15 ways small businesses can boost their local SEO

As a small business owner, search engine optimization is probably something you know you should be focused on, however to many business owners, the concept can be confusing and overwhelming. We’ve reached out to a panel of digital marketing experts to break down what local businesses should focus on to help boost their SEO, and ultimately stand apart from their competitors.

  1. Backlinks

Annie Ellicott of Leapup Marketing Solutions says “For maximum local SEO use inbound links to your site from highly-trafficked, local authority sites in your area of domain. Authority sites include .gov, .edu and publishers/portals as well as respected, longstanding (not new domains) in your domain expertise field (healthcare, finance, education etc.) and review sites such as BBB and Yelp.”

Jesse Tutt of Guru SEO and Web Design Services shares “The easiest way for small businesses to get free backlinks is to sign up your business on listing and citation websites. A few of the higher domain authority websites you can add a listing for your company include linkedin.com’s company pages, Google My Business, yelp.com, bbb.org, yahoo.com, manta.com, whitepages.com, zoominfo.com, allevents.in, pissedconsumer.com, houzz.co.uk, homestars.com, salespider.com, 2findlocal.com, pagesjaunes.ca, owler..com, weblocal.ca, canpages.ca, and glassdoor.com.”

Anatolii Ulitovsky of SEO Tools states “It’s better to get irrelevant links from local blogs, news websites, forums than relevant ones from other regions. The chance is much higher to find customers from local websites.”

  1. Online reviews

Tony Wang of LocalWord states “Asking customers for reviews is a no brainer. Online reviews are generally acknowledged to be an important ranking factor. A constant flow of reviews is also beneficial for conversion/click through rates, which is an indirect benefit of SEO.”

Dimitri Petit-Frere of Elina Agency states “Increase the number of reviews you have. After getting a review, make sure to reply and thank your customer for their review.”

Ashley Stryker of Alaniz Marketing says “No matter how large or small your business is, actively request reviews on your GMB profile, if possible. Reviews are great no matter which platform you’re using — from Yelp to your own case study pages — but they’re particularly on your GMB profile for Google-related search queries. You can implement plugins for your website that allow you to put your reviews within your search-related metadata (basically, backend code that describes your website to search engine bots), which may help ranking too.”

JoJo Henderson of Big Leap says “Over the last few years, review signals (review quantity, review velocity, review diversity, etc.) have been playing a larger role in SEO. This factor is especially helpful when reviews contain keywords.”

Dan Gower of Buddy Gardner Advertising states “If you haven’t claimed your Google My Business listing and set it up yet, it’s easy to do so. Once you’ve done that, simply ask your customers or clients for reviews (or at least let them know you value feedback). This is especially easy if you provide the type of service where you send follow up emails. Whenever you email a customer after performing your service, include a link to review your business on GMB. If you have lots of positive reviews, you will show up at or near the top whenever someone Googles “[type of service] near me.”

Darryl Leniuk of Aventur Marketing adds “A final point is to get reviews for your GMB listing, as these are also a ranking factor, so always ask your happy customers to leave a review, and make sure to respond thoughtfully to any negative reviews.”

Desiree Grimaldi of 1×1 Impression says “Google My Business Listings get 43% more clicks through on their maps with photos and 32% more clicks on their website. Reviews and responses also can account for about 10% of your ranking so be sure to professionally respond to every review good or bad, and always ask customers to leave you a review.”

  1. Create content

Rachel Alonte of Maxim Media shares “What we do for our clients is create a large piece of written content that is the most-searched-for informational topic in their niche. We then look for the sites that are linking to similar content. This is all done through AHREFS.”

Fabricio Masson of Fassa Digital states “If a customer searches online for a topic, they will use a series of keywords. Ensuring your blog posts includes relevant keywords will assist with SEO. The title of your blog post should be clear so the reader can quickly identify the topic of your blog.”

Abishake of Appac Mediatech says “Local SEO is tied in with advancing content so your business seems higher in the neighborhood local search engine results pages (SERPs) than your rivals in the local area. Local SEO is like regular SEO. But, there are some techniques used to drive traffic and increase your rankings for local search results. The main local search ranking factors are based on the location from the searcher, correct keywords for the business, social media connection, Google maps, and mainly the local business must be linked to Google My Business.”

Rodney Warner of Connective Web Design shares “Include images of local landmarks in your content and GEOTag them. You can use a tool that allows you to add your own Exif data such as https://www.thexifer.net/ . This will give Google all the metadata it needs to associate the images on your page with the location you are hoping to rank for.”

