How to Use Local SEO to Grow Your Small Business

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More users than ever before are searching on the go. Online customers want answers and results that are near to them and they want them quickly. Local SEO is the process of optimizing your website to show in local search results, e.g. search results for users who are searching within a specific location.

Any business with either an in-person location or that serves a specific geographical area can benefit from local SEO and it’s particularly useful for small businesses looking to target local customers.

But how can you make sure your website is appearing in local search results? While many website builders help you with SEO basics, it can be harder to get guidance on local SEO specifically. Keep reading to discover our expert advice on growing your small business with the help of local SEO.

What Is Local SEO?

Local Search Engine Optimization (local SEO) is the process of optimizing your website in order to appear in local search results for target search terms.

Local SEO mainly targets two types of searches. The first is where a user searches for a business in a specific location using location-based keywords e.g. “Pet shop Colorado” while the second is based on their own location at the time of searching e.g. “Pet shops near me.”

Local Google search
Local searches in Google often bring up a map result and specific listing of businesses in the geographical area.

For businesses that want to target local users in specific locations, local SEO is key. Optimizing your website for local SEO includes steps such as including local keywords and ensuring your website is mobile-friendly (more on how to improve local SEO later!)

Why Is Local SEO Important?

The answer to the question, why is local SEO important? is simple – if you want to attract customers in a specific location to your website and business, you need to be optimized to catch local searchers.

It’s important to note that local SEO isn’t necessarily appropriate for every business, however there are many businesses that can greatly benefit from a local SEO strategy such as:

  • Restaurants, cafes, and bars
  • Online shops with a bricks and mortar store
  • Beauty clinics and spas
  • Lawyers and law firms
  • Builders and trades firms
  • Any business that offers services in a specific region or location

Basically, if you want to attract in-store footfall, more appointment bookings, or online orders, then local SEO can benefit you.

Find Out More

Some website builders are better for SEO than others, and it’s important to pick a good one to give yourself the best chance against your competitors. Check out our list of the Best Website Builders for SEO for more advice!

How To Improve Local SEO

Now that you understand what local SEO is and why it’s important, let’s take a look at how to improve local SEO. Key steps to include in your local SEO strategy are:

  1. Conduct local keyword research
  2. Set up a Google My Business page
  3. Collect and respond to Google Reviews
  4. Add location pages to your website
  5. Build local citations and listings
  6. Leverage social media
  7. Create local content
  8. Ensure your website is mobile friendly
  9. Track your local SEO performance

Let’s take a look at each of these in detail…

1. Conduct Local Keyword Research

Keyword research is a crucial step in any SEO strategy. Keyword research is the process of analyzing different search terms that users input into search engines, in order to determine which ones you should be targeting on your website.

When it comes to conducting keyword research there are three main elements to consider for each keyword: relevance, competition, and search volume.

Relevance refers to how relevant the keyword is to both your business and your aims. Ask yourself not only can my website answer this search query, but what is the intent behind the query? If your goal is to make sales, you should be targeting keywords and search terms where the user intent is to make a purchase.

Competition, meanwhile, refers to how many other websites are targeting that same search term, while search volume looks at how many users are searching it. After all, what would be the point in targeting keywords that nobody is searching for?

Local keyword research is exactly the same, focusing on the terms and keywords that users input into search engines when looking for a business near them or in a specific area.

2. Set Up a Google My Business Page

Google My Business pages have become a key part of Google’s local SEO algorithm. Setting up a page for your business is a great way for Google to authenticate your website, which could even result in a sidebar slot on search results pages.

Your Google My Business page should feature all the key information about your business such as location, contact information, reviews, and if appropriate, location. All of these aspects will help Google to determine if and where you should be ranked for your target local SEO search terms.

3. Collect and Respond To Google Reviews

We mentioned them briefly before, but collecting positive Google Reviews can have a major impact on the success of your local SEO strategy.

In fact, Google uses three key ranking factors when ranking websites for local SEO search terms: relevance, distance, and prominence.

While relevance and distance refer to how relevant your website is to the initial search query and how far away you are from the search “zone”, prominence looks at your online reviews, particularly Google Reviews, and how good they are.

Therefore in theory, a website with a higher volume of positive Google Reviews could easily outrank a website with negative Google Reviews, even if the latter is closer in distance.

Not only should you encourage customers to leave you a Google Review, but you also need to remember to respond to them too. You should aim to respond to both positive and negative Google Reviews in a polite and professional manner.

4. Add Location Pages to Your Website

If you have one or more bricks and mortar locations for your business then location pages are a great way of improving your SEO.

Location pages provide users with all the information they need about your in-person location such as an address, contact details, opening hours, and even customer reviews.

Location pages are a great way of adding local search terms to your website content, just make sure you don’t duplicate content and each location page is unique.

It’s also a good idea to include your location, history, and contact details on your About Us page too, to have all information accessible in one place. You can find more About Us Page Tips for Local Businesses in our full guide!

Top tip! Embed a Google Map onto your location page to show your specific location. This is a great way to boost your chances of Google ranking your website, and in particular your location page, in local search results.

