Best Local SEO Tips For Small Businesses

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Local SEO for small businesses on a map

If you have a business that operates locally and want to get traffic to your website, these local SEO tips for small businesses might be the way to go. Many people get scared when they hear the word SEO but it’s not as complicated as one might believe. It just requires some common sense and consistency and you will get very far. Don’t put off your SEO anymore, now is the time to do something about it. With just a little bit of effort you can increase your traffic significantly!

These local SEO tips for small businesses show you the steps you can take today to improve traffic to your website with local searches. We’ll cover how to optimize your page with keywords, where to put them and how often to use them. To do this you analyze your top competitors and reverse engineer what’s already working for them. This post also covers things you can do off page. For example getting local directories, asking for reviews and more. Add some patience and consistency to this and you will outrank your competition.

But first, what is local SEO?

Local SEO essentially means to optimize your website to attract more visitors to your website with relevant local searches. Businesses like shops, restaurants, agencies, etc can benefit immensely from this. It can be especially useful now during Covid since SEO doesn’t cost any money and it can help a struggling business get back on its feet. You want to optimize for three things really, normal organic search results, the local Google My Business 3 pack and other local directories.

Why is local SEO important?

  • It helps your customers and/or potential customers to discover you more easily online. For example if you can rank high for a keyword in your area you have the potential to get a lot of traffic. Another reason is that the website that ranks first gets about 43% of all traffic.
  • By optimizing your site you provide your customers with the information they want to see before they make a purchase. Over the years SEO has become more about what the intent of the user is. So focus on giving visitors what they want and answer their questions. That way you will perform much better in search results. 
  • From 2017 to 2019 Google reported that searches that included ‘near me’ increased by 900%. This means people are looking for products and services that are within close proximity to them. 
  • Local SEO can put you right in front of customers that are ready to buy. A study showed that 80% of all local searches on a mobile convert into a sale. This alone should be a reason for you to focus on this!

But finally to the real question. How can I improve my local SEO and benefit from the things mentioned above? Below you have the best local SEO tips for small businesses that you can implement right now!

Create a keyword list.

To rank locally you need to have a keyword list. A few ways you can come up with keywords for your list is to use phrases you think customers search for. During this phase don’t use any tools but instead only use your brain. If you want to optimize for ‘HVAC Paterson NJ’, then some keywords could be:

  • HVAC Paterson NJ
  • Best HVAC contractor Paterson NJ
  • HVAC company Paterson NJ
  • HVAC services

To expand your keyword list you could use Google intuitive search as well. So type ‘HVAC’ in the search bar of Google without pressing the search button and see what comes up in the auto complete. You can get some great keywords doing this! However it might take a few tries until you have something that is worth putting on your list. On the search results page also check out the ‘people also ask’ and the ‘related searches’ at the bottom of the page. There might be some good questions you can answer or find some other relevant keywords. Below you have an example of how each would look like in search results.

Local seo tips for small businesses people also ask
Local seo tips for small businesses with the realted searches section

Google Keyword Planner

Google’s keyword planner is another tool you could use to find more keywords. It is especially useful if you don’t have a paid one like Semrush. With the keyword planner you also get some insight into how much traffic a keyword has and what the competition level is. With that being said the keyword planner is not as good as Semrush or Ahrefs. These tools give you the ability to conduct a much more extensive analysis. If you have the resources it is definitely something to consider.

Competitors’ websites

Another local SEO tip for small businesses is to look at your top ranking competitors’ websites. See how they have structured their pages. Simply scan through it, look at what words they use and where they use them. Where are the keywords placed? 

  • URL
  • H1 tag
  • Anchor text 
  • How much text does the page have 
  • How many images and/or videos 
  • Number of internal and external links
  • Etc.  

Just get an overall feel for what the competitor is doing and how they use keywords on their website. To see what pages your competitors have, you can search in google site://domain.com. This shows you all the pages a website is ranking for. Write down all your findings in a document or on a spreadsheet and refer to it when you optimize your site.

Building the pages

You now have guidelines on how to construct your pages and know approximately what is required to outrank your competitors. Based on the gathered information, start implementing the keywords in the same places. For example if the competitor had the keyword in the H1 tag then you want to do the same. If the competitor had 1200 words on their page then you want to have at least the same amount, ideally more. There are 10 images on your competitors site, you want to have at least the same. 

You catch the drift, your competitors tell you what you have to do to outrank them.

