What Is Local SEO? A Guide to Small Business Marketing!

What Is Local SEO? A Guide to Small Business Marketing!

Find out everything about local SEO marketing and how it impacts business

So, you’ve just started a new local business recently but are concerned about growing your enterprise. You’re not alone in that regard. It’s one of the key reasons why you should be considering local SEO optimization for your small business.

Whether you have an HVAC repair service, a dog grooming salon, or a local auto body shop, you must come to grips with how difficult it is to stand out in the local business competitive space. Everyone is searching for a local business or services near them, which has resulted in Search becoming more local than ever before.

Most marketers put a great deal of effort into local SEO. According to a Moz report, around 17% of enterprises and 20% of small businesses don’t implement SEO in their marketing strategy. Think about it; how many times have you searched for a local business in your city? It’s very likely that you’ve come across something like the image below while searching for local businesses and services.

You may browse through the options, but you’ll most likely click on one of Google’s top 3 local search results. These three options are known as the ‘local pack,’ and it’s Google’s way of showing you the best and closest options for your search.

At SEO Resellers Canada, we are experts in local SEO but understand that most small businesses don’t recognize or realize it’s true worth. That’s what we are going to cover in this guide on small business marketing and highlight the importance of local SEO for businesses of all sizes. Read on.

Table of Contents

1. What Is Local SEO Marketing?

Local search engine optimization (SEO) is sometimes referred to as local search engine marketing (SEM) and is an extremely effective method to market your local business online. It not only helps businesses promote their products and services to local customers but ensures your business shows up as the first option when customers are searching online.

That is achieved through various methods, varying from what are generally practiced in standard SEO. Some local SEO tactics are easier to manage with SEO tools. However, for others, you may require specific local SEO services from an experienced SEO reseller, such as SEO Resellers Canada.

1.1. What Is Local Search?

Before we dive into the juicy bits, we’ll first look at the differences between local search and a standard informational search. Google says that 46% of searches have ‘local intent’ but what is that?

Any business in the world can easily rank for a search query like ‘how to fix a blocked drain’ with good SEO, but queries with purchase intent show up like this, ‘plumbers near me’ or ‘best plumber in [city name].’

Search queries that have a location or ‘near me’ in them help search engines understand that the user wants a list of services in that location or business suggestions in that area. Therefore, they offer results matching the user’s intent in the local search engine results pages (SERPs).

The difference in behavior and the search result are the main reasons why local SEO is integral for small business marketing and why it’s worth investing in.

1.2. What Are Local SERPs?

The one thing that local businesses need the most to improve website traffic or foot traffic through their doors is obtaining high visibility on the ‘local pack’ or ‘pack of 3.’ That’s the block of business listings that will appear below the map in the results displayed after a Google search with local intent.

Here’s an example of a local pack that shows results from the search query ‘plumbers in San Francisco.’

You’ll notice that there is quite a difference from the generic search results as it shows opening times, review ratings, and even photos. Even though Google is clever enough to pull off this information straight from your website, it’s not the reason why these elements show up in the search results page.

Everything displayed in the ‘Local Pack’ is generated from the ‘Google My Business’ profile of the business, which is a vital part of local SEO marketing. This has become vital as Google aims to satisfy more search queries straight from the SERPs.

1.3. What Is ‘Google My Business’?

Google My Business used to be known as Google+ Local and Google Local. As the name suggests, it is your business profile on Google. Its purpose is to feed information to various online platforms, like Google Maps search results and the local pack.

However, it commonly appears at the top right corner of a branded search for your business. We’ve shared an example of how it will appear below:

This is referred to as the ‘Knowledge Panel,’ and your GMB profile may include information included by you, like business description, category, contact details, services you offer, and opening times. However, you should note that features like Google Reviews, GMB attributes, and GMB Q&As are generated by consumers who have experienced the products and services of your business.

One of the main parts of getting local SEO to work for you is ensuring that your GMB profile is as accurate and up-to-date as possible. This gives it a higher chance to appear in the local pack and be appealing, attractive, and trustworthy enough to warrant a click-through. Google My Business is vital for your SEO efforts and also an example of a ‘citation.’

1.4. What Are Citations?

A citation is any place where your business’ NAPW (name, address, phone number, website) information appears online, generally on a business listings website or an online directory. It’s vital to get this information optimized for local SEO because, without them, you won’t appear in searches where people are looking for businesses like yours, and your competitors will steal business on you.

