How to Utilize Small Business SEO and Local SEO Tactics
Search engines pave the “highways” of the Internet. As such, search engine optimization (or SEO) plays a significant role in the visibility of your brand to the masses. Due to this, learning how to perform small business SEO properly will ensure that your brand is found online.
In this post, we’ll explain what small business SEO and local SEO is and how you can conduct SEO tasks correctly.
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What is Local Search Engine Optimization (SEO)?
Local SEO is the process of optimizing a website so it can earn higher search rankings in a target area.
Terms such as “doctors near me,” “lawyers in [CITY],” are examples of small business SEO and local SEO. In its purest form, local SEO aims to promote local brick and mortar small businesses and earn higher search rankings.
On-page SEO, content development, and link building with a localized intent are all needed to complete a local SEO strategy. Keep reading to learn more about these different SEO components.
Is Local SEO That Important For My Small Business?
Simply put, if your small business hasn’t already created a local SEO process, you’re already behind. In fact, it’s proven that local SEO is pertinent in the statistics below:
- Per Brightlocal’s survey, 97 percent of consumers search the Internet for local companies. Plus, over 12 percent do so on a daily basis.
- Over one-third of all mobile device searches occur before a patron visits a brick and mortar location.
- From a report by Neustar Localeze, over 78 percent of localized mobile web searches result in offline purchases.
- Almost one-fifth of all local searches completed on mobile devices lead to sales on the same day.
What these numbers should reveal is that leads from searches based on specific locations are a major source of potential consumers. This data also shows continued increases in the future of localized searches.
Because these people are searching for products or services that your business offers, they’ll probably be considered qualified leads. As a result, they’re likely to have a far higher conversion rate.
Types of Businesses That Benefit Most From Local SEO
Just about any brick and mortar business benefits from focusing on their local SEO efforts.
Usually, professional services such as doctors and lawyers have the most to gain by using SEO. However, these industries can also benefit:
- Food service: Restaurants, bars, food trucks.
- Retail services: Small storefronts, large retailers, consignment shops.
- Tourism: Hotels, tour services, car rentals.
- Home services: Locksmiths, plumbers, electricians, roofers.
…and many more. There are very few businesses that don’t benefit from creating a local SEO strategy.
Medical Practices and Doctors
When a patient searches for a doctor, they’re usually looking for options close to them. These localized searches can include “doctors near me,” “doctors in [city],” to simply “doctors.” This makes sense, because people likely don’t want to travel out of their way to visit a doctor. Instead, they want a convenient and close option.
Grab your phone, and do a Google search for “doctors near me.” The local Google map pack should immediately provide local doctors’ names, along with one-click directions. Typically, this will open your default map application and direct you to their office. In addition, you’ll see their phone number displayed, as well as reviews and ratings.
Ultimately, using local SEO tactics will help you get your practice featured in the map pack. Then, your site will only be one click away when needed!
Law Firms and Lawyers
SEO is a massive focus for lawyers. To start, take advantage of the “Call Us” button shown prominently in results for local searches on mobile devices. Why is this important? When potential clients use their phones to search for an attorney, they’ll be shown targeted results for their location.
When performed correctly, local SEO pushes law firms to the top of many search results for that area. The” Call Us” button will be displayed for fast one-click access. This is crucial for attorneys, because potential clients typically need a lawyer quickly (post car accident, etc.). Often, they’ll use their mobile device to find one.
This facet of local SEO alone helps law firms get their business in front of consumers seeking an attorney. In this scenario being second place could easily cut out a massive percentage of potential revenue.
Restaurants and Food/Drink Service
Food and drink service operations such as brick and mortar restaurants, bars, and food trucks, can greatly benefit from local SEO. This is due to the immediacy of customer reviews and address information displayed in the search engine results pages (SERPs).
This information leads to potential customers:
- Searching for a specific type of restaurant they’re interested in.
- Discovering your small business at the top of results.
- Clicking through to get more information about reviews, hours of operation, or location.
The higher a restaurant appears in these search results, the higher the likelihood they receive foot traffic resulting from organic searches. Local SEO is crucial, but don’t forget about online reputation management as well. Prominently displayed reviews leave you exposed.