Julie Dion of Dion Marketing Company says “One tip is to include a blog on the small business website. Blogs should be at least 300 words to be indexed by Google and should include rich, relevant key words and phrases that people use to search for businesses and/or services they are looking for. The backend of the blog page should be optimized for SEO, too, which means Page Titles and Page Descriptions should also include keywords relevant to the blog itself, and any images used should include an Alt. Tag.”

Graham Williams of Fetch Digital shares “Create hyper-local content. Optimise for keywords relevant to the immediate local area, focussing on landmarks, communities or even street names. The great thing about hyper-local SEO is that it usually comes with high intent to visit!”

Matthew Edward of UNFLTRD Marketing states “Create a blog and produce local-focused content that is optimized for keywords in your sector. This might be broken down into several responses, but I believe they are all the same. Many small businesses do not use this approach because they don’t consider the possibility of leads coming through.”

Efrain Torres of ArmaVita Digital says “One of the best ways to boost your local SEO is by regularly publishing new and interesting content related to what you do. Your audience wants more than just promotional material from you. They also need quality reads with an approachable tone; try providing value instead of being in sales mode all day! Promote these posts via email marketing campaigns through RSS feeds or social media, so people get notified when a post goes live.”

Carl Eden of Dark Horse states “The idea is to make sure the copy you’re writing isn’t just saying my business is in London and if you need this business in London. In our content team we have found that actually mentioning specific local areas (counties, suburbs, popular streets), known sights and attractions, and local transport links – you’re giving users AND Google an overarching insight into exactly where the business is located and how it can serve people in that area. It boosts pages and helps them rank for not only London but other surrounding areas.”

  1. Optimize Google My Business

Anil Parmar of Glorywebs Creatives advises “Get your business listed for free on https://www.google.com/business/. Give your customers the chance to follow you and love you by adding things like: hours of operation, phone number, address and photos. Google will search through their database and list it if it finds that there is no other listing for this legitimate business also in your area.”

Menelaos Menelaou of DigitalSeos says “It is generally accepted that Google My Business continues to be at the top of the list of everything that has to do with local SEO success. With Google My Business it is a lot easier for a local to find your business just by searching your industry and city or near me.”

Liberty Revah-Opacki of Royal Wares adds “People will likely be searching for services or products ‘near me’ at which point Google will show up with a map, location markets for your business and links to your site and any reviews.”

Jordan McCreery of Ingrained Media advises “It seems simple but GMB is the foundation of your search presence and helps you to build an accurate profile. This listing helps to increase visibility on search engines and gives an advantage over competitors which are not visible online.”

Joshua Mackens of Tutelary Marketing says “Believe it or not, my #1 tip for local businesses to boost their local SEO is choosing the right Google My Business category. Google gives you the option for one Primary Category and then as many as you want in Additional Categories. However, 85% of your ranking power will come from whatever Primary Category you choose.”

Ken Marshall of RevenueZen shares “Optimizing the GMB profile is estimated to be worth around ⅓ of their ability to rank for any given keyword and overall search visibility potential.”

Michael O’Grady of Verdict Digital Marketing says “Small businesses can improve local SEO by adding photos to their Google My Business. This helps in a number of ways. First it will include location data which will send local signals to Google. Second, images can rank on their own encouraging user clicks and from a conversion stand point, if potential customers sees what your business looks like and who they will be working with, it may encourage them to do business with you.”

Randy Cavaiani of Savvyeur advises “It’s important to completely populate your profile and take the time to do a thorough and professional job. Done right, your Google My Business presence is one of the most important elements in SEO, enabling prospects to find you, quickly learn about your offering, and immediately start the customer journey to your desired call to action.”

Jessy Sammarco of Tandem Buzz states “GMB also allows you to post photos and videos of your business to show your customers around. Taking advantage of those postings can let the customers feel more comfortable if they are coming to your office or coming to use a service you provide. They can see the street view, what the building looks like, and the area around it. Having a new customer become comfortable with your business before they even get there or contact you will help establish a good relationship with them.”

Shane Stone of DesignLoud adds “One really good tip for local SEO for small businesses is to stay very active on your Google My Business. Always answer your reviews (both positive and constructive). Post offers a few times per week on your GMB as well as posts and articles.”

Kimberly Fischer of 13 Emeralds Marketing adds “Everything from updating the info regularly, utilizing Google Posts, adding new photos weekly, asking for reviews (and replying to every review!) is all going to boost your Local SEO dramatically. Think of it as the virtual window shop to your business, and watch the traffic keep coming.”

