Grow your local business with local SEO

Help customers find you in local searches on Google. Drive more traffic and sales.

If you’re running a local business, undoubtedly you’ll want potential customers to find you online. With 98% of internet users turning to searches to find information online, you’ll need to find ways to put your business in front of as many searchers as possible.

To do that, you need SEO, and more specifically you need local SEO.

Local SEO is part of SEO. Let’s first understand what SEO is.

What is SEO?

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a process of optimizing your website to show in Google search results, Below is a sample screenshot of a Google search result page for a “plumbers” search. This is called a Search Engine Result Page, or SERP.

At the top, you’ll see the keyword, your estimated location, and sponsored Google ads.

SERP sample - keyword and sponsored ads

Below that, you’ll see Google business listings with a map. These are GMB (Google My Business) listings that are free to set up.

SERP sample - GMB

And finally, you’ll see organic search results. There are 8 to 10 spots on the first page.

SERP sample - organic results

Organic search results are free. Companies don’t have to pay for this.

Businesses compete to get into the top spots on SERP by optimizing their website to be the most relevant to the search. This process of optimizing websites is called Search Engine Optimization (SEO).

There are different types of SEO: SEO for eCommerce websites, SEO for large enterprises, SEO for local businesses, international SEO, SEO for news/videos, and more.

What is Local SEO

Typically, if you run a local business, such as:

  • Computer repair business
  • Plumber
  • Builder
  • Accountant
  • Dentist
  • Real estate agent, etc

Then you need Local SEO specifically. Local SEO will most likely be the most important part of a local business.

In short, local SEO is a certain SEO tactic that helps a local business rank on local searches such as “computer repairs near me”, or “plumbers in Sydney”. These searches are buyer-intent searches, which means that the searchers are looking to pay for services. This is the golden opportunity for local businesses to be on the first page of the searches.

Software companies such as Microsoft, Apple, and Yoast are not local businesses. They sell their software online all over the world. Thus, these companies do not need local SEO.

Online eCommerce stores that sell products online without a physical location such as Amazon or eBay are not good candidates for local SEO either.

SEO is mysterious and difficult

SEO is a mysterious dark art and is one of the least understood growth levers. It takes 4 months to 1 year to start seeing results with no guarantee of results either.

Often local businesses do not understand SEO in general. They certainly do not understand the difference between local SEO and other SEO tactics. Thus, local businesses often search for SEO experts such as SEO agencies instead of “Local SEO agencies”, or they may search for “digital marketing companies” instead. While digital marketing is a broad industry that covers Google Ads, Facebook Ads, SEO and other types of online marketing.

SEO, and local SEO, require years of experience and expertise in the industry. Thus, there are high demands for digital marketers who have spent years learning and mastering SEO and other digital marketing methods (who wouldn’t want to be on the first page of SERP).

If you are the owner of a local business, you might have so much on your plate already: looking after your customers, training your employees, daily admin tasks. Digital marketing might not be your cup of tea. In that case, using a SEO software or hiring a local SEO agency firm might be a better choice for you.

The problem is, Google is very secretive about their algorithm. Google releases core updates several times a year. They also update their search algorithm almost on a daily basis. Reverse engineering of their multi-billion-dollar search engine is no easy feat.

Thus, no SEO agencies can actually guarantee you results. An SEO agency may show off their success story with a client in the past, but this does not mean that they will be able to deliver results for your business.

Is SEO a good strategy for my business?

Many local businesses do not rely on SEO to do well at all. They instead rely on word of mouth referral, direct sales or other channels.

Still, 98% of all internet users use online search engines at least once a month and 46% of all Google searches are seeking local information, it is most likely that a business will gain significant benefits from SEO if it’s done correctly.

However, it is worthwhile to do some research to find out if SEO is right for your business and if so, which keywords you should compete for. Using Google Keyword Planner tool, you can check monthly search volumes of a keyword.

google keyword planner

For example, let’s say that you’re running a computer repair business in Sydney and trying to find out how competitive it is to do SEO for your business, and if it’s worth investing in SEO, you would want to find out if there is demand for “computer repair” keyword. Below is a screenshot of the monthly search volume for this keyword:

google keyword planner monthly search volume for computer repair

Google Keyword Planner is a free tool by Google. It’s available when you open a Google Ad account. There are other tools that provide better insights than just monthly search volumes.

Tools like Ahrefs, Semrush, and Ubersuggest give you monthly search volumes, SEO difficulty, CPC (Cost per click), paid difficulty, related keywords, and other information.

Ubersuggest provides more information about the keyword “computer repair” as shown below:

Ubersuggest keyword idea sample

In this case, the monthly search volume is 6,600 in Sydney, which is quite high. There are plenty of people searching for this term on a monthly basis. SEO Difficulty (SD) is under 30, which is easy. This means you have a good chance of ranking on the first page of Google search results with good SEO effort.

Ubersuggest also shows related keywords such as “computer repairs”, “computer repairs near me”, “computer repair shop”. In the Related tab, Ubersuggest will show you even more lucrative keywords:

Ubersuggest keyword idea related keywords

There are many other keywords that you can research with these tools. Using this information, you can decide if SEO is worthwhile investing in. For most local businesses, the answer is usually Yes.

All of us will need to find local services such as computer repair, electricians, or dentists at some stage. Showing your business on the first page of Google means you will receive infinite exposure to potential customers without paying for ads.

