of potential customers and the fact that this traffic is precisely the relevant local audience showing interest in the product makes it very effective. An added plus is that local SEO can relatively be less competitive compared to traditional organic search and can be a good starting point for a small company trying to gauge the effectiveness of SEO efforts.

Benefits of local SEO for small businesses Local businesses stand to greatly benefit from local SEO strategies. If done right, the potentially huge impact on revenue can sustain the business. A sign that Google has nearly monopolized consumer attention is the constant shift of visitor behavior on company websites i.e. the current trend is to avoid websites in lieu of looking up a brand followed with “reviews” on mobile internet. This means that even if a customer hears about business through a word of mouth recommendation, in the end, still the brand will be Googled. High local ranking can also act as a free ad to a large amount of people. High organic rankings along with high local rankings can mean obtaining a large portion of the search result real estate. Dominating multiple spots can result in a push effect that has shown to increase the click through rate.

Understanding the importance of local SEO Even before Google’s Pigeon update in 2014, local search engine optimization was growing from a specific market to being a necessary dimension of search engine optimization. The reason for this is simple: people were searching for products and services in their area, and they wanted accurate results. Since this is basically what Google wants to offer its users, it’s no surprise that the engine has gone to great lengths to deliver it. For small scale business organizations, dual entry of the website and the local listing can result in a push impression in the search engine result page that can lead to the domination of the search results which in turn can be beneficial.

Understanding the Importance of Local SEO

Ultimately, the goal of local SEO is to increase your business’ visibility within your local target market, which in turn can mean more traffic to your site and more business closed. With the added pressures businesses are facing due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s more important than ever to be finding ways to increase traffic to your company’s website and new ways to attract potential customers. The numbers are there. What’s stopping you?

You can continue to have success on your current campaign. That’s the beauty of local search engine marketing. You don’t need to stop what you’re already doing. You simply are trying to find additional methods to increase traffic to your website by specifically targeting local clientele. This means the local SEO strategies and tactics act as methods to complement what you’re already doing, as opposed to revolutionizing your entire campaign… and it’s not nearly as costly as you may think. On the other hand, if you’re one of those businesses that’s not doing so well with a traditional marketing method, especially in this economy, there’s a good chance that local search engine marketing is the answer.

More and more people are using the internet to search for local services and products, rather than the traditional methods of the phone book or newspaper. It’s an opportunity that small businesses can’t miss out on. While 70% of internet searchers are looking for local information, only 25% of businesses’ advertising is geared towards the local market… so the competition is relatively low. You’re probably thinking “Do I really need to change my search engine marketing campaign just to capture local customers when I’m already having success with my current campaign?” The answer is a resounding YES.

Benefits of Local SEO for Small Businesses

Local SEO is a great way to one up your local competitors. Most businesses are not optimizing their online marketing and promotion, so by taking an initiative to do so, one can really give themselves a chance to shoot up to the top in rankings. Studies have shown that most forms of marketing are getting less and less effective; people making a transition to the internet for their purchasing decisions is to blame for this. Anything from newspapers to flyers, the effectiveness is dwindling. So if you’re a small business trying to grow, it’s best to take a step away from traditional marketing and look into Local SEO. Any investment into the future of the business is not something that should be taken lightly, don’t get left behind.

Often, small business owners are resistant to promoting their business online because they believe it will be too costly. While it is true that many forms of online promotion are costly, Local SEO is a way to promote your business to a targeted market without incurring high costs. Any other form of advertisement is usually a gamble on ROI. Local SEO is a safe bet with a high chance of ROI. Its implementation is not going to have any impact on the loss of the business owner. This is whether the business is a one-man band or a large corporation. It will not only have a positive impact on sales but also on the business as a brand. If a customer sees the business and its information in a high-placed ranking, it will be seen as a high-quality brand. This can only be done with the implementation of Local SEO.

Optimizing Your Website for Local SEO

This is very generic and lacks any location-specific information. By adding a location into the mix, we can get a separate page indexed for each area. E.g. Title: ABC Lawn Care Services in Chicago, IL Description: Affordable lawn care and maintenance, serving the Chicago area.

Using the lawn care business again as an example, the title/meta description for a general lawn care service page might be: Title: ABC Lawn Care Services Description: The best lawn care services at an affordable price.

Google’s crawlers use certain data to decipher what your website and its pages are about. This includes information like the page title, description, and the URLs. By ensuring that these are tagged with location-specific information, you can enhance the readability and relevance of your page to both users and search engine crawlers. This can result in improved rankings and better segregation of your site in local search results.

Individual location-specific pages can be another way to boost local SEO. If your business has multiple locations, this is a great way to differentiate between them and really hone in on the local SEO for each individual area. It also provides a medium for promoting region-specific deals or events.