Joseph Jones of Beyond Blue Media says “Activity is a ranking factor and is also a conversion-optimization tactic on GMB. When customers see you regularly posting, it boosts their engagement rate, especially when they see you responding to other customer reviews (both good and bad).”

Chris Salvaggio of Ukiiki advises “Google my business allows people to take actions they used to only be able to take on your website. People don’t need to visit your website anymore to: Call you, message you, ask questions, post reviews, find your offers and pricing… all the core functions of a company’s website.”

Sara Smith of Conklin Media advises “Make sure you only have the business name in the title of your Google My Business account. It may be tempting to add keywords, but the profile WILL get flagged if you do so.”

Philip Pasma of Asterisk Marketing says “According to a BrightLocal study, businesses receive 943 search views and 317 maps views each month. A GMB profile gives you an opportunity to showcase your website, reviews, hours & much more. The best part is, the profiles show before the organic listings on Google giving you a better chance to reach your clients.”

Vaibhav Diwanji of E Intelligence states “Once you’ve created your GMB account, it is important to optimize it on an ongoing basis. To improve chances of boosting your local SEO, please use these additional tips:

• Get regular Google reviews from your happy customers/clients

• Post valuable content on your GMB listing on an ongoing basis

• Focus on building quality backlinks to your website”

  1. Listings and directories

Logan Rae of Argon Agency states “The best way to boost your local SEO is to have optimized, frequently updated directory listings for all your major and local niche online directories.”

Charlie Clark of Minty Digital shares “Ensure that all you address, phone number and business information is streamlined across your website, Google My Business and directory links. Google will crawl these references and if it finds inconsistencies then it can negatively effect your SEO.”

Steven Tait of Result Driven SEO says “Make sure that your business name, address, email, website and phone number (your “NAP”), are the same across all of your digital channels (website, social media channels, business directory listings, profiles, etc.). It is amazing how many times this is missed with inaccurate or conflicting information, but it should be consistent. This will help funnel into the schemas on your website which search engines will use to better correlate and evaluate your website and brand across all digital platforms for better evaluating ranking positions moving forward.”

Lee Schafer of Harford Digital Marketing says “Claim your map listings on Yelp, Google, Yahoo, Bing, Apple and other local listing opportunities and make sure your Name, Address, and Phone number are consistent across all listings.”

Hannah Vaughn of Mane Impact suggests “BuyLocal is a free app that actually bypasses traditional SEO, and also provides custom experiences for users to interact with local businesses that offer what they’re actually looking for. First, small businesses add their profile to the BuyLocal database. Second, users shop online like normal and receive notifications of local businesses from the BuyLocal database that offer the product/service they just searched for.”

  1. Social media sites

Daniel Raaf of Raaf Media advises “Even if you don’t plan on posting every day, having social media channels with your brand name and the relevant info about your company (including address, hours of operation, about us etc) will help you rank on Google. Interlinking these accounts and linking back to your GMB and site helps Google see the relevance.

Isaac Rau of Proactive SEO Solutions recommends “Impromptu Facebook Ads: Shoot a straightforward, 20-second video on your iPhone with you presenting your business and offering a promotion. Upload it to Facebook Ads, and spend a couple hours setting it up to serve to your local target market.”

  1. Diversify lead channels

Kan Huang of Social Wave says “The first and foremost thing to do is to identify the disconnect between your target market and your business, and recognising the need to diversify lead channels.”

  1. Optimize your website

Holly Connolly of Connolly Media & Marketing states “An FAQ section not only demonstrates expertise in their specific sector/industry, it also increases traffic from Google. Customers may search questions that relate to services provided. Having these questions and providing the answers on their website could lead to higher rankings or even being selected as a feature snippet on the search page.”

Julian Arcila of Signalis Group advises “The first thing a small business needs to do for local SEO is optimizing their website for such a purpose. This includes actions like: Creating a dedicated contact page on their website, updating the footer to include the physical address (or addresses) inserting a map and adding testimonials.”

David Fernandez of Capital Solutions says “Optimize your website for voice search. In the coming years, voice search will explode. As a result, optimizing how people ask queries while speaking into devices, rather than how they type out their inquiries, is critical in local SEO.”

  1. Target some local keywords

Lydia German of Tao Digital Marketing shares “One tip for businesses looking to boost their local SEO is creating location pages to target some local keywords, e.g. ‘Local plumbers based in (city)’. You could then create a few paragraphs around the areas you service, as well as a few frequently asked questions.”

