Small Business SEO: How to Get the Attention of the Local Audience Digitally
Small business SEO, when you think about it, all forms of marketing have the end goal of increasing the visibility of a certain business, person, or brand. An increase in visibility simply means that people notice your presence. And whenever your presence is noticed, the income potential follows more often than not.
But in a highly competitive market dominated by big brands, is local business SEO marketing locally still effective? The short answer is yes. In fact, if done right, any small business can maintain a strong online presence even if they have to compete with larger brands.
The long answer to that question is that small business SEO can be effective, but that would involve fixing a lot of aspects of your business. Don’t worry, though. The process of doing small business SEO can be made easy if you know what to look for and how to address the issues.
Small Business SEO – Before You Start
The first step towards making any small business SEO-Friendly is always an audit. This means that you have to know how your business is currently fairing in the search engines and what you need to do to improve on such a status.
But the first problem you have to clear in local business SEO marketing locally determining what you should be looking for. To make this easier for you, here are some aspects of your business that you must find out in your research.
The Business Model
You might be thinking that your business model is going to be determined by the kind of products and services that you offer. This is only partially true.
Search engines like Google tend to look at business models differently. Your business model does not only involve what kind of goods you offer but how you deliver them. Also, the way you present your business before the local market will be considered here.
If you are not sure of your business model, here are some notable examples:
- Service – Any business that will go to customer locations and offer their services there. Example: plumbers, wedding planners, caterers, home improvement, etc.
- Brick and Mortar – Businesses where the customers have to physically visit to get the goods being offered. Examples: restaurant, grocery store, etc.
- Hybrid – Any business that provides their goods on-site but also delivers the same to customers who want to enjoy what they offer in-house. Example: Restaurants with delivery service.
- Home-Based – Businesses that are incorporated into a residential unit. Examples: small online retail shops, daycare centers, tutorial centers.
- Co-Branded – Any business that is not completely owned by one individual or is part of a series of related businesses. Examples: Franchise branches.
- Practice – Businesses whose services mainly revolve around the practice of a licensed profession. Example: Dental services, law firms, and real estate firms.
- Departmental – Businesses that are comprised of their own semi self-sufficient segments. Example: Malls and department stores.
- Kiosk – Any non-mobile business whose overall area is no more than 3 square meters. Example: Food carts, ATMs, and other hybrid businesses.
- Mobile – Businesses without a fixed location. Example: A food truck.
Being the largest search engine today, Google is the platform that you must establish a strong relationship with to be successful in local business SEO marketing locally. So, how do you get on Google’s good side?
The easiest way to do this is to get a copy of their guidelines here. That document will tell you what Google expects from those subscribing to their services. Things like how to represent your content to your audience, what you ought to do in managing your site, and what you should avoid doing with your content are going to be listed here.
At this point, the most crucial part of the guidelines will be your business’s eligibility for services like Google Business profile. The requirements will be different for each model as stated above and tend to change regularly. This is why you have to get familiar with the requirements before you register.
Aside from eligibility with GMB, why should you get familiar with Google’s guidelines for businesses? The simple reason is that violating the guidelines will cause you to lose your ranking on the results pages. It won’t matter how effective your SEO strategies will be if Google thinks that your content violates their guidelines.
What does success look like for a local business SEO marketing locally? This can be rather complicated as what you need to establish is going to be dependent on your circumstances.
In some cases, you only need to focus on a small part of your overall marketing campaign. In most cases, however, you also have to look into your business’s actual performance. After all, no SEO strategy is good if it does not help your business survive.
What success should look like for local business SEO will involve an increase in the right aspects including:
- Foot Traffic – The number of people visiting your actual business site.
- Phone Calls – This is not only the number of phone calls you receive but the calls that result in the opening of an opportunity to do business with the person at the other end.
- Transactions – Of course, your SEO tactics must result in an increase in people wanting to do business with you. If your SEO does not ultimately lead to sales, none of your strategies will matter.
- Form Submissions – If you will be doing email marketing, there should be an increase in people wanting to subscribe to your email list.
- Reviews – Positive word of mouth is far more effective than any marketing strategy you can think of. Think of it this way: people are going to believe what their friends and family say about you than what you will be marketing to them.
- Keyword Searches – If people search about a topic and your brand tends to rank better in those searches, that is a telltale sign that Google thinks you are an authority in that topic.
