When you run a small business, marketing it to people in your area can be a challenge. You may not have the budget to run an ad in a local newspaper or the resources to call potential customers.
If this is the case, implementing a local SEO strategy can bring you new leads, sales, and most importantly, revenue. Looking for a local SEO strategy to grow your business?
Gum search specializes in SEO auditing and SEO services for small and medium-sized businesses in a wide range of different industries. They’ve put together this comprehensive guide to show you 14 simple ways you can improve your local SEO results.
What is Local SEO?
Local SEO is when you take action to improve your search engine rankings in local search results.
When you’re a small business that focuses on a specific city or town, your approach to SEO will differ significantly from that of a company with a national presence.
You want to attract the people who are most likely to buy your products or services. People may not have heard of your business, but they would be interested if they saw you were around.
Let’s say you’re a plumber working in Whoville. When people search for ‘Emergency Plumbing Near Me’ or ‘Toilet Unblock in Whoville’, you want to make sure you’re as close to the top of Google as possible.
97% of people searched online to find a local business. This means that if you can get your local SEO in order, you can gain a significant advantage in the market.
14 ways to improve your local SEO
Improving your local SEO can seem daunting, especially if you’re a small business with a small marketing budget.
However, the good news is that improving your local SEO is simpler than you might think. All you need is to think methodically and research.
Here’s how to improve local SEO results for your business in 14 easy steps.
1. Request your Google Business Profile
If local SEO is a priority, claiming and optimizing yours Google Business Profile (formerly known as Google My Business) is a great place to start.
Google Business Profile is a free tool that allows you to create an online presence for your business. That way, if people search for your business name, your profile will appear on Google.
Not only this, but your business will be more likely to appear in the ‘Google Local Pack’ – a box at the top of a local Google search.
5% of Google Business Profile views lead to a website visit, phone call or referral request, so setting up a profile is definitely a quick win.
2. Sign up for online business directories
Relevant and reputable online business directories show Google that your site is valuable enough to link to and can help drive traffic to your website.
Here, quality is better than quantity. Better to have one high-quality business directory than a hundred unwanted ones.
Do some research to see which online business directories are operating in your area. It can be helpful to check your competitor’s backlinks and see what business directories they are in. We’ll analyze your competition in a little more detail later.
Here’s a handy tip – check if your local council, educational institution or government organization has a directory on their website. As these domains are seen as more trustworthy, you are more likely to get a boost from them.
3. Set up internal linking on your website
External linking is vital for SEO, but did you know that internal linking can also help improve your search engine presence?
Internal linking across your pages gives Google additional context about your website, giving less frequently visited sections a boost in search engine results.
Over four out of five internal connectivity options are neglected. This means that placing links on your website can be incredibly valuable when it comes to improving your local SEO.
4. Review your meta titles and descriptions
When done correctly, meta titles and descriptions can help improve your local SEO results. They can have a direct impact on driving potential customers to come and visit your website.
Think of your page meta titles and descriptions as a showcase on Google and Bing. If your storefront looks inviting, people will come and check you out.
Make sure you have unique titles and descriptions for each page, include your SEO keywords and location, and try to include a powerful call to action.
According to a Backlinko study, meta titles between 15 and 40 characters have an 8.6% higher click-through rate than titles outside this range.
5. Start a blog
When you’re responsible for a job, blogging may be the last thing on your mind. However, valuable and well-crafted articles not only help you rank for more keywords, but can keep people on your site for longer.
Although Google has not acknowledged that the length of time users spend on a website is a positive factor for search engine rankings, it is largely implied.
6. Make sure your website is mobile friendly
88% of people search for a local business on your mobile phone or visit within 24 hours. This means that if you have a website, you need to make sure that it is mobile friendly.
If potential customers have to zoom in on elements or buttons that jump around as the website loads, they won’t stick around for long. Moreover, if users leave your website quickly, it can affect your ranking in search results.
Google has a tool you can use to see if your website is mobile-friendly and to get feedback on how you can improve things.
