man with three large building blocks

Guide to Local SEO Solutions for Small Businesses

Definitive 2023 Guide to Local SEO Solutions for Small Businesses

1. Small Business Local SEO Strategies

Back in the day, small business SEO strategy consisted of finding somebody to “SEO the site.” We can’t approach SEO that way today. Every part of your online presence is highly integrated, so you must think about all the components simultaneously.

When focusing on your small business / local SEO strategy, develop a list of problems your target users are experiencing and how you can help. Next, conduct keyword research around your list to establish core themes. Identify the top five topics you’ll produce content around. Instead of writing about your products/ services, write about issues your audience has and how to fix them.

The key is to hone a few core topics and then produce content around those topics. Your website structure/content needs to revolve around these few themes, making your content development more accessible and focused. There are a few tools to narrow down your core themes:

people in a line being looked at under magnifying glass

Content is a massive part of SEO strategy these days. Businesses must create content users will want to read and find helpful. 

Local keyword research: Conduct keyword research to identify local search terms relevant to your business and target audience. Incorporate these keywords into your website’s content, meta tags, and URL structure to improve your local search visibility.

  • Google Keyword Planner
    • Google KW Planner is a free tool from Google. Advertisers often use it to discover which search terms and keywords they should bid on. But keyword planner is also an excellent tool for giving data on what search terms are being searched.
      • In addition to monthly search volume, Google Keyword Planner also gives suggested term bids. While you aren’t using KW price for advertising in SEO, it can help you see which word gets more conversions because people will pay more for it in their advertising.
      • Good volume and a higher suggested bid could be good indicators. Those are topics you may want to go after.
  • Answer the Public
    • When you type in a search term, this site will give a bunch of variations and questions people are asking.
  • Google Auto-Complete
    • When you start typing a keyword into Google, it will begin to suggest what terms are related. The related terms often have a high value. 

2. Using Google My Business (GMB) for Local SEO Strategy

Once your SEO strategy is in place, you must bow down to Google, especially if you’re a local business. Google My Business has become one of local businesses’ most crucial SEO strategy tools. 

GMB is also how you will get into Google Maps, which shows above organic listings.

three user profiles

By following these tips to optimize your Google My Business listing, you can enhance local search visibility, attract more customers, and strengthen your online reputation.

Tips to optimize GMB appropriately:

  • Make sure it’s claimed.
  • Make sure there aren’t any duplicates of the listing.
  • Add a specific and relevant category.
    • Choose the right categories: Select the most relevant primary category for your business and add additional categories as needed. This helps Google understand your business and show it for relevant local search queries.
  • Include your company’s name, address, local phone number, and website (these should match the information on your website) and a compelling business description.
    • Create a concise and engaging description that highlights your business’s unique selling points, services, and products. Use relevant keywords naturally to improve search visibility.
  • Add high-quality photos
    • Upload high-quality, relevant images to showcase your business, products, or services. Regularly update your photos to keep your listing fresh and engaging. Ensure your images are properly formatted and sized according to Google’s guidelines.
  • Add positive reviews (these are a huge ranking factor on their own) – Be sure to respond to all positive and negative reviews.
    • Encourage customers to leave reviews and ratings on your GMB listing. Respond to both positive and negative feedback, demonstrating your commitment to customer satisfaction. Reviews can impact your local search rankings and influence potential customers.
  • Publish Google Posts
    • Share updates, promotions, events, and news through Google Posts to keep your audience engaged and informed. Regularly posting content can improve your listing’s visibility and encourage user interaction.
  • Utilize GMB messaging: Enable messaging on your GMB listing to allow potential customers to contact you directly
    • This can enhance customer engagement and help you address inquiries quickly.
  • Analyze GMB insights
    • Regularly review your GMB insights to understand how users are interacting with your listing. Use this data to make informed decisions about optimizing your listing and improving your local search performance.

Small businesses need to take advantage not only of GMB but the entire Google Universe to be successful in SEO. Google services include Google My Business, Google Analytics, Google Search Console, and Google Ads because they all integrate to help you get desired results.

man in suit pointing to reviews on wall

Local SEO Google services include Google My Business, Analytics, Google Search Console, and Google Ads, which are all integrated to help you get desired results.

3. On-Page SEO Ranking Factors

If you’re trying to optimize a page for a keyword phrase, you get to set the:

  • URL of the page
  • Page title (meta)
  • Header tags – H1 and H2
  • Alt image attribute
  • Page Content

Look at these elements on the page you’re reading now – you’ll see SEO tips and strategies for small businesses in several places because this page is optimized. So, include the keyword in those areas! Refrain from keyword stuff as you still want to write for humans, but take the opportunity to get your most important keywords in these areas.

The page title, meta description, and URL also influence the snippet that shows up in search engine results pages (meta description isn’t an actual ranking factor, but a click-through factor, like an ad for somebody to click).

Yoast SEO plugin for WordPress is a free plugin that helps optimize this metadata. We highly recommend using it! To supplement these on-page efforts, you must also control your Google Search Console – To do this effectively:

  • Claim and verify your profile
  • Add your sitemap
  • Check your messages
  • Integrate it with Google Analytics

4. Off-Page SEO Ranking Factors

You have some control over these things, but they’re not on your website (although they typically point back to your site). These factors tell Google what your site’s about, what people think about it, that it’s important, etc.

