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Local SEO for Small Businesses Made Simple: How It Works and Why You Need It

Before the age of the internet, only big corporations had access to large-scale advertising and brand recognition. It was only companies like Coca-Cola, Nike, and Adidas who were making a name for themselves. Thanks to their bottomless marketing and advertising budgets. Small businesses on the other hand could not compete head-to-head with these large corporations. Advertising alone could suck out their budget. However, everything changed when the Internet was born. The new era of digital marketing leveled the playing field for all businesses regardless of size. But this also means that you will be competing with hundreds of other businesses similar to yours in the same vicinity. So how do you outrank them on Google search? The answer is local SEO or local search engine optimization.

Through local SEO, small businesses now have a fighting chance for visibility. They can build their brands and customer base faster than ever before. People can just search Google for certain products, services, and information, then in just a few clicks, they are already on your business website. Local SEO is a real game-changer for small businesses. It’s a long-term strategy with long-term benefits for entrepreneurs who want to build a solid position in local search. 

SEO Explained Simply

SEO or search engine optimization drives traffic to your website through organic search engine results on Google. People are constantly looking for things on the internet. So in order to lead them to your website, you need to put up website content that is optimized for keywords related to your business. Through SEO, you are telling Google that you are a resource for a certain niche, product, or service. Once that happens, Google will put you in the top spot of its search engine where people can see your website.  

In simpler terms, SEO allows you to compete for a place on Google’s first page. Ranking higher on Google means increased traffic to your website, visibility, and sales. Ideally, the goal is to rank number one on Google. Because according to an analysis from Backlinkco, the top result on Google gets 31.7% of all clicks and is 10x more likely to receive a click than a page in the 10th spot. So the better a website is optimized, the higher the probability of being in the top search engine results pages. 

Meanwhile, local SEO focuses on optimizing a website to enhance a business’s online visibility in local search engine results. Mainly, it involves working with local searches and local customers. “Near me” type searches, for instance, are common examples of local search. The better your website is optimized for this type of search, the easier it is for local customers to reach your business website. 

In a nutshell, local SEO is a small business’s primary tool for visibility. Not optimizing your business website or content for certain keywords is like putting up a shop where people can’t see it. Without it, you are missing out on a powerful tool that can catapult your business ahead of the competition. 

Local SEO Statistics You Should Know

Now that you have a gist of how local SEO works, let us look at some statistics that highlight the benefits of local SEO:About half of Google searches are local searches. If you are a small business that wants to reach customers in your area, local SEO will help you find them first. 

  • 97% of users searched online to find a local business. People have become more dependent on the internet to find products or services in their area. Chances are, most of them, if not all, will have no idea about your business until they find it on Google. Optimizing your website for keywords that local customers use when searching for products or services online will help them find your website first on local search results.
  • 70% of users will visit a local store after finding the information online. If you want customers to visit your local store or shop, then it is crucial to show up on the terms they use online. 
  • “Near me” type searches for local products or businesses increased by 500% in the last couple of years. People are constantly looking for businesses in your area. If they cannot find your business online, you are wasting the opportunity of getting potential customers who will stay loyal to products or services.

The numbers above show why businesses need to implement a local search marketing strategy for 2021. In fact, there are more statistics you can get from SEO providers that show the benefits of local SEO. But all that can be boiled down into this: Failing to optimize your website for local search engine results means missing out on an enormous opportunity to grow your customers and your business. Small businesses who invest in local SEO for the long term will see an increase in new customers regularly and gain more brand recognition as people find them on local search results.

Local SEO Ranking Factors

In the previous sections, you learned how local SEO works and some statistics that prove why you should implement local SEO strategies. This time, let us look at the factors that Google uses to rank local businesses on its search engine. Basically, Google uses crawlers to index websites to check if they contain what users are looking for when they search. There are many factors that affect local SEO rankings. So knowing these factors in advance will guide small businesses in their local search marketing strategy. There are several factors that affect the rankings of local businesses on Google. But essentially, we will focus on four of the most crucial factors for local SEO ranking. 

1. Google My Business

Google My Business or GMB, is a tool that allows businesses to optimize their Business Profile on Google. Basically, a Business Profile is just the same as your Google business listing. So what Google My Business does as a local marketing tool is boost your Business Profile’s visibility and expand your reach. With Google My Business, you can optimize relevant keywords in your Business Profile. What this does is that you are simply telling Google that your Business Profile contains the information that users are looking for. With this, you can rank better in local search results. 

Moreover, to improve the visibility of your Business Profile, it has to be owner-verified. Meaning, you claim ownership of your business listing so that you can add all the information that your potential customers need. Once that is done, you can then add photos, hours, customer reviews, ratings, location, and contact details about your business. All these will boost the effectiveness of your listing as they engage customers and build their trust in your business. 

2. Keywords 

When ranking for particular keywords, you need to tell Google that your website is a resource for those. That is because Google has crawlers that scan your web pages and determine the information they contain. If Google determines that your website contains what users are looking for under particular keywords, your business will rank at the top of Google’s local search results. But this will require incorporating keywords on the page you want to rank for. 

For instance, location-specific keywords will render location-specific results. If you want to rank for a keyword that contains your location, then you have to include your location in your website or Google Business Profile. Moreover, use long-tail keywords over short-tail keywords. That is because short-tail keywords are generic and do not include specific keywords that users normally include in their search. So instead of “pest control”, use “pest control in Bremerton, WA”. 

3. Links 

Linking is also another ranking signal that affects local rankings. When one website links to yours, it means that your website is noteworthy and credible. This will drive significant traffic to your website especially when high-quality sites link to yours. This is known as backlinking. Outbound links on the other hand are links on your website to a different website. With this, you are telling Google that your website is a credible source of information as you support it with evidence from other reputable websites.  Both types of linking can boost your rankings in local search results. 

4. User Experience 

Search engines do not only help people find what they want, but they also analyze user behavior on websites. This gives signals to Google if a site is meeting the needs of the users. The better the experience of users on your site, the higher the chance of landing on the first page of local search results. Some of the behaviors that Google analyzes are click-through rates (CTR) bounce rate, pages per session, and page speed. 

In addition, a better user experience also spells better outcomes. Your website can be likened to a physical store. Customers are more likely to stay longer when the place is wholesome. 

What now? 

Now that you know how local SEO can spell growth for your business, it is time to implement it. But chances are as a small business owner, you may not have the time to do it, much less the expertise. Of course, you can perform the basics but eventually, you will need experts to direct your SEO. This is where SEO specialists come in.

SEO specialists are experts at implementing and managing SEO campaigns. They can help you improve your rankings on major search engines especially Google. Our SEO specialists at Virtual Biznest are highly skilled experts who have helped several clients improve their rankings on local search results. If you want to focus more on other important aspects of your business, consider getting our SEO specialists for your SEO needs. We are committed to providing quality services to our clients because we treat them as business partners. Know more about us here. 

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