Include external links to authoritative and local websites throughout your page as well. This increases your page authority and makes your website more trustworthy. A good authoritative website you could link out too is Wikipedia for example. Link internally on your website as well. Internal links are links that go from one page to another on the same domain. They are useful because they help navigate the website and spread link equity. For a blog post like this one you can refer the reader to other posts they might be interested in.

Analyze competitors’ backlinks with Semrush and see which are the ones of interest to you. Aim for both do follow and no follow backlinks. A do-follow link is the default state of a link. That simply means all links that are not no-follow are do-follows. So when a website links with a do-follow link it can affect your search rankings. 

Another way to get backlinks is from a networking or another business owner that has authority online. The more authoritative backlinks you have the better.

Google Maps

Something that doesn’t necessarily help with SEO but can improve user experience is a map on your site. It can help visitors find directions to your business. As a result, they don’t have to open a new window or leave your site, they just use the map on your website. Another pro is that the business info such as address, phone number, etc. is easy to find. 

The map could also keep visitors longer on the site as they might explore surrounding areas on the map. Getting it embedded on your site is not that difficult and it can give you a little boost in user experience. It’s well worth it if you have the extra time.

Local seo tips for small businesses with Google Maps listing

Social Media

In order to start ranking you need to start driving traffic to your website. That means posting on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and any other account you have. Talk about your services in forums like Reddit. You want people to start talking about your service and products. Just a word of warning, don’t spam the internet. Be sensible about it, if you don’t have an online presence it will take time to build an audience. Consistency is key, post once a day or a few times a week over several months is a great start. 

If you have the finances you might consider a Google or Facebook ads campaign. Other forms to drive traffic to your site could be handing out flyers and business cards in your area. The list of things you can do is pretty much limited to your own imagination. So go out there and start talking about your business to other people.

Local Directories

  • Social Media: Sign up for as many social media profiles as you can. That means Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, Yelp, BBB, etc. Also ensure that the name, address, email and phone number (NAP) of your business are consistent across all those platforms. For example search for ‘top 100 local directories’  and create an account for all the ones that are relevant.
  • Keep listings updated: Many set up local directories and then never touch them. Don’t do that! It looks unprofessional and Google actually penalizes GMB listings that are dead. So ensure the contact details, photos, descriptions are up to date. For GMB, set it up and get it verified with the code they send you. You want the “Complete your business profile” to be 100%.
  • Add photos: Keep your listings fresh with photos. This can be before and after pictures, recent events, your employees, etc. Another possibility is to use customer photos that they have taken of your business’ service or product.
  • Descriptions: Add good descriptions of your business. Talk about your business and what you offer. You don’t have to write an essay but just include a few sentences. You could also include any special offers or seasonal deals you might be offering. However don’t make it a sales pitch, focus on providing value. You want your potential customers to understand your business. 
  • Reviews: Get more reviews. That means contacting clients or previous clients and asking for an honest review. Most of the time your clients won’t leave a review for your service unless that service was bad. So if you had a good experience with a customer or client ask them to leave an honest review. The more good reviews you have the more likely you will be to rank in the 3 pack. Google doesn’t want to rank someone with bad reviews so deliver an awesome service and ask for an honest review afterwards! Once you have a review from a customer ensure you respond to those reviews. Thank them for choosing you and invite them back.  If a customer leaves a bad review you need to respond as well and do your best to solve their problem. This shows that you care about your customers and service.
  • Join local groups and communities and network: With Covid19 it could be difficult to have physical meetups but do what you can to join local groups on FB or your local chamber of commerce, etc. However don’t just join and then disappear instead be part of discussions. Provide value where you can. Try to educate your prospects and clients as much as possible. This provides trust and shows that you are knowledgeable in your area of expertise. The aim is to create a win-win situation. Prospects/clients hopefully learn something new and either purchase your services or recommend you to someone else. Either way you both benefit from it.

Want to learn more about SEO?

These are our local SEO tips for small businesses and we hope you now know why local SEO is important. It can seem daunting when you don’t know so much about it but it’s not rocket science. Good planning and thorough research will get you further than most. Many times for local SEO the competition is not that high. Most local businesses know nothing about SEO and it is therefore often easy to outrank them. 

If you want to learn more about SEO we have a 9 step SEO game plan that goes through more SEO. 

I hope this provides some value and helps you rank better for your local SEO!

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