Home Improvement and Maintenance Services
Local SEO can greatly benefit home maintenance and general construction service businesses. One stellar example of this is plumbers.
When homeowners experience plumbing emergencies, they aren’t going to pack up and head to a store. Instead, they’ll probably use their search engine of choice and look for the closest available plumber.
Google search results backed by solid small business SEO provide customers with a simple way to directly contact various home services. They can read reviews and contact your business immediately if they’re experiencing a plumbing, electrical, or other home maintenance problem.
What Small Businesses Don’t Benefit As Much From Local SEO?
In a perfect world, every small business would derive benefits from focusing on local SEO. However, the reality is that some companies won’t benefit much from local SEO efforts.
Examples of these business include:
- Web-based e-commerce shops (Etsy, eBay)
- Local businesses with a global audience (bloggers, authors)
- Businesses who don’t get foot traffic into their location
- People who work from home and own small businesses
The Crucial Components of Small Business SEO and Local SEO
Local search engine optimization isn’t far removed from standard global search engine optimization. They have the same general pieces (researching keywords, creating content, link building, and more). However, they come with a more localized focus in all aspects.
The elements featured in this post work together to assist your web properties in outperforming the competition in search engine results.
When your small business is optimizing their sites and brand for local search, there’s a geographic-driven focus. This targets searches that people are performing in the area that surrounds a business.
1. Learning Keyword Research
Keyword research forms the building blocks of SEO. For local search efforts, it remains relatively unchanged when compared to wide-reaching SEO. However, a new facet of keyword research has cropped up: voice search.
Voice search has an even more profound impact on the local space. With the rise of Echo, Google Home, and Siri voice command devices, there’s a new wave of localized searches being performed. In fact, it’s estimated that by 2020, 50 percent of all Internet searches will be voice-based.
In addition, if your small business offers a service, you should utilize keywords that are in question form. For example: Are there any plumbers near me? Are there any lawyers in my neighborhood?
There are plenty of tools for small businesses that make the keyword research process a breeze. Two of the best SEO software for small business owners are SEMRush and Ahrefs. They allow geotargeting, so you can see how many localized searches are being done for specific keywords. Keyword research is an incredible method to focus in on phrases people are searching for.
Some fantastic resources for in-depth keyword research how-tos:
- How to Do Keyword Research for SEO: A Beginner’s Guide (Hubspot)
- Keyword Research: The Definitive Guide (Backlinko)
- Keyword Research: The Beginner’s Guide to SEO (Moz)
2. Harnessing Your Online Reputation
We have an extensive guide to online reputation management on our site. However, it warrants a specific callout in terms of small business SEO and local SEO. Having a handle on your online reputation can make or break your local SEO efforts.
It’s crucial to do everything correctly with your website, your business citations, directory listings, and other assets. By following our extensive local SEO checklist, your business will likely appear in the Map Pack for relevant search terms.
However, getting your business listed prominently also puts you in the spotlight for harmful feedback. As we’ve mentioned, though, it’s not always a good thing to respond to negative feedback. In some cases, responding with “your side of the story” will only worsen the situation. Knowing when to engage and when to sit back is essential.
However, your online reputation is far more than mere reviews. In addition to consumer reviews, your online reputation will include:
- Public comments about your small business on message boards and social media platforms.
- Blog posts mentioning your small business in a positive or negative light.
- Any news regarding your small business, such as published articles on news sites.
Having an online reputation management strategy can mitigate any potential backlash. A strong approach will also provide the leverage necessary to capitalize on positive press and feedback.
3. Dominating Directory Listings
Let’s face it; we’re living in a landscape focused on digital marketing efforts. Even businesses that are purely brick and mortar need to obtain some form of an online presence. In most cases, the bare minimum should be business directory listings.
Local directory listings and business citations play a crucial role in local SEO and organic search rankings for localized phrases. These listings also serve to boost your business reputation, and eventually cause an uptick on bottom-line revenue and profits.
For this reason, it’s important to note that business directories should be tracked, completed, and regularly managed. We have a full guide to business directory listings, which explains how you can enhance directory listing opportunities.
Some of the most critical steps laid out to ensuring stable business directory placements include:
- Preparing a business directory launch plan and strategy for management.
