In this post, I’m going to share 11 strategies related to local SEO for small business so you can dominate on Google search.
If you own a small business, then you know the importance of generating quality leads. And one of the best ways to do that is by ranking high in Google search engine results – preferably high on the first page.
But how do you achieve that? Local SEO is the answer.
Local SEO for Small Business
Local SEO is the cornerstone of an effective local marketing strategy that will allow you to dominate your local market for years to come. This involves the process of optimizing your online presence to rank higher for geographically-related searches. For example, if someone in your city searches for “restaurants,” you want your restaurant to come up as one of the top results.
SEO done right is incredibly powerful: it can lower customer acquisition cost dramatically and create a constant stream of prospects on autopilot (while reducing what you spend on advertising).
While SEO can sometimes appear complicated, the good news is there are a number of simple ways to improve your search engine position.
Instead of paying an expensive agency, I’m going to walk through a DIY approach so you can do this yourself and reach #1 on Google in your area.
1. Ensure NAP is Accurate and Consistent Across Platforms
NAP stands for name, address, and phone number—the three essential pieces of information that every local business should have included within their online presence. Many local businesses aren’t aware of the importance of NAP within Google’s ecosystem, which is crippling for their SEO efforts.
This is where you should start before doing anything else.
Your NAP information should on your website as well as other relevant online directories such as Yelp, TripAdvisor, Angie’s List, Foursquare, etc.—basically anywhere where potential customers might be searching for businesses like yours.
These directory listings can help boost your visibility and improve web traffic by giving searchers another way to find you online.
One important point: its critical that you make sure your NAP information is consistent across all platforms.
Having inconsistent incomplete NAP information can hurt your chances of ranking in search results, so take the time to get it right.
2. Claim Your Google My Business (GMB) Listing
If you haven’t already, you should claim your Google My Business (GMB) listing. GMB is a free tool that allows businesses to manage their online information in one place (i.e. hours, location, contact details).
It also gives you control over what shows up when customers search for your business on Google Maps and Search. Be sure to verify your address, regularly update your hours, add photos, and respond to reviews.
Make sure you verify your business address with Google and ensure all of your NAP contact info is accurate.
Many businesses ignore this easy low-hanging fruit which is a big mistake.
A couple additional tips:
- Add categories: within GMB settings, you have the opportunity to add categories you do business in. If you are an Italian restaurant, don’t just choose “restaurant.” There is no limit to the number of categories you can choose: add any categories that are relevant to what you do.
- Locations: Do you have more than one physical location? You can quickly go through this process again to create a GMB listing for each physical location you have.
3. Confirm Your SSL Is Not Broken
This is a quick step but vitally important, as security is one of the ranking factors used by Google.
It’s worth taking a couple minutes to check to see if your site is secure (HTTPS and SSL) using this free SSL tool.
If your site is currently not secure, here are a few steps to fix it:
- Ask your web hosting company to issue you a free SSL
- Install a free SSL WordPress plugin (will fix each page automatically)
- Change your default web address to include https
4. Optimize Your Website’s User Interface For Mobile
In today’s day and age, more people are using their smartphones to access the internet than ever before. In fact, according to Statista, mobile devices now accounts for ~55% of global internet traffic in 2022. That number is only going to increase in the years to come, which is why it’s so important to make sure that your website is optimized for mobile devices.
You want to make sure that your website is easy to navigate and that it loads quickly. Google ranks websites based on how user-friendly they are, so the last thing you want is for your website to be slow or difficult to use.
Responsive design is a must—you want potential customers to be able to easily find and use the information they need regardless of what type of device they’re using.
5. Find Which Keywords You Are Ranking For
You want to do a bit of research to find out what local keywords you are currently ranking for (and which need improvement).
Here’s how to do that:
- Log into your Google Search Console account
- Click Performance (left side)
- Filter for your city/town
You’ll now be able to see all the local searches people have made on Google containing your city name (i.e. Italian restaurant in Hartford).
