If you have recently launched a small business website you’ll want your website to rank as high as possible. Unfortunately, search engine optimisation (SEO) takes time before you start to see results. If you target popular keywords, it could take more than 12 months before you start getting serious traffic.

Focusing your attention on your local area can be an easier alternative. The process is similar to a regular SEO strategy but where you focus on a smaller niche and target long tail keywords with a specific focus on localisation.

The end goal is to increase visibility in the area that you serve. This is very important for small businesses when you’re just starting out. According to Google, 76% of people who search for a local business on their smartphone visit a related business within 24 hours.

There’s a high probability that a person will purchase something when they search for a local business. But how do you improve your local search visibility?

Perform a local SEO audit

Before you start any local SEO strategy it’s important to understand how your website currently performs and where to focus your attention.

To be able to do this, you need to conduct a comprehensive local SEO audit of your online presence. This needs to include:

Google My Business Audit – Does your Google My Business profile appear in the search results? Is all the information accurate?

Google Search Console Audit – Is your website submitted and verified on Google Search Console? Are there any errors that will stop it being indexed?

On-Page SEO Audit – Does your website include all the basic on-page SEO elements that will help it rank?

Citation Audit – Are your business directories and local listings up to date and accurate?

Competitor Analysis – How does your website compare against your competitors? Are there any content gaps you need to close?

Website Audit – How well does your website perform? Does it load quickly? Are your pages mobile friendly?

Find ‘near me’ terms

Having a clear understanding of what your ‘near me’ search terms are is one of the best ways to increase your local search reach. These are the search terms used by people who are looking for a business in a nearby place.

How people search for local businesses will be different depending on what the business is. For example, for a business that offers a professional service, people will usually search by keyword + city.

Wild Marketing is a web design agency that serves the East Midlands, so we want to appear in the search results when someone is searching for “web design agency Leicester” or “web design agency Derby“.

On the other hand, if your business is a restaurant or hairdresser, people will search by keyword + near me. For example, they’ll search for “Indian restaurant near me”.

For a small business, it’s important to research what these local search terms are as they’ll be important for the rest of the tips in this article.

Regardless of how people search for a local business, Google understands this local intent and will rank pages higher that demonstrate relevance to the searcher, how far each searcher is from the businesses location and how well-known Google considers that business to be.

Set up Google My Business

If you haven’t created a Google My Business (GMB) listing yet, go ahead and do it right now. GMB is a free tool that helps you manage how your business appears on Google Search and Maps.

Make sure you complete your profile as accurately as possible. As a minimum, include your business name, address, phone number, opening time, website, services or products, category, photos and videos. You should also start collecting reviews on your GMB profile.

It’s possible for a local business to rank in the map pack based solely on their GMB profile. If you include all the information a customer needs to contact you, get driving directions, read reviews, order your products, and find out about your latest offers without leaving the listing, you stand a strong chance of being displayed in the map pack.

Have local landing pages

Location pages make it easier for users to find specific information surrounding your business’ location, and many of their components serve as ranking factors for search results.

When creating local landing pages, you want to focus on the areas or cities where you have a physical presence, or want to offer your services. If a potential customer searches for something which Google believes has a local intent, it will display local results.

If you optimise your landing pages for your local area, you stand a greater chance of your business being shown in the search results.

There are some basic SEO principles you need to follow when creating local landing pages. You need to create an overview page. This page will be internally linked to the local landing pages. This makes it easier for search engines to understand the structure of your website and know that you serve multiple locations.

Your local landing pages should include:

  • Local keyphrase in the page title
  • Location in the URL
  • Local keyphrase in the meta description
  • Local keyphrase in the first paragraph of content

You should also include any unique information about that location. If you have a brick and mortar shop or office, include the address, contact information and a map for that location.

If you really want to dominate local search, you can add schema markup to your local landing pages. Local business schema is a common type of structured data markup that you can add to make it easier for search engines to classify what type of organisation you are and what you do.

Create local content

Now you have your local landing pages set up, you need to create local content for them. Your local content needs to include text, images and video that are designed for the needs of a local searcher.

Try to tailor your content to the needs of the local market. By making your content specific to a local area, you make it more relevant to what the searcher is looking for. For example, a cleaning business that operates across the East Midlands might want to focus on end of tenancy cleaning for student properties in Nottingham and Leicester (as there’s a high student population).

However, in the surrounding towns, they might want to focus on commercial cleaning as this has the highest demand and will be more relevant to their needs.

Get local reviews

Getting your customers to leave reviews should be part of any SEO strategy and this is also true for local search.

Now you have a GMB profile set up, try to encourage your users to leave reviews on Google. The more reviews you collect, the higher your chance of being shown at the top of the map pack. Being shown in the map pack can drive significant volumes of traffic to a website, so it’s worth investing the time to collect reviews.

Google is looking to provide the most trustworthy results to its users. These are the businesses that other people would recommend. This is why reviews are so powerful for local search.

You need to use multiple methods to collect reviews. Some of the most effective ways to collect reviews are:

  • Ask for reviews in post purchase emails
  • Ask for reviews on receipts and invoices
  • Include review requests in your newsletter email
  • Offer a discount for leaving a review
  • Use social media to collect reviews

Customer reviews can also have a positive impact on the business and can help with your growth. They will help you understand what you are doing well and what your customers like about your products or services.

They will also identify areas that you can improve or complementary services you could offer in the future. Negative reviews need to be dealt with positively. Always take time to respond to negative reviews and try to resolve any issues that are mentioned.

Potential customers will value the higher level of customer service and transparency if you manage negative reviews effectively.

Have a local PR strategy

Local newspapers are more realistic targets for small businesses than the national press. Readers of local papers want to read about the local news. If you can help a journalist deliver this, then you are well on the way to getting valuable press coverage for your business.

The more involved you are in the local community, the more local PR you get. Partnering with a non-profit on a campaign, volunteering to help out in the community or sponsoring an event are great ways to get local press coverage.

Taking part in the local community helps to increase brand awareness and ensures your brand image represents your company’s core values and offerings. You will appear to be more trustworthy and authentic to your potential customers.

In conclusion

The tips in this article can help you dominate the local search results in a short amount of time. The key to success is to do this consistently. Performance needs to be tracked and monitored. If you start to see your page position slip in Google Search Console, you need to investigate the reasons why. Pages need to be refined and improved over time. Local SEO is an ongoing process. Investing your time and effort in local SEO can reap rewards for your small business.

About Wild Marketing

Wild Marketing build stunning websites for small business and craft online advertising strategies that convert visitors into loyal customers. We have a range of different website options available to suit all budgets.

If you are looking for an affordable website for your small business, we offer a pay monthly web design service that includes everything you need to get online.

If you have web design requirements that are more complex, please feel free to contact us to discuss.