If you’re starting a small business, SEO or search engine optimization can be helpful in letting users know about your brand during their search for information. As traffic to your site increases and you build on a positive experience for visitors, you’ll become more successful at driving more of the right kind of traffic. That said, SEO is really important to increase your online exposure and grow your business, but this is easier said than done.
For one, you could be competing for popular keywords in your industry that are already being dominated by bigger, longer-in-the-SEO-business websites. Businesses of this status have had more time and experience in building and refining their content, which makes it difficult to compete against them
Your relatively small size can also pose challenges in terms of getting enough media coverage. Since you’re still trying to build a name for yourself, brand recognition may not be strong. As a result, it may take a longer time before third-party sites find your business on the web or begin linking to your website.
You might also find SEO hard to execute for obvious reasons, such as lack of time, budget, tools, or knowledge on your end. Altogether, these obstacles can mean your website doesn’t get the attention it deserves.
Fortunately, there’s a way for you to also land on top of search results, and that’s through local SEO. Local SEO is the practice of optimizing your website for audiences in your geographic location. Some of the best practices in local SEO include optimizing for city name, near-me search phrases, or writing relevant content about a local area even if you’re not physically located in the same area (there’s a dedicated section for this later in this post).
In a nutshell, local SEO enables small businesses like yours to compete with heavyweights for SEO rankings as you’re able to harness the added power of geographical relevance.
What Local SEO Brings to the Table
The different facets of managing a small business—making projections, managing staff, or sourcing suppliers— may leave you feeling so overwhelmed that you lose sight of the importance of SEO in general and local SEO in particular. When you’re tempted to put off doing local SEO in favor of other processes that you think are more vital for your business, you might want to keep in mind the various benefits that local SEO brings to the table.
1. More exposure
Here’s a compelling stat straight from the horse’s mouth: 46% of searches on Google have a local intent.
That being the case, you’d do well to utilize local SEO to make sure that your website gains local but high-level exposure amongst your target demographic. While a standard search enables you to target anyone in the world wide web, local SEO zeroes in on customers or prospects who are in the same area as your business.
2. Better rankings
Search engines are smart enough to know when users are looking for local businesses through the use of location-based keywords or other search signals with a local intent. By applying local SEO, it will be easier for search engines to index your website, so that the next time someone makes a local search, your business will show as a suggestion or recommendation on top of the others.
3. More organic traffic
Research is an important phase of the buyer journey. According to statistics, majority of customers prefer to search online before making a decision or purchase.
- Among PC owners, 96% conduct local searches. For mobile phone and tablet owners, the numbers are also impressive at 79% and 81 percent, respectively.
- 87% of smartphone users conduct a search on a search engine at least once every day.
The data above is a clear indication of how local SEO can increase organic traffic to your website as people conduct local searches to find information about products and services, contact a business, or get directions to a local address, among others.
It’s also worthwhile to mention that SEO doesn’t only lead potential customers to your website, it can also improve foot traffic to your brick-and-mortar location as local searches often result in purchases in physical stores.
4. Better quality traffic
When generating web traffic, it’s not enough that visitors are discovering your site. You’ll want the right kind of people who will benefit from the information, goods, or service that your business or website offers to increase your brand relevance in online search.
Through local SEO, you’ve got a better chance at reaching the top search results listing, which is also called the “snack pack.” In this listing, you’re placed above the organic results so your brand is the first thing that users see.
Getting a top spot in the local listing also means your business belongs to the top 3 businesses with high authority and ranking. Ultimately, dominating local searches can give you more quality leads who are using the search engines to find things around them. These users are easier to convert given that you belong to the same demographic, location, or community.
5. Greater return on investment
Of course, company owners want the highest ROI possible, but knowing where to invest company resources is especially crucial since it can affect how quickly or how big your business will grow. Local SEO is one of those highly profitable investments you could benefit from, as it allows you to be more competitive by helping you build brand awareness, bringing high-quality leads and potential customers to your site.