How people look for local services

Now you’ve understood that SEO is a great, long-term strategy for your business, how do you know what your potential customers type into Google’s search box to find local businesses?

The answer is easy. They often type in:

  • The services that you offer, such as “computer repair”, or “laptop screen replacement”
  • The services near their location, such as “computer repairs near me”
  • The services in their location, such as “computer repair Sydney”, or “computer repair in Parramatta”
  • The services for a specific make or model of their electronic device, such as “Dell laptop repair”

To verify this, you can use Google Keyword Planner or any of the above tools to find out the monthly search volumes of the keywords.

Most local searches result in a purchase from a local business

Local searches are transactional searches with high purchase intent. When one searches for “computer repair near me”, or “computer repair in Liverpool”, this person is looking to pay for professional services. This type of search usually signals Google that the searcher is looking for nearby local businesses to purchase from.

The searcher is usually at the final stage of the sales funnel when he types in a local search. This is often the golden opportunity for your business to get in front of the searcher and focus on “sell sell sell” to convert it into a sale.

How to rank for local searches

Google shows websites to searchers based on a few factors in a local search:

  • Relevance
  • Distance
  • Prominence

Relevance

Relevance is an important ranking factor. Generally, if you want your website to be found for a particular keyword, then you should have content that is relevant to the keyword.

For example, if a customer searches for “computer repair”, then you need a page that covers this keyword.

What about “HP computer repair”? You’ll need a page for this too. And the same for other computer makes such as Apple, Dell, Lenovo, etc.

Similarly, if a customer searches for “computer repairs in Liverpool”, then your website should mention somewhere that you provide services to Liverpool.

The key is: Don’t let Google or your customers guess. They won’t.

That is not to say that you must create a page for every city that you provide services to. There might be hundreds of cities. Creating a page for every city, plus optimizing the pages would take an enormous amount of time.

However, creating a page for every city that you serve is a common tactic for local SEO. Many companies are doing this with success. They may choose to hire a content writer to create content manually. Or they may use software to make the process easier.

Localized content

Localized content is important for each location page that you create. When you’re writing content for a location page (eg “computer repair in Parramatta”), make sure to show content that is most relevant to the location.

For example, do you have a local store front with physical address? Do you have a local discounts? If you have reviews from local customers, it’s a good idea to include that too.

If you don’t have a physical store in the location but you provide services to the location instead? In this case, mention your service areas instead.

Distance

Physical distance of the searcher’s location to your local store location is another important factor. When one searches for local services with “near me”, or “ in Sydney” in the search query, Google will more likely pick businesses that are closer to the searcher.

Google determines a searcher’s location based on many factors, such as IP address, his Google account, his previous searches, etc. Most smartphones have location settings turned on which helps Google determine the user’s exact location accurately.

Prominence

Sometimes Google will show a business that is more prominent to the searcher, even though the business is not the closest one.

This is because Google takes into account the prominence of the business.

Reviews, social signals, and other offline signals are signals that help Google determine the prominence of a local business.

Thus, getting reviews, staying active in social media and local communities will help increase your local business’s prominence in Google’s eyes.

Getting reviews is a good way to improve your business’s prominence.

Local restaurants, bars often get more reviews than local service businesses. This is often because there are many foodies. And, people tend to review food or retail items more than review someone’s services. Thus, as a local service business owner, you find it harder to get reviews from your customers.

But, getting reviews can be easier. First, simply make sure to be helpful, go above and beyond to make your customers happy. Then, you can ask them to leave a review. This is done via a simple email or verbally. You’ll be able to get good reviews regularly. Not only that, you’ll find that your customers will generally appreciate your genuine helpfulness and they will be much nicer to you too.

There are other ways to improve your business’s prominence. John Mueller at Google said that being part of your local business chamber will help too. Or, sponsoring a local event, a local charity or school and ask them to add your business name, website and phone number to their events, school will give a boost to your business’s prominence.

NAP – Name, Address, Phone number

NAP is important to make sure your local business is legitimate in Google’s eyes. Making sure your business’s NAP is always consistent everywhere: business directories, social profiles such as LinkedIn or Twitter pages, local business chamber listings, etc.

If your business name is Joe The Plumber, then don’t list it as Joe Plumbing in other sites. Use the same phone number that is the main point of contact for your business.

Conclusion

With over 90% of businesses are small businesses, of which the majority are local businesses such as brick and mortar local stores, and local service businesses, the competition for ranking on the top spots of Google search results is fierce.

If you run a local business, you’ll need local SEO to rank on Google. SEO is not a requirement for all businesses, there are other channels that you can use to acquire customers. However, for most local service businesses, local SEO is a good long-term strategy.

Once you’ve managed to rank on the first page of Google, the return on investment is huge.

Google ranks local businesses based on 3 factors:

  • Relevance
  • Distance
  • Prominence

To implement an effective local SEO campaign, you’ll need to create web pages to tell searchers and Google that you provide services to specific locations in your city. Make sure to use localized content and keep your business name, address, and phone number consistent everywhere on the web.

If your business is closer to your customer, you’ll more likely be shown in the customer’s search for local services.

Online and offline prominence also helps to show your business in front of potential customers. Be proactive in getting customer reviews. Joining local communities or sponsoring local events also help increase your business’s prominence in Google’s eyes.

Published On: July 6th, 2023 / Categories: Digital Marketing, Local business SEO, Local SEO, Small business SEO /

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