The long-term benefit of search engine optimization is the major reason why many website owners choose to focus on Local SEO instead of paid advertising.
However, when business revenue dips, search marketing is usually the first to go. Which leads us to the question – is SEO worth it for small businesses?
The truth? You just want your phone to ring. Not just today, but every day. If you’re a new business, you could drive immediate returns with search engine Ads. If you’ve been in business awhile and you’re looking for sustainable results, Local SEO could fetch the ROI you desire.
Before jumping in, let’s cover the basics.
What is SEO for Small Business?
Local SEO or SEO for small businesses is an effective way to increase the reach of your local business. You promote your services and products to local customers who are looking for them online.
Small and large businesses alike can attract more customers and grow their businesses using local SEO strategies.
For instance, if you run a restaurant, your target audience is located in and around the town where your restaurant is located.
You would need to optimize your business name, address details and other elements that make it easy for people to find you.
SEO for small businesses is not limited to brick and mortar stores. It’s for all businesses that target a local audience. For instance, a user looking for a “Copywriter in New York” or “Digital Marketer in Brooklyn” would type in these related terms on the Google search page.
Is SEO Worth it for Small Businesses?
First, consider your niche. What can you achieve via local search compared to other digital marketing channels?
For instance, if you’re in the slim tea or diet industry, it’s a very competitive niche that would take years to rank or see results from a search engine.
You’re competing with players who have been in the industry for decades and beating them would take a large marketing budget you don’t have as a small business.
Your best option to win in a competitive industry is to angle for local search. Search engines place greater emphasis on local search results for local queries.
For instance, rather than trying to rank for a broad keyword like “digital marketing agency” (search volume 60,500), you could opt for a local keyword like “digital marketing agency San Francisco” (search volume 720 per month).
Done right, search engine optimization brings customers to your door and increases sales exponentially. A small business that has not harnessed the power of local search, will fall behind and may never catch up.
Large companies can afford a range of digital marketing strategies and campaigns. But Local SEO allows small business to compete for new clients while reaping the rewards of white-hat SEO techniques
13 Tips to Improve Local SEO for Your Small Business
1. Claim Your Google My Business Listing
It’s important to claim your Google My Business listing if you run a local business. Surprisingly, 56% of local retailers haven’t claimed their listing even though 46% of all Google searches are local.
GMB is the cornerstone of local SEO. While there are alternatives such as Bing and Apple Maps, 87% of people are using Google to find local businesses.
Two parts of the result page include the snack pack results and organic results. In the images below I entered the search query “fried rice near me” (really delicious food by the way) and these are the search results.
The top result is the snack pack – a boxed area that comes up when you conduct a local search through Google. It shows the top 3 local business listing for “fried rice near me”. Everything in the snack pack is from your Google My Business profile.
Organic results are the second set. It shows GrubHub, a food delivery site. Do I want to wait for food delivery or go out and get fried rice myself?
A study revealed that 40% of clicks go to organic results and 33% goes to local results. Invest in both so you’re not leaving money on the table.
2. Get Citations
Citations are typically found on online directories where your business name, phone number, website URL and address appear. The two types of citations are structured and unstructured citations.
Unstructured citations are the result of your social media and press coverage. It is not in a structured format but your NAPW information is visible on the web page.
Structured citations appear in business listing. The image above is a Yelp listing for a plumbing business in San Francisco. Citations are a big part of local SEO because. It shows details of your business and makes it easy for your potential customers to contact you.
3. Add Schema Markup to Your Website
While schema doesn’t have an impact on rankings, it helps Google match your business with local searchers. If you serve multiple locations, place your schema markup to each location page.
For more information, read this guide on how to implement schema markup.
4. Create Location Pages
The example above is a location page for a rehab center in Cambridgeshire. However, the main rehab center is in Halstead, not far from Cambridgeshire.
Instead of targeting Halstead exclusively, Sanctuary Lodge created location pages for places within a 3-hour drive from Halstead.
When I typed “Help for Drug and Alcohol in Cambridgeshire” they showed up on Page 1 result. Location pages increase your chances of appearing for location-specific searches.
If you need help crafting SEO-optimized location pages, Zenith Copywriting Agency can help. We create location pages for local businesses who need help reaching a targeted audience. Get in touch today to learn more.
5. Improve Site Architecture
Site architecture is the arrangement of the visual and functional aspects of your site. In layman terms, it’s placing the most important information at the top and flowing down in that order.
