5 Local SEO Tips to Get Your Small Business to #1 in Search Results
Boosting your online presence isn’t easy – especially when it comes to search engines.
Some businesses spend years trying to conform to Google’s algorithm, and still never get anywhere near the top spots they’re working so hard to achieve.
But, you don’t have to fall victim to the same.
What if I told you there was a simpler way to optimize your website for SEO and get more customers in the meantime?
I will. And it starts with local SEO.
What is Local SEO?
Local SEO is the process of getting your business or website to rank high in results for local searches. As the name suggests, it applies when people search for something nearby, like "staffers in Michigan" or "HVAC repair Chicago."
This type of SEO is great for businesses with a brick and mortar store, or who service a specific geographic area. People around you will be searching for the services you offer. Local SEO will position you in front of these people.
Why should you care?
But is local SEO still important for businesses who focus on sales, rather than in-store visits?
The short answer: Yes!
18% of local mobile searches lead to a sale within the same period. That doesn't even include the people who reach out for an estimate, become leads, or schedule an appointment with you.
So, local SEO matters, and can help your business grow. But how do you make your local SEO better?
5 Tips to Boost Your Local SEO Presence as a Small Business
In a nutshell, local SEO is a fantastic way for small businesses to boost their organic search visibility – and you should be using it to boost the number of visits, sales, and customers your business gets.
Here are five ways to get started.
1. Create a Google My Business listing
The easiest way to get your business in front of local searchers is to create a Google My Business listing. These act as mini directory listings, and are displayed when your business is searched for.
But how do these listings affect local SEO?
The simple answer: Google uses a 3-pack to recommend businesses in local searches, using terms like "convenience stores in Seattle". These are displayed first on the results page (even above result #1!), and give a visibility boost for your brand.
Creating a Google My Business listing also helps your brand to be displayed when someone uses another of Google’s search functions – like Maps.
Users can now install the Google Maps app and enter “Food near me.” A list of relevant businesses will be shown for the user to select from. Yours could be included, if you’ve got a listing.
But, like many things in the SEO world, it’s not as simple as that. (As much as we’d like to hope.) You’ll also need to optimize the listing itself.
The easiest way to do that? Start collecting reviews.
Google’s aim is to always display the best, most-relevant and trusted results for any search term. Let’s face it – if you searched for “computer repairs in Washington” and were greeted with seedy sites without any other online presence, you wouldn’t be very satisfied… Or encouraged to purchase!
Reviews are gold dust for small businesses. That’s because 72% of consumers say that positive reviews make them trust a business more.
Action step: Create your Google My Business listing and send an email or text to your previous customers, politely asking them to leave a review. If you have space in your budget or fancy increasing your chances of a glowing review, give customers an incentive. This could be a coupon code or discount on their next purchase.
For more details, view this guide: How to Get More 5-Star Online Reviews for Your Business.
2. Get in with the locals
Remember how earlier, we talked about the value of relevancy in Google’s algorithm? Well, it also loves backlinks. Backlinks are hyperlinks to your website from another site – and you can use them to boost your local SEO presence.
Data by Matthew Barby shows this in action:
What does this mean? Well, sites ranking in the first position of Google have over 10,000 backlinks pointing to that page. This gradually declines after position two, and further for results towards the end of Page One.
The concept still applies in local SEO. So, guess what we need to do next?
That's right. Optimize.
You can optimize the backlinks pointing to your local business website by gaining entries from other, locally-optimized sites. So, let’s say that I had a marketing business in Memphis, Tennessee.
My backlink targets might be:
- The Tennessean
- The City of Memphis
- Memphis Chamber of Commerce
Notice how we didn’t include general websites like HuffingtonPost.com? Even though these big sites have enviable SEO metrics, they aren’t local. Relevancy is key, so you want to focus on local sites.
Action step: Create a list of local publications. Think about the content you could create for them, or what you could do for them so that they'll give you a backlink. This could be a: press release, guest post, or advertisement containing a backlink. Then reach out.