In these stats you’ll be able to reference your average rank and as well as clickthrough rates.
I recommend you figure out the top 30 or 40 keywords you are currently ranking for – these keywords are incredibly valuable virtual real estate for you.
This shows how many people per month are searching for each keyword relating to your business.
Simply put: this is the potential traffic you could be getting from each keyword.
If you can rank higher for these keyword phrases, this could result in literally hundreds or thousands of additional visits to your website each month.
6. Don’t Underestimate Keyword Research
As mentioned in the previous strategy, you’ll want to take the time to figure out what your ideal local prospects are searching for on Google. Think about this: how would a customer describe you?
By researching your market’s keyword demand, you can not only learn which terms and phrases to target with SEO, but also learn more about your customers as a whole. It’s not always about getting visitors to your site, but about getting the right kind of visitors.
If you target the wrong keywords, you might attract visitors who are not interested in what you offer. If you target too broad of keywords, you will likely attract low-quality traffic. But if you manage to find the right balance between broad and specific keywords, you can attract a high volume of quality traffic that will convert into leads and customers.
So how do you go about conducting keyword research? Here are a couple tips:
Use Keyword Tools
There are a number of great keyword tools out there that can help you find the right keywords for your website. You want to aim for low competition phrases with high traffic.
Google’s Keyword Planner is a free tool that allows you to research keywords and get traffic estimates.
Here are a few of the best paid options out there:
Look for Keywords with High Commercial Intent
When someone is searching for a product or service online, they usually have some sort of commercial intent. That means they are looking to buy something. So when you’re conducting keyword research, it’s important to look for keywords with high commercial intent.
Once you have a good understanding of which keywords you are ranking for, you can start to optimize your website for those keywords.
7. Create Your Content Plan
This is the arguably the most important step to move up the rankings.
After doing keyword research, you’ll have intel into the top phrases your ideal customers are searching for.
If you can create content around these search queries, you’ll rank on Google for a wide range of relevant keywords.
The best way to do this is to create content that is relevant to the keywords that you are targeting. For example, if you are ranking for the keyword “dog training,” you would want to create articles, blog posts, and even videos that are all related to dog training.
The secret to ranking higher is to publish more than your local competitors. If you do, Google will reward you in its rankings, and you can leapfrog others in your market. Keep in mind that the top search result receives 10 times more clicks than the page in spot #10.
The good news is beating your competition within a local search radius often doesn’t take much at all…usually just a few blog posts per month will do it.
You can either write these articles yourself or hire a writer to do this for you. If you’re too busy to do it yourself, you might consider researching keywords and mapping out broad themes, then having someone else write the content ($80 – $100 per article is pretty standard).
A few tips on the best ways to optimize for SEO:
- Use 1 or 2 long tail keywords (more specific, longer keywords)
- Create an SEO silo with multiple sub pages related to a similar topic
- Internal linking: within your blog posts, link to other posts that cover similar topics
- Use your targeted keywords throughout your posts (titles, URL, meta descriptions, headers, graphics etc.)
- Spend time making a compelling headline and meta description to entice the reader to click
8. Get More Citations
A local citation online is an online mention of your business on another website, typically in a directory or listing. These mentions can include your company name, address, phone number, and website URL.
Local citations help improve your visibility in search engine results pages (SERPs), making it easier for potential customers to find you. They also help build trust and credibility with Google, which can lead to better rankings over time. Similar to the above, we want to make sure all of our information is accurate and consistent across citations.
There are many different types of local citations, but some of the most common include online business directories, Yellow Pages listings, and MapQuest listings. You can also get local citations from Chamber of Commerce websites, industry association sites, and review sites like Yelp or Google Places.
To get started with local citations, create a free account on Moz Local. Then, enter your business information and choose which citation sources you want to be listed in. Moz Local will submit your listing to these sites and help you ensure that your information is consistent across the web.
