Get Found Locally: 7 Powerful SEO Strategies for Small Businesses

Running a small business is a lot like juggling – there’s always so much to do, and sometimes it feels like you need a few extra hands. One thing you’ve probably heard about but might not fully understand is local SEO. And I get it, just hearing the word SEO can make your head spin, let alone adding “local” to the mix. But here’s the good news: local SEO can be a game-changer for your business, and trust me, with the right steps, you’ll see how simple and rewarding it can be. Let’s dive into the guide I created below and make local SEO work for you!

What exactly is local SEO?

Imagine you own a cozy little bakery in your town. Someone nearby gets a craving for cupcakes and hops onto Google to search for “best cupcakes near me.” You want your bakery to be the first thing they see, right? That’s where local SEO comes in.

Local SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) is all about optimising your online presence to attract more business from relevant local searches. These searches happen on Google and other search engines. In other words, it’s a way to make sure your business shows up when people in your area are looking for the products or services you offer.

Why is Local SEO Important for Small Businesses?

You might be wondering why local SEO is such a big deal, especially for small businesses like yours. Well, here’s why it’s so important.

  • Visibility Where It Matters Most

    Imagine someone nearby looking for the exact product or service you offer. They grab their phone, type in a search, and boom – there’s your business, right at the top of the results. Sounds perfect, right? That’s the power of local SEO. It helps you get noticed by people in your area who are actively looking for what you provide.

Did you know that 46% of all Google searches are for local information? And a whopping 78% of local mobile searches lead to an offline purchase within 24 hours. That means if you’re not optimising for local searches, you’re potentially missing out on a ton of business.
  • Building Trust and Credibility

    High search rankings aren’t just about visibility; they’re about trust too. When people see your business at the top of search results, they automatically see you as a credible and reliable option. It’s like getting a virtual stamp of approval from Google.

  • Cost-Effective Marketing

    Marketing can be expensive, especially for small businesses with tight budgets. The beauty of local SEO is that it's either free or low-cost. Setting up a Google My Business profile, for example, doesn’t cost a dime. Yet, it can significantly boost your visibility and attract more local customers. Need help in setting up your GMB profile? Get your free Google Business Profile Checklist here. →

  • Driving More Foot Traffic

    If you have a brick-and-mortar store, local SEO can drive more foot traffic to your door. People searching for products or services nearby are more likely to visit your store if they find you online. It’s all about connecting with customers where they are and making it easy for them to choose you.

Example:

Let’s say you’re selling pizza in Adelaide. You definitely want to be one of the first results your customers see when they type in “best pizza in Adelaide.” Think about it – those top spots where Sunny’s Pizza, Sunnyside Sliced, and Pizza e Mozzarella Bar appear are the ones people are most likely to click, and that could be you! Just imagine being listed right up there with the best pizzerias in town, making it easy for pizza lovers to find and choose you. That’s the magic of local SEO at work!

local seo best pizza
  • Standing Out from the Competition

    If your competitors are showing up in local searches and you’re not, who do you think potential customers will choose? By investing in local SEO, you ensure you’re not left behind and can compete effectively with other businesses in your area.

  • Engaging with Your Community

    Local SEO isn’t just about search engines; it’s about engaging with your community too. By creating local content, participating in community events, and encouraging customer reviews, you build a strong local presence. This not only improves your local SEO but also strengthens your relationship with your community. When people see that you’re an active part of the community, they’re more likely to support your business. It’s about building connections and showing that you care about the people you serve.

How Local SEO Differs from General SEO

Now let’s talk about the difference between local SEO and general SEO. You might have heard these terms before, but understanding how they differ can really help you tailor your strategy to get the most out of your online presence. So, grab your second cup of coffee, and let’s continue!

General SEO

General SEO, often just called SEO, is all about improving your website’s visibility on a national or global level. It involves optimising your website to rank higher in search engine results for keywords that aren’t tied to a specific location. Think of it as casting a wide net to attract a broad audience.

