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A beginner's guide to local SEO for small businesses

27 April, 2023 · 5 min read·SEO
A beginner's guide to local SEO for small businesses
Learn how to improve your small business's local search engine rankings with our beginner's guide to local SEO. From optimizing Google My Business to building local citations, this post covers everything you need to know.

Small businesses often struggle to stand out. One reason for this is that there’s so much competition online. Due to this, it can be challenging to attract customers and drive sales. 

This is where local SEO comes in. Local SEO focuses on improving a small business's visibility in local search results. This helps them reach potential customers in their area. It’s worth noting that local searches make up nearly half of all Google searches. By investing in local SEO, you have the opportunity to expand your visibility and reach more customers. 

Keep reading to dive into the ins and outs of local SEO and explore local SEO tips to drive local growth for your business online and offline.

What is local SEO for small business?

As a small business owner, you probably pull out all the stops to make sure your business is visible and accessible to potential customers. But there's a new frontier in which small businesses must stake their claim: the world of local search engine optimization (SEO).

Local SEO for small businesses is the process of optimizing your online presence. This helps your business rank higher in local search results on popular search engines. These include Google and Bing. This improved visibility increases your chances of new customer acquisition and helps boost credibility and reputation.

Local SEO is particularly vital for small businesses that are competing for local customers in a specific geographic area. When executed effectively, local SEO can make or break a small business's ability to attract new customers, particularly those who are using search engines or real-time map applications to find businesses in their area.

With so much emphasis on the importance of local search engine optimization for small businesses, business owners must understand the key components of an effective local SEO campaign. This means understanding the local search ranking factors and developing a strategy for building citations and local listings, creating high-quality content, and measuring and tracking your local SEO success. By following these steps, small business owners can gain greater visibility. They can reach new customers and give their business a competitive edge.

Why a local SEO strategy matters for small businesses

Small businesses that operate in a specific location need to show up in local search results. This is so they can attract potential customers. This is where local SEO optimization comes in. Local SEO is optimizing web pages and content so that it appears at the top of search engine results pages (SERPs). This comes in handy when people search for businesses or services in a certain geographic area. The main goal of local SEO is to increase traffic, leads, and revenue from locally-targeted searches.

Reaching local customers

Local SEO matters because most consumers today use search engines to find local businesses. According to Google, around 46% of all searches have local intent. This means that people are searching for information about businesses and services within their geographic location. Failure to optimize for Local SEO can cause a business to miss out on potential customers who may not be aware of them due to lower rankings in local search results.

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Local SEO is also cost-effective. It enables small businesses to compete with larger companies in their area without the need for a large marketing budget. Ranking highly in local search results can help small businesses attract new customers, increase sales, and create brand awareness in the local community. By targeting highly relevant keywords with low competition, small businesses can improve their online presence and drive more local organic traffic.

Boosting credibility

Consumer behavior has changed significantly in recent years. Most people now rely on online reviews and ratings from other customers to make purchasing decisions. According to a survey conducted by BrightLocal, 93% of consumers read online reviews before making a purchase. This highlights the importance of building a positive online reputation for local businesses. By optimizing their Local SEO and gaining positive reviews, small businesses can improve their visibility and credibility in the eyes of their target customers.

Understanding local search ranking factors

The world is rapidly moving toward mobile search. Consumers use their mobile devices to search for products, services, and local businesses. An effective local SEO strategy can help your business appear at the top of local search results. It can help attract more foot traffic, generate leads, and boost sales.

To achieve these goals, small businesses need to understand local search ranking factors.

Relevance, distance, and prominence

Google considers several factors when ranking local search queries, including relevance, distance, and prominence of the business. Relevance refers to how closely the business matches the query at hand, while distance refers to the proximity of the business to the searcher. Finally, prominence refers to how well-known the business is, its online reputation, and the quality of its content.

Citations and listings

Another key factor that affects local search rankings is the presence and accuracy of business citations and local listings. Citations are mentions of your business on other websites, while local listings are directories that help local customers find you. The information listed in these directories needs to be up-to-date. Make sure your business name, address, phone number, and website address are all accurate. Consistency across directory listings is also crucial to ensure that search engines match your business with the correct information.

