Local SEO is an integral part of any small business marketing strategy, but it can be challenging to know where to start.
Small businesses often don’t have the time or resources to invest in an intensive SEO campaign, so they miss out on valuable leads and customers.
This guide will show you how to improve your local SEO using tried-and-tested methods.
The first way to improve local SEO for your small business is to start with a citation audit.
A citation is any mention of your business on the internet, whether it’s your website URL, company name, phone number, or physical address. In local SEO, citations are a key ranking factor — the more high-quality, accurate citations you have, the higher you’ll rank in search engine results pages.
Citations can come from various sources, including online directories, review sites, and social media platforms. While it’s essential to have as many citations as possible from high-quality websites, it’s just as vital to ensure that your existing sources are accurate.
Why Citation Audits Matter for Local SEO
One of the most important ranking factors for local businesses is citations — mentions of your business on the internet. The more high-quality citations you have from authoritative websites, your rank in SERPs will be higher. Given that nearly four in five consumers use search engines to find local businesses, it’s clear that ranking highly in SERPs is essential for driving foot traffic and generating leads and sales.
Unfortunately, maintaining accurate citations can be a challenge for small businesses. After all, you have other things on your plate besides keeping track of every mention of your business online.
That’s where a citation audit and cleanup come in.
A citation audit is a comprehensive review of your business’s NAP — name, address, and phone number — to ensure that it is accurate and consistent across all platforms.
Why is this important? Because inaccurate or incomplete NAP information can hurt your business in several ways.
First, it makes it harder for customers to find you online.
Second, it confuses search engines, hurting your ranking in search results.
And third, it can damage your credibility with potential customers. Inaccurate NAP information signals that you’re not paying attention to the details, which is not the impression you want to give potential customers.
How To Conduct a Citation Audit
If you’re unsure where to start when conducting a citation audit for your small business, don’t worry — we’ve got you covered. Here’s a step-by-step guide to running an effective citation audit:
- Make a list of all the places your business is mentioned online: Do a few Google searches for your business name and related keywords (e.g., “XYZ Company + city name”).
- Check each mention for accuracy: Are all your business details — your name, address, phone number (NAP), and website URL — listed correctly? If not, note any errors so you can correct them later.
- Identify any duplicates: Sometimes, you may find multiple listings for your business on the same directory or review site. These duplicates can confuse customers and hurt your chances of ranking highly in SERPs, so it’s crucial to identify and remove them whenever possible.
- Claim any unclaimed listings: If there are any mentions of your business on popular directories or review sites that haven’t been claimed by you or anyone else yet, take the time to claim them now. This simple step can go a long way toward boosting the quality of your citations — and improving your ranking in SERPs.
Google Business Profile Optimization
Your Google Business Profile is essentially your business’s listing on Google Maps. It includes your business name, address, phone number, website, operating hours, and photos. Potential customers can use your profile to learn more about your business — and decide whether or not they want to do business with you.
That’s why ensuring that your profile is up-to-date and accurate is crucial. You want potential customers to have all the information they need about your business to decide whether or not to do business with you.
What Is a Local Map Pack?
The local map pack is a feature of Google Maps that displays a list of relevant businesses when a user searches for a particular keyword. The companies appearing in the map pack are determined by several factors, including their proximity to the searcher and relevance to the search query.
For example, if you search for “pizza delivery near me,” Google will display a list of nearby pizza places in the map pack. Similarly, if you search for “plumbers in Albuquerque,” you’ll see a list of plumbers in that city.
Importance of Appearing in the Local Map Pack
If you want your small business to succeed, having a robust online presence is crucial — and appearing in the local map pack is a great way to do that. When people search for businesses like yours on Google, you want them to be able to find you easily. Since most people don’t go past the first page of search results, appearing in the local map pack gives you a leg up on your competition.
Optimizing Your Google My Business Profile
There are a few different ways you can optimize your Google Business Profile:
- Make sure your name, address, and phone number (NAP) are correct and up-to-date.
- Include relevant keyword-rich descriptions of your business.
- Add photos and videos that give potential customers a look at what your business has to offer.
- Ask customers to leave reviews on your Google Business Profile — and make sure to respond professionally to both positive and negative reviews.
- Keep your hours of operation up-to-date so potential customers know when they can visit your business.
- Make sure your website is linked to from your profile — and that your website is mobile-friendly and easy to navigate.
- Correctly categorize your business, so it appears in relevant searches.
It’s essential to make sure your local SEO strategy is on point. Why? Because nearly half of all Google searches seek local information, and 49% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. If you’re not paying attention to your local SEO, you could miss out on many potential customers.
One key component of a robust local SEO strategy is online reviews. Here’s why.
First and foremost, it’s essential to understand that the local SEO landscape is constantly changing. And one of the most significant changes in recent years has been the increased emphasis on reviews. In fact, according to Moz, reviews are now a top 10 ranking factor for local search results.