3. Submit listings to local directories
Another way to boost your local SEO is to combine both things we discussed: listings and backlinks. This will allow us to create local directory listings with your business’ information, while building a local (and relevant) backlink in the meantime.
I know, it’s genius.
Local directories are key features of local SEO. We want to get in them because half of local mobile searchers are looking for business information.
And 71% of people admit to using local search to confirm the location of a business before visiting it for the first time.
If you’re failing to show up in any form of directory, people might not know you exist. Or even worse, they might choose a competitor who has their information filled in. No one wants that.
However, don’t submit a listing to any old directory.
Creating a directory listing on a spammy site could signal disaster, and land you in a search engine’s bad books. (Which means no local SEO presence, at all!)
At the very least, each directory site should:
- Be for local people only (like the local Chamber of Commerce), not just part of a large site (like Yellow Pages)
- Have a Domain Authority (DA) of 30+
- Have a decent site traffic volume
Some directories may ask for a fee to list your business, but this is a grey area. Google penalizes sites that pay for links, as explained in this video:
Action step: List your business’ key information – such as your name, address, website, contact number, brief description, and opening hours – in a document. Then, search for relevant local directories and submit your listing.
4. Optimize your site for local searchers
If you’re reading this article and questioning why I’m talking about SEO without mentioning keywords, you might’ve spoken too soon!
Keywords are just as important in local SEO. The only difference is local keywords have a location in them. But I’m sure that won’t come as a shock.
There are two ways to optimize your small business’ site for local keywords. The option you should choose depends on how many locations you have.
If you’re only serving customers in one area (and plan to in the long-term), your entire site should be optimized for that area's local keywords.
If you have several locations or plan on expanding, you’ll need a different approach. Let’s face it – plastering the names of several cities all over your site won’t help your SEO, and it will likely confuse customers (and Google).
Instead, you’ll need to create a landing page for each location you have. This way, Google (and your customers) won’t get confused about the topic of each page, and you can build your local SEO strategy for multiple pages on one site.
For either option, you’ll need to add local keywords like “cleaners in Michigan” to your:
- Meta title and description
- URL structure
- Backlink anchor text
- Heading tags
- Image alt text
Action step: Use Google Keyword Planner to find which local keywords your potential customers are using. If they have high search volumes and are relevant to your service offering, use them to optimize your website!
5. Create a local content hub
A massive 45% of marketers say blogging is their most important content strategy.
It’s not just higher engagement levels that cause blog posts to reign supreme, though. Businesses can see great organic traffic from blog posts – especially when optimized for local SEO.
Have you ever heard the phrase, “content is king”? It wasn’t just designed to be another overused marketing slogan. It’s actually true, and a powerful form of content marketing that your business can use to position itself under the nose of local people.
Start by thinking of content ideas that your local customers would find interesting.
Let’s say that I’m a baker in Oregon, and I’m looking for people to find me online and visit my bakery. I’ll want to create content like:
- 5 Fun Things for Cake Lovers to Do in Oregon
- How to Find the Perfect Bakery in Oregon
- How to Find an Oregon Bakery for Vegans
These variations of your local keyword will cater to Google’s LSI algorithm. (This simply means the search engine can understand when phrases, words and sentences mean a similar thing.) And, by internally linking back to your location’s landing page, search engines can easily scan and index the page.
This type of content marketing helps to build your authority. If Google can see you’re discussing a certain location frequently, why wouldn’t they reward you with higher rankings than competitors who aren’t?
Action step: Create a list of blog posts that your local customers might be interested in. Write and publish the content on your website, and share them with local influencers to get the word out.
What to Expect
Now that you’ve created a local SEO strategy to boost your local search presence, keep an eye on your average keyword positions. You can use tools like SEMRush, Moz, SpyFu, and many others to track your progress.
These should be set to rise with the addition of local keywords and additional content, while your directory listings drive new traffic to your site. Get it right, and you’ll be run off your feet with store visits, sales, and new customers!