It can often seem like running a small business is an exercise in futility. After all, who can compete with the internet?
Oh, wait a minute. You can.
If you’re disappointed with your marketing campaigns so far, then perhaps it’s time to learn how to climb the SERPs.
That’s right, we’ve compiled a guide for you on local SEO for small businesses. Let’s hop right to it and we’ll help you get as visible as possible.
First Things First
Most people use their mobile devices when they’re looking for something local. You don’t always have a laptop on you to find a local Mexican restaurant or the nearest auto shop after all.
That means before you begin doing anything else your website should be mobile friendly. Google has a handy tool which will immediately tell you if your site’s mobile readiness is up to par.
Most web design platforms do this automatically or have an easy option to enable it. If your website is designed from scratch it may take some work extra work.
Fill Out Your Google Business Listing
Register your business with Google Business before you do anything else. It’s an essential first step to making sure that you show up when people search for your product or service in the area.
You’ll need to familiarize yourself with the acronym NAP. That’s Name, address, and phone number. You’ll be filling this information out repeatedly as you go through the local SEO process.
Fill out as much information as you can, don’t overlook anything if you have the information.
From here you’ll want to make sure that you claim your website on places like Yelp and TripAdvisor. Make sure that you fill out the NAP information for each of them and keep it consistent across the board.’
Without consistency, you’ll be confusing both Google and potential customers.
Usually, when you make a local search there will be a few directories at the top as well. It might be worth it to contact those who own directories you can’t submit to yourself to see if you can get listed.
Tighten Up Your On-Page SEO
The “snack pack” at the top of Google is probably the most coveted spot for those who are running small businesses. It puts you right in front of your potential customers and if you can make it into that top three spot then you’re in good hands.
Local SEO is great, it gets you in front of customers. If you want to stay on top you’ll have to go with regular SEO tactics as well, that means good on-page SEO.
Your homepage is particularly important, make sure that you include your NAP in a sidebar, header, or footer and include local keywords on your home page.
This isn’t a place for keyword stuffing. Semantic searches, penalties for overuse of keywords, and the way local searches work all make that a bad strategy. Instead, make sure that you include local search queries naturally through the content on the landing page.
Link Building for Local SEO
You’ll also want to start link building like you would for any SEO project.
The good thing about running a business is that it’s easy to position yourself as an expert in your industry. After all, it’s how you make your living.
What does this mean for you?
It means that guest posts are remarkably easy to come by.
Local business directories are another good place to get backlinks to pump your page through the SERPs.
Other than that, you’ll want to eventually engage in other link building tactics. Be careful, however, as a brick and mortar business will have a harder time recovering from black hat techniques than someone who’s business is solely online.
Try to avoid things like PBNs, shady link directories, and paid links of any kind.
Maintain a Blog
Blogs aren’t just for angsty teenagers and wannabe journalists, they’re a vital part of any digital marketing campaign. Even small businesses will find them a useful part of their marketing package.
The biggest reason is that it keeps your site “fresh” in the eyes of Google. Pages which are updated infrequently often begin to fall down the SERPs but an update once a week or so should keep you in place.
Focus on creating great content for your chosen keywords. Scope out the competition, find out what they did, and do it better.
If you’re able to create or find great content then you should begin getting organic backlinks as well. People linking to you as an authority is one of the quickest ways to get to the top.
Citations are any reference to your business.
These can include structured and unstructured citations.
The former would, for example, include filling out your NAP on Facebook, claiming your business on Yelp, or anywhere you actually fill out a form with your information.
Unstructured citations would be things like a newspaper mentioning your business.
The more you’re mentioned, the better off you’ll be when it comes to the search results.
Attaining the “Triple Threat”
Local SEO, done properly, can absolutely dominate the top of Google. The idea of a “triple threat” is simple to understand. You’ll need the following in place:
- Show up in the “snack pack”
- Use Google AdWords
- Be strong in the organic rankings
It’s possible to have three or four links at the very top of the page. Add in good reviews and you’ve got a winner whenever someone local is looking for a business like yours.
Local SEO for Small Businesses and You
Like any kind of SEO, local SEO for small businesses has some quirks but the core principles remain the same. Apart from the localization you still need to be backed by strong content and rank high in the SERPs.
It’s also a lot of work and requires constant monitoring.
If you’re looking for the benefit but don’t have the time to focus on SEO for your business then maybe it’s time you hired an expert to do it for you.
We think we can help. Check out our list of case studies to see just what we can do for you.