There are two main types of citations, which are known as ‘unstructured’ or ‘structured.’ The structured citations will appear in business listings and come from filling form fields when listings are claimed. We’ve highlighted in yellow a structured citation for a Yelp listing below.

Unstructured citations tend to be the result of press and social media, while your NAPW information is going to be visible and connected to a web page but won’t be in a structured format.

Acquiring citations for your business is vital for local SEO, which is why it’s called ‘table stakes’ in local search optimization. It suggests that ‘if you don’t get citations, you can’t play the game.’ Even though a key foundational aspect of your local SEO strategy is to build citations at relevant websites, research has shown that if you don’t regularly update or clean them, it can have serious consequences.

Statistics back this finding since nearly 70% of online consumers claimed that they would stop using the products or services of a local business if they found incorrect information about it on local directories.

1.5. How Do I Rank in Local Search?

Now that you’ve got a decent idea of what Local SEO is all about, you’ll begin wondering how to get it to work for your business successfully. We would recommend getting familiar with the three core elements of local search ranking, which include:

  • Proximity – How close your business is to the searcher?
  • Relevance – How relevant your products and services are to the search query?
  • Prominence – What are other consumers saying about your products and services?

Due to the evolving nature of search engine algorithms, local SEO needs a lot of work to get right. Google is constantly changing its ranking metrics, and this means you must constantly put in the time and effort to ensure you meet these new ranking metrics for local SEO.

That’s one of the main reasons why most SEO agencies and consultants are investing in learning how to get local SEO right today. The rules of local SEO are vastly different than traditional SEO because your aim is to achieve two different objectives.

In most cases, clients don’t mind if the high visibility of their website in local search and business listing directories results in direct foot traffic instead of website visits.

2. Crucial Local SEO Ranking Factors

According to Moz, Google has a set of SEO ranking factors that determine local SEO rank. We’ve put in the hard yards and have ranked them below, in order of importance:

  • My Business Signals

How relevant you are to the search query, including local proximity and your business category

  • Link Signals

The quality and number of backlinks (you get extra credit if they are from authoritative local sources) and internal links.

  • On-Page Signals

Your NAP (business name, address, phone number) on your website and keyword usage.

  • Local Citation Signals

Is your website mentioned in quality business directories with consistent NAP information?

  • Review Signals

Are people reviewing your business? What are they saying about you? Do you have a lot of good reviews? How many reviews do you have?

  • Behavioural Signals

Are people searching from mobile? Are they following through? What is their behaviour? Do they visit your website?

  • Personalization

User’s location and personalized search – this is generally out of your hands

  • Social Signals

Are people mentioning your business on social media? Are you linking to them?

Most of these factors are the same for traditional and local SEO, such as social signals, keyword optimization, and backlinks.

3. Essential Local SEO Services

To help you succeed in your local SEO efforts, we have covered the key essentials that will make it possible. We’ve also given an overview of the local SEO services that will make a difference.

3.1. Citation Building

You must ensure that your website features on online business directories and citation websites. This helps customers find your business. Featuring the name, address, phone number, and website URL (NAPW) of your business helps improve search engine rankings.

3.2. Website ‘Localization’

What we mean by ‘localizing’ your website is that you should include your city, region, or county’s name throughout your website organically. For businesses that have several locations, it could involve creating Content Hubs or separate pages for individual locations.

Some other tactics include getting involved with the local community events and even featuring information and articles about them on your website.

3.3. Manage Reviews and Ratings

Honest, genuine reviews are vital for showcasing the quality of your products and services, and it also sends strong signals to search engines that your website and services are useful and trusted. The number of reviews and the overall quality of the reviews are all important factors for local search rankings.

3.4. Claim Your Google My Business Listing

Another key step towards helping your business gain visibility on Google services, like Google Maps, and local search results is to claim your Google My Business page. The Google My Business (GMB) should be the first online directory you should take ownership of.

3.5. Get Relevant and Quality Backlinks

Obtaining backlinks naturally from authoritative websites make a massive difference for your local search rankings as they help search engines recognize your website as a trusted source. It also boosts the ‘prominence’ aspect of the local search algorithm.

Try to get links from local newspapers, business associations and bloggers, and citations, which all help improve the search visibility of your business.

4. Tried and Tested Ways to Improve Your Local SEO

Local search engine optimization is all about strategy, which is why small businesses must do all they can to improve their SEO game. If you’re looking for tried and tested ways to improve your local SEO, we’ve got you covered. Learn and implement these strategies to outrank and outsmart your competition in local SEO. These include:

4.1. Get on Google My Business

Your Google My Business page is a snapshot listing of your business that will show up when someone searches for your business. It shows your business location on a map, along with hours of operation, customer reviews, and pictures that you’ve uploaded of your business. Your goal should be to add as much detail here as possible and even some keywords in the business description box.