Place your contact details at the top and bottom of the page. It makes it easy for potential customers to contact you for a transaction.
6. Uniform Information on Your Contact Page and Google My Business Listing
It is extremely important that your contact details on your website are the same as your Google My Business listing.
Include a contact form for customers who prefer email. If you’re actively collecting reviews, display some of them on your contact us page.
Brick and mortar stores should include driving directions from popular destinations, just as you’ll see in the example below.
Listing entities in and around Wiltshire allows this rehab center originally located in Oxfordshire to rank for Drug and Alcohol Rehab in Wiltshire.
Include an embedded Google Map on your contact page. Link each unique location page to your contact page. Incorporate location-centric testimonials from clients who’ve enjoyed your service.
7. Local Keyword Research
Identify local keywords, entities, and phrases. Create high-quality content around these keywords. Ensure the content types are diversified through videos, infographics, and blogs.
Apply a service/product schema to each offering with unique pages based on your keyword research. It helps your product rank for that specific offering in your location.
This is a location page Google generated for “Electrician in Northern Suburbs” or “Northern Suburbs Electrician”. Mr. Switch serves many locations and uses local keywords to capture leads in each location.
Do not lump all your services into one page. Each service should have a stand-alone service page.
During keyword research, you’re looking at your geo-specific keyword + product/service to see how many times it was searched.
In the example below, a local plumbing service would ignore the global monthly searches in favor of the local monthly searches on the far right.
From the data above, Tacoma Plumbing has more local searches than Everett plumbing and Edmonds Plumbing combined.
Dig deeper if you want to find targeted local keywords for your business. Get more keyword ideas by searching for the specific keyword on Google search. Use searches related to variations. Install Keywords Everywhere for more detailed search results.
If creating SEO copy is your goal, Zenith Copywriters are skilled at writing content that helps you rank high for a specific keyword.
Our SEO copywriting service is designed for small and medium-sized businesses who need help competing with established brands.
8. Optimize your local business for voice search
Voice search is important for local SEO. Millions of people conduct voice searches through Google Assistant, Apple’s Siri and Amazon’s Alexa.
Here are some interesting statistics on voice search:
- 53% of people use voice search to find information about a local business
- 40% of voice searches are local.
- Majority of local searches are mobile and 18% convert within a day
- 41% of adults and 55% of teenagers conduct a voice search at least once a day on mobile
- 40% of adults and 38% of teens use voice search to find a local business.
The content on your site must capture the attention of potential customers. Three areas of impact for local SEO include:
- On-the-go use
- The urgency of questions
- Quick answers. Prospects who conduct a voice search want to find a solution immediately.
For instance, Peter is driving through Los Angeles Downtown West and suddenly gets a craving for pizza. He isn’t familiar with the area so he uses voice search. He says, “find pepperoni pizza near me”. Based on his current location, Google presents the top three pepperoni pizza huts closest to Peter.
How to Optimize Your Local Business for Voice Search?
- Own Your Digital Footprint
Voice assistants are not all-knowing. They rely on information from websites to answer queries. Voice assistants use citations from trusted sources such as GMB, Apple Maps, and Yelp to provide information.
Cite your business on major directories such as
- Apple Maps
- Optimize Your Google My Business Listing
Google has invested a lot of time and energy into GMB. They continuously add features such as messaging, Google Posts, product/service offerings, multimedia and more.
The goal is to help your audience get detailed information about your business and its offering.
- Produce content that answers voice searches
User intent is important. When you know what your audience is searching for, you can create content that briefly answers these questions.
I am not saying you should create unique pages for each question. But a short subheading inside a relevant article or post should suffice.
Google pulls it as a snippet and shows the answer in search results. Use Answer the Public to find long-term queries and work them into your content as subheadings.
- Create an FAQ page
This is a screenshot of an FAQ page we created for Globat Skills. An FAQ page should answer all the questions a user may have when using your service.
FAQ pages help you optimize your content for long-tail keywords and voice search queries. Since voice search is conversational, your FAQ should mirror a similar tone with the questions.
Focus on leveraging user intent to answer long-tail voice queries. Answers should range between 30-50 words, which makes it perfect for an FAQ section.
9. Create Local Content
A few tips to guide you:
- What are the topics your customers and prospects enjoy reading? Use Google Trend, Google News and Google Keyword Planner to find in-demand topics for your content creation.
- Are there any local festivals, holidays or events coming up? Write about local events.
- Interview local celebrities and customers who enjoyed your service or product.