Essentially, this means that if your business doesn’t have any reviews (or worse, has negative reviews), you will have a tough time ranking high in search results. On the other hand, if you have a steady stream of positive reviews, you’ll be much more likely to rank higher and get more visibility in search results.
Increased Visibility & CTRs
Another benefit of generating more reviews is that they can help increase your visibility in search results. This is because Google (and other search engines) often display review snippets alongside organic listings. So if someone sees your business listing with four stars and a glowing review next to it, they’re much more likely to click on it than a listing with no stars or reviews.
Having review snippets next to your listing can also help increase your click-through rate (CTR). This is important because a higher CTR helps you get more traffic to your website and improves your quality score, which can help lower your advertising costs over time.
Improved Conversions and ROI
Finally, it’s essential to understand that generating more reviews can directly impact your bottom line. Studies have shown that customers are much more likely to convert after reading positive reviews. One study by Dimensional Research found that 97% of participants said customer reviews factor into their buying decisions.
Businesses with positive customer reviews also see a significant ROI from their SEO efforts. If you’ve been struggling to see results from your local SEO campaigns, increasing the number of customer reviews could be the key to breaking through and seeing some real ROI from your efforts.
Listings on Relevant Traffic-Dense Directories
Listings are another excellent option to boost local SEO for your small business. A directory listing is essentially an online Yellow Pages. Businesses can create a listing on a directory website and include essential information like their name, address, phone number, website URL, business hours, and more.
Customers can use these directories to find businesses that offer the products or services they’re looking for in their area.
There are two types of directory listings: national and local.
National directories list businesses from all over the country, while local directories only include companies that are located in a specific city, region, or state. For example, Yelp is a national directory, while Angie’s List is a local directory.
Some of the best local directory listings for small businesses include:
- Google My Business
- Angie’s List
- Yellow Pages
Why Do Directory Listings Matter for Local SEO?
Claiming and optimizing your listings on high-quality local directories can help improve your local SEO in several ways.
- First, it helps search engines verify your business’s NAP information. If your NAP information is incorrect on even one listing, it can cause significant problems for your business’s SEO.
- Second, having listings on relevant local directories helps improve your website’s authority. When you claim a listing on a well-established directory website, you’re effectively getting a link back to your website from a high-quality source. These links tell search engines that your website is trustworthy and relevant to searchers in your area.
- Finally, directory listings give you another opportunity to include keywords that are relevant to your business. When you create a listing, you’ll have to describe your business. This is your chance to include relevant keywords that will help improve your ranking in search results.
Local Schema Markup on Website
Another critical component of local SEO for local businesses is local schema markup.
Local schema markup is a type of structured data you can add to your website’s code. Structured data helps search engines understand the content on your website and provides them with additional information about your business.
One of the essential pieces of information you can provide with local schema markup is your business’s NAP. This information helps search engines verify that your business is legitimate and located where you say it is. It also allows customers to find your business when they perform a related search.
How Does Local Schema Markup Help My Website Rank Higher in the SERPs?
When you add local schema markup to your website, you give search engines additional information about your business. The more information you provide, the easier it is for them to verify that your business exists and is legitimate. This helps improve your chances of ranking higher in the SERPs.
In addition, by providing accurate NAP information, you are helping customers find your business when they perform a related search. This can lead to increased traffic and customers for your business.
How Do I Add Local Schema Markup To My Website?
You can add local schema markup to your website in two ways: manually or using a plugin. You will need to edit your website’s code if you choose to do it manually. This option is best suited for advanced users who are comfortable editing code. We recommend using a plugin if you are not relaxed about editing code. Several plugins available will allow you to easily add local schema markup to your site without having to edit any code.
To ensure your business appears in local search results, you must have targeted neighborhood pages as part of your website. These pages are vital in helping potential customers find your business when they search for relevant keywords. Here’s a closer look at why targeted neighborhood pages are crucial for local SEO and how to create them.
Why Are Targeted Neighborhood Pages Important?
There are several reasons why targeted neighborhood pages are crucial for Local SEO:
- First, they help potential customers find your business online. When people search for businesses or services in their area, the search engines will display results that are relevant to their location. If you have targeted neighborhood pages on your site, it’s more likely that your business will appear in these results.
- Secondly, targeted neighborhood pages help you build credibility with potential customers. When you include information about the local area on your site, it shows that you’re knowledgeable about the community and invest in serving its residents. This can go a long way toward building trust with potential customers and prompting them to do business with you.
- Finally, targeted neighborhood pages can help you stand out from your competition. If other businesses in your area don’t have similar pages on their sites, then yours will be the one that comes up in local search results. This can give you a significant advantage over your competition and help more potential customers find your business online.
Improving your local SEO can be daunting, but it’s important to remember the things that matter most if you want to see results. There are many ways to improve your ranking and drive more traffic to your small business, so don’t feel overwhelmed. Just start with the basics and work your way up. If you need help, our team is here to guide you every step of the way. For a free traffic projection analysis, or to learn more about local SEO, contact us today.