Local SEO for Small Businesses in 2021: A Comprehensive Guide

Local SEO for Small Business

The fact that 78% of local mobile searches lead to an in-store app purchase is tempting enough to understand the importance of SEO for small businesses.

In this guide, we’re going to talk about what is local SEO for small business, tips, and tools and learn how it is relevant for startups .

What is Local SEO?

As the term indicates, local SEO is the search engine optimization efforts done for local businesses, mainly for businesses operating at brick-and-mortar locations.

By improving their local SEO game, businesses can increase their organic traffic and SERPs visibility to customers doing searches within the nearby areas.

Hence, that’s what separates general SEO from local SEO for small businesses.

Improving your local SEO means acquiring more traffic, leads, and conversions as the strategy will be more applicable for your local customers. Consider it a wise decision to compete more strongly with bigger national competitors having a larger budget to spend at their disposal.

In doing so, a more focused approach can dilute the threat of bigger companies that generally compete for broader keywords and rely on their brand awareness, rather than value propositions to bring in traffic.

Although offering a pretty good volume, being in the dog food business it would be foolish of you to target a broad keyword like this.

Hence, targeting a local area based, long-tail keyword would be much better to justify your local SEO efforts.

Related content: Introduction to SEO 101: Why is SEO Important for Your Business?

Local SEO for small business tips

Optimize your Google My Business account

Optimizing your google listings, commonly termed as business profiles, is one of the best ways to rank higher on Google Maps and climb the rankings in local search results.

This is where you need to create a Google My Business account to make these optimizations. Once you have added all the required information, a business profile will be created which shall start appearing in the Google local search results, Google Maps, and Google Search Knowledge Panel.

Follow the steps to make sure your optimized for GMB:

  • Create your Google My Business account and verify its ownership
  • Add important information like your logo, operational hours, valid payment methods, offerings, and top-quality images depicting your products and services
  • Publish posts through your account announcing special offers, new product launches, events, etc.
  • Ask your customers to share online reviews that would appear under your profile
  • Respond to the added reviews in a sincere, pleasant manner, importantly, specifying location. For example,

We highly appreciate your feedback on (ABC) product in (city/state), and look forward to serve you again.

Thanks
(company name) team

If Google considers your business as authentic, it can most probably reward your business with a coveted sidebar in the Google local search.

Adding all the relevant information (as above) isn’t for SEO purposes only, but you’re making it easier for customer to find you. More importantly, as COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted the consumer behavior and more inclination towards online shopping.

Engage on social media and add content on GMB

For google, published content shared on social media is highly encourages.

Having created a great GMB page, its time to share it on social media further improving your search and search objectives.

Acquire reviews from satisfied customers

From a technical standpoint, it might not seem much of a local SEO for small business tip. Still, asking your happy customer to reciprocate their feelings and reviews not only optimizes your GMB presence, but also encourages new local visitors to buy from you.

So how do you tempt your customers leave positive reviews?

  • As for a review after closing a sale
  • Send a survey to your customers after a sale to filter out happy ones, and send them an email or text asking them to leave a review.
  • Respond to existing reviews in a professional tone, and thank and address complaints in an assertive manner.

Optimize online directories and citations

Optimizing your online directories and citations is one of the best tips for local SEO for small business. There are four map data aggressors that offer a huge amount of map data for Yelp, Bing, Apple, Trip Advisor, etc.

The purpose is to verify that all the citations are consistent across all four data aggressors. Moreover, issues like grammatical mistakes, inconsistencies in abbreviations, lack of other important information like office number, phone number, etc. can prove to be troublesome.

If you’re not making it easy and clear for google to understand which information is correct, seemingly, it may show your business in search results.

Make sure to remove duplicate listings (if any). A plus for acquiring an external inbound link by having the Chambers of Commerce membership in your community.

Conduct a local SEO audit

Once you’re done with the basics, you might be tempted to start with the real deal. You need to perform an SEO audit that will cover several sub-audits including Google My Business audit, Google Search Console, on-page SEO, competitor analysis, citation, and website audits.

  • How does your GMB appear in the SERPs? Is the information accurate?
  • Does your site have errors that would be problematic in indexing? Is it crawlable?
  • Has your site accommodated all the on-site SEO elements that would help in ranking?
  • Have you inserted all the correct citations in the top business directories?
  • How does your site compete with your rivals? What are the gaps you need to acknowledge and fix? How well are your inbound links, content, and design doing?
  • How well is your website performing in technical terms?

Reconsider your website’s internal linking

External backlinks directed to your website are fuel for its authority score or domain authority. Yes, but adjusting your site’s internal structure will also help you climb the website’s ladder.

A clean internal structure helps your website as it supports navigation, website hierarchy and information architecture, and spreads the page authority and ranking among other pages.

Optimize the meta description and title, content, headers, and URL

Whenever I am publishing a new blog post for my website, that’s in fact a new opportunity for my content piece to rank in the SERPs on a selected geographic keyword.

After completing the content piece, you need to incorporate the selected key phrase in the meta title and description, header, URL, and content.

