Local search is a crucial tool for small businesses. Approximately three-quarters of consumers around the world stated they used Google to look for local businesses (Statista). In other words, if your business isn’t properly optimised for local search, you could be missing out on numerous potential customers.
To put it short, if you want your business to stay relevant, then you need to focus on improving your local SEO. And in order to help you do so, we’ve put together this detailed local SEO for small businesses guide. Keep on reading for more.
What is local SEO?
Local SEO or local search engine optimisation refers to the processes involved in improving the organic search visibility of your business within your geographical region. Searches that are full under the umbrella of local SEO include ones associated with a user’s service area, city, state, or postcode.
Local SEO for small businesses: How does it work?
Before we get into the nitty-gritty of local SEO for small businesses, let’s first take a look at how local SEO works. But, before we even delve into that, let’s briefly go over how search engines work.
Search engines such as Google aim to provide the most prominent and relevant search results to users who make queries. These two components, relevance and prominence, are at the heart of your search engine optimisation (SEO) if you’re going for a global or national audience.
However, local SEO adds yet another element to the mix, and that is proximity. You see, most of the time, search engines know a user’s exact location or have an idea of where they might be. And when they do, they try their best to provide results that are prominent and relevant but also within the user’s proximity.
Of course, search engines such as Google will only adopt this approach when a user makes a local search query. In case you’re not familiar with them, local search queries usually look like this:
- “Gyms in Birmingham”
- “Dentists near me”
- “Clinics in London”
- “Best restaurants in the city”
- “Hotels near me”
- “Mechanics near me”
- “Lawyers near me”
Okay, assuming you run a restaurant in Chelsea, London. You would very much like to show up on the search results when someone in your area is looking for some good food, right?
Well, in order to do so, you’re going to have to organically rank for the keywords “restaurant” and “food”. In addition to that, you should target keywords related to proximity. However, going for something such as “restaurants in London” can be a bit futile since there are thousands of them.
Here’s what to do
Instead, you would want something more specific such as “restaurants in Chelsea” or “Chelsea restaurant(s)”. With these two keywords, your chances of capturing your local audience and increasing your revenue are way higher.
Still, local SEO isn’t exclusively about using the right keywords. Search engines rely on other elements such as:
- Number of online reviews and their quality
- The user’s location
- Google My Business Listing
- Google Maps star rating
- Social media presence (likes, shares, etc.)
Local SEO for small businesses – Tips & tricks
Now that we’ve explained how local search works and its great importance to your business. Let’s take a look at some of the tips that you can use to improve your local SEO:
1. Local SEO for small businesses: Optimise your Google My Business
Letting Google know where exactly your business is has become the very core of local search as we know it. Google likes to promote businesses and websites that it feels comfortable sharing with its users. And comfort, in this case, is based on whether Google can verify and support you or not.
Doing this is easy. Just do as follows:
- Create and verify a Google My Business page
- Encourage your customers to share reviews on you online
- Respond in an authentic way to your reviews but with a twist. Try to mention the specific location of the said review or the user who made it. It goes like so: “Hello [user], we appreciate your feedback on [product] in [city]. We look forward to being at your service again. Thank you”.
If you make sure to do these steps, Google will verify your business as authentic. Once they do that, expect a potential boost in local searches.
The thing is, though, this isn’t only about SEO. By having your exact location as well as reviews up, you improve the experience of potential customers. Detailed information about your business (location, operating hours, etc.) is crucial for a good online presence.
2. Check your NAP (name, address and phone number) citations
Before we dive into NAP citations, let’s first explain them to people who might be unfamiliar with them.
NAP stands for name, address, and phone number. And NAP citations basically refer to online mentions of your business on Internet directories. Your Google My Business page, for instance, is one citation source amongst many online. Yell, Yelp, Foursquare and Bing Places are other popular ones, but there are literally hundreds of them.
Not only do citations of your business’ NAP need to be numerous, but they should also be consistent. Discrepancies such as misspellings, abbreviations, or incomplete information can be problematic. In other words, something like your business phone number should be the same on every corner of the Internet, preferably.
So, besides trying to build as many NAP citations as you can, you should always audit and track them. Doing so is quite easy. All you need is a local SEO tool such as Moz, for instance.
Moz will check the overall accuracy of your local citations on online directories in your country. It will tell you everything from the consistency (or inconsistency!) of your business name to your addresses, phone number, and website.
Speaking of SEO audits, though, let us move on to our next tip.
3. Local SEO for small businesses: Conduct a local SEO audit
Search engine optimisation is a continuous and intuitive process. Even if you’re certain that you have gotten it all right, you need to keep on working.
The one true way to do this is to perform SEO audits. It helps to give you a clear idea of where your website stands and what you need to work on to improve it. A thorough local SEO audit should include the following steps:
- Google Search Console: How crawlable is your website? Does it contain any errors that might hinder the process of indexing?
- On-Page SEO: Are all on-page SEO elements on your website done properly? Such an audit should include checking meta titles, meta descriptions, image alt text and compression, etc
- Google My Business: How does the information you have provided to Google My Business appear on search result pages? Is it complete and accurate?
- NAP citations: Are your citations correct and consistent across all online directories?
- Website: What’s the state of your website?
- Competition analysis: How does your website fare with those of the competition? Are they doing something better that you might need? For instance, you can see if your competitors are using certain keywords correctly. This can push you to adopt those keywords for your website, significantly improving your SEO
4. Implement local keywords
Implementing local keywords in your content starts with performing keyword research. First, try to figure out which search queries are helping people find your business and maybe even those of the competition.
Once you do that, you can then start implementing those keywords in your content. For example, if you’re running a restaurant in Birmingham. You can start including keywords such as “restaurant in Birmingham” and “food in Birmingham” in your home or services pages.
You could also try to leverage industry keywords. For instance, if your restaurant is mainly focused on Italian food, for example. You can try to implement terms such as “risotto”, “pizza”, “pasta”, “lasagne”, and more.
This can help you rank better since Google takes a more local-first approach when ranking search results.
5. Link building
If you want your site to rank, you need backlinks. And since our focus right now is on local SEO, you would need local sources to link to you. Indeed, sites that seem random and far away from your business won’t do the job.
Search engines such as Google will check to see if there are local sources that do mention you on the web and link back to you. So, since we have established how important this is, how do you go about getting local backlinks?
First off, you can write guest posts for local blogs, which is quite easy to pull off. You can start by reaching out to owners of local websites, preferably ones you know. Try to get them to agree to feature your content with a link to your site, and you’re good to go.
You can also go about this the other way around. You look for people who would gladly write a piece of content about your business, and you feature them.
6. Ensure mobile-friendliness
Most local searches are done on mobile phones. In fact, most searches, in general, are made on mobile devices. And search engines such as Google have gotten a hold of this for a long time. As a result, they have started to implement mobile-first indexing. In other words, if you want your business to even stand a chance of ranking well locally, you have to focus on mobile.
So now, the question is: how can you make your local website more mobile-friendly?
First, you should improve your website speed. Indeed, a website should not take longer than 3 seconds to load up. Anything more than that, and you’re in dangerous territory. There are tools such as Google’s PageSpeed Insights as well as other third-party ones that will assess your speed.
Second, make sure that your website is built in a way that supports smaller screens. You don’t want to clutter your pages with loads of text that will turn off any average user who stumbles on your website.
We can take care of local SEO for you
SEO isn’t as easy as many online marketers make it to be. That’s why you might need to outsource your SEO needs to experts. Well, you’re in luck because we’re here to help. Book a discovery call with us today.