Learn and implement local SEO for small businesses to grow organic reach, increase leads, and online sales in 2023.

It’s no secret that when consumers look for products, services, and solutions digitally, they often turn to search engines for answers.

It may seem like large corporations have the upper hand with search engine optimization (SEO) strategies.

After all, they have access to massive budgets for their content creation, web development, and linking efforts.

However, local SEO for small businesses can level the playing field.

Nowadays, targeted, high-quality local SEO campaigns can put any company on the map, regardless of size or industry.

What Is SEO?

SEO stands for search engine optimization and is the process of optimizing your website to increase relevant and organic traffic when users search for related topics via search engines such as Google.

The main goal of SEO is to improve your search engine ranking and increase organic traffic to your website.

The result of a strong SEO strategy is increased awareness by your target audience and additional prospective customers to your website.

To learn more about SEO, check out our guide: SEO for Beginners.

What is Local SEO?

Local SEO is a marketing strategy designed to provide users with valuable location-based search results.

How Does Local SEO Work?

Google has over 80% of the search engine market share, so we’ll focus on this search engine for our local SEO strategy for small businesses.

When Google detects local search intent, you will receive relevant answers for keywords like Chinese food near me, Florida accident lawyers, or hotels near Miami International Airport.

With the right local SEO strategies in place, your small business will appear more prominently in Google Map Pack, the Local Finder, and Google Maps.

Let’s break down each of these Google features.

Google Map Pack

Google Map Pack for search term “pizza new york city”

The Google Map Pack is the most visible organic space for local searches where users can see the top three results alongside a map with place marker icons.

Consumers will find a few key details about recommended establishments, helping them decide which suggestion best fits their needs.

Local Finder

Google Local Finder for search term “pizza new york city”

The Local Finder offers an extended list of the Google Map Pack.

Consumers can view it once they click on the More Places icon below the three top-rated businesses related to a query.

In most cases, users will find 20 recommendations from the search engine giant.

Like with SEO, the farther down your business is in this list, the fewer clicks you will get from the page.

Google Maps

Google Maps view for search term “pizza new york city”

We all know Google Maps as an application that get’s us from point A to point B.

However, Google Maps is more than just a navigational tool – it’s also a search engine.

Users can search for coffee shops near me, the best Italian food, etc. and Google Maps providers users with a long list of local businesses.

How To Implement Local SEO for Small Businesses

Wondering how to rank in these Google features?

Follow these 10 steps and you’ll be well on your way:

  1. Create a Google My Business Aaccount
  2. Claim all business directories
  3. Ensure NAP consistency
  4. Perform a local SEO audit
  5. Add location pages to your site
  6. Gather glowing reviews
  7. Optimize for voice search
  8. Add local news stories and events to your content
  9. Get featured on local digital publications
  10. Implement content marketing

Local SEO Step #1: Create a Google Business Profile

Creating a free Google Business Profile is one of the most cost-effective ways to boost your local SEO ranking.

Having a Business Profile automatically puts your business on Google Maps; a user only has to key in the business name, location, and category to accomplish this task.

This platform lets users leave reviews, add photos, and ask questions.

Google may also add information it finds on the web to this page.

For this reason, a Business Profile account is crucial for any business.

Doing so authorizes you to access, customize, and manage your Business Profile.

Here are some more features of the Google Business Profile:

  • Engage with customers: You can publish posts to your Business Profile, just as you would on your social media pages. Also, you can set up alerts for consumer interactions so you can respond to reviews and answer questions immediately.
  • Provide prospects with more details: A Business Profile doesn’t offer much business information. However, with GMB, you can add your operating hours, website, and products to your page. 
  • Gain insight: GMB is a free platform but offers quality analytics with its dashboard. You can see frequently asked questions, how customers found your profile, and engagement levels. You can also link it to Google Analytics for a more detailed analysis.
  • Enhance your local SEO efforts: With a GMB account, you can add keywords to your business profile to improve your visibility in local searches.

