SEO for Small businesses is one of the most affordable ways to get your company’s message to the right audience. Unlike print media, radio and TV, you can reach consumers at their desks, in their cars, on mobile devices, laptops, and more. With online marketing, your campaign can continue to work while you sleep. Your competition is probably already using a search engine optimization company for their sites but you’re reading this post because you want some help making your site better too.
What is Local SEO?
Many small businesses are aware of search engine optimization (SEO), but they don’t understand what local SEO is.
As the term suggests, local SEO is the optimization of a website for local search results. It also includes the top ranking on Google Maps.
Put simply—local SEO is all about offering results based on the searcher’s current location.
Suppose you, for example, offer homemade food in Downtown Dallas. And a hungry Joey searches for ‘homemade food in Downtown Dallas.’
Bill’s Barbecue features in search results, thanks to its local SEO.
Don’t you think Bill’s Barbecue would get the attention of a hungry Joey?
Why Small Business Owners Need Local SEO
Here are the top five reasons why small business owners should include local SEO in their marketing efforts:
- Local SEO helps you target locals
- Local SEO offers a high return on investment—no other form of online marketing offers ROI like local SEO
- It adds authenticity to your business. When your business appears on Google Maps or in a local search, your prospective customers are more likely to consider your business to be authentic
- Local SEO is crucial for mobile searches, and it helps you build local partners and connectionsFactors That Affect SEO for Small Businesses Owners
According to Google,
“Local results are based primarily on relevance, distance, and prominence. These factors are combined to help find the best match for your search.”
This simply means you need to build relevance and prominence on Google to dominate local search results.
Small business SEO and local search ranking factors
When search engines are deciding what to rank in a local search result, there are four main factors they take into consideration:
- Is your website up to scratch?
- Where are you (or your store/services) located? Is that near to the person who is searching?
- What do you offer, and is it relevant to what the person is searching for?
- Do you have a good (online) reputation?
If you want to start optimizing your website to rank better, but you are not sure where to start, you might want to have a look at our free SEO course for beginners. In the rest of this guide, we’ll cover the most important factors for succeeding at local SEO in more detail.
Make a good website
Let’s be honest, your site is probably not the ‘Mona Lisa’ of websites. It doesn’t need to be perfect, but it does need to meet certain standards. For instance, site structure, loading speed, and security are really important for all kinds of SEO, and user experience too. Take a look at our article about what makes a good website to make sure yours will meet expectations.
If you don’t already have a website, you can get started with WordPress. (Other options are available, but our SEO plugins work best with WordPress). You might also be interested in following our free WordPress for beginners training.
We have talked about this time and again: branding is very important for SEO. Branding means stuff like your logo and tagline. Do they represent your company without further explanation? What do your logo and tagline reveal about your values and your field of expertise? It’s all about recognition, and it’s just as important for small business SEO as it is for big companies.
You can work on your branding without investing a lot of money. Yes, low-budget branding is a thing, even if you’re a non-profit organization. Here’s a top tip for branding: share your expertise! You can do that in blog posts and on social media. We’ll talk more about this later on.
Let Google know your location
To help Google understand where your business is located and put you in the right local results, it’s essential to have up-to-date contact information in all the right places. So it’s very important to align your info on all the different platforms you operate on. Search engines will check and double-check your details to make sure that everything adds up.
Make a contact page
Aside from search engines, your (potential) customers must know how they can get in contact with you, too. You should always add your contact details in places where users would expect to find them — for example in your website footer — and of course, on your contact page.
Local business structured data
There are many factors that influence small business SEO, but there is one very obvious one: your NAP. NAP stands for Name, Address, Phone number. In the case of a local business, details like addresses, phone numbers, geo-coordinates, opening hours, etc., should be correct at all times.
The best way to present these details clearly to search engines is by using local business structured data, added to your site. It’s important to add these in the correct formatting (in code), using Schema.org details. If that sounds a bit too technical for you, our Local SEO plugin can help you set it up easily. As well as this, it may help to add your city, and perhaps your state, in the title of your pages for easier recognition as well.
Google My Business
Google My Business (GMB) is a free profile that you can set up to help promote your business in the search results and on Google Maps. This official Google tool can help you to rank in your specific geographical area. Not only that, but the tool also gives you an enormous amount of options to manage and improve your listings. By making a GMB listing you can connect with your customers better and find insights about how they interact with your business on Google. You can add extras like photos and opening hours to your profile too.
Always use the same name, address, and phone number on both your website and your Google My Business listing. Be sure to include your website link in your GMB listing too! This is the only way for Google to understand the relationship between them.
