A Simple Local SEO Guide For Small Businesses

Nov 8, 2021

Have you started a new business in your local area?

Looking for ways to market your brand without having to spend a fortune on marketing that may yield little in return value?

Then optimising your business online through local SEO techniques is the right place to start. The benefits of SEO for any business online are huge when you see the numbers.

Around 46% of all Google searches made by users are looking for local resources or information, similarly, around 88% of searches made on mobile devices for local businesses near users, get a call or a visit within 24 hours.

When you see the numbers, it not only makes sense but also becomes crucial to incorporate local SEO techniques in your online website. This way you cannot only increase sales but also enhance brand recognition, awareness, and customer engagement as well.

Local SEO can seem tricky on the surface, but there are clear-cut steps you can follow to get your website ranked properly. In this guide, we lay down all the ways you can optimise your website for local SEO.

What Is Local SEO?

Let’s start somewhere simple. What is local SEO exactly? The term can be somewhat confusing. In simple words, local SEO involves optimising and restructuring your business’s online presence so that you show on the local search engine result page when a customer in your area looks up information relevant to you.

So, if you run a local coffee shop that does the best pancakes in town and a customer enters “best pancakes [enter your area]” your shop would appear in the list of relevant cafes and coffee shops.

That is, IF, your online presence already incorporates SEO techniques that would put your business on the Search Engine Result Page.

Even though Google is a popular search engine for most users with a 92.16% market share in Australia alone, it doesn’t just mean you should optimise or include SEO for Google only. Make sure you target other search engines as well like Bing, Apple Maps, etc.

But that isn’t all. Here is why SEO is so important.

Why Is Local SEO Important?

As a small business, you need all the exposure you can get to see your business launch off the ground. While the old method of “Word of mouth” publicity for the opening of your business among friends and family, has a ripple effect that spreads among many circles, running a business at this age is extremely competitive.

Whether you’re an e-commerce store, retail outlet, a restaurant or any other establishment, you will need all the help and good feedback to ensure you build credibility among current and new clients.

That is why local SEO optimisation is so important! Here are some facts that prove why:

  • At least 97% of Google search engine users look online to find a business.
  • 72% of consumers prefer looking up local businesses through search engines
  • Out of the 86% of customers who look for local businesses online, 29% search for
    local businesses near them at least once a week.
  • 78% of local mobile searches usually end up with an in-store purchase
  • At least 86% of online consumers check the business location on Google Maps

After reading these numbers, it’s easy to understand how important it is for a small business to start incorporating local SEO tactics for their online presence. And since the numbers don’t lie, it makes sense to start incorporating local SEO as a part of your outreach plan from the get-go.

With so many SEO tools available, it is easy to get started.

And if you feel this is too much out of your comfort zone, you can easily hire a digital marketing agency or local SEO company to get the job done.

However, before you try either one of those options, here are some important bits of information to know how to rank well for a local search.

The Three Elements Of Ranking Well In Local Search

Whether you’re trying to rank well on Google, Apple Maps, Yelp or Bing, there are a few volatile elements you have to take into consideration.

With the Google Algorithm being updated in regular intervals, high competition in different business niches, it isn’t impossible to rank top on a local search, but it sure has become difficult.

That said, you could hire an SEO company or an SEO consultant who can help you figure out a foolproof local SEO strategy, but without background information on what SEO service you need, it can be confusing.

So, here are three important points to keep in mind while trying to rank in the top results from a local search:

1. Relevance

Ensuring you’ve got relevant keywords or topics included while targeting potential customers will help Google view your business as relevant enough to be shown. Relevance is a critical and key part of Google’s algorithm, which will decide how your business ranks on the SERPs.

There are many techniques you can use to establish relevance that will enable the Google algorithm to show your business when a relevant search query is made.

Here are some to look out for:

  • Correct listing information: making sure you provide correct information for your Google, Bing or Apple Maps listing like name, address, and phone number (NAP) is highly important.