Lauren Howe of The Social Block states “Small businesses can learn about SEO and make massive improvements on their own, for free, by simply fixing things like broken links on their website, and ensuring the keywords they are using are intentional and strategic. Programs like Google Keyword Planner are free and can have a massive impact on your SEO and website traffic!”

Amy Warrington of Epic Marketing shares “Make sure your schema markup aligns with a user’s intent for that page. Sometimes it can feel tempting to go whole hog on schema markup, but that’s getting dangerously close to the spammy Black Hat marketing tactics of yore, like keyword stuffing. Remember, it’s all about user search intent and experience. So know what your audience is searching for, and deliver it.”

  1. Leverage your local community

Kaushik Prakash of Valeo Legal Marketing says “Small businesses do not have the budget for hosting big events in their city, However, they can serve food to the homeless through NGOs over the weekend or organize local soccer events for underprivileged children through various organizations. These organizations will promote local businesses on their website and social media which is amazing for local SEO and branding in general.”

Matthew Deal shares “Look into local sponsorships as a method for boosting local search engine optimization: Sponsoring a local little league team, co-sponsoring a beauty pageant/contest, offering a local, area-specific sponsorship. This is often a great way to generate local backlinks and for small locations this method is particularly cost effective (as little as $100 in our experience).”

Xiao DaCunha of Westerlund Marketing states “The best way for small businesses to boost their local SEO is by leveraging the community. Make sure they’re listed on any local chamber/organizations they belong to. Bring your community-related, high-quality content to these organizations, and ask for a backlink in return.”

  1. Meta titles and descriptions

Serina Perkins of Quality Resource advises “The one basic tip for small businesses is to use local terms as much as possible especially in their meta titles and meta descriptions. When a business is in the initial phase and in need of higher traffic, it needs specially crafted meta titles and descriptions in order to get the boost it needs from the user-clicks.”

  1. Google Maps

Zoe Ashbridge of AS Marketing states “Google Maps is an overlooked business tool when it comes to local SEO. Most small businesses will already be familiar with Google My Business and the map search results in Google Search Results (SERPs). Once Google My Business is set up, one way to level up your local results is to use the map on your site. Embed Google Maps onto an appropriate page such as your homepage, about or contact page. Here you’re telling Google exactly where you’re based.”

Sulie Nebslymedia of Nebsly Media says “Google Maps sits within Google My Business, a platform that presents many fantastic opportunities for customers to find you in the local area. Ensuring you are fully utilising these tools will give you better visibility in the local area. There are options such as posting regularly to your feed, adding offers and updating your photo gallery with engaging content. Your Google Business listing can drive an impressive amount of traffic and engagement to your business, and offers a fantastic way for customers to discover your business organically.”

Kim Adamof of Edge Digital states “By filling out the Google Map Listing (GMB), the exposure increases and more people will click through to the site or click-to-call for more information.”

  1. Landing pages

James Taylor of James Taylor SEO shares “My one main tip for boosting local SEO is to use unique content on your local landing pages. For example, if you have a page targeting Leeds and another targeting Manchester, you should be using unique content for each. This means that you need to embed a map of the location, mention local areas, places to visit, things to do, and ultimately make it sound like you really understand the area you’re writing about.”

  1. Ensure your website is mobile friendly

Dan Skaggs of One Thing Marketing says “Another way to improve your SEO is by making any website or page mobile friendly. A user friendly website results in more people utilising it, which in turn increases its chances of being ranked higher.”

  1. List in the Local Packr Results

Nina Gibson of Luna Internet Marketing advises “The Local Pack is a SERP feature that appears on the first page of results for any search query with a local intent and it only includes the top 3 businesses. There are so many great ways to optimize for the Local Pack and make sure you’re getting that prime real estate in the SERPs.”

Jasmine Savery of Hydra Creative states “Google Business listings also give you the chance to appear in the panel at the top of search results, which lists three local businesses. This area is made up of Google My Business listings business owners have created for their company. By making sure your listing is optimised, you maximise the chance of appearing in this area, increasing your local SEO rankings.”

In conclusion, there are many ways that small businesses can put measures in place to help boost their local SEO- Like setting up their own Google My Business listing, or asking their customers for reviews! Of course, some things should be best left to the professionals- So we would always recommend reaching out to a digital marketing agency whose team will be able to customize an SEO strategy that is specific to your industry to help boost your local SEO.