For example, if you sell handmade jewellery online, you want your website to show up when people search for things like “handmade silver rings” or “unique gemstone necklaces.” These keywords don’t have a location component, so you’re targeting anyone and everyone who might be interested in your products, no matter where they are.

national general seo example for keyword handmade silver rings
here's an example of how the search will look on Google with the keyword "handmade silver rings"

Here are a few key aspects of general SEO:

  • Keyword Research: Finding the right keywords that people use to search for your products or services.
  • On-Page Optimisation: Making sure your website content, titles, meta descriptions, and headers include those keywords.
  • Content Creation: Writing blog posts, articles, and other content that appeals to your target audience.
  • Link Building: Getting other websites to link to your site, which can boost your credibility and authority in the eyes of search engines.

Local SEO

Now, let’s zoom in a bit. Local SEO is all about optimising your online presence to attract business from relevant local searches. It’s perfect for businesses that serve a specific geographical area, like brick-and-mortar stores, restaurants, or local service providers.

Imagine you run a cozy little bakery in Adelaide. You want people in your area to find you when they search for “best bakery near me” or “delicious pastries in Adelaide.” Local SEO helps you do just that by making sure your business appears in local search results, maps, and directories.

local seo example for best bakery near me keyword
here's an example of how the search will look on Google with the keyword "best bakery near me"

Here’s what makes local SEO unique:

  • Google My Business (GMB): Setting up and optimising your GMB profile is crucial. This helps your business appear in local search results and on Google Maps.
  • Local Keywords: Focusing on keywords that include location-specific terms, like “plumber in Sydney” or “dentist in Brisbane.”
  • Citations: Ensuring your business name, address, and phone number (NAP) are consistent across online directories and local listings.
  • Reviews: Encouraging satisfied customers to leave positive reviews on platforms like Google, Yelp, and Facebook.
  • Local Content: Creating content that resonates with your local audience, such as blog posts about community events, local news, or neighbourhood highlights.

Feeling stuck or need a bit guidance with Local SEO for your Small Business?

Whether you have a quick question or need more in-depth help, I'm here to support you. Feel free to drop a message anytime – let’s make your business the local favorite!

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Step by Step Guide: 7 Powerful Local SEO Strategies for Small Businesses

Whether you’re new to Local SEO or just need a refresher, here’s a simple, step-by-step guide.

Step 1: Set Up and Optimise Your Google My Business (GMB) Profile

Your Google My Business profile is the cornerstone of local SEO. Here’s how to get it right:

1.Claim Your Listing:

  • Visit Google My Business: Go to the Google My Business website and sign in with your Google account.
  • Search for Your Business: Enter your business name to see if it’s already listed. If it is, claim it. If not, you can create a new listing.
  • Verify Your Business: Google will send a postcard with a verification code to your business address. Follow the instructions to verify your listing. This step confirms to Google that your business is legitimate.

2. Complete Your Profile:

  • Business Name: Make sure your business name is accurate and consistent with what you use on your storefront and other marketing materials.
  • Address: Enter your exact business address. If you’re a service-area business, you can list the areas you serve instead.
  • Phone Number: Provide a phone number that customers can use to reach you directly.
  • Website: Add your website URL to direct traffic from your GMB profile to your site.
  • Hours of Operation: List your regular business hours and update them for holidays or special events.

3. Optimise Your Profile:

  • Business Category: Choose the most accurate category for your business. This helps Google understand what you do and show your profile to the right audience.
  • Photos: Upload high-quality photos of your business, products, and services. Include a mix of interior and exterior shots, staff photos, and anything that showcases what makes your business unique.
  • Business Description: Write a compelling description of your business. Include relevant keywords naturally, but focus on what makes your business special and why customers should choose you.
  • Services and Products: If applicable, list the services and products you offer. Provide detailed descriptions and prices where possible.

4. Engage with Customers:

  • Reviews: Encourage satisfied customers to leave reviews on your GMB profile. Respond to all reviews, both positive and negative, to show that you value customer feedback and are committed to improving your business.
  • Questions & Answers: Monitor and respond to questions from potential customers. Providing prompt, helpful answers can build trust and influence their decision to choose your business.
  • Posts: Use the GMB posts feature to share updates, special offers, events, and news. This keeps your profile active and engaging.

Step 2: Conduct Local Keyword Research

Keywords are the terms people use to find businesses like yours. For local SEO, focus on keywords that include location-specific terms.

1. Brainstorm Keywords:

  • Think Like a Customer: Put yourself in your customers’ shoes. What words or phrases would you use to find your business? Write down all the possibilities.
  • Include Location: Combine your services or products with your location. For example, “bakery in Sydney” or “plumber near me.”
  • Consider Variations: People search in different ways. Think of variations like “best bakery in Sydney,” “top Sydney bakery,” or “Sydney cupcake shop.”