Google My Business lets you have complete control of how your business appears in local searches, how you can manage customer reviews, and integrate your presence on Google Maps. Creating and optimizing your Google My Business listing is one of the best ways to improve your local SEO.

4.2. Get on Yelp, Bing Places, and Yext

Yahoo! and Bing represent 7.1% and 5.6% of search engine usage, respectively, which is why you should consider getting your business presence on them for your local SEO. Bing Places and Yext are similar to your Google My Business listing, but they are for Bing and Yahoo!

You’re missing out on 12.6% of your potential customers by not optimizing for other search engines. Yelp is a vital power player in local search marketing, and if you’ve got a brick-and-mortar business, you need to have a presence on Yelp. You should optimize your Yelp listing with relevant keywords and be kind to all reviewers even if they leave bad or negative reviews about your business.

4.3. Use Schema Structured Data Markup

Structured data is a method to tag types of content on your website that gives Google more details to add to your local search results. This helps increase conversion and online visibility and also improves your chances of earning Rich Results, which is a more engaging and visible real estate in search.

Structured data like Schema markup improve the search experience and is vital for SEO and Local SEO. Schema markup also makes a difference when syncing your Facebook reviews with Google My Business listings. Structured data helps you specify:

  • Blog post authors, images, and dates
  • Types of payments you accept
  • Your products and services and their cost and customer ratings
  • Your business hours
  • Your business name, logo, location, and contact information

This is only a brief list of the attributes you can tag with Local Business Schema and other specific business schemas you implement based on your category. Schema and structured data are some of the most complicated aspects of SEO, which is why most small businesses employ the expertise of local SEO experts, such as SEO Resellers Canada, for optimum results.

4.4. Get Customer Reviews to Improve Local Ranking

You’ll fall down local rankings if you don’t have enough customer reviews about your products and services. We’re not saying that you must have hundreds of reviews every week to climb the rankings. However, Google looks at these reviews, and if you don’t get reviews, Google will assume that your users aren’t active, and neither is your business.

There’s no way to manually sync your Google My Business listing with other review websites, such as Yelp and Facebook. However, if you ensure that your NAP information is accurate and consistent across your directory listings, website, and social media properties and you’ve used structured data markup, Google will add these reviews on your Google My Business listing.

4.5. Ensure Your Website is Mobile Optimized

Google sees local SEO as a mobile-driven. If you haven’t optimized your website for mobile and it doesn’t load within 3 seconds, you will fall down the rankings faster than a sinking rock in a river.

4.6 Nail Your Local Content Strategy

You should aim to include local issues and events in your editorial calendar and then work in ‘local keywords’ naturally. Local keywords aren’t different from ‘regular’ keywords, and most of them include a location, which may include regional slang relevant to your business.

Not only does this type of content engage readers, but it also acts as an excellent bait for local shares and links. It’s also easier to get people talking about your products and services. Your goal should be to maximize the value you’re getting out of your meta tags by including your town in the description and title.

Don’t make the mistake of creating a keyword-stuffed, spammy laundry list of towns, products, cities, etc. This tactic won’t help your SEO rankings, and it’s better to be selective and relevant.

4.7. Earn Local Citations and Backlinks

Link building is all about getting the most lucrative backlinks, and, for normal SEO, it involves targeting pages with high authority, a decent amount of traffic, and a good profile link. That’s true for local SEO as well, but local relevance is a new variable that holds more importance.

In order to earn local relevance,  you should go all out chasing high-authority backlinks to be relevant in your local community. Online directories are important for several reasons and not only for backlinks. Google pushes more traffic to businesses when they know their information is accurate, as they won’t send traffic to a place that doesn’t exist.

Therefore, Google checks business information against other databases. If the information is correct and optimized, it will give your business a boost in rankings. Apart from Google My Business, Yelp, Bing Places, and Yext, several other business directories with excellent domain authority list businesses.

These include the likes of Superpages, Citysearch, Local.com, MerchantCircle, ShowMeLocal, ShopInCanada.com, and ShopInUSA.com to name a few.

