Local SEO for small businesses on a map

Best Local SEO Tips For Small Businesses

Table of Contents

If you have a business that operates locally and you want to get organic 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. SEO is about doing small improvements to your website every day over a long period of time. Don’t put off your local SEO strategy anymore, now is the time to do something about it. With just a little bit of effort, you can increase your traffic significantly! Apart from these tips look around at other local SEO blogs as well. That will expand your knowledge and you get different viewpoints on different subjects.

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 landing pages 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 off-page SEO. 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 optimizing your website to attract more visitors to your website with relevant local search results. 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. Combine that with a web design that is able to convert visitors to leads on your website and you’ll get a lot of sales.

What can local SEO do for your business?

  • 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. And usually, more traffic means more sales and revenue if your website has a good web design. This depends a lot on what industry you’re in but if you are in the service or construction industry for example. Then competition with SEO is usually very low and it is quite easy to rank high.
  • 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 answering their questions. That way you will perform much better in search results. 
  • From 2017 to 2019 it was reported that Google 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 mobile searches convert into a sale. This alone should be a reason for you to focus on this!

But finally to the real question. How can you boost your local SEO optimization and benefit from the things mentioned above? Below you have the top local SEO checklist and tips for small businesses that you can implement right now!

Create a Keyword List

To enjoy the benefits of local SEO tips for small businesses you need to do keyword research. 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 online tools like Semrush or keyword planner instead only use your brain. If you want to optimize for ‘HVAC Paterson NJ’, then some local 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!

Use Google Intuitive Search to find more keywords for your local SEO

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 what 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

The google keyword planner can be used for keyword research

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. However to get started keyword planner is enough. Once you have more experience and know more about SEO you switch to the paid tools.


To expand your keyword list a great paid tool is Semrush. With this tool, you can research your competitors’ keywords, keyword variations, related keywords, questions, and more. There are many other things within the digital marketing space that you can use Semrush for. We use it at our agency and strongly recommend it if you want to get serious with your SEO.

Semrush is a great tool to keyword research for local SEO

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.  
Local SEO tips for small businesses is to analyze competitors' websites

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 on 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. By doing this you have a list of the things your top-ranking competitors are doing and you know what is required in order to rank first.

Building the Pages

You now have guidelines on how to construct your location pages and know approximately what is required to outrank your competitors. Based on the gathered information, start creating content with 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 competitor’s site, you want to have at least the same. 

Building pages based on the guidelines is part of local SEO tips for small businesses

You catch the drift, your competitors tell you what you have to do to outrank them. But we want our local content to be better than our competitors. That way our content marketing will be more effective.

Another thing to keep in mind when building the pages is to ensure that the pages look good on mobile devices. Google has confirmed that more searches are made on mobile than on desktops and laptops. Therefore, it is very important that your pages not only look good on mobile but that they also load fast on mobile. You can do a mobile-friendly test and also check your page speeds to see where there is room for improvement.

Include outbound 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 to 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 local search rankings and is therefore considered a ranking factor. 

Another form of link building is from networking with other small business owners that have authority online. The more authoritative backlinks you have the better and the more effective these local SEO tips for small businesses are.

Geo-Tagging Images

Another local SEO tip for small businesses is to geotag the images on their website. This is quite simple and straightforward. Simply go to geoimgr.com and upload your image. On the left you’ll see a map, drag the pointer to the location on the map where you want to geo-tag your image. In most cases that will be the city in which your business is located. Once you have selected your location, select “Write EXIF-tags”. Then just download the image.

Geotag images is another of the local SEO tips for small businesses

At this point, I usually also add the target keyword of the page the image belongs to in the file name of the image. This improves your search engine optimization a little and is something that most people don’t do or skip because they deem it’s not worth it. Therefore it can be something that makes your SEO better than your competition’s.

Google Maps

Something that can also help with local SEO for online businesses and 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 name, address, phone number, etc., or NAP is easy to find. 

The map could also keep visitors longer on the site as they might explore surrounding areas on the map. In terms of SEO that is very good because Google uses the time visitors spend on a website to gauge how good the content of that website is. That means the longer people spend on a website the better the website must be.

Getting the map 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.

A black smartphone with Google Maps

Google My Business

Creating a GMB profile is something that can be very beneficial for your local SEO. To get started you just have to create a GMB account and claim your business. Once the profile is set up Google gives you a score on how complete your profile is.

You will receive an envelope by mail that will contain a code that you have to use to verify your account. After the account is verified, ensure that you complete the profile so it is at 100%.

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. For example, if you offer SEO, talk about your local SEO 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, posting once a day or a few times a week over several months is a great start. Those posts don’t have to belong to blog posts, it’s enough with a short informative post that provides value. It’s very important that your audience sees your posts as valuable as that is more likely to create engagement with your content.

Posting on social media is an important for ranking in search results

If you have the finances you might consider a Google or Facebook ads campaign. Other local marketing strategies 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 to other people and use these local SEO tips for small businesses.

Local Directories

  • Social Media: Sign up for as many social media profiles as you can. That means Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, Yelp, BBB, real estate directories (if relevant to you), 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. This can be a bit tedious but it’s very important to do it. You don’t have to sign up for 20 of them each day. In fact, that would be a bad idea, instead sign up for 2-3 every day or every other day.
  • Keep local listings updated: Many set up local directories and then never touch them. Don’t do that! It looks unprofessional and Google actually penalizes Google My Business listings that are dead. To ensure the contact details, photos, and 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 map pack. Google doesn’t want to rank someone with bad reviews so deliver an awesome service and ask for an honest review afterward! 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 search engine optimization is important. It can seem daunting when you don’t know so much about it but it’s not rocket science. Good planning, thorough research, and staying updated on local SEO trends will get you further than most. Many times for local SEO the competition is not that high. Most local businesses don’t know anything about SEO and digital marketing. Therefore it is often very easy to outrank them. Just doing a local SEO audit to get a basic understanding of the current situation of your website is a great way to know where you could start.

If you want to learn more about SEO we have a 10 step SEO game plan that goes through more SEO. Or you can read more about our SEO for service businesses with our HVAC SEO.

I hope these local SEO tips for small businesses provide some value and helps you rank better for your local SEO!

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