Consider the search intent when implementing keywords. For example, say you run a small lawn care business in Chicago. You will want to target the keyword “lawn care in Chicago” rather than something more general like “lawn care”. Someone searching the latter might not necessarily be looking for a local service. Long-tail keywords can often be beneficial for small businesses, since they generally have lower competition.

Start your SEO strategy by doing some keyword research. A good knowledge of what people in your area are searching for can go a long way. These keywords can then be incorporated into your website’s content. You can use tools like Google Keyword Planner, which provides you with an estimate of search volume for any given phrase, and Google Trends, which shows the popularity for a particular search term over a period of time.

Keyword Research for Local Searches

This should enable you to come up with a list of between 50-100 keywords and phrases. Then, check the amount of search interest each of these terms receives using the Google AdWords Keyword tool. Choose the local search trends option and enter each of the keywords and phrases on your list to find out if any of them are terms that local searchers are using to find businesses like yours. You’ll often find that the most obvious terms or phrases are not what local searchers actually use. At this point in the keyword research, B2B businesses should note that a large amount of the research on local search trends is targeted at B2C companies, so you may have to make assumptions as to what will and will not be applicable for your business.

Keyword research forms the backbone for your local SEO. Local searchers are a lot more likely to use queries that are specific to area, so it’s crucial to adjust your keyword research to include long tail keywords that are geographically targeted. Get started by generating a list of keywords that are specific to your business. These may include brand names, specific products or services, industry terms, and so on. Then, expand this list to include general groups of terms related to your offering in an area-specific context. Now is a good time to conduct a keyword brainstorming session.

Creating Location-Specific Landing Pages

The last requirement, and perhaps the most important for local landing pages, is the ability to establish business data that can be crawled by humans and search bots alike. The higher this page is ranked for local search, the more likely someone will click and convert. With the end goal being to make the phone ring, you want this page to reflect the most important information a visitor should know about your business. Address, phone number, store hours, and localized promotions should be apparent. The presence of added schema markup data on location pages is going to give search engines a more detailed understanding of your business information and also allow this information to be represented in a more attractive and better click-through rate display in search. This will also allow rich snippets from this page to further increase visibility of the brand in local SERPs.

First off, every landing page should have unique, descriptive, and keyword-rich content. Since these pages are trying to convey a message to a targeted audience, the first few seconds should let a visitor know they are in the right place. Having content that reflects local news, events, and other local activities will be a strong start. If you are a business that has multiple locations, optimizing unique content pages is crucial. You do not want to have different location URLs compete with each other in search, so think of each page as its own entity to avoid any keyword self-cannibalism issues.

These landing pages are going to be seen as local thumbprints of your business that reflect a location where you are trying to target. It is important to build location authority with this page in search and in the consumers’ eyes. This will better improve your overall value for specific location-based keywords. Let’s start off with a few basic requirements that a landing page needs to reflect to make the right impression.

Optimizing Meta Tags and URLs for Local Relevance

Include the target keywords in the meta tags. In the same way that the URL for a page can be changed, so too can the meta tags. The meta tags include the meta title, meta description, and meta keywords. These should be changed to reflect the content of the page and the keywords the page is targeting. This is a simple on-site optimization that can take as little as 5 minutes, but can be quite effective when done properly.

Ensure that each page has a unique URL that includes descriptive keywords that the page is targeting. For example, a page that is trying to target the keyword “seo” might be [Link] A plumber in New York targeting the keyword “water heater repair” would want to have something like [Link] for his page on that service.

Optimizing the meta tags and URLs on your website is one of the most basic and yet effective ways for local businesses to increase their local search engine results. This can often be done with a minimal amount of effort and is an easy step to incorporate into the process of your website. Essentially, your goal is to make the URL (and the page it represents) more relevant to what the searcher is looking for and the keywords they are using. Here’s how:

Implementing Schema Markup for Local Business Information

Local Business or Local Address: Schema markup provides detail of business address and this will help search engine to locate your company’s geographical location and show your business address in search results. In turn, this will draw attention of local customers. So for small business it is essential to configure this schema since their aim is to target local audience.

There are various types of schema’s available and company can configure them as per their need. Below are few examples of schema’s which can help local business get its location driven on-line business.

Schema markups are nothing but rich HTML which shows company’s brief information in search results. So by configuring these schema’s it will be easy for search engines to show company’s detailed information in search results. It generally shows this information in knowledge graph, card or in packed into local listing.

Schema markup is a code that you put on your website to help search engines provide more informative results for users. If you’ve ever used rich snippets, you’ll understand exactly what schema markup is all about. Here it talks about schema which helps your website to add your company’s information like business details, working hours, customer feedbacks or testimonials. This helps business page to show brief information in search results like Google shows profile card right side of search result page. This feature made easy for local customer to know about companies service just looking at the search results.