5. Build Local Citations and Listings

Citations are mentions of your company name, address, website, and contact details on a website that’s not your own, such as local directories or listing websites.

Local citations are not only a great way to drive traffic to your website, but they also act as another way of telling Google where your business is located and which local search results you should be appearing in.

Make sure that all mentions of your website across local citations and listings are the same. Your details, such as your contact information or address, should be identical everywhere that they appear online.

6. Leverage Social Media

While social media doesn’t directly impact your local SEO, leveraging your social media strategy can help to boost your wider local brand awareness, which in turn can impact how well you rank for local search terms.

Sharing your content in location-specific social media groups and targeting social media audiences based on their location will help to raise your brand awareness in your target area.

Doing so will drive more local traffic to your website, which in turn may lead to more local customers and those all-important Google Reviews.

Linking to your website from high-authority platforms such as Facebook and Instagram is also a great way to boost your online citations and overall backlink profile – which can in turn increase your domain authority, which has its own SEO benefits.

So while social media may not have a direct impact on local SEO, it can certainly help key factors to get even better results.

7. Create Local Content

They say that content is King when it comes to SEO and it’s pretty important for local SEO too.

Creating and publishing local content on your website is not only a great way to include your local search terms and keywords, but it’s also the perfect way to attract local visitors and show Google the value you provide to local searchers.

Local content can be anything, just make sure it has a focus on the local aspect of your business. Use your content to be the industry authority in your target area.

For example, if you run a pet shop and want to attract more local pet owners to your website and business, you could create a content series on all the best local pet establishments such as dog-friendly restaurants, vets, and pet-themed events.

8. Ensure Your Website Is Mobile Friendly

One of THE most important things you can do to improve your local SEO is to ensure that your website is mobile friendly.

Local search and mobile websites are like two peas in a pod. Why? Because most local searchers do so on a mobile device. When someone is looking for a business “near me” or for a result in a specific location, chances are, they are out and about in that location already and therefore using a cell phone.

By ensuring your website is fully optimized for mobile, you’ll be providing those searchers with the best possible experience when they land on your website as well as giving yourself the best possible chance to rank in local results.

9. Track Your Local SEO Performance

And finally, the last task on our how to improve local SEO checklist is to keep track of your online performance.

Tracking how your website is performing for your target local search terms is the best way to understand if what you’re doing is working, or if you need to make some changes to your local SEO strategy.

Keep a close eye on things such as where your website is ranking and whether or not you’re achieving the coveted sidebar position on Google’s SERPs as well as how much local traffic you are driving to your website.

Top tip! Keep up to date with Google’s latest algorithm updates to make sure your local SEO strategy is meeting the search engine’s ranking factors and key focuses.

Good to know…

We recommend setting up GA4 on your website so that you have the latest version of Google Analytics for staying on top of your data such as traffic and what devices visitors are using to access your site. The old version, Universal Analytics, is no longer in use (since July 1st 2023).

How Much Does Local SEO Cost?

How much does local SEO cost you might be wondering… Well, that all depends on how you want to implement your local SEO strategy.

In theory, SEO can be free. If you decide to take it on in-house it won’t cost you a penny in money, but of course, you will need to take into account the man-hours and effort required to achieve local SEO success.

If you decide you don’t have the internal resources and choose to outsource your local SEO, fees can vary depending on the experience level of the SEO expert you choose, the current state of your website’s local SEO, and how much you want them to do for you.

As a guide, one-off local SEO projects can range from around $400-$1,500, while employing an SEO expert on an ongoing monthly retainer basis could set you back anywhere between $100-$2,500 per month.

How To Use Local SEO: Summary

Local SEO is a crucial part of the online strategy for any business hoping to attract customers from specific locations to their online store.

Establishing a local SEO strategy using the tips laid out in this article will help you whether your goal is to drive local traffic to your website or encourage more customers to your in-person store or services.

Now that we’ve answered the question, what is local SEO, and given you plenty of tips to improve your website’s local SEO, it’s time to start implementing your own local SEO strategy. Make sure to let us know in the comments what you found most useful from this article and what you’d like to see next!

Frequently Asked Questions

The businesses that can benefit the most from local SEO are those that have a bricks and mortar store or that offer services within a specific area.

Google’s bots take a LOT of things into account when ranking a website but the three main ranking factors for local SEO are:

  • Relevance (how relevant your business is to the search query)
  • Distance (how far away your business is from the location within the search query)
  • Prominence (how many positive Google Reviews your business has, whether or not you respond to Google Reviews and the ratio between positive and negative reviews)

Yes! Just because you implement a local SEO strategy to target local searchers doesn’t mean you can’t also implement a wider SEO strategy to target a much broader audience too.

Written by:
Black and white headshot of Lucy Nixon smiling at the camera
I’ve been a content writer for Website Builder Expert since 2021. Through almost a decade in the digital marketing industry, I’ve built up knowledge on everything from growing ecommerce businesses to building websites. I love breaking down tricky topics into digestible and engaging content for readers. Breaking down the jargon and uncovering the best platforms, tools, and strategies, I’m a meticulous researcher who’s committed to providing our readers with tips and advice that’s tried and tested.

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