Local SEO Step #2: Claim All Business Directories

Creating a Google Business Profile is a great way to start your local SEO effort.

However, there are other business directories available online, and you should claim all of them.

Apart from Google, some of the most popular ones include Bing, Yahoo, and Yelp.

Tracking all your listings may seem overwhelming, but you can use tools to simplify the process.

Claiming your directories will help you achieve information consistency — which we will discuss in more detail in the next section.

Local SEO Step #3: Ensure NAP Consistency

Your name, address, and phone number (NAP) should be correct and consistent across various platforms.

Google values accurate information and treats it as a crucial part of Local Pack algorithms.

Inconsistency is one of the most common factors affecting local SEO for small businesses.

Be as detail-oriented as you can.

This process isn’t as simple as checking the availability of your information.

Below are some details to consider:

  • If your brand includes extensions like LLC or Inc., add them across the board.
  • Check how you write your suite number or street. They should be consistent across different sites.
  • Use text for your NAP details instead of an image.

Local SEO Step #4: Perform a Local SEO Audit

After establishing your business directories and ensuring information consistency, it’s time to take a closer look at the local SEO landscape.

This process includes observing your competitors’ marketing efforts to discover improvement opportunities for your website.

There’s a meme around social media sites joking about how Google searches work saying, “The best place to hide a dead body is page 2 of Google search results.”

That’s because page 1 of Google search results captures as high as 92% of users (Forbes).

Follow these steps to perform your audit:

  • Check for Google penalties, such as low-quality, unnatural, or spammy links. These components will make it almost impossible to rank for local SEO. Find these links using the SEMRush Backlink Audit Tool.
  • Use free tools like Google Trends to discover when and where consumers mention your competitors.
  • Key in your target keywords and learn how your site fares against the top five results for each.

Local SEO Step #5: Add Location Pages to Your Site

Google crawlers scan websites to find the most relevant matches for user queries.

If you operate in various neighborhoods, we recommend creating unique landing pages for each location.

Doing so can lead local searches straight to your business.

This task is pretty straightforward. Just add information on your address, including your street, avenue, or road.

Remember, this tip only works if you have several branches.

If you have a lone shop, add long-tail keywords to your site, like Palm Valley landscaping experts or St Johns County garden cleaning company.

This strategy ensures you attract quality prospects looking for products or services like yours.

Local SEO Step #6: Gather Glowing Reviews

93% of consumers read reviews before purchasing products (Qualtrics).

Consumers nowadays trust online reviews almost as much as they do personal recommendations from family and friends.

Social proof builds credibility, answers questions, and counters objections.

Think about it. You can keep telling prospects how great your brand is — or you can let glowing reviews do it for you.

Also, positive assessments communicate your expertise and reliability to search engines, consequently boosting SEO rankings.

Here are some ways to enhance your review-generation efforts:

  • Be social: If you want to improve your relationship with your customers, get on the same platforms as they are. Doing so makes it more convenient to request honest feedback and identify improvement opportunities.
  • Follow up: Consider reaching out to clients after they purchase your products or services. This process encourages reviews and elevates the customer experience. Make it as convenient as possible for buyers to submit a review, or they might skip it altogether.
  • Thank your customers: Whether people leave high press or less-than-stellar ratings, find the time to reply to them. Doing so gets you cookie points with satisfied guests and might change one-star reviews into better write-ups.

The latest voice search statistics reveal that about 40.2% of the U.S. population — or 135.6 million people — use the technology (Oberlo).

Experts predict that the industry will witness this percentage increase over the next few years.

For this reason, we recommend thinking of how your target market asks questions when they speak into their gadgets instead of how they type.

Voice search is faster than traditional methods, so people usually ask questions in whole sentences instead of a few dedicated keywords.

For instance, a person who types best coffee shop Orlando might use its longer counterpart when speaking: Where’s the best coffee shop in Orlando?

