What Is Local SEO for Small Businesses?
Local SEO is a part of search engine optimization that centers around improving the visibility of a local business in local search engine results. What does that mean? It means getting your business to appear on top of the search results for “near me” inquiries.
For instance, you, yourself, have probably looked for a type of service in your local area. You may have typed in “Mediterranian restaurants near me”, “pet groomers in [your city]”, or “[type of service] within [distance]” at least once in this lifetime or more realistically– at least twice this month now.
Using local SEO strategies improves the chances of your businesses appearing in local search results for geographically constricted searches.
Why Is Local SEO Important for Small Businesses?
Google reported that there has been a 900% increase in “near me” searches. Naturally, Google wants to accommodate the needs of its users. So to best meet the needs of its searchers, Google opted to provide more results for geographically-related searches based on proximity, relevance, and prominence.
This part is where local search strategies for small businesses come in. Having an effective local SEO strategy in place can help you get ahead of your competitors. How? If your business is close to where a user is conducting their search or if you offer products/services that they are looking for– local SEO makes sure that your target market finds you.
What Kinds of Businesses Need Local SEO?
Many types of companies across all types of industries can benefit from effective local search strategies for small businesses. It will take a whole new article just to list them all down. But essentially, any business that has a local market can gain from local SEO.
However, here are the top six kinds of businesses that can benefit from local SEO the most:
Doctor’s offices, dental clinics, and other establishments that provide medical services can greatly benefit from effective local search strategies for small businesses.
Although medical services are essential for people, not everyone knows where to look for the type of medical care they need. Word of mouth is not enough especially when you have competitions to think about. Get your clinic on the map– literally– with local SEO.
Another often overlooked aspect of healthcare marketing is blogging. Most Doctors and practices think blogging is a waste of time so they neglect it. You need to think of it from the point of view of your prospective patients.
When you write a blog post, you’re creating content that provides value and perspective to your audience. You also get the added bonus of showing up in more search engine results and enjoy a higher SEO ranking for keywords that you may not be aware of.
Potential patients may not know to search for your particular services, but if you’re writing about symptoms and treatments that are relevant to what they’re experiencing, your brand awareness will increase.
People do not require legal counsel on a daily basis, but when they do– they search the internet for the nearest expert in their area. Since this is the case, appearing in local search results is important for law firms.
Utilizing local SEO tools can help you increase your law firm’s search rankings and online presence. It’s imperative that you focus on gathering online reviews especially if you have multiple locations.
When an online search is conducted, your potential customers are going to be checking for things like contact information, positive reviews, and more to determine if you’re a legitimate company.
Digital marketing will allow you to connect to your local audience and ultimately help you to generate local leads from your business’ website.
Effective small business SEO can do wonders for bars and restaurants. The hospitality industry benefits from local SEO the most compared to any other industry. Why? Because they typically operate on a local level which means they serve a geographically targeted market. And that is exactly what local SEO is for!
Serving your local community is your number one priority. You want to make sure your brand awareness is on point and the best way to do this is to make sure you show up in Google search results when your customers are searching for your niche.
You can really benefit from leveraging online directories such as Yelp, Tripadvisor, and other local websites that gather information on restaurants.
Like with law firms, positive reviews are going to be huge to establish your credibility. You can put your customers at ease by also having your contact information listed prominently on your website.
Effective local SEO tactics for small businesses can improve visibility for plumbing professionals. When people break their pipes, they look for immediate help. Not everyone has a favorite plumber, so who do they turn to? The internet, of course!
When your pipes are leaking and your house is plumbing, it almost doesn’t matter who comes to fix it– what matters is who can come to your aid the fastest.
Make sure you’re reaching your customers at the right time by focusing on your business profile, showing up on major search engines, building local backlinks, having your GMB optimized for Google Maps, and have a mobile-friendly website as over mobile searches make up for over 60% of the total searches on the web.
As a business owner, if you focus on the above strategies, you’ll be able to increase your online visibility and encourage customers to reach out and do business with you.
Pet Services (Grooming, Training, Supplies, Veterinarians, etc.)
Much like the other businesses in this list, people who search for this type of service want to find the best and the closest provider in their area. Local optimization can help pet service providers boost their visibility so that their target market can find them through local search results.
Real estate obviously serves a geographically targeted market. You wouldn’t get a real estate agent from a different state from your dream house. Of course, you want and need an agent who works in the area that you are interested in.
However, due to a cornucopia of platforms for real estate, smaller local real estate agents need to up their game when it comes to digital marketing.
