Unsure as to whether or not you need local SEO for your small business? Let’s reframe the question for you. Say, your dream customers in your town or area are looking for exactly the type of products or services that you offer but don’t know your brand’s name just yet: would you still like to show up in their searches?
If the answer is heck yeah, then local SEO for small businesses should be a no-brainer for you.
What is local SEO and why is it so important?
While generic SEO (search engine optimisation) involves strategies to improve the quantity and quality of your website traffic, local SEO focuses on searches within your area.
It’s basically about making your business easy to find when it comes to geographically related queries and keywords, such as ‘cafes near me’ or ‘best lawyers in Liverpool’.
In other words, one of the best ways to promote your business locally.
How does local SEO help to grow small businesses?
To help you understand the importance of local SEO for small businesses, we’re just going to casually mention that 46% of all Google searches (almost half!) are about local information.
Local SEO helps small businesses grow by harnessing these geographically relevant searches and attracting leads that either live or are finding themselves nearby.
It’s not just about more organic local traffic, but rather high-quality visits which will then result in higher conversion rates.
But local SEO for small businesses goes beyond traditional search engine queries: it also allows your company to be found on Google Maps (a popular platform for ‘near me’ searches), relevant directories, and even social media.
Finally, investing in local SEO will help you stand out against nearby competitors.
While we’re mainly used to thinking of its importance for businesses with a physical presence, trust us: optimising for local searches can benefit you even if you offer services to clients all around the world. This is because, in several cases, many users or businesses still tend to look for them within their area.
For example, at BeeBrilliant! we work with clients across the entire UK and beyond, but you’ll still see us on Google’s first page for keywords like ‘marketing agency Chester’.
Now that you know what local SEO for small businesses is and why it’s vital, let’s show you what it looks like in practice.
Harnessing local SEO for small businesses: 10 essential tips
Local SEO isn’t just about including your address or a couple of local keywords on your website! It’s an ongoing process that involves several steps and an overall strategy.
1. Create a Google My Business page
If you want Google and Google Maps to put your business right in front of your target audience’s eyes, you need to tell this search engine what exactly it is that you do and where you’re based.
That’s why the very first step towards successful SEO for small businesses is creating a Google My Business page.
After all, 86% of users look for businesses’ locations on Google Maps, and yet we were shocked to find out that 56% of local businesses haven’t even created a Google My Business listing (you might already have an advantage against some of your competitors!).
Once you register it, your business will start showing up on both Google and Maps with a handy overview of what you do, where you’re based, your opening hours, contact details, a website link, and more.
2. Make yourself known on more business directories
We’re often used to thinking of Google My Business as just another feature of this particular search engine, but it’s actually a business directory.
The good news? There are many more out there that you can make the most of.
For example, if you own a restaurant, you’ll also want to be on TripAdvisor, OpenTable, and SquareMeal. Selling flowers? More local leads will sprout from Find a Florist. Tree surgeon? Head to the Arboricultural Association. You get the gist.
These are just some examples, but remember: you’re looking for relevant traffic, not just more visits. So, find the right listings for your type of business by googling ‘[your industry] directories’.
3. Add your location on social media
While local SEO for small businesses mainly revolves around websites, social media can help you amplify your efforts, too.
Sure, these platforms don’t affect your rankings directly, but they are often used as search engines themselves from users who are trying to find specific places.
That’s why simple tricks like including your location and using a few geographically relevant hashtags with your posts (e.g. #LondonCafe or #ManchesterPizza) can help you generate organic local traffic on social media as well.
4. Make your address clear on your website
Before looking into local keywords like ‘best vintage shops in London’, don’t forget to specify your actual address on your website, as that will also help Google figure out and remember where you’re based.
The most relevant spots tend to be:
- Your website footer
- Your contact page. If you have a physical location that your customers can visit, consider adding a map, too
- Different pages for different branches (more on that soon)
- Your HTML code using Schema markup language
5. Target local keywords on your website
While, as you can see, there are many other factors that play into it, keywords are still relevant in SEO for small businesses.
Just like you’d look for those that best describe your company and products or services, consider including a local angle, too.
For example, let’s say that you have a bookstore in Manchester. This means that you’re probably competing against big chains like Waterstones, but there are also many people out there specifically looking to support smaller, independent shops.
The keyword ‘independent bookshops Manchester’ gets searched between 100 and 1000 times a month: optimising one of your website pages for it will certainly help you attract your target audience.
6. If you have several branches, create separate pages
As we mentioned before, different branches usually call for different pages.
This will benefit you in different ways:
- You’ll get to include specific details (like address, phone number, opening hours, and even reviews) for each of them, making it easier to show up on Google Maps and helping your website visitors find the most relevant information for them
- You’ll get to target different local keywords on each page
However, don’t forget that search engines aren’t fans of duplicate content: rather than copying and pasting your text across all of them and only changing the location, you must create new website copy for each page.
7. Cross-check your NAP
And we’re not talking about your sleeping schedule!
NAP simply stands for Name, Address, and Phone Number, the holy trinity of information that must always be consistent in local SEO for small businesses (together with other details like opening hours, for example).
This means that they need to be exactly the same across all your business directories, website, social media, etc.
If Google finds some discrepancies, it will start to question your legitimacy and whether or not it should send its users there.
After all, it’s 4.30 pm, and your website states you’re open until 5 pm, but Yell says that you’ve just closed down for the day.
8. Don’t forget about ‘normal’ SEO
You could have targeted the most relevant local keywords and harnessed every directory for your industry, but… if you haven’t taken traditional SEO into account, you’re still unlikely to show up.
And we’re not just talking about keywords: SEO is also about ensuring an excellent user experience, having a fast loading website, and optimising for voice search amongst other factors.
To improve your reputation and show Google that you’re the bee’s knees, you should encourage online reviews, too.
9. Try and get links from local websites
You might have heard that backlinks are important for SEO, and that’s absolutely true.
But, if you’re focusing on local SEO for small businesses, then consider attracting a few from publications in your area.
How you do it really depends on your type of business and location, but here are some ideas:
- Send press releases to local newspapers or magazines
- Collaborate with influencers and bloggers in your area
- Get involved with your community
- Try guest blogging by pitching relevant article ideas
10. Create blog posts on relevant local topics
Content marketing is a strategy that you really can’t afford to miss out on as a small business.
But did you know that a blog on your website can boost local SEO for your small business, too?
As well as your broader articles, your content marketing strategy should involve topics of regional interest, with each post targeting a new local keyword.
Psst. This strategy will also help you attract more backlinks from relevant websites and publications.
Outsourcing local SEO for your small business
At Bee Brilliant! we specialise in helping exciting small businesses (just like yours) grow and reach more customers, and local SEO obviously plays a huge role in our clients’ success.
Ready to harness the power of local SEO for small businesses? Get in touch. Our professional team will start working towards putting you in the spotlight whenever your target audience looks for your type of products or services.