The Ultimate Guide to Local SEO for Small Business Owners

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ocal seo for small business

Most customer engagement comes from local consumers. What are you doing to help people find your local business?

If you’re not engaging in local SEO, you’re missing out on both virtual and foot traffic. But if you don’t know what these strategies entail, jumping in might seem daunting.

We’ve created this ultimate guide to help you. We’ll show you what local SEO for small business is, and how you can begin implementing it to increase brand engagement, visits to your website and brick-and-mortar, and conversions.

Keep reading to learn how you can make the most of this digital marketing strategy.

Local SEO For Small Business: What Is It?

To answer this question, we must first answer the question, “What is SEO?” SEO stands for search engine optimization.

It means is engaging in a number of tactics in order to improve your web pages’ rankings on search engine results pages (SERPs). It also means, in concert with that goal, enticing users to click on your listings and visit your website.

When you add the local component, what you have is a powerful opportunity to compete for consumers’ attention, even if you’re a small business in a big brand (read: big budget) world.

The best thing about local search engine optimization is it doesn’t have to break the bank. You’ll see below how you can start using local SEO without any additional overhead–just the cost of a bit of time.

Local Search SEO: Tactics

We’ve broken up this strategy into manageable, bite-size tactics that can help improve how your site gets noticed by end users. Follow these steps to boost your Google local SEO rankings.

Responsive Website Design

Hang on, you might be wondering how we’re going to help you pull off a website design without breaking the bank. Well, if your website exists on what’s known as a content management system (CMS), chances are there are some free themes available.

And, chances are those themes are mobile responsive. This is because mobile web browsing officially became more popular than desktop web browsing back in October 2016.

Responsive web design resizes a web page to fit any size screen on any device. It makes buttons easy to see and tap, and it makes the text easy to read.

Basically, it creates a more positive user experience. Since search engines like Google care about the user experience, websites providing a better one can rank higher.

Of course, if you have specific branding or design needs in mind, you can work with a professional designer as well. In this way, local SEO is scalable to your budgetary needs and concerns.

Use Structured Markup

Structured markup, sometimes known as Schema or Schema.org, creates rich snippets on the SERP that are both visually attractive and useful to the end user. If you’re comfortable adding code to the head section of your website, you can customize your own structured markup.

If not, don’t worry. Google’s Highlighting Tool (available through Google Search Console), will allow you to highlight aspects of a web page and label them.

What does structured markup do? It helps search engines understand your site and your brand with more ease.

This is good for the end-user, so it’s good for your SERP rankings too.

Claim Your Listings

When you start to learn about local SEO, you’ll see people talking about a term called citations. This may make you think of getting pulled over, but it’s not a bad term.

In SEO, a citation is merely a listing. For example, a NAP citation is a listing of your business name, address, and phone number.

A good local SEO practice is to make sure your listings across the web are accurate, and one way to do that is to claim your listings.

Google My Business and Bing Places for Business are two examples of listings you can claim. You can also seek out local and reputable listing directories, like with your chamber of commerce.

The key is to ensure your listings are both accurate and consistent. Doing so helps search engines understand how users can reach you.

Remember, a better user experience can lead to higher SERP rankings. And this can lead to more traffic–online and on the street.

Keyword-Targeted Tags

Whenever you’re doing any work in SEO, you should start with keyword research. Keyword research isn’t difficult; you can use a tool like Google’s Keyword Planner to find out which phrases bring users to brands like yours.

You can also use what are known as geolocators in your keywords. Let’s look at an example. Imagine you sell shoes in New York City.

Maybe you do your research and want to go for the keyword, “Women’s designer boots.” Your title tag might read: Women’s Designer Boots | {Your Business Name} in New York City.

This tells readers what you sell, who you are, and where you are. It tells search engines the same things.

You can also add keywords and geolocators to your meta description tags. These form those blurbs under a link in the SERP.

While Google has claimed they don’t directly influence their algorithm, they can influence end-users and improve your click-through rate (CTR). If you have a higher CTR, your rankings on SERPs might improve.

Local-Targeted Content

Now that you have keywords and geolocators in mind, you’ll want to use them in your content. If you have a blog post, for example, about those boots in New York City, you can use these terms in your title and heading tags.

You should also include them in the introduction and conclusion of your article. Don’t over-stuff; these days you can have too much of a good thing and your site might be penalized by search engines for keyword stuffing.

Remember too that content isn’t just written text. It also includes images and local video marketing.

If you have more than one brick-and-mortar location, you’ll want to create a web page on your website for each one. Don’t create a website for each location.

Doing so can lead to problems like duplicate content, which can yield penalties from search engines, hurting your SERP rankings.

Reviews And Testimonials

We turn our attention now to what others think of your brand and how they present those thoughts on the internet. Would you guess that 84% of people place as much trust in online reviews and testimonials as they do in recommendations from people they know personally?

Because they do, what others say about your business online matters. Keeping up to date with your Google My Business and listening on relevant social networks can help you properly deal with reviews, both negative and positive.

Online reputation management is a field all its own, but here are some tips to get you started:

  • Always be transparent.
  • Always reply promptly.
  • Never ignore a review, especially a negative one.
  • Always stay positive.
  • Always thank consumers for reviewing your business.
  • Reach out to happy customers and invite them to review your business.

Like some of the other items on our list, we don’t know how this directly impacts various search engines’ algorithms, but reviews matter to the end-user, so you can bet they matter to search engines.

Backlinks

In the realm of what others think of your brand online, we come to the last item in our list of local SEO tactics: building backlinks.

Like reputation management, we could discuss this topic for thousands of words and only be scratching the surface. But we wanted to include it on our list because a list of local SEO tactics without this element is incomplete.

A backlink is when another site links to content on your site. But, not all backlinks are equal.

When it comes to search engines, there are two main qualities they care about:

  1. The link comes from an authoritative page on an authoritative site.
  2. The link comes from relevant content.

There’s more to it than this, like what type of anchor text is used and what text surrounds the anchor text. And there are best practices to go about getting these high-quality backlinks.

For the purposes of our brief summation, think of it this way: Backlinks are the networking of the 21st century. The best way to build a great backlink portfolio is to network, both online and locally.

Got Questions?

You probably do. Local SEO for small business can be a fun strategy to implement, but like its parent, SEO, it’s ever adapting and evolving.

It can also be highly technical once you get into it. Because of this, and because we love to help small and medium-sized businesses like yours, we invite you to reach out with your questions.

Let us help you bring more traffic to your website and your local store.

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