For instance, they can create web pages targeting specific local markets or try to rank for keywords including the names of the smallest neighborhoods in the area.
Provide the audience with blog posts that discuss these areas and then establish yourself as an expert on those neighborhoods.
Since the real estate industry is highly competitive, every single effort counts when it comes to ranking for local search.
Local Search and Small Businesses
One of the most common questions I get from small business owners is how to improve their local SEO, which makes sense. Local SEO has always been more difficult than organic SEO, simply because you’re trying to appear on top of a Google search for a very specific keyword (e.g., “NYC dry cleaners”), and there’s only one spot in the top three that gets you the click (if not directly into your site).
Local SEO is the king of “top of funnel” SEO, meaning that if you can get your business to appear whenever anyone searches for a local need (e.g., when someone in Miami, Florida looks for a Spanish tutor on Google Local), then you’re getting tons and tons of targeted traffic to your site.
While there are lots of things you can do to improve your domain authority and show up in local search results, I’m going to focus on seven strategies that have worked for me with my clients.
These are what I call the 7 local SEO strategies for small businesses.
#1 Keyword Research
You can use a keyword research tool to figure out what people are searching for so that you can optimize all of your content around those keywords.
This means looking at data from places like Google Trends, Spyfu (my favorite tool for brainstorming keyword ideas), and even just looking at your own data in Google Search Console to see what people are searching for when they visit your business website.
Take a look at some of the keywords your competitors are targeting or ranking for. The best way to do this is to use a tool such as Keywords Everywhere. This is one of my top 3 SEO tools when it comes to competitor research.
You’ll be able to identify which local keywords any given page is ranking for and then export that list in a CSV so you can then map those keywords out on your site and create a content strategy.
How To Perform Local SEO Keyword Research
The first step is to make sure you’re using a quality tool for your link building. We have a list of Free SEO Tools that you can choose from. We’re big fans of Keywords Everywhere, and Spyfu at our agency though. Paid tools generally have a higher degree of accuracy and a wider breadth of data on keywords.
When trying to find the right keywords to rank for you need to get a little technical. Learn the difference between “keywords” and “long-tail key phrases,” here, but basically, you want to start really looking into keywords that have enough search volume behind them.
Why Do You Need Keywords for Local SEO?
With traditional SEO, high search volume keywords are generally harder to rank for. Since you’re targeting a local area though, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to go after those high-volume keywords.
As a general rule of thumb, we try to avoid any keywords below 200 searches per month for a local SEO strategy.
Remember, keyword search volume is calculated on a nationwide scale. Ideally, you’d go for something with 5K-20K searches per month to have a higher likelihood of someone in your area actually conducting that search.
#2: Keyword Mapping
Keyword mapping is the process of laying out which keywords your website pages are ranking for respectively. It also allows you to plan future target keywords and which pages you’d like to show up when users search those terms.
Keyword mapping is important because you can use it to figure out how you want your site to be structured. A good keyword map makes sure that the pages on a website are targeting multiple thematic terms and not just one term per page.
I say thematic terms because you want your local SEO content to be clustered according to topics for the best ranking results. Creating local SEO pages that follow clear topics will send a strong signal to search engines that these are authoritative pages on those topics.
Why Do I Need To Map Keywords for Local SEO?
Mapping keywords is great for user experience as it allows you to get specific with your content creation and keep your website structured thematically.
When it comes to Local SEO, you’ll likely be using this SEO strategy to track which keywords your local pages are targeting.
Let’s look at this example:
“Local SEO Agency” has a website and serves 3 cities in his area. Their services include:
- Local SEO
- Review Generation
- Local Business Listings
Each of these pages will then have separate instances to target the 3 main cities as follows:
- Longwood Local SEO
- Sanford Local SEO
- Lake Mary Local SEO
- Longwood Review Generation
- Sanford Review Generation
- Lake Mary Review Generation
Local Business Listings
- Longwood Local Business Listings
- Sanford Local Business Listings
- Lake Mary Local Business Listings
If we aren’t mapping out our keywords, we won’t be focusing on each of those pages accordingly. Just from the breakdown above, you can clearly see how each page should be optimized because they’re already mapped.
Remember, keyword mapping helps SEOs determine which keywords their contention ranking for and where they may have missed opportunities to improve their visibility in search results.
#3: Page Content
These are pages that you create on your own website to target more local searches such as “NYC Carpet Cleaner” or “Carpet Cleaner in the Bronx”.
These long-tail keywords tend to also have a lower search volume, so depending on the level of competition in your area, they could be easy to acquire local rankings, or extremely difficult.