In doing so, you’re helping the search engine recognize and sort your content accordingly. Besides SEO-based content, you can also consider writing customer success stories and case studies.

Acquire inbound links through authority and relevance

Inbound links are some of the best resources to up your local SEO game. In other words, every inbound link tells Google that you’re a legitimate company.

You can acquire inbound links through different ways including partnerships and sponsorships, guest blogging, and more.

Networking and participation

You can start with your own personal network including Chamber of Commerce, business improvement districts, licensing bureaus, resellers and vendors, trade associations, and associated affiliates.

Community hosting and engagement

Conduct a webinar or participate in a community event promoting your local and creating and nurturing relationships with influential market personnel.

Furthermore, never feel shy when asking partners if they can feature your business on their directories.

Digital engagement

Yes, we’re talking about the always reliable guest blogging. List out top platforms for blogging and provide content of real value rather than selling your brand on obvious terms.

Having your content and press releases published on top platforms not only get you quality backlinks, but also generates a viral buzzword and encourages the platform owners to share your content on social media and attracting media coverage.

Optimize for voice search

Voice commerce is the next big thing to arrive in the digital industry globally. Go through these statistics that should give you an idea where is the scope of voice search heading.

Evidently, you better start optimizing for voice search and people are asking questions by speaking to their devices.

Obviously, speaking means people are using long-tail keywords as opposed to when they type. This is why you need to incorporate a more conversational tone and SEO-based phrases in your content.

For example, you’ll want to add the traditional question-based prefixes in your keywords, i.e., what, who, where, why, how, and when.

At the same time, remember the fact that optimizing for voice requires you to well understand the user intent—such searches are done when a user needs a very specific chunk of information.

For instance, if I am in the midst of a cooking session, I need to have a quick, helpful answer on how many teaspoons I need for a definite number of people. Second, if a customer wants to know what are your business hours, the answer should have optimized for a prompt answer.

Create local news based content

A great content piece is the one which talk to the local audience on the local issues. There is no better relatability to grab your local customers’ attention.

  • Create content pieces catering local stories, events, and issues.
  • Make videos on the CSR activities and local charity events that your company often participates in.
  • Add location based content in your web pages to serve people according to relevant region.

Consider I am running a local BBQ restaurant in Pakistan. I’ll create web pages covering each of the major locations in the country that I can cater.

Getting further, I’ll create content for each of the locations attending to their respective audience, prevailing issues, local trends and consumer preferences, and so on.

Make your website mobile-friendly

Easily, one of the most commonly known tip we’re been hearing for quite some time now, but its importance is worth mentioning for local SEO for small businesses.

Here are some of the vital mobile vs. desktop usage statistics for you to ponder over.

  • Mobile phones registered 61% of visits to US website in 2020, a rise from 57% in 2019.
  • At global level, mobile phones drove 68.1% of all website visit in 2020, a rise from 63.3% in 2019.

According to Think With Google, 30% of all mobile searches are done according to location, 76% of people searching for something nearby on their smartphones visit a business within a day.

These statistics, only a few among many other, should be enough to convince you that optimizing your website for mobile is one of your most powerful weapon for local SEO.

Here is what you need to do:

  • Make sure the website loads quickly (ideally shouldn’t exceed 3 seconds)
  • Use bigger fonts that are more prominent to the viewer’s eyes
  • Only use relevant information, copy, and images (mobile screen sizes doesn’t allow much margin for stuffing in content)
  • Incorporate intuitive UI for an amazing UX

Incorporate local keywords

As relevant as it sounds for local SEO for small business, your keywords should be relatable to your local customers.

You can use any keyword research tool like Ahrefs, SEMrush, or even Google Keyword Planner, you can always filter specific search queries for a given region.

Once you have the list of locally relevant keywords, now incorporate them in your website’s metas, web content, and URLs. In addition to that, you can also mention region specific landmarks in your content.

For example, if you’re running a car repair shop in Downtown, Dubai, you may write references like, “get your car repaired on Sheikh Zayed road” or “car repair shop just a couple of minutes’ drive away from Dubai Mall”.

Use a location based “About Us” page

It might not seem much of an important tip for local SEO for small business, but using the right locations in the right pages do help.

You have your business in more than one places, location pages go without saying. Additionally, each location page needs to have content tailored to that specific location.

You need to add the following things in your location pages: store hours, individual descriptions for each location, name, address, and contact number, parking availability, testimonials, promotional offers, and Google Maps attached for each place.

But you have only a single location, an About Us with quality, unique content associated with local details is enough.

See the example of Marriott Hotel, Karachi. The website has included a separate page for local area with necessary information like driving directions, nearby landmarks, and local attractions and activities.

Thoughts!

This complete our discussion on some of the best tips on local SEO for small business setups.

Do keep in mind the entire purpose of following the above tips is to make it easier for your local audience to find you quickly.

SEO and search engine algorithms changes without warning. You never know when is Google going to incorporate new features in its SERPs for local searches.

Hence, it’s essential to stay abreast these trends and follow these actionable tips to have your website a concrete foundation to deal with upcoming SEO changes.

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