Quality of content

Small businesses also need to focus on creating quality content that appeals to local customers. Content that highlights local aspects of the business, including events, promotions, or even customer reviews, can help increase engagement and relevance for local search queries. Focus on building high-quality content that can be shared across local directories and social media channels. This is also an effective way to increase brand recognition and visibility. 

By understanding these local search ranking factors, and creating a comprehensive local SEO strategy, small businesses can improve their chances of appearing at the top of local search results and ultimately drive more business growth.

Building citations and local listings

One of the most important aspects of a successful local SEO strategy is building citations and business listings. Citations are mentions of your business name, address, and phone number (NAP) on other websites, such as local directories or review sites. These citations act as endorsements of your business and improve your online visibility.

Be consistent

When building citations, it's important to ensure consistency in the information provided. If the NAP of your business varies across different listings, search engines may be confused and your local search ranking could suffer. Therefore, always double-check your NAP information before submitting your business to a directory.

Optimize GMB listing

Another way to improve your local search ranking is to claim and optimize your Google My Business (GMB) listing. GMB is a free tool provided by Google that allows businesses to manage their online presence on the search engine. By optimizing your GMB listing, you can increase your chances of appearing in the "local pack", which is the list of businesses that appear when users search for a particular location.

Add your local business to directories

In addition to building citations and optimizing your business listing, it's important to ensure that your business is included in relevant local directories. This helps to improve your online visibility and provides additional opportunities for customers to discover your business. There are many directories available for businesses to submit their information to. These include Yelp, Yellow Pages, and TripAdvisor. Ensure that your business has a presence on these directories. In turn, this can make a big difference in your local search ranking.

Creating quality content for local SEO

When building a strong local presence, you must create quality content relevant to your target audience. This will help attract more local visitors to your website. Plus, it will help establish you as an authority in your industry.

Include relevant keywords

When creating quality content for your local SEO efforts, you must target specific keywords relevant to your geographic location. This could include the name of your city or region. Or it could include any local landmarks or attractions your business is associated with.

Make content engaging and informative

Make your content both informative and engaging. This means providing valuable insights and information that people will actually be interested in reading, rather than simply repeating the same old marketing messages that you already use on your website or social media channels.

Monitoring and updating content

Remember that local SEO is an ongoing process that requires consistent effort and attention. This means regularly publishing new content, monitoring and responding to customer feedback, and constantly tweaking and optimizing your local search strategies to ensure that you are always staying ahead of the competition. With the right approach, local SEO can be a highly effective way to reach new customers. And it can grow your business in your local community.

Measuring and tracking local SEO success

Measuring and tracking success is essential in any marketing strategy. The same goes for local SEO. Without proper tracking, it's impossible to know if the efforts put into local SEO are actually making a difference. Fortunately, there are several ways businesses can measure their success and make changes accordingly.

Google Analytics

You can track local SEO success through Google Analytics. By setting up goals and tracking pageviews, businesses can see where their traffic is coming from and which pages are most successful. This helps businesses identify areas they may need to improve, whether it's creating more localized content or building more local citations.

Search engine rankings

Another way to measure local SEO success is through tracking search engine rankings. Tools such as Ahrefs or SEMrush can track a business's search engine ranking for target keywords in particular locations. By regularly checking these rankings, businesses can see how their local SEO efforts are paying off and make any necessary adjustments.

Customer reviews

Businesses can also measure local SEO success through online reviews. By regularly monitoring and responding to reviews, businesses can improve their online reputation and attract more customers. Positive reviews can also improve a business's search engine rankings, making it even more important to regularly monitor and respond to feedback.

Measuring and tracking local SEO success is critical to ensuring a business is properly reaching its local audience. By utilizing the tools above, businesses can adjust their strategies and see real results.

Attracting more customers for local businesses

Small business owners invest a significant amount of time, money, and effort to grow their businesses. One of the key ways in which small businesses can increase their visibility and attract customers is through local search engine optimization. 

Let B12 help with the local SEO for your business’s website. B12 is the all-in-one platform that helps professional service small businesses launch an online presence with tools like payments, scheduling, email marketing, and contracts. Our SEO specialists can ensure that the content for your website is well-optimized and targets relevant keywords to maximize your local reach. Sign up today for free and start winning, attracting, and serving clients in no time.

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