Building a Strong Online Presence for Local SEO

In the past, achieving first-page rankings as a local business was relatively easy. All you needed to do was target a set of keywords with generic on-site and off-site optimization strategies. For example, if you were a mechanic in Philadelphia, there was a time where you could use that keyword-targeted anchor text on an inbound link to your domain and achieve first-page rankings. Unfortunately, for those of you who still employ this strategy, it no longer works. These days, search engines are too smart for that to work. You need to have specific pages for specific services or locations. A good example would be a mechanic having a set of pages for his on-site optimization strategy that look like this: mymechanicsite.com/locations/philadelphia mymechanicsite.com/services/oil changes

To rank locally, small businesses should focus on building a strong foundation of excellent on-page and off-page optimization. The problem is, many local businesses struggle to understand how to make the most impact when it comes to on-site and off-site search engine optimization. This section builds on the lessons from the first section of the guide: understanding your potential customers. Now that you have a better understanding of how your customers are searching for your products and services, you can begin to build out your keyword-targeted pages that will directly affect your on-page optimization strategies.

Claiming and Optimizing Your Google My Business Listing

A GMB business listing is more flexible now than ever before, and this shows with the number of businesses not effectively utilizing the various features and amenities offered. With GMB, you’re able to add your company’s NAP, hours of operation, business description, website URL, images, service area, and also a list of services. Make sure to fill out as many of these features as possible and remember to keep them up-to-date, accurate, and unique to your business. A common mistake for businesses is to not thoroughly complete and fill out each section. Completing every section will allow for your listing to serve as a one-stop-shop for information on your business, and this will help to improve visibility and generally help searchers to learn more about your business.

A Google My Business listing is essential for local online visibility. Google has reported that a well-kept GMB listing receives 5x more views than listings which haven’t been claimed by their owners. Additionally, well-kept listings receive higher conversion rates, allowing searchers to get the information they need quickly and easily. Take the time to ensure that your listing is optimized to provide the most effective and persuasive snapshot of your business. Optimization is an ongoing process; make sure to examine the various features available on GMB on a recurring basis and listen out for news on new features being released.

Managing Online Reviews and Ratings

The march is on to get positive reviews. In fact, up to 70% of local businesses believe it’s important to have customers mention them in reviews. But how do you build up a mountain of good sentiment? It all depends on each customer’s experiences, but it never hurts to ask. Customers are likely to leave a review soon after a business transaction. May it be a meal at a restaurant or a new pair of shoes. This is your best chance to get a review, so make sure to ask directly after the sale while the experience is still fresh in their mind. If it’s too late to ask or a customer forgets, following up with an email containing a thank you and kindly asking for a review or feedback is also a great idea because it keeps the communication between the business and the consumer open. Positive interaction between the two can only strengthen the customer’s view of the business. Offering incentives for leaving a review will work for some businesses but be wary of how it may look to customers. Policies on this can change depending on the type of business and the popularity of the review site. Always monitor your reviews and ratings. Not all review sites will notify the business when a customer leaves a review, and missing a bad review can end badly for obvious reasons. Google even allows businesses to set up notifications for reviews left on their GMB page. Always promptly respond to reviews, whether they are positive or negative. A simple thank you for the review can go a long way for the customer that left it. Responding to negative reviews with damage control in a professional, polite, and helpful manner can change a customer’s outlook on the situation and even revise their review. And lastly, always learn from and share your reviews with employees. Whether it be praising an employee for something that was mentioned multiple times in a positive review, or using a negative review as a training experience. Showing employees how their work directly affects the customer helps instill the values of good customer service.

Local Directory Listings and Citations

The next step would be creating a strategy around using keywords to rank the citation high in local search results. Keyword research and tools are much different compared to national and global keyword research. You’re targeting much less volume with much less competitive keywords. You can utilize the Google Keyword Planner and input the specific URL as seen in the picture below to target on-site keywords. Offsite keywords are a little more competitive and you’ll likely have to rely on judgment, however, the goal is to use a variation of search queries to target the citation. High-ranking citations using NAP+W information generate more traffic to the local business and higher conversion.

To begin an online presence strategy, you’d need to have a good understanding of your local market. What is the demand? What areas are people searching for the product or service? Our goal with this strategy is to gain a strong online presence, generate web traffic, and convert that traffic into foot traffic for your local business. This begins with Local Directory Listings and Citations. This means creating listings on sites like Merchant Circle, Yellowpages, Google My Business, Yelp, and more. Any site where you can input your business’s information and it provides a link back to your website is considered a citation. Create the business name, address, phone, and website (NAP+W). Citation success is HUGE for local businesses. Local businesses with more citations are likely to have more traffic, more leads, and more revenue.