Here are some pro tips for adjusting your content for this approach:

  • Develop compelling videos, blogs, and ebooks that solve unique pain points.
  • Add long-tail keywords — or highly specific search queries — to your materials.
  • Use a casual tone when possible using traditional conversation starters such as who, what, when, where, why, and how.
  • Offer direct answers to queries, like what you would see on a featured Google snippet.
  • Build pages for frequently asked questions.

Local SEO Step #8: Add Local News Stories and Events to Your Content

As a brand, it’s crucial to develop relevant materials for your target market.

If you have a local clientele in mind, you can capture their attention by sharing information about news and events that matter to them.

Try these strategies to provide more value for your target market:

  • Participate in community events and share details on your website and social media pages. Doing so introduces your brand to more people.
  • Create compelling videos about charities you support.
  • Write blogs about interesting activities in your area, such as Top 10 Things To Do in Tampa.

Similarly, you should find ways to be as visible as possible in local digital publications. Let’s discuss this strategy in the next section.

Tapping local digital media outlets and news websites can do wonders for your SEO strategy.

Remember, Google values external brand mentions from trustworthy sources.

Additionally, such efforts can expand your market and enhance your sales growth potential.

The best part is that getting a story on local news sites doesn’t have to break the bank.

All you need is an angle that adds value to their viewers and readers.

Below are some pro tips to get the local media to notice you.

Put In the Work

Contrary to popular belief, media companies don’t always go out of their way to find businesses that will appeal to their audience.

For this reason, brands need a solid public relations (PR) plan to achieve repeat placements and other key performance indicators (KPIs).

To achieve quick results, assign someone from your team to automate social listening triggers.

You can receive alerts whenever news sites need stories for fresh content.

Otherwise, an outsourced digital marketing expert can do this for you.

You should also build relationships with media professionals and pitch high-quality content ideas regularly.

Be Visible In Your Community

Show up for industry forums, local networking events, and work with local influencers — physically and digitally.

Being an active community member dramatically expands your reach and boosts your credibility.

You don’t need massive budgets for this strategy to work its magic.

Instead, work on building your professional relationships to get more online materials about your brand published.

Tell a Story

Like your target market, media specialists are not interested in hard-sell pieces.

Instead, find creative ways to share the benefits of your products or services.

For example, if you own food trucks, you don’t have to keep discussing your menu.

You can share stories about how you donate part of your profits to feed the homeless in your neighborhood or an ongoing time-limit challenge you have for a special occasion.

Local SEO Step # 10: Implement Content Marketing

One of the biggest mistakes business owners make is focusing on all other SEO factors — except for high-quality content.

No matter how much time you spend on factors like keyword research, website development, and backlinks, you cannot achieve your goals with mediocre content.

If you want to take your local SEO efforts to the next level, you should develop thought-provoking, emotion-inducing materials that boost your authority.

While other components can get people through your site, it’s ultimately your videos, images, and media that encourage them to stay.

Your website should be relevant to user queries, directly addressing their needs.

Without the content to back up your SEO efforts, site visitors will leave your site quickly and cause your bounce rates to soar.

Google will then determine that your site doesn’t provide much value for its users.

Conclusion: Local SEO for Small Businesses

Reaching Google’s first page is not an easy undertaking — especially for startups and mom-and-pop shops.

However, local SEO for small businesses can level the playing field for any organization.

Here are some unique ranking signals that set local SEO apart from other Google searches:

  • Location-based results
  • Check-ins with reviews
  • Presence of a Google My Business profile

Because local SEO efforts do not compete for a national audience, they help small businesses attract niche markets from particular areas.

The right strategies attract, engage, and convert quality leads from these locations.

If you don’t have the team, experience, or expertise at your side, we recommend outsourcing this marketing strategy.

Doing so will get you better and faster results at a fraction of the cost.

Otherwise, you might waste resources on strategies that hurt your ranking.

At Samantha Digital, we know what it takes to grow small businesses.

Our team use the latest technologies and techniques to help your business reach page 1 of Google.

Contact us now for a free, no-obligation quote.