For small and local businesses Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) may seem daunting or just an afterthought as the main focus is delivering products and/or services for potential consumers at a quick pace. However, with the right SEO strategy, you can make the most of online searches and drive more traffic to your site or in-person store. With this guide, we hope you gain a better understanding of Local SEO and how to make it effective for you and your small business.
SEO in layman's terms means increasing the quality and quantity of organic traffic to your website through a search engine like Google or Microsoft.
Search engines rank websites based on the quality and relevance of their site and content, meaning you want your website in the best shape possible to appear at the top of the search results (ahead of your competitors).
For example, Google’s algorithm looks at:
Having a properly built website, setting up a Google My Business listing and optimising keywords, you’ll be able to drive more organic traffic to your website and generate more conversions.
Building and optimising your website, setting up a Google My Business listing and executing a keyword strategy will give you the building blocks to driving more organic traffic to your website, and with Local SEO, bring more people to your physical store.
While both use the same strategies, traditional SEO primarily focuses on improving your website’s visibility on a national and/or global scale, whereas local SEO allows you to capture and dominate local search to connect with searchers within your service area.
If you’re just starting out in the world of SEO, then we have some quick, helpful and easy wins that you can apply to get you going.
Having a well structured and easy to follow website is now essential for any online business. That doesn’t mean spending millions on a state-of-the-art website, but it should meet some quality standards. Site structure, loading speed, security and the landing pages as well as a good user experience emphasise that you have a high-quality website.
Google outlines their priorities in “Steps to a Google-friendly site”:
- Give visitors the information they’re looking for
Probably the most important step to do. If you have good quality information, the content alone will attract visitors and encourage others to link to your site.
- Make sure that other sites link to yours
Links from other sites help to back up the trustworthiness of your site, makes it easier to find and gives your site wider visibility in search results.
- Make your site easily accessible
The website should have a logical build and flow, with each page being reachable from another in a static text link. Another point to consider is making sure your website is mobile-friendly, if user-experience is poor on mobile, then it’s likely visitors will bounce off and not navigate through your site.
- Things to avoid
Don’t use excessive images to display content, as it's harder for Google to pick up the value of them. Don’t unnecessarily have pages filled with keywords or pages you don’t intend visitors to see as they’re considered deceptive and Google will penalise and ignore crawling your site.
There are of course other elements relating to Google that you should include as part of your Local SEO strategy which are:
- Verifying your domain on the Google Search Console
- Integrating Google Maps into your website
On most website creation platforms, you are able to drag and drop the Google Map integration onto your website to display where your business is located. Similar to how it is displayed on our own contact page.
Google My Business is a free business profile giving you control over how your business appears on Google Search and Maps, as well as get insights into how people are interacting with your business.
Your business listing appears in the search engine results when:
a.) Your business name is searched for
b.) You appear in a ‘near me’ or ‘in X’ search
Your business not only appears more professional but also makes you more discoverable to new potential customers, your listing includes: opening hours, images, contact details, provides reviews and also enables people to get directions straight on their phone to locate and visit your business. GMB helps rank local business in your geographic area, boosts both credibility with Google and visitors in general.
So how exactly can you use Google My Business to boost your local reach?
- Include the exact location of your service area/s
- Add keywords into your GMB title and description
- Add other subservices that your business offer
- Fully bulk out your listing with images, logo, contact details etc
- Regularly post updates and offers through your profile
- Encourage reviews from existing customers
- Make sure your contact details and location are consistent on both your GMB listing and website
Let’s break this down: when you Google a question, the algorithm detects your keywords (search terms) and your intent (whether a question, looking to purchase etc) to show you the appropriate search results, therefore making sure you have the best keywords within your website to capture your audience is a must.
They should be words and phrases that your audience uses when searching for your products/services online. When you understand what people are typing into searching online it helps you tailor your content and use terms that others are actually using, so that your site can be seen.
These keywords should be specific to your business so that you clearly stand out and when searched for. But if your keywords become too detailed and niche, there may not be searches for your site and it will be harder to drive any traffic. Finding this balance can be challenging, but once set up they become your strategy to directing people to your site instead of others.
A great tool to help you tailor your keywords is the Google Keyword Planner.
- Add geographic keywords into H1 tags
- Geographic and service keywords in domain name
- Geographic keyword into title tags
- If you have multiple service locations create separate landing pages within you website using geographic keywords in each
Content pieces such as blogs, posts about new products or general business updates can be of great interest to website visitors, which gives the opportunity for your business to build a brand reputation and become a positive influence in your service industry.
- Quality content generates high click-through rate (CTR)
Google considers your CTR as an important factor so will rank websites higher in the SERP.
- Backlinks from external sites (local link building)
One of the best SEO strategies is to gain high-quality backlinks from high-authority websites. For Google, high-quality backlinks indicate credibility and trust. It’s great to establish your business on other sites not only to help you rank higher in SERP but to also gain new website visitors through 3rd party referrals. These follow-through links can be from places like blogs, online magazines, yell etc.
- Content enables you to add keywords
Like we said earlier, keywords are a vital part of your SEO strategy! Publishing content on your site e.g. a blog, you are able to incorporate more keywords relating to your product, service and/or location.
Hopefully, this has helped explain the basics of Local Search Engine Optimisation at a small business level. Whilst SEO might seem exhausting and not the primary focus due to the lack of quick-win results, it goes a long way into improving the reach of your business online over a longer period of time.
If search engine optimisation is something you’re interested in, but aren’t sure where to start or would like to know more, CampaignHero offers SEO as a service allowing you the time to focus on other important small business tasks.
Want a little more from your marketing strategy? Take a look at some other top tips we have for marketing your small business online.