Search engine optimization (SEO) never stays the same for long. Google rolls out a new update every couple of months, and sometimes, it can seem like you have to start learning what it's all about over again once it happens.
Of course, the changes they're making are for the better, and local searches are much more valuable now than they were a few years back. Still, keeping track of an ever-changing algorithm can get tiring. So, many people wonder if the importance of local SEO for small businesses is high enough for them to bother with it.
And if you want a short answer — it's yes. As a small business owner, you have to stay on top of local SEO at all times if you wish to prosper. In fact, a good local SEO score can help you bounce back if the pandemic slows you down. More people in the area will hear about you, and more of them will come through your door.
In essence, local SEO is great cause it lets you target a small, localized group of people. It'll get you on the screens of users who need to learn about you, which will bring you more conversions.
Today, we'll tell you what local SEO is, how it works, and help you decide how much you should care about it. On top of that, we'll give you a few tips on how you can improve it so you can get the edge over your competitors. So let's get right into it.
What Is Local SEO?
Local SEO is the process of making your business and website visible for searches related to your location. Thus, if you have a brick-and-mortar place you want people to visit, local SEO is one of the most effective ways to market it. It allows you to promote your products and services to locals at the exact moment they need them. And since you're close by, they're very likely to come in.
Of course, local SEO also works great for service providers. So if you're a plumber, a mover, or a contractor, optimizing for local searches could bring you lots of work.
It's clear that we're talking about a great tool here, so everyone must be using it, right?
Well, as it turns out, no. Less than 50% of businesses use local SEO, which means that the opportunities are massive. With a bit of work, you can create an engaging experience, make your business stand out, and expand your reach more than you thought was even possible.
We know this all sounds a bit too good to be true, so let's get a closer look at the benefits local SEO can bring you.
The Benefits of Local SEO for Small Businesses
If you thought that the importance of local SEO for small businesses lies just in boosting visibility in SERPs, you were wrong. Your company will enjoy plenty of other advantages if you go down this route. Here is a couple of them.
Fewer Marketing Expenses
One of the best ways to improve your local SEO is to create business listings in online directories. Of course, managing your info across different sites will cost you time, but not much more than it. Tools like Google My Business and Facebook, which are great for the purpose, are free. So, optimizing for local searches is a cheap way to become omnipresent on the web.
It Helps the Right People Find You
Most of the users who search for a local business end up visiting the store in minutes. They find you on Google Maps, and they come right down. The system is quite simple, and it works.
However, the best thing about it is that almost every customer who comes to your store from a local search will buy something. Put simply, every time people find you — you'll make a sale. Not many other marketing tactics can brag with such a conversion rate.
How Can You Improve Your Local SEO?
Now that you understand what local SEO is and why it's essential, we can get into the ways to improve it. And this is the fun part. All the tasks are simple, and they all deliver results. These are our picks:
Create Accurate and Consistent Citations
Business citations are the heart of local SEO. Each time your NAP info (business name, address, phone number) is mentioned online, you get a citation. It's easy to create citations, and most local business owners do it on the go. However, there's a trap here.
If your NAP isn't consistent, you'll be in trouble. A simple typo in a few of your citations could steer Google off course as it won't know which one to trust. So, create one version of your NAP and copy/paste it each time you create a new listing.
Create Hyperlocal Content
Using local keywords in your site copy will benefit your SEO. Here, business identifiers give the best results. For example, if you're an Italian restaurant, you'd write something like ''Italian restaurant in [CITY, ST]''. It'll tell crawlers what you do and what area you're serving. Of course, when writing content for local SEO, be sure to make it engaging too. You have to balance the line between strict SEO and quality content if you want to succeed.
Set Up Google My Business Account
A GMB account lets you feed your business info right into Google. It'll make you visible on Google Search and Google Maps, both of which are essential for small local businesses. On top of that, it'll allow you to monitor and respond to your reviews and engage with your customers through Google Posts.
Make Your Site Mobile Responsive
Most local searches are carried out on mobile devices. So, if you want to rank high, your site has to be optimized for mobile. Responsive design means that your pages will scale down or up with the screen size. Your site will look as good on a desktop and on the phone, which is what you want.
Further, make sure that your site loads quickly. Mobile users won't wait more than three seconds for their page to load, so a slow site means slow sales.
When running a local business, searches from another state or even another city don't bring much. And that's why the importance of local SEO for small businesses is so great. It gets you in front of your neighbors and your fellow residents. Thus, you'll get more visits and make more sales.