Local SEO for Small Businesses: How to Show Up In Nearby Searches

By Raubi Perilli

      Mar 2, 2022     Solutions    

Big box retailers and large brands have a lot of resources to put into SEO and search marketing. It's easy to see why locally-owned or small businesses might think it's impossible to compete with huge companies in search.  

But, small businesses can beat big brands in search and show at the top of search results pages. They can do it through local SEO.

What Is Local SEO?

Local SEO is a type of search engine optimization strategy that helps businesses show up more frequently in searches conducted by people who are close to their business. Unlike a more broad SEO strategy that aims to improve search visibility for all searches, local SEO aims to play into proximity ranking factors to increase visibility in searches conducted by people nearby.

Local SEO Ranking Factors

Google considers hundreds of factors when choosing which results to show on search engine results pages (SERPs). But, there are three primary categories that are important. When Google chooses which webpages to show in results, it considers:  

  • Relevance. Is the website content relevant to the search term?
  • Prominence. Is the website trustworthy and authoritative?
  • Proximity. Is the website able to serve the searcher based on their location?

The proximity ranking factor is one of the most important elements of local SEO for small businesses.

The Relationship Between Proximity and Local SEO

A brick-and-mortar business wants to reach searchers near their business -- not searchers who live across the country.  

For example, a hair salon in Tampa wants to show up in search results when someone in Tampa searches for “hair salon.” The hair salon wouldn't have much to gain from showing up in a search by someone who needs a haircut and lives in New York City. The salon wants to get their business in front of nearby customers. This is what local SEO for small businesses can do.

With the right SEO strategies, small businesses can increase organic search rankings and start showing up in more local searches. Businesses that have a strong local SEO plan can appear more often on SERPS and receive rich snippets and featured results.  

Small businesses with strong local SEO may appear higher in organic rankings.  

Small businesses with strong local SEO may appear in Google Maps.  

This visibility in local search can help a small business attract new customers who have shown a clear intent for needing a product or service they offer, which is why local SEO for small businesses is so important. If you want your small business to appear more frequently in local search, here are a few strategies for making it happen.

How to Do Local SEO for Small Businesses

Small businesses can follow these steps to optimize their web presence for local search.

1. Create Unique Pages for Your Locations

If you want to rank well locally, then your location pages need to be featured on your website. This can be hard for brands that have a national presence and main website, but the more space you’re able to give to individual locations, the better.  

Each brick-and-mortar location needs its own page. The location page should have a local phone number, API to Google maps for easy searching, and content unique to that location. As far as content marketing options, consider discussing the history of the location, people who work there, services offered, and unique features related to parking or directions.  

Not only will these individual pages boost your SEO, but they will also sell customers on your brand. They know everything they need to visit your location and take advantage of your products or services.  

Related: How Can I Optimize My Brand's Website If I Have Multiple Locations

2. Incorporate Local Keywords in Your Meta Tags and Descriptions

While you’re creating local pages to attract customers, boost your rankings with local keywords in your title tags, meta descriptions, and keyword targeting. Research tools like Moz’s Keyword Explorer can help you come up with local terms to attract customers. For example, you might target local options like:  

  • Tampa hair salon
  • Hair salon on Dale Mabry
  • Carrollwood hair salon
  • Hair salon near 33618 zip code

These terms provide micro-targeting for audiences in your area. Large cities like Tampa offer a lot of competition for brands, and you can target people right in your neighborhood with the right keyword planning.

3. Develop Local Content Your Readers Can Use

Once you have improved the content on your static information pages, you can start to increase your local rankings with articles for SEO. Review your target audience and consider the information they might need and other local resources they could use.  

For example, the hair salon mentioned above could create a list of tips for keeping your hair styled at a beach wedding, or share some of the best places to buy prom dresses in the Tampa area. Both of these content options allow the salon to incorporate local keywords and target content to their hyper-local audience.  

The more of a local footprint you have on your website, the more search engines will associate your brand with the town or city you live in.  

Related: Blog Posts for Local Businesses: What Should We Write About?

4. Verify Your Google Business Profile

Google Business Profiles allow you to claim your brand and update your information to appeal to customers. You can add hours, website information, photos, and valuable content to sell customers on your brand. It also helps you appear on search engine results pages when users search for your brand or industry.

Like social media pages, you can also post content from your Google Business Profile. Posts create a social feed where you can update customers with deals, information, and news related to your brand. If you’re closed because of a storm, this is a great place to post about it. If you have an event this weekend, share it with people who might patron your business.  

A Google My Business Profile is an essential tactic for local business marketing, and it's not a set-it-and-forget-it affair. You cannot update your listing once and then ignore it. Business managers need to respond to reviews, post updates, and curate information to make sure this tool is useful for driving organic traffic.  

