Local search engine optimization (SEO) is a set of strategies used to ensure small business website, products, services, or reviews show up when people in the immediate area search for relevant keywords on search engines like Google. We asked the pros for their tips on making the most of local SEO strategies for your businesses.
Here are the top 20 local SEO tips from the pros:
1. Get Involved in Your Community
Nick Leffler Owner, Exprance
Be part of your local community to build local authority and get some local backlinks. Get in the local news by doing something really cool or getting interviewed. You can also sponsor a local event and ask for a link on the website for the local event — that gives you some good local authority. One last thing for being part of the local community is to join your local chamber of commerce. They can provide you with good connections to local businesses and a link back to your website if they have a member directory (most do).
2. Register for Free With Google My Business
Josh Gibbs, Digital Marketing Manager, 97 Switch
Local businesses can benefit from updating their online listings so that users can easily find them. One place that many businesses have not considered is Google My Business. For free, you can request a Google My Business account and in a few days it can be set up, helping your business appear in Google Search and Google Maps more prominently. You can also start to collect reviews from customers and some businesses will even be able to schedule appointments or provide additional information through their Google My Business account. Some businesses might also consider a power listing tool like Yext or Moz that helps keep online listings up-to-date on up to hundreds of websites so that users in other search engines and tools besides Google will easily find your business.
3. Establish Your Brand as a Local Authority
Dixie Lee, Real Estate Investor, WeBuyHousesInConnecticut
Focus on being an authority in your market on your niche. Being the go-to person in a local market is crucial. Your business should be on a customer’s mind before they even do an online search on companies that offer services they need. Work on your brand by growing, cultivating, and maintaining an online presence. YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and other social media profiles allow you to become involved with your market. Engage and be noticed! Best part is, it is free to create these profiles!
4. Answer the Questions Local Customers are Asking
Keri Lindenmuth, Marketing Manager, KDG
Google Direct Answers is the content that appears in a special box at the top of the search results page when you ask Google a question, such as “What are braces?” Businesses should rework the content on their sites into question and answer format so that their content has a better chance of displaying above the Google search results. This is especially important as voice search using Siri or Alexa becomes more popular.
Anna Dizon, Marketing Writer, Fit Small Business
For a lot of small businesses, time and budgets stand in the way of fulfilling the constant commitment local SEO strategies demand of them. If you’re one of them, consider Fiverr. Starting at just $5 per task, you can hire local SEO experts to help you create searchable content, keep your business listings up to date, build your reviews, maintain your social media presence, and more. Click here to get started with Fiverr.
6. Build Up Your Online Reviews
Laura Gonzales, Marketing Manager, Mercedes of Coconut Creek
Google will prioritize business websites that have the most and best reviews. If you haven’t already, it’s time to start actively responding to your current reviews, both good and bad. If you currently don’t have reviews, then you can start encouraging your customers to write them through incentives like a small discount or just by simply asking them.
7. Use Site Search Insights to Market to Local Customers
Eric Bryant, Founder, Gnosis Media Group
One SEO tip I think is quite underrated but should be in every small business SEO’s toolbox is deploying a site search bar on your website and tracking those searches inside Google Analytics. The whole point of SEO is to provide content that your users need, and I’ve found no better way to do that than to look and see what visitors are searching for once on my site, and then creating or structuring content to answer those questions. You can install a free site search bar using Google’s Custom Search Engine.
8. Audit Your Website’s Local SEO Health
Jameson Spooner, CEO, Tmbrs.com
Invest in software that will help you with auditing your website for mistakes, duplicate content, and help you find keywords to target in your content. We currently use Ahrefs and it has proven to be extremely helpful for everything mentioned above. It offers a free trial to help you understand what you are getting before you have to start paying for it and it also provide lots of free content to help you understand its software. For the paid subscription, it is well worth every penny.
9. Meet the Needs of Local Voice Searchers by Targeting Long-Tailed Keywords
Reuben Kats, Owner & Chief Operating Officer, Falcon Marketing
According to Google, one in every five searches comes from a voice search. This shows us that the rise in the digital assistant is real and is changing the way search queries are performed. Because of the rise in voice searches, it’s important to make sure that your SEO marketing strategy shifts to meet with this growing trend. This will mean needing to focus on longer keyword searches of a more natural and conversational tone.
Kelly Main, Marketing Writer, Fit Small Business
Small businesses often run into a bottleneck when they must consistently build and maintain their SEO but are already strapped for time. For these companies, their best bet is to outsource their marketing to an agency that can constantly be working behind the scenes to attract leads via local SEO. For example, Ignite Digital offers a long list of local SEO services, including competitive analysis, link-profile development, keyword analysis, on-page optimization, social media management, and more. You can ask for a quote for free by clicking its “Get a Free Quote” button on its website’s homepage.
11. Build Quality Backlinks for Local SEO
Brandon Seymour, SEO Manager, DentalPlans.com
For most small businesses, the toughest aspect of SEO is building quality backlinks. This is important for all websites, but especially true for SMBs, because they most likely don’t have the in-house resources or budget to conduct scalable link building strategies. Backlinks are essentially Google’s most important ranking factor. Google considers the authority and relevance of the sites that link to you. That authority and relevance is then passed on to your site. One approach I would recommend is using a platform like HARO or ProfNet to submit responses to queries from local and national journalists and bloggers. The majority of these opportunities come with a link back to your website. The best part: It’s free!