Tips for Small Businesses to Improve Local SEO
1. Get listed on Google My Business.
Google My Business is a tool that lets you share your business information with customers who are using Google services, such as Search and Maps. It’s a great way for you to control what Google shows in the search results when users type in your business name in the search box.
Here are the most important things to include in your business profile on Google My Business:
- Business information—This should include your business address, contact numbers, website URL, business category, operating hours, product or service offerings, and basically any information that will describe to users what your business is all about.
- Photos and videos—You can add images and videos of your products, location, office, or team members to add to your site’s engagement factor.
- Posts—Whenever you have new blog articles, promotions, or announcements, you should add these to your profile to keep customers informed about what’s happening with your business.
2. Monitor your local citations.
After creating your profile on Google My Business, the next thing to do is to make sure that your name, address, and phone number (NAP) are consistent on any site where your business is listed. Also called local citations, your NAP is shown whenever your business is mentioned anywhere in the web. Any inconsistencies might confuse search engines and affect your site’s potential to appear in local searches, so you might want to consider using special tracking software to manage your listings and get rid of inaccurate details.
3. Perform local keyword research.
Your keyword research strategy has to mimic the type of search queries that local audiences are using. Go for long-tail keywords, using “near me” phrases or adding a location keywords. You could also look for variations in the way that people from certain locations look for information, so you could tweak your keywords accordingly.
4. Add schema markup.
Schema markup pertains to the metadata or secondary information that you add to your website’s code to make it more searchable or discoverable on search engines. By using schema markup, you can enrich what users see on the SERPs since there will be snippets that give visitors a preview of your website’s information or content. Then if they find it useful or relevant enough to what they’re looking for, they will head straight to your site, which gives you an extra opportunity to make a conversion.
5. Optimize your content.
Being a growing business presents you with the perfect timing to build your content assets. That said, you might want to come up first with content pieces that provide answers to questions that people may have about your business. Here’s where a frequently asked questions (FAQs) page may be handy, so you can let potential customers know more information about your business before they even call you. Use your FAQs to educate people about your business offerings, policies, common objections, and the like.
To make it easy for search engines to find your content, you should optimize things like your keywords, page title, meta descriptions, headings and sub-headings, images, and anchor text. Think on-page optimization.
6. Be mobile friendly.
Once your website is up and running, you should ensure that the mobile version is as easy to view on a mobile device as it is on a desktop computer. Check for things like page speed and screen view to prevent people from abandoning your site. To optimize your website for mobile, make sure to compress visual media, remove unnecessary plugins, and minimize formatting issues.
Wrap-Up: Localizing SEO in the Age of Modern Marketing
Local SEO is a lot like organic SEO in that they’re both geared toward driving leads and customers to your website. Both types of SEO also involve knowing who your audience is, what they’re searching for, and where or how they’re searching.
The biggest difference between them is the geographical element that’s attached to local SEO, which allows you to have laser-focused targeting strategies for your business or location. Ranking high in local search brings your business closer to customers, so it’s really important that you build a strong local SEO foundation for your company.
Having a well-organized framework for your website is a good start since web design is one of the factors that can boost your search ranking on Google, Bing, Yelp, or Foursquare, to mention a few. You can also impress search engines by providing users with a positive experience as they navigate around your site. With more and more consumers using mobile devices to find the best businesses around them, your local SEO should cater not only to desktop search but specifically to mobile.
The bottom line is, implementing the best practices in local SEO can help secure your position in the digital marketplace. Even if you’re a small business, you can be on equal footing with other bigger businesses by being listed in the same search results where they’re also listed.
It helps if you have a dedicated team of experts who can study industry trends and implement updated strategies to address constantly evolving algorithms in search. When you regularly improve your business assets for local SEO, you’re maximizing your chances of gaining traffic, visibility, and authority in your niche.