Prospective customers find businesses through a wide range of channels. One of the most common ones is search engine result pages (SERPs). As a matter of fact, 53.3% of all website traffic comes from organic search.

Local search rankings are particularly relevant for small businesses, as this is where most local customers turn to when looking for products and services in their area. Optimizing your website to appear in local search results is, therefore, necessary if you want to tap into a steady stream of potential customers.

In this article, we will go over what small businesses should know about local search engine optimization and provide a step-by-step guide on how to implement an effective local SEO strategy.

What Is Search Engine Optimization (SEO)?

Search engine optimization (SEO) is an umbrella term that encompasses all the tactics marketers use to increase a website's visibility in search engine page rankings. The intended objective of optimizing a website for search engines is to drive consistent, long-term and niche-relevant traffic, which in turn translates into more sales and higher profits for the business.

SEO covers a wide scope of a business's digital strategy. Activities that fall under SEO include everything from improving website architecture and obtaining backlinks to creating different forms of content and targeting specific keywords.

What Is Local SEO?

As the name implies, local SEO is a sub-category of SEO that's primarily focused on generating traffic from a local geographic area. The processes involved in local SEO are similar to those of general SEO efforts. However, there are some key differences worth noting.

When targeting a local area, marketers adopt a more location-focused approach to search engine optimization. For instance, a business that wants to attract local audiences will post content that mainly consists of local news and activities, as opposed to general niche content. The content will also incorporate a set of local keywords and several local ranking factors, such as geo-targeted title tags and descriptions.

How Does Local SEO Work?

When Google ranks results for a search query, several factors are taken into consideration by the algorithm, one of which is the location of the user. Google provides localized results automatically and without requiring the user to add location terms. For example, a user looking for plumbers in a given area will be provided with a list of local businesses by simply typing "best plumber" in the search bar.

Local SEO serves one purpose: getting your website in front of customers in your service area. SEO practices achieve this by adding certain signals that give search engines a better understanding of the business and its intended customer base. Examples of ranking factors include local online reviews, Google My Business listings and local citations. These points are further expanded on in the following sections.

Is Local SEO Effective for Small Businesses?

Dominating local organic results is a goal every business owner should strive for. In fact, building a local customer base should be at the center of your digital marketing strategy if your business has a physical location or storefront, or serves a specific market.

Here are some reasons local SEO is vitally important for small businesses:

  • It's a cost-effective and relatively accessible marketing solution.
  • It's an effective way to weed out unqualified search traffic.
  • It helps you reach local customers who are ready to purchase your products or services.
  • Local SEO can help you build local authority and position your business as a go-to solution in your market.

How Small Businesses Can Implement Local SEO

Implementing a successful local SEO strategy involves several steps. Below are effective local SEO tips that will help you boost your online presence and also dominate your local search engine results pages.

Google My Business

The first step to optimizing your website for local rankings is setting up a Google My Business profile. This profile ensures your business will show up in Google search results every time potential customers are looking up information on local establishments. To set up your GMB listing, follow these steps:

  • Check if there is an existing Google My Business listing for your business and claim it by clicking the "Claim your Listing" button. If you don't find any listings, create a new one by clicking on "Add Your Business to Google" in the "Manage Now" section.
  • Fill out the form and add all relevant business information, including your business name, phone number, address and website. Make sure these local citations are consistent across all platforms and business directories.
  • After verifying your listing, you need to optimize your business description. Provide a quick summary of your business and do some basic keyword research to find keywords with local intent.

After completing your Google My Business profile, your business information will be available on Google local listings, Google Maps and search engine results pages.

Implement On-Page Local SEO on Your Website

On-page search engine optimization is an integral component of every effective organic SEO strategy. In fact, making sure every page of your website is optimized in accordance with local SEO best practices is one of the simplest ways to boost your rankings. Here is what you should focus on when implementing on-page SEO on your website:

  • Add a responsive web design to boost your mobile search results.
  • Write content based on local events.
  • Use tools, such as Moz and Ahrefs, to find local keywords.
  • Incorporate local keywords into your meta descriptions, title tags, URLs and blog articles.
  • Use internal links.
  • Improve page loading speeds by optimizing your code and reducing redirects.

Integrate Social Media

Leveraging social media for local SEO can yield decent results. Establishing an online presence across different platforms will help you generate strong ranking signals that are taken into account by both Google and Bing.

Some simple ways to integrate social media into your local SEO strategy include posting business updates on Facebook, sharing locally relevant content on LinkedIn, and using Snapchat's geofilters to market your products or services to a local audience.

Get Great Business Reviews Online

As mentioned earlier, online reviews are an important ranking factor. Search engines prioritize local sites that have a decent amount of positive reviews, as they are seen as more authoritative in the niche.

Getting great business reviews requires a proactive approach. Start by asking for a review after every sale, and reach out to previous customers with whom you had positive experiences and see if they'd be interested in writing a short review.

Build Relevant Links to Your Business

While the SEO landscape has gone through drastic changes over the past few years, one fundamental aspect has remained unvaried — link building is still the most important component of every successful SEO and content marketing strategy. Securing relevant local links will quickly improve your standing with Google and establish you as a trustworthy entity in the space.

To obtain links to your website, contribute to local publications by submitting high-quality articles and case studies. Most industry trade publications will have no qualms about linking to your business once you've delivered content that is relevant to their readership.

Effectively Manage Your Small Business Finances With Skynova

As a small business owner, you are often faced with the reality of managing multiple tasks at once. This can prove detrimental to your business since your focus should be on activities and strategies that drive traffic and boost sales.

Skynova alleviates this challenge by taking all financial management tasks off your plate. Thanks to our accounting software, you can track your income, expenses and taxes in a single platform and generate financial reports whenever you need them.

Notice to the Reader

The content within this article is meant to be used as general guidelines and may not apply to your specific situation. Always consult with an SEO specialist to ensure you're meeting industry standards.