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Local SEO: The Complete Guide for Small Businesses

For small brick-and-mortar businesses, ranking high in local search results can make a huge difference for driving in-store traffic, phone calls, and sales. This guide will cover the most important local SEO tactics you need to implement to improve visibility and bring in more local leads.


Why Local SEO Matters

An effective local SEO strategy helps you get discovered by nearby customers searching for businesses like yours on Google, Facebook and other search engines.


Appearing prominently in results for queries like “auto repair Austin” or “plumber in San Francisco” means you’ll capture the attention of potential new customers when they’re actively looking for your products or services in your area.


Plus, features like Google Maps results, Knowledge Panels and location extensions allow you to prominently promote key information like your address, phone number, hours and directions. This makes it seamless for nearby searchers to find you, get in touch, and visit your location.


Without visibility in local results, you miss out on the opportunity to easily connect with both existing and new customers who are searching for businesses near them.


Optimize Your Google My Business Listing

The foundation of local SEO is having a complete and optimized Google My Business listing. Over 90% of customers search for local businesses online, so Google My Business (GMB) acts as your digital storefront.


Start by ensuring your GMB listing accurately reflects your business name, address and offerings. Filling out key details in your profile like:


  • Business category/sub-categories

  • Hours

  • Phone number

  • Website

  • High-quality images

  • Service area

  • Attributes like parking, payment options etc.


This helps customers understand what your business offers and provides Google the details to correctly showcase your business in search results.


You also need to set up and verify your GMB listing for each location with a unique address that you operate out of. Make sure to respond to reviews and insights so customers know the listing is actively managed.


Build Relevant Keywords Into Listing Details

Conduct keyword research to identify what local customers are searching when looking for businesses like yours. For a florist, this might include "flowers near me", "florists in Portland" or "same day flower delivery".


Work these relevant geo-targeted keywords naturally into your:


  • Business name

  • Profile description

  • Products/services offered

  • Image captions and alt text


This helps Google understand the specific concepts your business is associated with and can boost rankings for applicable searches.


Earn Quality Local Citations

Local citations are mentions of your business name, address, and phone number on top directory sites like Yelp, Yellowpages.com, and industry-specific listings relevant to your business.


These citations act as votes of confidence vouching for the legitimacy of your local business. Having citations on high-authority, locale-specific sites signals to Google that your business serves local customers in the area.


Aim to get listed on the top 20-30 most relevant citation sites. You can use tools like Moz Local, BrightLocal or Whitespark to find and request listings on the best directories for your business.


Be sure all directory listings are fully fleshed out and 100% consistent with your verified GMB and website details. Inaccurate or duplicate listings can hurt local SEO trust.


Craft Location-Optimized Website Content

Your website is a powerful tool for boosting local rankings. Be sure to incorporate relevant geo-targeted keywords naturally throughout pages and posts. This might include:


  • The city, region or neighborhood

  • Common local search queries

  • Mentions of serving customers in the area


For example, a restaurant may create a blog post like “Our 10 Most Popular Dishes in Santa Monica This Year” optimizing for food keywords + location.


Also make sure key pages like “About Us”, “Contact” and service pages mention your service location(s). This reinforces the geographical areas you serve customers in.


Pages and posts targeting local search terms give Google more signals to rank you for geo-queries. Just make sure content reads naturally and focus on relevance over keyword density.


Implement Structured Data Markup

Structured data markup enables Google to better interpret specifics about your local business. Adding schema markup to your site helps surface information prominently in rich results.


Important schema to implement includes:


  • Local business schema - your GMB data

  • FAQ schema - for questions and answers

  • Review schema - to showcase customer reviews


By making critical information explicit through structured data, you help Google showcase your most relevant local business data directly in SERPs.


Promote Your GMB Listing

Simply having an optimized GMB profile isn’t enough - you need to actively promote it to boost local awareness.


Ask satisfied customers to leave detailed 5-star reviews based on real experiences. Spotlight these reviews on your website to build trust.


Share your GMB listing link, posts and photos on your website, emails, and social channels. Linking back to GMB signals it as your official online business identity.


Running local search and display ads that point back to your GMB listing can also help increase visibility and brand impressions. This amplifies your reach beyond just organic listings.


Ranking High Locally Takes a Multi-Pronged Approach

As you can see, effective local SEO requires getting the basics right like complete listings and citations, then going further with optimizations like targeted content, schema markup and promotions.


The businesses ranking at the top of local packs take a comprehensive approach to appear prominently across Google’s local offerings.


Focusing on both on-site and off-site signals specific to your geo-area is key. Optimizing your website then gives you the added benefit of standing out in standard organic results in addition to local listings.


Need help improving your local search visibility? Our local SEO services can get your business found locally and drive foot traffic from Google. Reach out to discuss tailoring a local ranking strategy for your business today!

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