local SEO for small businesses

The importance of local SEO for small businesses

Boosting your local search presence is crucial for small businesses aiming to stand out in their community. Here at Orion Marketing, we’re passionate about helping small businesses thrive online. Let’s dive into what local SEO is and why it’s so important for your business.

First, what is local SEO?

Local Search Engine Optimisation (local SEO) refers to the process of optimising your online presence to attract more business from relevant local searches.

These searches take place on Google and other search engines, making it essential for businesses to be visible where potential customers are looking.

Local SEO involves various strategies, including optimising your website and its content, managing your Google My Business listing, and building local backlinks.

Why is local SEO important?

The benefit of local SEO extends into heightened visibility; your business stands a chance to be featured in Google’s Local Map Pack, a coveted position above standard search results. Being spotlighted in this block of business listings can dramatically enhance your visibility, drawing more foot traffic to your doorstep and boosting the likelihood of conversions.

Moreover, searches performed with local intent tend to yield higher conversion rates. The rationale is straightforward: customers searching for products or services in their vicinity are often in the latter stages of the buying cycle, ready to make a purchase.

This is where local SEO truly shines, serving as a bridge between your business and potential customers at a crucial decision-making juncture.

Here’s a step-by-step guide with actual examples on how you can enhance your local SEO efforts.

1. Claim and optimise your Google My Business (GMB) listing

Your GMB, or Google Maps profile, is a ‘must-have’ for all local businesses. It’s the place on search engines that typically shows up first, and you’ll appear here in local search.

  • Step 1: Go to Google My Business and sign up. Fill in your business name to see if it exists or needs to be added.
  • Step 2: Enter all relevant information: your business name, address, phone number, website, and category. Accuracy here is key.
  • Step 3: Verify your business. Google typically requires verification through a postcard sent to your business address.
  • Step 4: Once verified, optimise your profile by adding a business description, hours of operation, services offered, and high-quality photos of your business, products, or services.

You can see in this image that our client ‘Sydney Spinal Care’ is well placed, ranking #2 in the map pack and #1 in the organic search results below the maps. Local SEO helped secure these top spots for this chiropractic clinic.

google map pack for local chiropractor

2. Collect and respond to reviews

Reviews are also essential, as 81% of consumers use Google to evaluate local businesses, and they expect to read about previous customer interactions before engaging you.

  • Step 1: Encourage satisfied customers to leave reviews. This can be done through follow-up emails, signage at your location, or verbally after a sale or service.
  • Step 2: Try to share your GMB url or add it to a free QR code generator so that customers can quickly and easily get access to your review tab.
  • Step 3: Respond to all reviews, positive or negative, professionally. Thank your customers for positive reviews and address any concerns raised in negative reviews.

3. Optimise for local keywords

The ongoing importance of keywords can’t be overstated. Think of keywords as a mirror to how customers search, reflecting their needs and questions. By using relevant keywords, you can align your content with customer intent, ensuring you appear in search results when potential customers are actively seeking your products or services.

  • Step 1: Use tools like Google Keyword Planner or SEMrush to find local keywords relevant to your business (e.g., “plumber in Sydney CBD”).
  • Step 2: Incorporate these keywords naturally into your website’s content, including titles, headers, meta descriptions, and blog posts.

Take Assist Group, a health testing business based in Sydney that specialises in pre-employment medicals. They’ve successfully published a locally-focused page titled ‘pre-employment medical Sydney,’ which now ranks on the first page of Google. This highlights the effectiveness of creating targeted local content.

locally optimised sydney service page

4. Create local content

Local content refers to material created with a specific geographic area or community in mind. An example of local content could be a blog post titled “The Top 10 Coffee Shops in Melbourne’s CBD for Remote Workers.”

It would include details such as location, ambiance, internet speed, and special offerings of each coffee shop. By incorporating keywords like “best coffee shops Melbourne CBD” and “remote work locations Melbourne,” the post would attract search engine users looking for coffee shops that cater to their specific needs within that area, thus driving local traffic to the website.

  • Step 1: Start a blog on your website focused on local-interest topics or how your products/services relate to local events or issues.
  • Step 2: Share local industry news, events, or activities on your website and social media channels to engage with the local community.

5. Utilise social media

It’s good to maintain an updated social media presence so that potential customers know you are still in business, and to provide timely updates on things such as holiday opening hours, specials, deals or new product launches.

  • Step 1: Create profiles on relevant social media platforms (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter) using the same name, address, and phone number listed on your GMB profile.
  • Step 2: Post regularly about your products/services, special offers, and local events or news. Engage with your followers by responding to comments and messages.

6. Build local backlinks

Backlinks remain one of the most important aspects of SEO. They provide search engines with ‘trust signals’ that your site is popular. Think about backlinks like voting – the more votes the more popular the candidate is. Backlinks can include guest posts, business listings and links from local partner websites.

Quality backlinks remain an important ranking factor.

  • Step 1: Reach out to local bloggers, newspapers, and business associations for opportunities to get featured on their websites. Offer valuable content or insights in exchange for a backlink.
  • Step 2: Sign up for local business directors to list your business for free. Find out more about how to setup online business listings here.
  • Step 3: Participate in or sponsor local events, charities, or competitions, which can lead to mentions and links from their websites.

7. Ensure your website is mobile-friendly

Customers expect that when they view your site on mobile, it is responsive and easy to use. Almost all new website designs, themes and templates should be responsive by default these days.

  • Step 1: Use Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test tool to see if your website meets mobile usability standards.
  • Step 2: If your site isn’t mobile-friendly, consider updating your website’s design or theme to one that is responsive.

Easy to say, sometimes hard to do. Best to engage a web developed to help out with this task.

8. Monitor your progress

Monitoring results is essential for understanding the effectiveness of SEO strategies, enabling data-driven decisions. It helps identify which tactics drive traffic and conversions, allowing for optimisation and adjustment.

  • Step 1: Set up Google Analytics and Google Search Console to track your website’s traffic and performance.
  • Step 2: Regularly check your rankings for local keywords and the traffic received from local searches. Use this data to adjust your strategy as needed.

In summary

By following these steps, small businesses can significantly enhance their local search presence. Remember, local SEO is an ongoing process. Regular updates, engagement, and optimisations are necessary to stay ahead in the competitive local search landscape.

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