- Using the different citation types to your advantage (Yellow Pages, local directories, print).
- Performing due diligence to select the most effective placements for your available time and resources.
To master small business SEO, it’s crucial that you create directory listings in places like Google My Business, Yelp, TripAdvisor. By doing this, you’ll get seen by more people, and may notice an improve in search traffic to your company’s website.
4. The Power of Google Map Pack Placement for B&M
Local SEO enhancements can increase the chances of your site appearing in Google’s Map Pack or Snack Pack. These are a trio of small businesses that are presented for various local search terms. Presence in the map pack is one of the most coveted locations when it comes to search results. Google any local phrase, and you’ll see examples of the map pack in action.
When first released, Google responded to localized searches by showing seven of the most popular businesses related to your search. These were shown in snippet form and were called the 7-Pack. These results dominated screen real estate and featured the NAP information. In addition, it included the direction link for each of the businesses listed.
Once smartphones became the dominant search method, Google adapted, reducing their featured listings from seven to three. This provided a better user experience. However, it also narrowed the playing field for businesses to be prominently displayed in search results.
Per a study from Moz, 44 percent of those who performed a local search clicked on a three-pack listing. However, only 8 percent selected more local results. These numbers have only skewed even further in the four years since the inception of the three-pack. This shows the importance of high placement in these local results for brick and mortar businesses.
Obtaining high search rankings quickly drives large amounts of both digital and foot traffic to your small business. This, in turn, increases potential revenue. Local SEO is the best way to get your brand to where it needs to be in the Snack Pack.
5. Optimizing Your Website
The basics of SEO on a global scale consists of three facets: content, on-page SEO, and link building. Optimizing your website is one of the most potent ways to ensure that your brand is represented online.
Having informative content that’s rich in keywords is crucial if you want your business to be viewed as a thought leader. Utilizing strong on-page SEO tactics keeps your page load time and bounce rate down. Link building is an important part of SEO because it shows search engines that your website should rank for certain keywords.
The Importance of Web Content
Content is king. In any page on your website, you should feature educational, interesting content. It needs to be unique (Google penalizes duplicate content) and provide value to the reader.
In addition, you should select keywords that are based on more than just search volumes, but also potential conversions. Utilizing keywords with more opportunity for ranking will help ensure that you obtain relevant traffic. For instance, the phrase “doctors” may have more searches than “best doctors in Plano.” Therefore, a doctor in Plano will be more likely to rank for the more specific keyword phrases.
On-page search engine optimization goes beyond content alone. Having a fast website that’s visually appealing is essential. It’s easy to discover websites that haven’t been updated in over a decade. These sites are usually poorly laid out, aren’t mobile-friendly, and lack clean design standards found in up-to-date alternatives.
There are ample resources available online that feature full on-page SEO strategies. Some of the most comprehensive include:
- On-Page SEO: The Beginner’s Guide to SEO (Moz)
- On-Page SEO Checklist: Blogging for People and Search Engines (SEMRush)
- The On-Page SEO Cheat Sheet (Neil Patel)
- On-Page SEO: An Actionable Guide (Ahrefs)
Link Building and Off-Page SEO
Link building is more important than you might think for local SEO. By obtaining links from local area authorities, you can cement your brand as an authority in itself.
Links from relevant local newspapers, blogs, magazines, and even competitor websites do wonders for your website’s rankings. Not only will visitors see view brand as a thought leader in your industry, search engines will as well.
Much like on-page SEO, there are many guides online for off-page SEO strategies. Some of the most popular are:
- The Ultimate Guide to Off-Page SEO (Neil Patel)
- The Only Off-Page SEO Walkthrough You’ll Ever Need (Wordstream)
- Off-Page SEO: What It Is and Why It’s Important (Ahrefs)
Controlling Your Small Business SEO Expands Profits
Having well-managed and optimized small business SEO can make or break companies that are battling in competitive local landscapes. Properly maintained local SEO is a trigger point that can cascade down to the next level: increasing your business’ bottom lines.
If you’re a small business owner that wants to grow your online presence, start focusing on small business SEO services! Whether you decide to hire an SEO company to manage your efforts, or you want to do it internally, investing in SEO will help you attract more customers.
Editorial Note: Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author's alone, and have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.