7. Ask for reviews
Five-star reviews can be a critical factor in improving your presence when it comes to local SEO. Search engines like Google value feedback from objective customers and can be the deciding factor when it comes to ranking a business.
One of the best ways to get reviews is to ask satisfied customers to leave feedback on your Google Business Profile. That way, any positive feedback is key when potential customers are looking for you online.
Be sure to respond to all reviews, positive and negative. 45% of people say they are more likely to visit a business that responds to negative feedback.
8. Focus on local keywords
Let’s say you deliver pizzas. There are over 774 million results for ‘pizza delivery service’ on Google, which means that if you try to rank for this keyword, you’re going to struggle.
The best strategy is to focus on local keywords such as ‘pizza delivery in X’ or ‘pizza delivery service in Y’. Not only will it be easier for you to get on the first page of search engine results, but Google can use this additional information to show your business to local searchers.
75% of people never get past the first page of Googleso you want to try and grab that coveted top spot where you can!
9. Check out your competition
If you’re asking the question ‘how can I improve my local SEO results?’, one of the best ways to do this is to look at what your rivals are doing in the search engines.
When you know where your competitors rank for certain keywords, you’ll know how easy or difficult it will be to outrank them in the search engines. Look at their websites, the keywords they use and who is linking to them.
Be sure to focus on competitors of a similar size and focus on a similar area as you. While it might be tempting to beat Apple, McDonald’s or Tesco at their own game, you won’t get too far!
10. Set up the site pages
If you offer services in different cities or even villages, it’s a good idea to create individual site pages for each area.
That way you can really drill down on specific keywords and increase your chances of ranking when customers search for ‘X in Y’.
If you’re setting up individual pages, make sure the content on each is different. When you have duplicate content on your website, Google can have a hard time knowing which version to display in search engine results. This means that it can potentially show the wrong page to a potential customer.
It is estimated that almost one in three pages on the Internet is duplicate content – a scary thing!
11. Research your website speed
If you’re looking for how to improve your local SEO results, the answer might be how fast your website loads.
A website that loads slowly can have a negative impact on how long people stay on your site, which in turn can push your website down the search engine rankings. Even a one second delay can mean 11% fewer page views.
Some of the things you should do improve your website speed are quite technical, so you may need a web developer to take care of this for you. However, a good starting point is to look at the size of the images you use on your pages. If you’re uploading 10Mb photos, it might be time for some spring cleaning!
12. Work on your NAP quotes
Links to your website can help improve your local SEO results. However, if you are struggling to get backlinks, other websites that list your contact information can be useful.
NAP stands for ‘name, address and phone number’ and is listed by MOZ as the fifth most important ranking factor for local SEO, as it helps demonstrate that you are a legitimate business.
Try to present yourself in as many places as possible and keep your details correct – if your address or phone number changes, it’s essential to update all entries.
13. Become part of the local community
As John Donne famously said: ‘no man (or business) is an island’.
By connecting with others in your local community, you’re more likely to get those all-important backlinks needed to improve your SEO and make more people aware of your brand.
Send press releases to local newspapers, offer guest spots on community websites, and sponsor important events. Not only will you get publicity online, but offline as well!
14. Keep checking your stats
Bubblegum Search’s last pointer will help you improve your local SEO results – keep an eye on your stats.
SEO is not something that can be done once and forgotten. It’s essential to stay on top and make adjustments to ensure you stay at the top of search engine results.
The Google algorithm could change, the website leading to you could disappear, or your closest competitors could up their local SEO game. This could lead to a drop from the first page of results.
There are many great free tools that can help you track not only how many people are visiting your website, but also where you rank in the search engines. Google Analytics, Google Search Console, and Bing Webmaster Tools are good places to start.
Improve your local SEO with confidence
Bubblegum Search hopes this guide has given you some inspiration on how to improve your local SEO results.
Even the smallest company can rank on the top of Google if they have a solid local SEO strategy. Plan ahead, check your competition and keep an eye on your stats. You’ll soon improve your local SEO ranking!