You might notice that none of the goals above involve metrics like “being number 1” in the SERPS or “increased site traffic”. That is because these goals are comparatively shallow. Always remember that your efforts in the digital world should always result in changes in the physical world.
After all, what good is any visibility online if people still won’t buy what you are offering?
Now that you know what is needed to be successful at local business SEO marketing locally, we can go about learning the different strategies that you can employ for your brand.
Knowing Your Audience
If there is one thing that you have to know about the average Internet user today, it would be that they are a bit harder to convince compared to an audience from older media like TV, radio, and print.
Why is this so? It’s because all of their decisions will be revolving around solving a certain problem. So, for example, if they are looking for the “best restaurants” in a local area, they are looking for the places that have good food, are easily accessible, have good reviews, and are within their budget.
This shift in consumer behavior has also been integrated with search engine algorithms. As such, you are going to be ranked better not because you have better-produced marketing campaigns but because whatever you offer to your audience has a certain value to them. To put it simply: if your content offers a response to a query made in a search, it is going to rank better.
Improving Your Content
Content will be one of the most valuable assets for any local business SEO marketing locally as this is the one that directly responds to a query. When improving your content, you only need to look at three things.
- Small business SEO Responsiveness
As was stated, your content should be the answer to a question. It can do this if it has a topic that answers the queries that most users would type in the search box.
For example, a person looking for land in Florida for a good price might type in “how to look for real estate in Florida” or “best real estate prices in Florida”.
A small real estate firm can use this to their advantage by coming up with content where those keywords are incorporated naturally and provide a solution to answer the query.
For this reason, you must invest in good keyword research. Doing so will help you understand what topics are usually being searched for that your business can provide a solution to.
2. Small Business SEO – Quality
This aspect can be tricky as what constitutes “quality content” can change with the algorithms. As for now, content must contain the traits to be considered good.
First, it must be Multimedia by design. This simply means that the content you produce must not only contain actionable information but such information must be presented in a way that captures both the eyes and ears. You can do this by incorporating text, images, and videos in your posts.
Second, it must be Evergreen. What this means is that the content that you produce must not get stale quickly. This trait cannot be applied in all forms of content as you may want to capitalize on a certain issue to get more traffic. However, if possible, you must have at least one post that people will regularly visit for years to come.
Third, your content must be Actionable. Not only should the information you provide enrich the knowledge of the viewer but also compel them to do something like subscribing to your email list or, better yet, availing of whatever product or service you have to offer. This can be done with a good Call to Action, but the content you produce must also be compelling enough to produce the action you desire.
3. Small Business SEO – Frequency
This aspect simply involves you constantly producing good content to engage your audience. Depending on the type of business you have, you may opt for a daily content creation schedule or on a weekly basis.
The point is that you must get your audience interested enough for the next content you are about to publish. And if you can make all of your content fit an expertly-crafted narrative, then you can keep interested in your posts at a relative high for quite a while.
In this aspect, it would be recommended that you invest in a content creation team that can regularly publish engaging content for your audience.
Improving Your Website
No amount of strategy for local business SEO marketing locally is going to work unless you can ensure a good user experience for everyone that will visit your website. This is where good website design will come into play as it makes sure that all of your pages can instantly be accessed and aid towards the viewer converting to a follower or customer.
For instance, if your webpages take too long to load regardless of the native Internet speeds in a particular area, any viewer you might have for those regions will not bother visiting your site again. Also, if your pages bombard your viewers with a lot of information at once or disorient them, they may not complete the conversion process.
So, how are you supposed to re-design your website? You can either hire someone who is an expert at site design or if you have the money to spare, do it yourself. There are a lot of website builders on the Internet right now like WordPress that allow you to create an expert-looking website even if you know nothing about code.
And while you are redesigning your site, you should also consider making it mobile-friendly. After all, approximately 61% of searches made on Google are done through a mobile device. Making your site mobile-friendly can be done by allowing you to automatically adjust for small screens and enabling parallax scrolling.
Aside from the overall design of your site, you should also be fixing its problems. Some of the problems that ruin the user experience would include:
- Dead/Broken Links – You are leading your viewers to pages that go nowhere or no longer exist.
- Duplicate Content – In some cases, you published the same content more than once within a period. In most cases, you are just rehashing ideas from existing content.