    Even though focusing on these things goes without saying, many local businesses can be forgetful when it comes to updating or providing correct information that can severely impact their ranking

  • Category selection: choosing the right category is another important factor for local SEO ranking. Only selecting the ones that are relevant to your business will ensure that these tags get the right customers to your business that will potentially turn into sales. Both Google My Business and Bing Places provide lists of categories to choose from so make the right choices.
  • On-page Optimisation: already have a website? Great!
    But is it optimised with the right SEO keywords and attributes? That is the big question! Things like Meta Description, schemas, linking, and URL Structure all impact your business’s online ranking. You can always hire a local SEO company to fix such issues for you, or dabble in them yourself
  • Add in Keywords: keyword research and keyword incorporation is a huge topic in itself, but to simply make a point, keywords are the breadcrumbs that’ll bring the right customer to your business
  • Meta Description: a Meta description is an HTML element that lets you summarise what content your website features. Adding in a relevant SEO keyword will ensure your ranking improves and helps search engines find
  • Alt-Text: if you add multiple images to your website, adding Alt Text helps not only to increase user engagement but allow search engines to find your posts and website through media.
  • Internal and Outbound Links: adding internal links within blog posts to previous posts you made, or relevant outbound links to websites with similar content will help both the user and Google local algorithm to identify your
    niche and present your business to relevant users.
  • URL Structure:a URL is the name of your website, and choosing the right URL and website architecture will help the search engine to crawl and prioritise your website for local search queries.
  • Relevant Reviews:this goes without saying but featuring honest, relevant and transparent customer reviews can not only boost your brand recognition but increase credibility which is crucial for a new small business.
  • Schemas:schemas allow you to organise your website in a manner that is easier for the search engine to understand your content. Adding schemas can boost site recognition and increase relevance for any keyword you add-in.

Now that we have established relevance and laid down some important elements to increase relevance for ranking well in a local search engine result, let’s move on to another important element you should not ignore.

2. Proximity

When we talk about proximity concerning local SEO, it is the number #1 ranking factor for any business. As it shows how near a business is to any user. The further away you are from the user, the fewer chances you have of appearing in the top hits.

Local search algorithms for different search engines are constantly being updated to show results that are nearer to the user’s location and are relevant to their search query.

With that said, there are three ways a user will most likely perform a local search:

  • Non-Geo Modified Search: let’s assume a user is looking for gyms near them, and they simply enter “gyms” in the search engine and hit the press. The search engine will automatically display gyms that are near the user’s location (without a specific order) despite the user not specifying it in their search
  • Geo Modified Search: now if we take the same example above and add “Gyms in London” the search results for this query will be different as both relevance and prominence will also play a key factor in the search results. Not only will the search results appear near the city centre but have strong relevance as well.

As you can see proximity is extremely vital when it comes to ranking well on local searches, but it isn’t the only contributing factor.

There’s another element that you need to take into account. The element of Prominence.

3. Prominence

Prominence is directly related to your online credibility and how popular your business is. This also means making sure you have a unique selling point that makes your business stand out from the rest of the crowd.

Maintaining the prominence of your brand is another key factor out of the three that many businesses might not focus on in the beginning, despite knowing that this could have long term effects. When we talk about Google’s local search algorithm, brands with a stronger online prominence and credibility seem more trustworthy to Google.

That is why they’ll make it on the first SERP (search engine result page) and have higher chances of gaining traffic online.

Now if you want to know how you can improve brand prominence here are some ways:

  • Customer reviews: the more online reviews a business has, the higher the chances are of a user purchasing with that business. Reviews increase trust in a brand, they can swing a customer’s decision, and when it comes to ranking well, search engine algorithms also take into account reviews.
  • Citations:citations refer to the number of times your business is mentioned It doesn’t necessarily have to be an external link, but just the mention of your business name, address, telephone number, etc. can make you more credible in the eyes of a search engine algorithm.
  • Backlinks or Inbound links:although we have covered backlinks in the section about Relevance, it is important to mention it here again, as both inbound and outbound linking can create credibility and increase your chances of appearing on the search algorithm’s radar. The more backlinks you have online pointing towards your website, the higher the chances of appearing in the top results on the first SERP.

We may not have spilt the exact beans on how you can start incorporating local SEO tactics into your online presence, but we have condensed the three factors of ranking well aka Prominence,Proximity and Relevance – so that it makes sense.

Now let’s take a look at some foolproof methods of optimising your website for ranking well on a local search.

Ways To Optimising Your Business For Local SEO

If you want to start creating a local SEO strategy or brainstorming ideas on where to start, here are some ways to optimise your online presence for local SEO searches.

1. Getting The Basics Right

Before you begin with a local SEO strategy it is important to make sure your website is well designed and properly maintained. This also includes making sure your website is optimised for mobile devices as 78% of in-store purchases come from users that make a mobile search.