Related: Effectively Using Google Business Profiles for Multi-Location Brands

5. Use a Local Number and Physical Address on Your Website

While you may be tempted to use an 888-number to seem professional to your customers, you could actually put them off by not embracing your local roots. If you are a local business that caters to audiences in your area, make sure you have a local number on your website. For increased ease of use, implement click-to-call options for better analytics tracking and to feature your number in search listings.  

Like most elements on this list, there are non-SEO benefits to featuring a local phone number and address: you can assure customers that your brand has brick-and-mortar locations in that town and customers can easily call someone who works there. This is particularly important for national brands, as customers might not want to work through a convoluted customer service process just to ask a simple question.  

One way to make your local business information get even more attention from Google is by using it in structured data. Structured data for local businesses is a standard data format that is recognizable by Google search crawlers. When your local business information is included in structured data, Google can easily identify details of your business and match it to user search intent.

6. Make Sure Your Brand Is Featured on Local Listing Sites

The basic fundamentals of SEO also apply to local SEO. If other websites are mentioning your brand and linking to your website, then search engines will view your brand with authority and assign it an appropriate spot in the rankings. One way to build links back to your website is by managing listings on various review and neighborhood directory profiles.

Profiles help you build backlinks and help your brand appear more frequently in search. For example, if you have a profile on 813area.com, one of our Local Area Sites, your brand page will appear in search.

These business directory profiles should include high-quality descriptions of your company, photos, reviews, and updated hours and information about your brand. Not only do community listings offer local SEO value to your brand, they also drive sales. All of this information makes it easy for your brand to stand out and compete with others. By the time customers reach your website, they’re likely sold on what your brand has to offer.

7. Focus On NAP Consistency

As you start to build profiles for your small business across directories, it’s important that you keep all of the information consistent. NAP consistency is important to boosting local SEO. NAP stands for:  

  • Name
  • Address
  • Phone

NAP consistency refers to keeping your name, address, and phone number consistent across all business profiles. Having errors or inconsistencies in your NAP can confuse search engines and result in lower local SEO rankings.  

Focus on keeping even the smallest details consistent. Don’t include a suite number in some addresses but not others. Don’t use a 1-800 in some profiles while using a local number on others. Keep it consistent to impress search bots.

8. Generate Customer Reviews

Another way to boost the effectiveness of your business profiles to benefit local SEO is generating reviews across your pages. On many local business directories, reviews are featured prominently on your profile.  

Reviews send signals to customers to boost your business’s trustworthiness. The more positive reviews your business has, the more likely customers will be to do business with you. But, reviews also send signals to search engines.  

Remember that a major ranking category is prominence. Search engines want to show results that highlight top businesses. A large number of good reviews helps search engines see your small business as a leader, and therefore, a brand that should be featured at the top of SERPs.  

Related: How to Get Customer Reviews and Why Every Business Must Have Them

9. Increase Mobile-Friendliness on Your Website

Customers who are looking for local businesses are usually looking to do business with a brand right away. Search Engine Watch reports that 80% of local searches end in a purchase. Whether the user is looking for a great restaurant that night or is in need of a car repair, they turn to local search, and often mobile search, for immediate results and options.  

If you want to attract more customers on their mobile devices, then you need to create a mobile-friendly website. Search engines rate mobile-friendliness of websites and aren’t afraid to ignore your brand if it doesn’t create a positive experience. Without a mobile-optimized business website, your organic traffic and sales are likely to suffer.  

From a non-SEO perspective, creating a strong mobile website also encourages users to convert. They will appreciate the ease of use of your pages and make a reservation or head directly to your location.

Tools to Improve Local SEO for Small Businesses

To make these local SEO for small business strategies easier, here are a few tools that can help you along the way.

Google Business

Creating a Google Business Profile is one of the most important parts of building strong local SEO. So first thing first, create and verify your Google Business Profile. If you have multiple locations, create a profile for each physical storefront.  

Read More: How to Use Google My Business for Multiple Locations

Local Area Sites

Local Area Sites are a network of sites that organize local content for audiences based on their community’s area code. As you create business profiles for each of your brick-and-mortar locations, create a free business page on the relevant Local Area Site.

MOZ Local

To find more places to list your business, use Moz Local. Moz Local allows you to easily add and manage listings for your business. Use one dashboard to view your listings, monitor duplicate entries, and keep your NAP consistent across all sites.

Boost Local SEO for Your Small Business

The goal of local SEO is to make it easy for customers to discover your business and immediately take advantage of your products or services. By implementing these tactics, you can grow your local SEO and watch your business flourish as a result.  

To boost local SEO for your small business, use the tips outlined in this post. If you need help executing on any of these strategies, let's talk. MyArea Network has a team of local marketing experts who can help your brand reach more nearby customers through local search.