2. Use Keyword Research Tools:

  • Google Keyword Planner: This free tool from Google is great for finding keyword ideas and seeing how often they’re searched. Enter your brainstormed keywords and see what comes up.
  • Moz Keyword Explorer: Moz offers a comprehensive keyword research tool that can help you find local keywords and analyze their potential.
  • Ubersuggest: This tool by Neil Patel is user-friendly and provides keyword ideas, search volume, and competition data.

3. Check Out the Competition:

  • Analyse Competitors: Look at the websites of your local competitors. What keywords are they targeting? You can use tools like SEMrush or Ahrefs to see what keywords your competitors rank for.
  • Google Autocomplete: Start typing your main keywords into Google and see what autocomplete suggestions pop up. These are often popular search terms.

4. Consider Long-Tail Keywords:

  • What Are Long-Tail Keywords? These are longer, more specific phrases that people use when they’re closer to making a decision. For example, “best gluten-free bakery in Sydney” or “affordable plumber near me.”
  • Why They Matter: Long-tail keywords are usually less competitive and can attract highly targeted traffic. People using these searches often know exactly what they want.

5. Localise Your Content:

  • Use Keywords Naturally: Once you have your list of local keywords, start incorporating them naturally into your website content. Use them in your page titles, meta descriptions, headers, and throughout your text.
  • Create Local Content: Write blog posts or articles about local events, news, or guides that include your keywords. For example, “Top 10 Coffee Shops to Visit in Austin” or “How to Choose the Best Plumber in Sydney.”

6. Monitor and Adjust:

  • Track Performance: Use tools like Google Analytics and Google Search Console to see how your keywords are performing. Look at metrics like search rankings, traffic, and conversions.
  • Adjust as Needed: SEO is an ongoing process. If some keywords aren’t performing as well as you’d like, try new ones or tweak your content to better match search intent.

Mastering Keyword Research: A Guide to SEO Success

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Step 3: Optimise Your Website for Local SEO

Your website needs to be user-friendly and optimised for local searches.

1. Ensure NAP Consistency:

  • What’s NAP? NAP stands for Name, Address, and Phone number. These details should be consistent across your website and all other online platforms.
  • Where to Place NAP: Make sure your NAP is visible on every page of your website, typically in the footer. Also, have a dedicated “Contact Us” page with your full NAP.

2. Optimise Title Tags and Meta Descriptions:

  • Title Tags: These are the headlines that show up in search engine results. Include your primary local keyword and location. For example, “Best Bakery in Sydney | Delicious Cakes & Pastries.”
  • Meta Descriptions: This is the snippet of text under the title tag in search results. Make it compelling and include your local keyword. For example, “Visit our bakery in Sydney for the best cakes and pastries. Freshly baked every day!”

3. Use Local Keywords Naturally:

  • Keyword Placement: Integrate local keywords throughout your content in a natural way. This includes your headings, body text, image alt tags, and URLs.
  • Avoid Keyword Stuffing: Don’t overdo it. Your content should read smoothly and provide value to your visitors.

4. Create Local Content:

  • Local Landing Pages: If you serve multiple locations, create a dedicated page for each area. Optimise these pages with local keywords and specific content.

5. Mobile-Friendly Website:

  • Responsive Design: Ensure your website is mobile-friendly. Many local searches are done on mobile devices, so your site should look great and function well on phones and tablets.
  • Fast Load Times: Optimise your site’s loading speed. A slow website can frustrate users and negatively impact your search rankings.

5. Mobile-Friendly Website:

  • Responsive Design: Ensure your website is mobile-friendly. Many local searches are done on mobile devices, so your site should look great and function well on phones and tablets.
  • Fast Load Times: Optimise your site’s loading speed. A slow website can frustrate users and negatively impact your search rankings.

6. Add Schema Markup:

  • Responsive Design: Ensure your website is mobile-friendly. Many local searches are done on mobile devices, so your site should look great and function well on phones and tablets.
  • Fast Load Times: Optimise your site’s loading speed. A slow website can frustrate users and negatively impact your search rankings.