Similarly, designing a website that is on par with the latest trends for a modern look is crucial to attract more customers and make a good impression.

2. Website localisation

As a small or a local business, you need to make sure that the website you’re creating is optimised for the local community you’re operating out of. This includes finding relevant contact information and featuring your business in community events to get the word out of your business.

This way potential customers will have a better chance of finding you that will lead to sales.

3. Build local citations

We mentioned citations in the section about Prominence, and as a local business it is important you focus on getting your business listed on business directories on Google My Business, Bing Places, Apple Maps, etc. because how else will local users find you?

Citations are of two types: structured and unstructured.

Structured citations consist of references where Name, Address, Phone (NAP) are visually structured properly. Unstructured citations don’t follow a proper the manner and appear in blog posts, newspapers, websites and different articles.
The more consistent NAP citations you have online on different platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Google My Business, etc. the better-ranked you will be for a local search. Providing correct and consistent NAP citations are crucial when you’re just starting.

4. Claim Your Google Business Listing/Bing Places/Apple Map Listing

This goes without saying but claiming and optimising your business on Google My Business, Bing Places, and Apple Maps will not only increase your local search ranking but also make you visible to potential local customers.

From providing accurate information, NAP, choosing the right category and entering correct keywords in your listings; will influence the search engine algorithms while they are crawling the web to check for relevance, proximity, and prominence.

Here is how you can claim a listing on Google My Business which is free and an easy to use tool:
  • Step 1:Create a new business or claim an existing one.
  • Step 2:Enter the address for your physical store. In case you or your partners work from home or operate virtually, enter the home address that is the closest to the local area you operate in. For an existing listing, the address will be prefilled, which can be updated if necessary
  • Step 3:This is where you enter your exact location on the map and pin it.
  • Step 4:Choose the correct category that matches your business.
  • Step 5:Enter phone number and website.
  • Step 6:Verify listing which is usually done via phone call or postcard.
  • And you’re done! Congratulation your listing is verified

While Google My Business may seem like the most important business directory to start claiming listings, it isn’t the only one. Spread out your listings on different directories like Bing, Apple Maps, Yelp and others to increase citations and backlinks.

5. Build Backlinks

Speaking of backlinks, we discussed both inbound and outbound backlinks multiple times and we’re mentioning them again because they are honestly so important. Do guest blogging for blogs in a similar industry as your business; invite guests over for your website. Create informational blogs that are optimised with the right keywords to attract potential customers to your site while including inbound links.

6. Get Ratings & Reviews

Asking for ratings and reviews, responding to reviews, managing and constantly updating listings on Google My Business, Bing Places, etc. will ensure you rank well and that the search engine algorithm sees you as a credible and trustworthy business.

Encourage customers to leave feedback through emails, Google forms, etc.

7. 10 Effective Ways Small Businesses Can Implement Local SEO

Now here are some 10 effective ways through which you can implement local SEO tactics on your website right now:

  • Make sure your website is mobile-friendly and optimised for different device
  • Create or update your website according to the latest design trends to make a good impression on your customers.
  • Add the physical address of your business to your website to help Google or any other search engine understands the location.
  • Start claiming listings on Google My Business, Bing Places, Apple Maps, etc. by creating a GMB page for each location of your business.
  • Citations regarding the NAP of your business are very important for search engines to see your business as authentic and credible.
  • While adding Name, Address, Phone (NAP) on listings, your website, citations or more, make sure that the information you’re entering is consistent on all fronts. This will only increase your local SEO ranking.
  • See if your website is optimised for SEO so that its site architecture can support new SEO strategies.
  • Add well researched, long-tail keywords that target niche audiences in your website content.
  • Optimise and update Meta description and title tags of your website to help search engines understand your business and what the website is all about.
  • Off-page local SEO strategy is just as important as on-page SEO. This includes guest blogging, outbound links, influencer marketing and more.
  • Encourage customers to leave feedback for your business on Google My Business, on your website or other places. This improves credibility.

Final Thoughts

We hope you found this article helpful in understanding the importance of local SEO for a small or a new business. The power of local SEO strategies goes a long way in ranking your business online for local search engine algorithms.

At EZE Australia, we help small businesses and companies optimise their websites for local SEO and rank top for local search queries. To get started, contact us to set a meeting to discuss your local SEO strategy for your business.



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