Read more: Google My Business »
Rich results with Structured Data
If you want your business to stand out in the search results, you could try getting rich results. Rich results can add extra information and images to the search results. You can do this with structured data, however, there’s no guarantee Google will show the extra elements. Still, if you’re already using structured data on your website, it’s worth exploring the opportunities it offers! Luckily the Yoast SEO plugin can help you with structured data, so you don’t need to be a technical expert.
Write content about what you offer
When you want to rank for a search term, it’s important to provide relevant content for that search. Google is a bit like a match-maker — ultimately, they’re just trying to connect users with the stuff they’re looking for. So, you need to make it clear what your business does, and you can do that by writing about it.
Before you dive in and start writing, you should consider your niche and which keywords you want to target. That way, you can focus on making the strategic content you need.
Find your niche and your long-tail keywords
Alright, there’s more you can do to make your business stand out. Determining your niche is vital for local or small businesses. When you know your niche, you can emphasize what makes your brand or products unique, therefore improving your chances to rank well for them. If you have a clear niche, you can compete locally with large national brands – despite their multi-million dollar advertising budgets.
Find out who your customers are and which words they use to describe your product or service because people will use the same terms to find your website. These terms can help you optimize your local business SEO when you turn them into long-tail keywords and these keywords should be as specific as possible. Once you’ve done all of this, remember to regularly assess your niche as it evolves with the growth of your company.
Start making great content
Your small business SEO will get a significant boost from the right content. Too many small business owners just put their products and contact details on their website and leave it at that. But there is so much more to tell and share!
Focus on making an awesome first impression on your potential customer. Write about your business, your business goals, how great your products are, and things like that. You could also discuss market developments or events that relate to your business. These are just a few tips for your local SEO content strategy.
When writing your content, be realistic about the chances of getting that content to rank in search. If you are in a highly competitive market, content works very well as a marketing tool and as input for social media, but it probably won’t get you that number one spot in Google, and that’s OK. Manage your expectations.
Picking the right keywords to optimize for is very important. Usually, it’s a good idea to pick mid-tail keywords, including the local area you are targeting. It doesn’t matter if you add this content to your site as a page or blog post. Just make sure that you write about things that people want to talk about or things that make people positively talk about your business.
Share your expertise and reputation
Once you have all that set up, there are a few very good reasons you should reach out and get involved with your business community and your customers. Getting people talking about you and your business will help your website to grow, whether that’s directly or indirectly.
Firstly, when other people link to your website from their pages, this can signal to search engines that you’re well known and your website will be a good choice for them to put in their search results. Secondly, you can increase your website traffic significantly with a great social media strategy. And thirdly, ratings and reviews help to build trust with your customers, meaning they’re more likely to buy from you (and hopefully come back for more, too!).
Social ‘proof’, like the ratings and reviews mentioned below, should be backed up with a few links from relevant sites. Getting links to your business site is still an important part of local SEO. You should work hard to get mentions or citations of your business on other sites. How and where you do that, differs in every industry, but these include Yelp, Bing Places, Yahoo! Local, Apple Maps, among many other sites and services. Moz has a handy tool that checks your online presence.
You should get a listing on these sites, for the obvious reason that this means you also get a link to your website. If you can get some links from other related local websites, that will also help your site’s findability. Note that links from other local websites should be from sites that are in a related profession. It’s of no use to have your bakery website linked from an accountant’s website.
If your small business is closely related to other businesses that are not located in the same area, you should also ask those businesses for a link. Google crawls the web link by link, so if your business is linked to from a website in the same field of business, that link is extra valuable to you.
While you can sell your products on social media platforms, in most cases we recommend using social media for brand awareness or to lead potential customers to your website for a sale. Using social media as a small business is all about promoting your brand, your company, and your products to establish your image and to get the right traffic to your company website. When used in this way, social media can help small business SEO.
I like to compare social media to a market where all the stall owners know each other and customers browse the products. At some point, someone will tell other visitors where to go for a product: “The cheese over there is delicious”, “you should check out the fruit over there”, that kind of thing. So make sure people start talking about you. And start talking about yourself online, to make others start talking to you on social platforms. Lastly, actively engage in social media conversations, to let people know you are listening.
The internet is filled with very useful information and useful tips and tricks to run your small business. As a small business owner, you should keep yourself updated with the latest or to-be-latest news regarding or inside your field. If you are into SEO, then you should know that local SEO is the latest trend that is capturing the hearts of many entrepreneurs.
Every business needs to promote its product or services to potential users. The limited budget often restricts to reach of the whole audience directly. Through SEO, you can optimize your website for better ranking which allows it to be crawled by search engines. When your site is found on search engines it means that the crawlers, the bots; will display your relevant content to increase visitors and conversions.