5. How Local SEO Services Helps Attract New Customers

Local customers today are searching for local businesses on their mobile and desktops. The age of printed phone books is over, and more people today are searching for local businesses on the internet. The statistics support this user behavior’s occurrence, and we’ve shared the best ones for you:

  • A massive 80% of local mobile searches result in an offline purchase.
  • Over 50% of mobile searches look for business information.
  • Around 65% of local customers use search engines and directories as the best way to find local businesses.
  • Nearly 46% of all Google searches are local
  • A whopping 96% of PC owners conduct local searches

(Sources: Searchengineland.com and Business2community.com).

5.1. The Emergence of Mobile Internet

Consumers today are using their mobile phones and tablets to find the best local businesses when they’re on the go. Even mobile digital media time in the United States has jumped to an impressive 51%, which is higher than desktop usage, which is at 42%.

Local SEO covers both mobile internet and PC access, ensuring that you don’t miss out on any customer.

5.2. Less Than 50% of Businesses Claim their GMB Listing

The Google My Business (GMB) listing is completely free and is available to all businesses. Getting your business listed on the GMB helps improve your chances of showing up in local search results on Google. However, most local businesses don’t understand the significance of online marketing completely.

This negligence has left the door open for other businesses (like yours) to get a head-start on their competition and claim their GMB listing to obtain a significant advantage.

5.3. Local Search has the Highest Conversion Rates

If you only want one reason to convince you why local SEO is a gamechanger for your business, consider the fact that local search has the highest conversion rates of all local advertising channels. Online directories display the name, address, and contact details of a business.

Local directories tend to dominate the first page of local search results, and local directory marketing has a higher conversion rate than other traditional advertising options. By listing your business accurately on authoritative directory websites, you will improve your conversion rates.

5.4. Local Search Marketing is Highly Targeted

One of the main reasons why most people perform a local search is to find a business that is nearby and owned by locals. Most searchers are only looking for the name of a specific business. However, others don’t have any specific business in mind when they start their search.

Learning how to perform local SEO for your business will allow you to better position yourself when it comes to promoting your products and services to local customers.

6. Why Use SEO Resellers for Local SEO?

Local search marketing trends are getting stronger every year, mainly because Google is keen to keep the local search experience linked to business websites. It’s the perfect time for local businesses to take advantage of expert local SEO services and boost their business before their competitors catch on.

All local businesses, from builders and plumbers to accountants and florists, can improve their online visibility and attract local customers to increase their bottom line through local SEO marketing. At SEO Resellers Canada, we have been helping local businesses and multi-location businesses understand and improve their positions in the local search market for decades!

We know how to get the best results and can help your business in the following ways:

6.1. Build Accurate Citations Effectively

Whether you’re using our manual citation team or aggregator submissions, our dedicated citation-building services will push your data to thousands of online business directories, mapping services, and mobile apps all over the world. This ensures higher visibility and NAWP accuracy in local search results.

6.2. Understand Your Rankings

We can help track hundreds of keywords across all major search engines, like Google, Bing, and Yahoo! Our SEO experts will give you a detailed breakdown of mobile, organic, and Maps rankings. We will compare these rankings against your competitors and create ‘roll-up reports’ that will showcase ranking trends for multiple locations.

6.3. Manage Your Reputation

We will monitor and grow your business reputation by analyzing and tracking your online reviews across 40+ websites, including Google My Business, Facebook, Foursquare, Yelp, TripAdvisor, and more. We will guide customers to leave reviews on websites that matter the most to you and reply directly to Facebook and Google reviews, ensuring that your reputation doesn’t take any hits.

7. Conclusion

As businesses innovate ways to rank higher in organic search, Google responds by changing algorithms to ensure that people get relevant information. Local SEO goes a long way in leveling the playing field between enterprises with deep pockets and local start-ups struggling to make ends meet.

Promoting your local business may appear challenging; but, if done right, it is a rewarding task. You can’t develop your operations and succeed as a business without a good deal of promotion in your local community, and local SEO is integral to that.

One thing you must keep in mind is that local SEO is more complex than traditional SEO in several ways, which is why it’s recommended to acquire the expertise of proven and established local SEO service providers like SEO Resellers Canada.

We understand that local SEO is all about the community, which is why it is important to step out into the real world and not neglect offline activities.

author – Jamie – Barton
Jamie Barton
CEO of NASN Licensing Inc. & Shopincities.com

Jamie has more than two decades of experience in accelerating brand visibility for online businesses. His company operates SEOResellersCanada.ca, a white label SEO and digital marketing agency. With his unique and actionable business processes, agencies and small businesses can successfully expand online operations without the traditional associated cost overhead.

For over 18 years we have been the solution to fit any size agency or business. Our team of creative SEO experts and marketers develop some of the best results driven campaigns in the industry.

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