7. Create a Strong Internal Linking Structure:

  • Internal Links: Use internal links to guide visitors to other relevant pages on your site. This helps search engines understand the structure and importance of your pages.
  • Anchor Text: Use descriptive anchor text for your internal links. Instead of “click here,” use “learn more about our services in Sydney.”

8. Optimise for Voice Search:

  • Voice Search Keywords: With the rise of voice-activated assistants like Siri and Alexa, optimizing for voice search is becoming more important. Focus on natural language and question-based queries like “Where is the best bakery in Sydney?” or “Who offers the best pizza delivery near me?”
  • Conversational Content: Write content in a conversational tone that answers common questions your customers might ask.

Step 4: Build Local Citations

Citations are online mentions of your business’s NAP. They help improve your local search rankings.

1. List Your Business in Key Directories

  • Top Directories: Get your business listed in major directories like Yelp, Bing Places, Facebook, Apple Maps, and Yellow Pages.
  • Local Directories: Don’t forget local-specific directories. These can be local chambers of commerce, business associations, or city-specific business listings.

2. Use Industry-Specific Directories:

  • Find Relevant Directories: Look for directories specific to your industry. For example, if you’re a plumber, sites like HomeAdvisor and Angie’s List are great places to list your business.
  • Ensure Consistency: Make sure your NAP information is the same across all these directories.

3. Check for Existing Citations:

  • Audit Your Citations: Use tools like Moz Local, BrightLocal, or Yext to find and audit existing citations. These tools can help you identify inconsistencies or outdated information.
  • Correct Inaccuracies: Update any incorrect information to ensure consistency.

4. Submit to Data Aggregators:

  • What Are Data Aggregators? These are companies that supply business information to various local search engines and directories. Key players include Neustar Localeze, Acxiom, Infogroup, and Factual.
  • Submit Your Info: Ensure your business information is submitted accurately to these aggregators.

5. Use Niche and Local Forums

  • Participate in Discussions: Join local forums, community boards, and industry-specific discussion groups. Mention your business where relevant.
  • Consistent Information: Ensure any mention of your business includes accurate NAP details.

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Step 5: Encourage and Manage Reviews

Reviews are crucial for building trust and improving your local SEO.

1. Make It Easy for Customers to Leave Reviews:

  • Provide Clear Instructions: Tell your customers exactly where and how to leave a review. You can do this through email, on your website, or in person.
  • Direct Links: Use direct links to your review profiles on Google, Yelp, or other platforms. You can include these links in follow-up emails, on receipts, or on your website.

2. Ask for Reviews at the Right Time:

  • Timing is Key: Ask for a review when the customer is most satisfied with your service. For example, immediately after a successful service or purchase.
  • Friendly Request: Make the request personal and friendly. For instance, “We hope you enjoyed your meal. Would you mind taking a moment to share your experience with us on Google?”

3. Use Email and SMS Follow-Ups:

  • Automated Emails: Send follow-up emails after a purchase or service asking for feedback. Make it easy by including a direct link to your review page.
  • SMS Requests: If you have customer phone numbers, consider sending a polite text message asking for a review.

4. Offer Incentives (Ethically):

  • Small Rewards: Offer a small incentive, like a discount on their next purchase or a chance to win a gift card. Be careful not to violate review platform guidelines, which often prohibit offering incentives in exchange for positive reviews.
  • Ethical Practices: Make it clear that the incentive is for leaving a review, regardless of whether it’s positive or negative.

5. Engage with Reviews:

  • Respond to Positive Reviews: Thank customers for their positive feedback and mention how happy you are to have served them.
  • Address Negative Reviews: Respond professionally and constructively to negative reviews. Apologise for any issues and offer to resolve the problem offline. This shows potential customers that you care about their experience.

6. Showcase Your Reviews:

  • On Your Website: Display reviews prominently on your website to build trust with new visitors. Create a dedicated testimonial page or feature them on your homepage.
  • Social Media: Share positive reviews on your social media profiles to highlight happy customers and build credibility.

7. Monitor Your Reviews:

  • Regularly Check Review Sites: Keep an eye on your reviews across various platforms like Google, Yelp, Facebook, and industry-specific sites.
  • Use Review Management Tools: Tools like Google Alerts, ReviewTrackers, and Mention can help you stay on top of new reviews and respond promptly.