Clean data

Make sure all listings and directories are accurate across the web. Your data needs to be consistent. A few tools can help ensure your data is clean, including Yext and MozLocal (both offer free scans to see where you stand and can help you fix them).

Links from other sites

If people link to posts on your site (a backlink), this tells Google that people think you have great content on your site. It acts as a popularity vote. Good places to find links to add to your website include:

  • Strategic partners and suppliers
  • Local events
  • Media
  • Chamber of Commerce
cartoon of google reviews

Online reviews and ratings are beneficial for local SEO because they serve as ranking signals, enhance online visibility, provide credibility, and encourage customer engagement.

5. Online reviews and ratings:

Encourage satisfied customers to leave reviews on platforms like Google, Yelp, and Facebook. Respond to both positive and negative reviews to demonstrate your commitment to customer satisfaction. High-quality reviews can improve your online reputation and local search rankings.

When users write about your business and what the company does well, Google recognizes this. 

Websites for adding reviews:

  • Facebook
  • Google
  • Yelp
  • Industry-related review sites

Positive reviews and ratings act as social proof, showcasing your business’s ability to meet customer expectations and deliver quality products or services. They help establish your business’s credibility and trustworthiness, making potential customers more likely to choose your business over competitors with lower ratings.

You have less to do with domain authority (DA), but it’s a huge ranking factor. DA factors into how many links your site has essential sites. DA also factors into how long the domain has been live, etc. You must have a plan and take advantage of Googleverse. You must optimize and pay attention to on- and off-page ranking factors and build engaging content for your business’s users.

Enhanced online visibility is also a great plus for getting online reviews. Reviews from platforms, such as Google My Business, Yelp, and TripAdvisor, are highly visible in search results. Having a strong presence on these platforms with numerous positive reviews can increase your business’s visibility in local search results and drive more organic traffic to your website or physical location.

people on an arrow

actively managing and encouraging reviews improves local SEO search performance and attracts more customers.

Users seeing positive reviews are also more likely to click on a business with higher ratings and positive reviews when presented with multiple options in search results. As a result, a strong review profile can lead to higher click-through rates and increased website traffic, which can contribute to improved local search rankings.

Responding to reviews demonstrates your commitment to customer satisfaction and encourages further engagement. Engaging with customers through reviews can foster loyalty, lead to repeat business, and generate positive word-of-mouth, all of which can contribute to your local SEO success.

6. Schema markup

Implement structured data markup (schema) on your website to provide search engines with additional information about your business, such as location, hours, and reviews. This can enhance your search result listings and potentially improve your local search rankings.

Schema markup allows search engines to better understand your website’s content and display it in a more visually appealing and informative manner in search results.

This can include:

  • rich snippets
  • review stars
  • local business information
    • such as address
    • phone number
    • hours of operation.

These enhancements can make your search listing stand out, leading to higher click-through rates and increased organic traffic.

Schema marketing will also improve local search rankings by providing search engines with detailed, structured information about your business and its location. Schema markup can help improve your visibility in local search results. Search engines can more accurately determine the relevance of your website to local search queries, which can lead to higher rankings for location-specific keywords.

man with three large building blocks

Online reviews and ratings are beneficial for local SEO because they serve as ranking signals, enhance online visibility, provide credibility, and encourage customer engagement.

By utilizing schema markup, you can provide additional context and details about your content, such as events, products, services, or reviews. This helps search engines better understand the focus and purpose of your content, which can contribute to improved search rankings and increased relevance for local search queries.

While schema markup is becoming more widely adopted, many businesses still do not utilize it. Implementing schema markup can give your website a competitive edge in local search results, as search engines can more easily access and understand your business information, resulting in improved rankings and increased visibility. By implementing schema markup on your website, or working with an SEO expert, you strengthen your local SEO efforts and attract more local customers.

7. Social media engagement

Engage with your local community on social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Share locally-focused content and participate in local conversations to increase your brand visibility and connect with potential customers.

  • Enhanced brand visibility: Active engagement on social media platforms helps increase your brand’s online visibility, which can lead to more local searchers discovering your business.
  • Increased backlinks: Sharing locally relevant content and engaging with other local businesses or organizations on social media can result in local citations or backlinks.
  • Social signals: While the direct impact of social signals on search rankings is debatable, a strong social media presence and high levels of engagement can indirectly influence your local SEO.
  • Local content promotion: Sharing locally relevant content on social media platforms can help you establish your business as a local authority in your industry.
  • Local community engagement: By participating in local conversations, events, and discussions on social media, you can build relationships with potential customers and local influencers.
  • Improved customer service: Responding to customer inquiries, feedback, and complaints on social media can showcase your commitment to customer satisfaction.

Social media engagement can help local SEO by enhancing brand visibility, increasing local citations and backlinks, generating user-generated content, influencing social signals, promoting local content, engaging with the local community, and improving customer service. By actively participating in social media, businesses can strengthen their local SEO efforts and attract more local customers.

A well-executed local SEO strategy is vital for small businesses

A comprehensive and well-executed local SEO strategy is vital for small businesses seeking to thrive in their local markets. By focusing on essential aspects such as Google My Business optimization, local keyword research, on-page optimization, local content creation, link building, online reviews, schema markup, local business directories, and social media engagement, small businesses can significantly improve their online visibility and attract more local customers. By implementing these local SEO solutions and adapting to the ever-evolving digital landscape, small businesses can not only outperform their local competition but also create a strong foundation for long-term success in the online market.