I always recommend that you perform your keyword research and try to find search terms that will be more likely to convert.
Since you’re targeting a local area though, be sure to check what the search volume is!
Most keyword research tools provide a search volume based on national searches so anything below 200 searches/month might not yield local results for you.
If you’re in a local service industry, it’s absolutely crucial that you employ a comprehensive local SEO strategy so that you appear at the top of searches whenever potential customers are looking for your services.
Remember that you want your content to be unique and helpful, don’t just write fluff for the sake of creating content. You really want to provide value to your local community.
The best way to do this is by focusing your content on the specific pains and problems that local SEO prospects are looking for.
#4: Utilize Review Generation Campaigns
This is pretty self-explanatory, and I’ve covered it in a previous article about generating reviews for your business.
Basically, you need to get reviews on your Google business listing to increase your search visibility in the map packs.
While we don’t recommend outright offering cash rewards for getting these reviews, it’s always going to be more compelling for your customers if there is some form of incentive.
Be careful with how you go about acquiring these reviews though. There are some methods that are considered “black-hat” by Google.
Ultimately you just need to make sure you’ve got real people leaving you genuine reviews.
How Do I Create A Review Generation Campaign?
Our favorite method is to employ an automated email campaign that can reach out to your customers after X period of time and sends them a question asking about their experience.
If they’ve had a great experience then they’ll leave a positive review.
Easy enough right?
On the flip side, if they had a negative experience, you should probably try to find out what caused this and how you can rectify the situation for them.
We definitely don’t want to be forwarding them to leave a bad review, do we?
The best way is to put them directly in touch with your customer service team so that they can resolve the issue directly with your customer.
(Now would be a good time to try to get them to leave positive reviews if you managed to resolve the issue!).
I’m not going to go into it too much here since I already wrote an earlier post on how to get more reviews for your business.
#5: Build Local Business Citations!
Yes, local business directories are important for local SEO. As a small business, you need to build your citation profile by getting listed on important directory sites in your niche. This will help you to improve your map ranking for local searches.
If you do not have a Local Citation profile, you’ll rank lower in the map packs and not appear in searches. Local Citations are necessary because they help users who are looking for a service or product to find your company.
Be careful when working on your local citations though. There are literally thousands of spammy sites out there that would be mostly useless for you. We recommend using a tool like Yext or BrightLocal if you’re new to the local listing scene.
When using tools like Yext, it’s easy for you to also identify and remove duplicate listings which can be harmful to your overall local search result performance.
#6: Build Links To Your Website!
Link building is one of the most important aspects of SEO. Local visibility tends to rely on links more heavily than other ranking factors such as technical SEO, social media signals, or direct traffic. This means it’s even more crucial that you get high-quality inbound links from authoritative sources whenever possible.
I recommend using an outreach email campaign to build some initial links onto your website. You can find some awesome lists online if you look hard enough. As you grow your inbound link quantity, also make sure that those are starting to convert into leads and sales so that you can track how successful each individual link really is for your business.
To really be successful with link building, you’ll need a tool to help keep you organized. There are many out there such as SEMrush, Ahrefs, Spyfu, Link-Assistant, etc. that can help you plan and execute your campaigns.
I highly recommend you identify which links your competitors have acquired and then work to get links from those websites. If it’s working for them, you know it’ll work for you!
#7: Google My Business Optimization for Local Search Rankings
The last local strategy I’m going to talk about today is Google My Business Optimization.
This is extremely important as the local map pack is basically what Google puts together when they think a search query should be better displayed in a local map instead of regular results.
When this happens, they’ll rank your business listing and a whole new set of ranking factors come into play.
Instead of content, inbound links, or on-page SEO, you need to rely on your GMB optimization, local listings, reviews, and other authority signals that let Google know you’re a good business to display.
Other search engines have their own versions of GMBs so you’ll want to create a listing on their sites too. The process will be very similar but remember, they all have their own way of ranking websites so your results may vary.
Local SEO Strategies That Work For Small Businesses!
Well there you have it, 7 pretty easy but powerful local SEO tips that we feel small businesses should consider using as part of their strategy to drive more website traffic and improve their SEO ranking.
You won’t necessarily need to use all of the recommended local SEO tips to rank on Page 1 for your relevant keywords.
However, it’s likely that you will need most of these to crack the first page results, so be sure to incorporate as many of the above strategies into your business plan and see how they work out over time.
We hope you’ve found the article useful and it helps you with your own strategies for improving your local search rankings.
If you need to hire a local SEO marketing agency, fill out our simple online quote request and we’ll get a call scheduled for you!