Utilizing Social Media for Local Engagement

Another important aspect of creating a loyal client base through social media is to regularly post updates and news related to the business. A study done on social media brand loyalty by Convince and Convert found that 53% of the Americans that follow brands on social are more loyal to those brands (Convince and Convert, 2017). By providing regular service updates and news stories, the business becomes a part of the customer’s everyday life, creating a long-term customer.

By engaging with followers on social media, small businesses can develop a loyal customer base. Hosting competitions or giveaways are popular methods to create an online community for your local customer base. Catherall (2017) explains how hosting an online competition can increase traffic and engagement on your website by asking entrants to share and visit the business’ website as a method of entry. This effectively increases traffic to the site and will increase brand familiarity with local customers.

Social media platforms can help small businesses engage with their local community while also increasing online visibility. A study on the impact of social media on small businesses by Michael A. Stelzner illustrates that 73% of small businesses invest in social media marketing (Social Media Examiner, 2017). The study showed an increase in exposure and traffic for more than half the businesses that invested time in marketing their business through social media. Using social media has a direct correlation with an increase in overall business exposure.

Local SEO Strategies for Off-Page Optimization

Your first step is to find out what locations your business can build links from. These could be organizations in your industry or an area for which your product applies to. If your business donates to local charities, that’s a great opportunity to receive a link. Advocating with the local chamber of commerce is also a great method to get inbound links because often times these sites are well regarded with a high PR. When seeking these link building opportunities, it’s paramount to look for sites that are non-competing and have high rankings and/or a high amount of traffic. This will push your site up the SERPs and help drive traffic to your business.

For local businesses, the most important off-page SEO strategy is the same as it is for non-local businesses. It’s creating and building quality links for your site. Having good link opportunities can be tough for local businesses. Whether you’re a business lending services to the local community or a location-specific business like a store or service provider, your overall goal is to increase the popularity of your site within your locale.

Building High-Quality Local Backlinks

To start off, the most desired method is to locate what content or tool or article or other that is link worthy. This may undoubtedly be the hardest step depending on your website. Once located, it is now the fact of telling individuals and asking them to link to your site. This can be an easy method and not necessarily the most effective. The last step here is just marketing that link bait or moving on to our next solutions to promote the content.

In this fast guide, we are going to go over many different ways you could obtain backlinks aimed at your website that will aid tell the story you are trying to inform and relay the proper relevance signals.

Backlinks occur across the internet when one website mentions a different website by linking to it. They’re still one of the strongest signs to Google approximately content quality. However, local SEOs finding link building more difficult as inbound link fluctuations play a bigger role in the local algorithms. If, say, you built a miniature Carlsbad plumber website and then you closed up shop and turned that domain into a massive Harley dealership website, you’d need to modify focus somewhat.

Guest Blogging on Local Websites and Blogs

Guest blogging is another great way to secure a backlink to your website. There are many people looking for guest bloggers as it is sometimes hard to produce good quality content on a regular basis for their site. This benefits both parties involved as the writer gets the backlink they are hoping for and the host site gets a free post for their blog. It is important to note that the content you are writing should be high quality and relevant to the site it will be hosted on. Failure to do so could result in the content being rejected and ultimately wasting time and effort in writing the piece. If you are unsure of whether your content is good enough, look at other posts on the host site and ask yourself if your post would be a good addition. It is easy to also find sites that are openly looking for guest bloggers as they will usually advertise the fact. Simply searching for “your keyword” + guest post should bring up some sites that are looking for people to write for them. Another useful search term is “write for us” that could also find some sites looking for writers in return for a backlink.

Participating in Local Community Events and Sponsorships

– In certain instances, you can get media exposure for sponsoring a community event. Local newspapers or radio stations may be sponsors themselves or might just feel that your sponsorship is a newsworthy topic. If you can get a news article or radio interview, this will be free publicity for your company and could possibly result in more backlinks if the media sources post news online.

– If the event is for a charitable cause, you may be able to get a tax write-off for your sponsorship, though you would need to consult with your tax advisor to determine if your sponsorship qualifies.

– Booths are a common way to provide sponsors with exposure at the event. Usually booths have some sort of signage with the sponsor’s company name which can create brand name recognition. Often, there are giveaways or handouts available to booth visitors. If your company sells a product or service which can be related to the event, this is a great opportunity to make a sale.

– If the event has enough funding, they might even hire an SEO or marketing firm with whom you can network.

– Get your site listed on the event’s website – .EDU and .GOV backlinks are highly trusted and can greatly increase your site’s trust; you may also get a listing in paper advertisements for the event, and sometimes you can get a backlink to your site from the online version of the newspaper.

There are lots of local events held in many communities at any time of the year. We all know that sponsors are the ones who make an event possible, usually because of the money they give to make the event happen. By becoming a sponsor, your business may get one or several of the following opportunities:

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