- Identify problems your local audience faces and create blog posts that solve each unique problem.
10. List Your Business on Yelp, Bing Local and Yahoo Local
Does anyone still use Yahoo and Bing? People do. It doesn’t hurt to claim your free listing and add your information to these sites. Unlike Google, Bing pulls in reviews from different sources.
Yelp is a popular search directory. Sadly, it doesn’t cover many countries. If you live in the listed countries, claim your business and add photos to your business profile.
Yelp allows business owners to respond to reviews. They also offer PPC advertising to get your listing in front of a wider audience.
11. Get Backlinks Within Your Local Industry
Building links for local keywords could be tricky. The first thing you want to do is find local businesses in the same industry but not in direct competition with you.
For instance, a restaurant could build backlinks from a local food review website or a local tourism website. Convince them to link to your business in an exclusive piece or inside an article.
A Few Tips for Building Local Backlinks
- Connect with Local Bloggers
If there are local bloggers, ask them to let you guest post on their site. Alternatively, you could invite them to sample your offering in exchange for an honest review on their blog.
Nothing like a 5-star review from a respected blogger to increase foot traffic to your business.
- Leverage Your Competitor’s Link Profile
Use Ahrefs or Mangools SEO tool to uncover where your competitors get their backlinks from. Can you get your business listed on those sites as well?
- Link to and from Your Social Media Pages
Have statuses with links to your Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and other social networks. It sends a strong signal to Google.
12. Collect Reviews
Do you know who leaves a review after using your service? A happy customer. People read reviews before calling your business phone number. Google is usually the first place they start.
The image below is from a Google search for “Orthodontist in Brooklyn”.
I was immediately drawn to the first snack pack result that had a 5.0 rating. I clicked on it to read reviews and his patients had wonderful things to say.
Reviews are a powerful marketing tool. A study found that Google My Business reviews were the 2nd most influential ranking factor for local businesses.
Similar to Dr. Eli Halabi, a high number of rave reviews increases your chances of ranking in local SERP.
13. Improve Your Domain Authority
According to Moz, domain authority is in the top six local ranking factors. DA is measured on a scale of 1-100, with 100 being the highest number. Websites with a high domain ranking are more likely to show up on Page One.
There is no quick fix to improve your domain authority. Sites that have spent years building their DA hover around 40-65. They have backlinks, traffic, and high authority.
Moz also explains that MozTrust, MozRank and Link profile determines your DA. Improving your DA should be part of your overall SEO strategy, not an isolated action.
Here are a few tips to help you improve your domain authority
- Conduct a Link Audit
A few tools to consider for your backlink audit include Ahrefs, Moz Open Site Explorer, Majestic, and SEMrush. Disavow unwanted links that are not in-line with Google’s recommendations.
- Internal Linking
Internal linking is a great way to increase dwell time on your site and improve user experience. Ensure that the linked post is relevant to the content the reader is on.
- Guest Post on High Authority Sites
Guest posts increase the number of sites linking to your webpages. Sadly, not all websites are equal. Only publish guest posts on high authority sites that drive traffic backlinks to your site.
Guest posts help you become an authority in your field. It exposes you to a new audience who follow and trust your content.
- Create Linkable Content
To increase your MozTrust and MozRank, create content that people link to. Readers will link to your content if it’s high-authority and solves a problem for them.
It should be well written, in-depth and informative. The longer your article, the more backlinks you’ll earn.
- Leverage the power of social media
Promote your content on social media. It’s a major ranking factor for Google. Post links from your site to your social media profiles and encourage your followers to share, like and comment on it. Add social share buttons to your blog post. It allows readers to share directly from your site. More social media shares lead to a higher DA for your site.
- Blog regularly
Google bots favor regular blog content. They want to see new content when they crawl your website. Use an editorial calendar to schedule your posts at regular intervals.
- Improve site loading time
Web pages that load slowly lead to a high bounce rate. Online users are impatient. They’ll bounce quickly if your page takes too long to load. Use Google’s PageSpeed tool to analyze your site speed and identify ways to make your site faster.
- Create Infographics
Infographics are 30 times more likely to be read than blog posts with text. They are also 3x more likely to be shared on social media than other types of content. Infographics give you a major advantage because most bloggers do not use infographics.
Local SEO for small businesses is a great way to increase conversion through search engines. An optimized local website leads to increased brand visibility, higher return on investment and accelerated growth for your small business. The tips we’ve mentioned in this guide makes the process easier.