12. Commit to Slow & Steady When Building Backlinks
Amna Rizvi, Co-Founder, Emerald Soft
One thing I noticed about many small businesses is that due to cost, they easily fall for the cheaper black hat [spammy] SEO techniques, which sometimes (rarely) works in the short term but will always end up hurting them in the long term. I suggest going slow and steady, and focusing on quality over quantity. Getting 1,000 backlinks may seem great, but search algorithms nowadays are very smart and they can figure out if someone is going for spammy techniques. One really good backlink is much better than 1,000 poor and cheap ones.
13. Target the Local Keywords Your Competitors Missed
Lincoln Rinehart, SEO Analyst, Adept Marketing
Targeting the right keywords on your webpages is vital to any SEO strategy, particularly with local businesses. Tools like SEMrush can show you what keywords your local competitors are showing up for. Look for keywords/topics where your main competitors aren’t ranking #1 or #2 and target those keywords with a relevant page on your site and useful content. Assuming there’s enough search volume to support it, you’ll have an opportunity to be seen more than your local competitors. Make sure your content/keywords also include a city name to help search engines understand where you provide your services.
14. Fix NAP Inconsistencies
Tom Blake, SEO Consultant, The Online World
NAP, or the name, address, and phone number of a small business, are three critical pieces of information that actually influence how Google or other search engines rank results for local searches. Having inconsistent NAP information between your own website and the various business directories or local listings that reference your business can be immensely detrimental for local SEO efforts.
In order to prevent or fix NAP mistakes, small business owners should take the time to conduct a simple but effective audit of their own website and relevant business directories that list their business. Compile a list of all of your NAP citations and look for inconsistencies. If you spot any, be sure to correct information with a standardized and accurate set of information. By fixing NAP inconsistencies, small business owners can increase the likelihood search engines present the right information to searching customers, ultimately increasing their search traffic, visits, and revenue.
15. Learn From Content That Ranks Well Around Your Keywords
Shawn Lim, SEO Manager, FIXWERKS
When you find a suitable keyword for your business, always put it into Google to see what results are showing. Looking at the results will give you a better understanding of how to craft your content and thus have a better chance of ranking on Google.
16. Brand Your Company With Local Keyword Search Results
Charlotte Ang, Founder, Rentalorry
Our company was named based on the most popular local keyword research results and I must say it has helped kick-start our organic traffic from nothing to something. Even without proper SEO from the start, we were able to attract searchers looking for our services simply with our company name. Of course, this should not be your only technique as it may have its drawbacks ― we faced difficulty in expanding to other services because our company brand is only known for that one service. SEO efforts need to be applied as a whole and this is only one of the hacks we used.
17. List Your Site in Relevant Directories
Steve Florey, Digital Marketing Freelancer, The Digital Freelancer
A key component of local SEO is establishing a local web presence. This does not mean hysterically submitting your site to every business directory you stumble across! Rather, put yourself in the shoes of your customer and search as they would.
For example, if you are a local accountancy firm, search Google for “accountancy services in (your location).” If there’s a local business directory or community group that’s riding high in the SERPs for such a tailored search, pop it on your target list.
The question should always be: Is this site likely to drive relevant traffic to my site? If the answer is a resounding yes, then you know you’ve just built a good link.
18. Create Location-Specific Landing Pages
Audrey Strasenburgh, SEO Strategist, LogoMix
One of the best ways to ensure that your small business is found in your target areas is to create location-specific landing pages. These landing pages should be fully optimized with metadata, a location-specific URL, hashtags, and content that mentions the geographic area. Make sure to include a review from a customer in that area, as well as any images of a project or service being provided in the area (and don’t forget alt text). If you have any blog posts or other pages that mention that particular service area, be sure to work those links into the content so search engines can easily find and crawl the new page via existing pages.
19. Make your Meta Description Searchable
Annie Polland, Marketing Coordinator, Novella Brandhouse
Your meta description paragraph is going to be what shows up when people see your homepage listed in a search. It will be a short 150-character paragraph describing what your business does or specifying your services. We recommend using those keywords within your meta description so that you can be found in searches.
20. Reinvest in Your Existing Content
Chris Gregory, Founder & Managing Partner, DAGMAR Marketing
Because local SEO is so closely intertwined with SEO overall, it also makes sense to go back over your most successful content, using Google Analytics, and supplement it with more types of relevant content such as FAQs, checklists, or additional sections to make it even more valuable to your audience. Too many websites publish content without reinvesting in content that is already working.
Bottom Line ― Local SEO Tips
Many local SEO experts stress the importance of using general SEO strategies — like getting your NAP information correct — but others indicated this wasn’t enough. You must also continually produce high-quality and locally relevant website content, showcase your customers’ satisfaction via always-fresh online reviews, naturally infuse your website and content with local keywords, and maintain a healthy social media presence.
For businesses that are strapped for time and don’t have the budget to invest in local SEO strategies, an affordable SEO expert from Fiverr can help boost your online visibility. Simply create an account, then use the search bar to find a list of five-star local SEO experts who can help you maintain your local online presence starting at just $5 per task or project. Click here to get started with Fiverr.