- Poorly Optimized Landing Pages – Your first or central page is either poorly designed or does not contribute to easy site navigation. A poor first impression can cost you a lot of opportunities to convert visitors.
- Difficult Forms – The form that you use to collect viewer information is too complicated or frustrating. This ruins any chance for further email marketing opportunities.
- A Bad Interface – Most of your button prompts do not work or are hard to activate for smaller screens.
- Poor Security – Navigating through your web pages will expose your viewers to a lot of digital threats.
These are just some of the site problems that you need to get fixed. The help of an expert will more often than not sort these out as quickly as possible.
Small Business SEO – Google Your Business
For a local business SEO marketing locally to be effective, you should register for a Business Profile at Google. This is because Google treats businesses and brands differently from living persons. In other words, they will push their content to increase visibility.
The first step in registration is getting yourself verified. This will require
you to complete an online form that details your business name, type, accepted payment methods, hours open, and address. At this point, you’d have to be as direct and honest as possible when giving out information. Remember that you will abide by different rules depending on the kind of business you present yourself as before Google.
Also, you would be required to provide pictures of your business. This is to allow Google Maps to locate your business and embed a permanent marker for it on their database. To become a local authority for a certain topic, you can choose the option to create questions and answers. This way, if someone in your local area
were to type in the same question on Google, your pages would be
recommended to them.
Taking Advantage of Voice Search
AI-assisted searches are all the rage nowadays. What this means is that the
way your potential audience search for information online will change
the way pages are going to be ranked in the future.
Don’t worry, though, as most voice searches are like long-tail keywords.
What you have to do is take the time to research what long-tail keywords
tend to be used for queries that your pages can answer.
Aside from keyword use, you might also want to adjust the tone of your content. Since this is a voice search, try a more conversational tone with the content that you publish. Any format that naturally allows for discussion tends to generate a lot of engagement later on.
Also, voice searches are often used to find basic information about your business. For example, a customer might use voice search to learn about your address, hours open, and other basic information. This is why it is recommended that you be as accurate as possible when registering for a business profile.
Since this is about local business SEO marketing locally, it goes without
saying that you should be getting the attention of the locals. The best way to do this is to generate content that is based on local events or news.
Let’s say, for example, that you run a restaurant and there’s an upcoming
food bazaar that your business will have a spot in.
You can generate hype for the event by publishing content telling your
audience what the event is all about and where to find your spot.
Alternatively, you can partner with local groups and publish content about them. Not only will your pages become the go-to places for such information
but you can also start building relationships that will help your business later on.
In local SEO, it is crucial that your pages get linked to as often as possible.
This can be automatically done if you get your Business Profile right
but you can further enhance your pages’ potential for backlinks with a few strategies.
First, you may want to guest blog on other sites. If these sites have high
web traffic and your content is good, a portion of that traffic can be
directed to your site.
Second, you could allow other blogs to link to your content. If you have
content that has gained enough traction and is seen as an authority
for a certain topic, other content producers could create content
and link back to your page for more details.
Third, and if you have the money to spare, you can always hire influencers
to refer their audiences to your pages.
These people have a strong command over their audiences and a direct referral tends to increase traffic to your web pages.
Word of Mouth
As was stated a while ago, there is no better strategy in
local business SEO marketing locally than the positive feedback
you get from customers. When your business gets a good review from
a satisfied customer, use this to your advantage and promote it.
Not only is the review highly credible and compelling but it is also a
free promotion on your part. If you want a sizeable pool of reviews
to use, you can always ask your customers to leave a review or rating
for every transaction they complete. Of course, you have to be
courteous enough and leave a response for good reviews.
Just remember that asking for reviews is not always encouraged,
depending on the platform. On Google’s part, asking for reviews
is acceptable. For others like Yelp, it is highly frowned upon.
The value of local business SEO marketing locally lies in the concept of change. You will never know what kind of changes Google will implement on their next algorithm update and when this might happen.
However, any business stands to fare better in the digital marketplace if they can tap into their local audience. The scope might seem more limited, but taking advantage of local opportunities allows you to gain a foothold in markets that directly impact your brand. The more visible and engaging your brand is to the immediate vicinity, the easier it will be for you to maintain a strong online presence. Until the next big algorithm update, of course.