The Importance of Local SEO for a Small Business

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You’ve probably heard of SEO (search engine optimization) before, but have you heard of local SEO? You can probably take an educated guess that local SEO is optimizing your website and general online presence to increase local traffic, visibility, and brand awareness. If you want people to come into your store, it’s important that the locals know about your business and how to find it! We’re going into the basics of local SEO for a small business and why it should matter to you.

What is Local SEO?

Any small business that has a physical location will benefit from utilizing local SEO. Almost half of Google searches are related to local information. People may be searching for a business like yours in their area, but since you’re not optimizing your website and business for local SEO, you may be losing out on new customers.

Google actually uses a slightly different algorithm to show local search results compared to general search results. The factors they consider when it come to local SEO include:

  • Relevance (Is the search term closely related to search results?)
  • Distance (Is the user close to a business?)
  • Prominence (Does Google think this business is as important as competitors?)

Once a user has searched a specific phrase or term, Google will provide two types of results. The first is organic results, or the blue hyperlinks we’re used to seeing when we search something on Google.

search engine page results breakdown

The second is known as a Local Pack or a Map Pack. This is a feature Google shows at the top of the search engine results page that includes local business listings and a map. You’ll want to optimize your website for local SEO to appear in the organic results, and by following these best practices, your business is more likely to appear in the Local Pack/Map Pack as well. But, website optimization isn’t the only factor that matters when it comes to appearing in the Local Pack. Here are some of the factors local SEO experts believe affect Local Pack rankings:

  • Google Business Profile (GBP) primary category
  • Keywords in GBP title
  • How close a business address is to a user’s location
  • Physical address in the city of search
  • Additional GBP categories
  • High Google ratings
  • Completeness of GBP Listing

What is Google Business Profile?

If you’ve never heard of Google Business Profile (previously known as Google My Business) before, you’re probably wondering what it is. This free business listing is created by Google and allows brick and mortar business owners to provide details like location, services, products, and photos so the search engine can learn more about it.

google business profile for coffee shops in downtown knoxville

Then, if your profile is complete and you optimize your website for local SEO, Google will list it in local search results. The GBP is the most important ranking factor when it comes to local SEO for a small business, so if you want to show up in these results so people can find you, it is essential to create a profile.

Some of the top tips for the GBP from SEO experts include:

  • Set detailed business hours (include holidays)
  • Select specific characteristics to describe your business (outdoor seating, free wifi, etc.)
  • Upload photos and videos on a regular basis

How to Optimize Your Business for Local SEO

While optimizing your website for local SEO and creating a GBP are essential to improve local SEO for a small business, there are a few other ways you can optimize your business so you show up in local search results.

Social Media Profiles

Did you know that search engines like Google actually use information from your social media profiles? Filling out all the information on these profiles can help you rank higher for local search results. Add your business name, address, phone number, hours, and more. You’ll also want to interact with your followers on social media as well to let search engines know you care about your customers’ experience with your business.

vector of desktop webpage of a facebook profile

Online Reviews

As a business owner, you already know how important reviews are. But what you probably didn’t know is that they can affect local SEO for a small business. You should reply to reviews, both positive and negative, on Google to show the search engine that your customers’ feedback (and business) is valuable to you.

On-Page SEO

While we have briefly touched on optimizing your site for local search results, it is also important to optimize your site for on-page SEO. The higher your website ranks in organic search results, the higher they will rank for local search results as well. Here are some of the on-page SEO best practices:

  • Write unique, rich content
  • Include targeted keywords throughout content, page titles, and meta descriptions
  • Add location pages to emphasize local services
  • Use internal links where relevant

Run an SEO Audit

SEO isn’t a one and done kind of deal. It is a continuous process, and you’ll need to know what exactly needs to be updated. That’s where an SEO audit comes in.

graphic of a computer running seo audit

How do you run an SEO audit? You can ensure on-page and off-page SEO best practices are followed, monitor how your website is performing, check Google Search Console for errors, ensure Google Business Profile is appearing on SERPS, and much more.

If you’re not sure where to start, you can always use online platforms that run SEO audits on your website and online presence.

Local SEO for a small business is absolutely essential if you want to show up on Local Packs/Map Packs. Optimizing your website for organic and local SEO can get you there. If updating your website feels daunting, you don’t have to do it alone. Learn more about our SEO strategy services, and reach out to us if you want to know more about how we can help improve your local rankings!

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