9. Get More Reviews
Customer reviews are one of the major factors Google uses in its algorithm for search result rankings. The positive reviews you have, the more likely you are to show up at the top of the results page.
Beyond the SEO benefits, reviews build trust and credibility and can influence potential customers to do business with you.
For more specifics on how to do this, I’d recommend checking out my detailed post that covers 16 ways to get more 5 star reviews on Google.
10. Earn High Quality Backlinks
Once you have a solid content strategy in place, one of the best things you can do to improve search engine results is to increase the number of high-quality backlinks pointing to your website. You can think of backlinks as Google’s way of determining how trustworthy your business is.
When high authority sites start linking to you, you’ll gain authority in the eyes of Google.
This allows you to rank for more competitive keywords, move up the rankings, and attract more prospects to your site.
A few ideas to get started:
Create Compelling Content
Put together content that other local businesses and websites will want to link to. This can be a great piece of original research, an insightful blog post, or something else that is truly valuable to your target audience.
Once you have created this content, reach out to other websites in your industry and let them know about it, asking them to link to it if they find it useful. If you create truly exceptional content, you may even find that other websites will link to it without you even having to ask.
When you guest post, you are essentially lending your credibility and authority to the host website by writing a high-quality article for their blog. In return, most guest bloggers are allowed to include one or two links back to their own website in their author bio section. This is an excellent way to get high quality backlinks from websites that are relevant to your business.
By submitting your website to well-respected and popular directories, you are increasing the chances that other website owners will find your site and link to it. Although directory submission can be time consuming, it is definitely worth the effort if you want to increase your number of high quality backlinks.
For more ideas, Nifty Marketing has a great post on with 50 ideas for local link building.
11. Monitor Your Online Reputation
As a final tip, it’s important to keep an eye on your online reputation so you can avoid surprises.
There are a few easy ways you can do this:
Google Yourself Regularly
Through monitoring website reviews and searching Google, you’ll quickly get a sense if there is anything negative being said about you online.
Set up Google Alerts
Setting up Google Alerts will let you you can keep track of coverage your business online. You’ll receive notifications anytime you are mentioned on another web source. This will send you an email any time your name is mentioned online.
Respond to Negative Reviews
Here’s a good process to follow if you receive negative reviews.
- Tell the upset customer how to contact you
- Explain how you’ll make it right
- If you get everything solved and everyone is happy, ask the customer to write a new review. If you’ve handled everything professionally and compassionately it’s entirely possible that you’ve gained a lifelong customer from a formerly bad review.
12. Get a Google Guarantee Badge
The Google Guarantee badge can set you apart from competitors without it, by providing extra credibility and building trust with potential clients.
It’s essentially an endorsement from Google, only given to businesses that pass a screening and verification process through LSA (Local Services Ads).
Here’s how to get it:
- Establish an LSA account: This allows you to appear on Google when potential customers search for your products or services in your area.
- Set your budget to compete with other local businesses: You only pay when a customer contacts you directly through your ad.
- Apply for the Google Guarantee: This involves a background check by Google, which usually takes a few weeks.
- Get approved: Once approved, a green checkmark will appear next to your business profile, and your ads will show up on Google Search when potential customers in your area search for your services.
If you want people in your city or town to find your small business when they’re doing an online search—whether it’s through a computer or their smartphone—then local SEO should be the most important part of your marketing strategy.
I’d recommend you turn this into a system that operates continuously within your business. It’s the engine for your growth…but something most business owners don’t pay any attention to.
By incorporating some (or all) of the above tips, you can dramatically improve both web traffic and foot traffic at your brick-and-mortar location, which will ultimately lead to more sales and revenue.
Remember that content is king in the eyes of Google. Even just creating one blog post a month will often give you a significant advantage over your competitors.
I hope this gives you what you need to dramatically improve your local search engine placement.
Let me know in the comments how these strategies work for you.