A Guide to Local SEO for Small Business Owners

Apr 19, 2022, Written by Danny Myers

local SEO for small business

Most small businesses face the same predicament when it comes to competing with the national brands – limited budget.

That’s why local SEO is such a powerful marketing weapon. It allows small business owners to compete with bigger brands in the battle for a consumer’s attention. 

In addition to being economical, local SEO is highly effective in generating leads.

When a consumer finds you through SEO, they are actively searching for what you provide which results in a much higher conversion rate. 

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 ranking at the top of Google Maps.

In other words, local SEO is all about offering results based on the searcher’s current location – or the area they include in their search query.

Suppose you, for example, own a cleaning service business in Baton Rouge. When someone searches for “cleaning services baton rouge”, you’d like your business to show up at the top, right?  

Why Small Business Owners Need Local SEO

Here are the top four reasons small business owners should include local SEO in their marketing efforts:

  1. Local SEO helps you target customers near your business.
  2. Local SEO offers a high return on investment—no other form of online marketing offers ROI like local SEO.
  3. 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.
  4. Local SEO is crucial for mobile searches, and it helps you build local partners and connections.

Factors 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 climb to the top of local search results.

Here Are a Few Proven Ways to Improve Local SEO for Your Small Business: 

1. Improve your Google My Business Info

To get your listing to appear in local search on Google Maps and Google Search, you need to make sure you have a Google My Business (GMB) listing with up-to-date information.

Be sure to:

  • Enter complete data
  • Verify your business location(s)
  • Keep your working hours accurate
  • Add photos
  • Manage and respond to reviews
  • Post updates regularly 

2. Embed Google Maps in Your Website

With the help of Google Maps Embed API, you can place a street view panorama or interactive map on your website.

The entire process can be done with a simple HTTP request. Here’s how:

Set the Google Maps Embed API URL as the src attribute of an iframe. 

Example code: 

<iframe src=”https://www.google.com/maps/embed?pb=!1m18!1m12!1m3!1d3442.2800632906087!2d-91.08031768434608!3d30.371404281764626!2m3!1f0!2f0!3f0!3m2!1i1024!2i768!4f13.1!3m3!1m2!1s0x8626a53d64fed09f%3A0x111f4beb88f8dd7a!2sCrossroads%20Professional%20Coaching!5e0!3m2!1sen!2sus!4v1650379757291!5m2!1sen!2sus” width=”600″ height=”450″ style=”border:0;” allowfullscreen=”” loading=”lazy” referrerpolicy=”no-referrer-when-downgrade”>

Code in action: 

3. Get On-page SEO Right

To get to the top of local search results, you need to get on-page SEO right.

There are two main factors that affect your on-page SEO:

  • Product/service you offer
  • Location you serve.

In other words, you need to tell Google clearly what products/services you offer and where you offer them.

Here are the key on-page SEO elements you should focus on:

  • Title tags
  • Meta tags
  • Header tags
  • Page content
  • Images
  • Name, address and phone (NAP) on every page (with schema markup). You should make sure that NAP is consistent all over the web.

4. Ask for Reviews

Reviews matter a lot in local ranking. Google itself said,

“Google review count and score are factored into local search ranking: more reviews and positive ratings will probably improve a business’s local ranking.”

What’s more, good reviews can help your business stand out to potential customers looking for help making a decision.

How can you entice your visitors to submit reviews for your business?

Here are some proven ways:

  • Create links to reviews sites on your website
  • Include links to review sites in your email signature
  • Have a business card with review site information
  • Ask your happy clients to write reviews

Of course, you may get negative reviews as well. You should never leave any negative review unaddressed. Instead, address them in a courteous, yet honest manner in accordance with Google’s Guidelines for reviews.

5. Build Local Citations

Local citations are online mentions of your business’s name, phone number, address and website (NAP+W).

Google considers local citations to evaluate the authority and relevancy of a business.

In other words, local citations help your business build prominence and relevance on Google.

Top local citation sites include: Facebook, Apple Maps, Google My Business, Yahoo, Better Business Bureau, Yelp, Mapquest, Opentable, Yellowpages, etc.

Local citations not only help in local SEO but also spread awareness about your business through sites most people already deem reliable.

6. Distribute Locally-focused Content to Build Links

Backlinks, or links back to your website on other sites, play an important role in local ranking.

Google considers backlinks to be trust votes, so high-quality backlinks will help your business build prominence on Google.

The best way to build/earn backlinks is content marketing.

Create locally focused, useful content (blog posts, podcasts, videos etc.) and distribute it on different platforms that match your target audience.

Here are five proven ways to create authentic, local content:

  • Pitch local media to be featured in stories
  • Partner with local influencers
  • Guest posts on locally-focused blogs
  • Capitalize on local events

7. Integrate Social Media

Social media and search engine optimization are two important marketing tactics. If you combine them, you will get awesome results.

Social media has billions of active users, which means you can meet existing customers and new prospects there.

Social media is a great tool to grow fans who can work as your brand advocates and spread the news about your products/services far and wide, offering you many chances to earn local citations and backlinks.

In addition to supporting local SEO efforts, integrating social media also helps you build trust.

As rightly said by Trond Lyngbø in his article on Search Engine Land,

“When you synchronize your social marketing campaigns with your most important keywords, your audience will use those words to research your business, find you on the top of Google, see other social signals (like PR articles, news stories, social media profiles, ratings and more)… and begin to trust you.”

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Danny Myers

As a Digital Marketing Specialist at Crossroads, I am responsible for the setup, implementation, maintenance, and analysis of digital marketing campaigns, through SEO, Email, Google Ads, Social Media, and other digital advertising platforms.

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