5 Local SEO tips for Small Business: A practical Guide

In this practical guide I’ll cover some actionable SEO strategies in the form of 5 local SEO tips for small business. The holy grail of Digital marketing is local SEO for small business. As a small business you need to improve organic local SEO so you build a robust and steady stream of new leads to insure your business has a pipeline of work. If your small business isn’t ranking in the local search results for your niche search terms and area, getting new customers will always be an uphill battle.

Getting your business ranking on Google is hard. There is a growing number of businesses starting up in local areas due to natural development and population growth. The pandemic has played a major part in regional areas growing as people have migrated out of the major cities as they no longer feel the need to be geographically close to an office. Small business is thriving but the competition is fierce.

The combination of local business growth and larger franchises needing to appear in the top search results has made it almost impossible for a new business to rank on the first page of Google for high volume terms. Local SEO gives small businesses a fair chance at ranking for their niche and geographic location.

In addition, a recent study found that 69 percent of digital traffic is organic and local—meaning it’s more important than ever that your local small business has a robust and ongoing organic SEO strategy.

What is Local SEO for Small Business

Before I get into the seo tips for local business, let me explain what SEO is! Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is the development and ongoing maintenance of your website to ensure your business has the best chance of showing in the top search results of Google and other search engines. This gives people searching for related terms the best chance of finding your business. The local search is where you see the listed businesses next to the map in the search results. It’s displayed right at the top of the page for most terms, above the organic results. It’s important to know that the local business listings are different to the organic results. They are related but have a very different purpose. Google will only list your business profile in the local map pack if it is truly a local business. The organic listings below will rank web pages,  not your Google Business Profile and these listings can be located anywhere as long as they have the content on the site. Local SEO for Small Business involves the optimisation and improvement of your Google Business Profile so it appears in a local search for your geographic location and/or service area.

Why is Local SEO important for Small Business

Local seo for small business is hard but it doesn’t have to be. Having your business appear in the search results in common knowledge nowadays. If you’re spending money on marketing, but you’re not allocating a portion of that to local SEO you may as well be throwing that money away. One study found 78 percent of local searches on mobile result in an offline purchase. The proof is in the SEO pudding! People go to Google as their first action when thinking about solving a problem. If your local business has the solution (whatever that may be) your website needs to be on the first page of organic results and ideally, your business profile also ranking in the local pack.

Local SEO Tips for Small Businesses

Here’s the top 5 local business seo tips I think will help you implement a Google business profile that ranks for some key terms.

1. Get a Google Business Profile (GBP)

This is the first step for any new or existing business. It doesn’t matter if you have an amazing website that ranks in organic search. If you don’t have Google My Business profile, you won’t get a spot in the local business results. Check out the Google Business site here and also signup to create a profile! Sometimes your Google Business Profile may already be listed as Google automatically adds businesses to their directory if they deem them a local business. If this is the case, you’ll need to claim your profile. If your business does not have a profile yet, you’ll need to add you business information, your products and services and contact methods. A important factor is obviously your business address and/or service area. Don’t worry if you’re a home business or don’t operate from a single location as Google lets you specify this and only input a service area which could be as large as you need. Be honest though, as this has to represent the areas you actually service otherwise you could be penalised or band which is not a good thing and hard to come back from. As part of Google’s validation process you’ll need to enter a legitimate address where you can receive a hard-copy letter which a unique code. This is what you’ll need to enter to prove you are who you are. Be patient as sometimes this can take a few months. SEO is a long game!

2. Optimise for your Google Business Profile

Many (most) Google business profiles are left online with little or no attention. Google may have automatically added your business or you (or an employee) set it up with some basic information. The issue with this is your profile information, contact details, open hours may have missing or incomplete information. You need to spend some time to optimise your profile like you would the homepage of your website. You should have a descriptive title, clear description of your business and services using the key terms you’d like to rank for. You should regularly post offers and updates and maybe most importantly, you should get positive reviews and respond to them.

3. Target Local Keywords

Your business is unique. You may be providing the same service as other businesses but you have your methods, quality assurance and local based services that others may not provide. When targeting high volume search terms that are highly competitive you’ll have little chance of ranking in the organic listings as there are bigger players with bigger sites that will have secured those search engine rankings already and have a robust SEO strategy. In local search you have a fair chance of ranking as you’re only competing against local businesses. Use specific key phrases local to your area by using the regional names, suburb names etc in conjunction with your niche services. I’ve focused this site on ranking for local search terms based on my immediate geographic area, even though I’m technically able to work with anyone in the world. One of my focus areas and target keyword is ‘Wollongong SEO’. Wollongong is a mid-sized city South of Sydney in NSW, Australia and has a thriving small local business population. I obviously want to have my site appear in the organic listings but I also want my GBP to show in the local results. I have a good chance of this as for the search phrase ‘SEO Wollongong’ has removed any competitors that are located outside of the geographic area based on using the word ‘Wollongong’ in my search term. This gives me a fighting chance at showing up in the results. If I just went for a generic term like ‘SEO Agency’ or ‘SEO expert’ I would have much more competition.

4. Create Local Niche Content

Your business is local so you should be creating and posting content that’s relevant to your local area and your business services you provide, products you sell, offers and related business news. You want to create content of value without being spammy or keyword stuffing. Googles basic principle is to rank the webpages and GBP based on the relevance, quality and authority of your information. Create a short weekly post on something that will reinforce that your business is legitimate, your services are current and that you are a reputable local small business. When you create a post, offer or image on you GBP, you have the option to add a link so people can find out more. Using this to link back to more information is a perfect way to show Google and your potential customers that you’re active and trustworthy.

5. Get Local reviews

Reviews are a huge part of the researching/buying user experience. When you book a restaurant, buy a product or visit a destination, the first thing you do is check what others are saying about the thing you want to buy. Reviews show that you’re a functioning and trustworthy business. Having customers that are regularly giving you reviews is one of the biggest signals to Google that your local business is good at what you do.

Conclusion: Local SEO tips for Small Business

If you’re a local business and are spending money, time, or effort on getting local customers – you need to be optimizing your business profile and site to rank for those local search terms. As a business improve your web presence and digital marketing in your local area using local seo. SEO for small businesses is achievable if you put in the effort and time.

Get in touch if you have any questions or need some help getting your local business showing up in the results.