8. Encourage Reviews Across Multiple Platforms:

  • Diversify Your Reviews: Encourage customers to leave reviews on different platforms to reach a broader audience and strengthen your online presence.
  • Target Specific Platforms: Depending on your industry, certain platforms might be more relevant. For example, restaurants might focus on Yelp and TripAdvisor, while home service providers might prioritize Google and Angie’s List.

Step 6: Get Backlinks from Local Sites

Backlinks from other websites to yours act as votes of confidence and can improve your search rankings.

1. Create Valuable Content:

  • Community Events: Blog about local events, festivals, and news. Highlighting community involvement can attract local backlinks.
  • Case Studies and Success Stories: Share stories about how your business has helped local customers or contributed to the community.

2. Reach Out to Local Bloggers and Influencers:

  • Identify Influencers: Look for local bloggers, influencers, and social media personalities who cover topics related to your industry.
  • Build Relationships: Engage with their content by commenting, sharing, and connecting on social media. When you reach out, mention how you’ve been following their work and why you think they’d be interested in your content.
  • Offer Value: Pitch ideas for guest posts or collaborations. For example, “I’d love to contribute a guest post about the best coffee shops in [Your City] and would be happy to include your blog in my list of top local resources.”

3. Collaborate with Local Businesses:

  • Partnerships: Partner with other local businesses for events, promotions, or content collaborations. For example, a bakery could team up with a local coffee shop for a joint blog post about the best coffee and pastry pairings in town.
  • Cross-Promotions: Promote each other’s businesses on your websites and social media. This can include writing testimonials or featuring each other in blog posts.

4. Submit Press Releases to Local Media:

  • Local Newspapers and Magazines: Write press releases about significant events, new products, or community involvement. Send these to local newspapers, magazines, and online news sites.
  • Online News Sites: Websites like Patch or your local online news platforms are always looking for interesting local stories. Make sure your press release is newsworthy and engaging.

5. Participate in Local Sponsorships and Events:

  • Sponsor Local Events: Sponsor local events, sports teams, or community organisations. Often, these sponsors are featured on the event’s website with a backlink to your business.
  • Host Events: Host your own community events or workshops. This can attract media coverage and backlinks from event listings.

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Step 7: Leverage Social Media

Engage with your local community on social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

1. Optimise Your Social Media Profiles:

  • Consistent NAP: Ensure your Name, Address, and Phone number (NAP) are consistent across all social media profiles. This consistency helps search engines verify your business information.
  • Complete Profiles: Fill out all the details in your profiles, including a link to your website, business hours, and a compelling bio that includes local keywords (e.g., “Best coffee shop in [Your City]”).
  • High-Quality Images: Use professional-looking profile and cover photos. Visual consistency across platforms creates a strong brand identity.

2. Create and Share Local Content:

  • Local Events and News: Post about local events, news, and happenings in your area. For example, if there’s a local festival, share a post about it and how your business is involved.
  • Community Stories: Highlight stories from your community or share testimonials from local customers. This builds a connection with your audience and shows your local roots.
  • Hashtags: Use local hashtags to increase your content’s visibility. For example, #YourCityEvents, #YourCityEats, or #ShopLocal.

3. Engage with Your Local Community:

  • Respond to Comments: Engage with your followers by responding to their comments and messages. Show appreciation for their support and answer any questions they might have.
  • Join Local Groups: Participate in local Facebook groups or community forums. Share your expertise and be helpful without being overly promotional.

4. Run Local Social Media Campaigns:

  • Promotions and Contests: Run contests or promotions that encourage local engagement. For example, a photo contest where participants share pictures taken at your business.
  • Geo-Targeted Ads: Use social media advertising to target local customers. Platforms like Facebook and Instagram allow you to create ads that specifically reach people in your area.

Wrapping Up

You’ve made it through the guide, and now you have all the tools you need to boost your local SEO and attract more customers right from your community. From setting up and optimizing your Google My Business profile to leveraging social media and building local backlinks, you’re well on your way to becoming a local favorite.

Remember, local SEO is a journey, not a destination. It takes time, effort, and a bit of tweaking along the way, but the payoff is so worth it. By making your business more visible to the people who matter most – your local customers – you’re setting yourself up for long-term success.

Got any questions or need help with your Small Business Local SEO strategy? Feel free to reach out if you need help along the way! Happy optimising!

Posted in Local SEO