Invest in Local SEO for Your Small Business
If you’ve spent any amount of time in the digital marketing world, you’ve probably heard the term SEO thrown around like mystery meat in a school food fight. This is because it is an integral process for many marketing strategies and can be especially valuable if you run a small, local business. But, as always, context is important. If you want to know more about the role of local SEO for small businesses, and how it can help yours, we’ve got you covered.
Before we get down to how local SEO for small businesses is incredibly important, let’s first go over some high level basics about search engine optimization (SEO).
What is SEO?
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. That refers to the measures your digital marketing team can take to boost organic search engine traffic. It’s all about getting your website on the first-page results of popular search engines (read: Google) for search terms that your key personas are searching for and that doesn’t just happen on its own. It’s the result of optimizing your content.
We live in a world where a limitless supply of information is accessible at your fingertips. That’s why it’s important to do everything you can to improve your search result rankings.
SEO can be tough if you’re implementing it for the first time, which is why digital marketing agencies are there to help. However, if you want some tips and tricks on how to appease the almighty Google ranking system, check out this blog!
What is “Local” SEO?
Local SEO refers to how likely your business will end up in front of local users. Do you run a small business that mostly caters to your local community? Do you have a brick and mortar location where you sell things or see clients? If so, their website traffic is the most important traffic for your bottom line.
What can you do to improve your local search ranking? Most importantly, how can you increase the chances of community members and visitors finding your business? Read on to find out in our guide to local SEO for small businesses!
Google Local SEO Ranking Factors
The Google search engine determines how first-page worthy your website is. It does this through a complex search algorithm and ranking system. But that algorithm is constantly evolving. This makes it hard to stay on top of best practices for local SEO for small businesses.
As we understand it now, all ranking factors can be grouped into three larger categories:
How relevant are your business’s products or services to the potential customer’s search query? It’s not easy to decipher the intent of a query. However, the algorithm does a lot of work behind the scenes to determine the most relevant results.
Prominence is a measure of how reputable your business is. This is proven to Google through both the quality and quantity of customer or client reviews. For instance, a two-star restaurant without many reviews is unlikely to make the top of the local search results list.
That is, unless the user is standing five feet from the establishment! If a user doesn’t specify a location in the search query, Google will use what it knows about their location to display the closest businesses. Remember, we’re talking about local SEO traffic, so proximity plays a leading role.
Google’s search algorithm carefully weighs these three factors to bring users the most useful search results.
Ways to Improve your Local SEO Ranking Factors
So those are the big three ranking factors for local SEO, but what actions can you take to improve local SEO for your small business? If it seems daunting, don’t worry. We’ll walk you through some of the most important things you can do to optimize for local traffic.
Google My Business
Also commonly known as GMB, Google My Business was rolled out in 2014. Your GMB page is a business listing on Google. It’s similar to a listing you would see on Yelp. The most important thing to note is that your GMB page appears separate from search results.
In fact, if a user is typing a mobile search, it appears at the top of the page before any search engine results are shown! So, for instance, let’s say you run a cafe. Somebody is on the go and looking for a place to snag a cup of coffee. They whip out their phone and search for something like “best cafes near me.”
Google weighs the big three ranking factors we discussed to show the user the business listings that best match that search. This is referred to as the “local pack.” It’s a set of three featured businesses that rank well in relevance, prominence, and distance, relative to the query.
Additionally, your GMB page literally puts you on the map! If you set the location for your business listing, a user can find your address on Google maps by searching for the business name. It’s abundantly clear that GMB is a local business’ dream tool.
Are you ready to compete with local listings for a spot in the local pack? Don’t get too ahead of yourself yet – go claim your GMB listing first! From there, fill out all the information you can, like your business address, phone number, hours of operation, etc. The more information you complete, the better Google can judge your relevancy.
One final tip on GMB: make sure you regularly monitor and edit your listing. By nature, the service is interactive and outside users can suggest edits to your page. The language Google uses is “suggest,” but sometimes these edits can go live without the business owner being notified.
If you want help with the process, check out this comprehensive guide from Moz on optimizing your GMB page!
On-Page SEO and NAPs
If your business has a strong focus on servicing the local community, reflect that in your content marketing and SEO local practices. Create blog posts with localized keywords. Ensure that all URLs, title tags, headers, internal links, and meta descriptions are optimized. GMB may be a local SEO treasure trove, but that doesn’t mean you should ignore the SEO basics.
Another good practice is to maintain the consistency of your NAPs (name, address, and phone numbers) throughout all website pages. If it’s not already there, place your NAP in your website footer!
In addition to maintaining NAPs on your website, try to get them placed in as many local directories as possible. Correct any citations that may have the wrong information. Conflicting instances of your NAPs across the web cause the ranking system to lose confidence in your listing.
Ask for Reviews
Our final piece of advice in optimizing local SEO for your small business is to ask for reviews. Reviews help Google’s search algorithm rank your prominence. Both ratings and the number of reviews are weighed.
Unprompted consumers are most likely to leave a review if their experience with your business was either extremely good or extremely bad. One negative review can seriously tank your rating, especially if you don’t have many reviews on the books.
Evidence shows that a whopping 70% of consumers will leave a review if asked! As one of the most dependable ways to improve both the business’s reputation and local SEO, don’t be afraid to ask your customers to leave a review.
Local SEO for Small Businesses is Important
Consistently reviewing and optimizing local SEO best practices for your small business are important tasks. These actions ensure your website will be found by the people who are actively searching for your products and/or services. If you’re already at the helm, with the day to day running of your business, developing a local SEO plan might seem like an overwhelming task.
If you need some assistance fine-tuning to your local SEO strategy, we can help.
Digital Marketing Strategist