If you own a small business or are considering starting one, here’s how search engine optimization can benefit small companies.
The Great Resignation. The Big Quit. The Great Reshuffle. Whatever you call it, it’s made a huge impact.
The demand for a better work-life balance and an increased interest in home working has led to people across the world resigning from their jobs and starting their own small businesses.
In fact, it’s estimated that 17 million people in the US will start a new business in 2022.
When you own a small business, it’s important to make sure it stands out amongst similar companies near you. This is where a solid local SEO strategy can put you at an advantage.
Not sure of the benefits of local SEO for small businesses?
Don’t worry. Bubblegum Search provides local SEO services for small businesses and has put together this comprehensive guide about local SEO.
What are the advantages of local SEO, how does local SEO help small businesses, and how can it help your business grow?
Let’s find out.
What Is Local SEO for Small Businesses?
Search engine optimization (SEO) is when a business improves its online presence to become more visible in search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo.
Local SEO is a specific subset of traditional SEO, where a small business will act to improve where it appears in localized searches.
Over 60% of people carry out a local search on a daily basis. This means they’re searching for products and services in their local area. Searches like ‘Coffee shops near me,’ ‘Electricians in North London’ or ‘Nearest supermarket to me.’
When you’re a small business, you can use local SEO to target these search engine users and encourage them to buy from you.
What Kind of Businesses Need Local SEO?
The short answer to the question ‘what kind of businesses need local SEO?’ Every business that targets local users.
The longer answer to the question ‘what kind of businesses need local SEO?’ There are some businesses that specifically benefit from local search engine optimization.
Let’s look at some of them.
1. Businesses That Don’t Sell Online
Some businesses may have a website, but don’t sell their products online. If you want to entice shoppers to visit your brick-and-mortar stores, local SEO can still give you the advantage.
Local SEO can help people learn more about your business, improve your brand awareness, and most importantly, find where your store or showroom is located.
Nearly 80% of local searches lead to an offline purchase, so even if you don’t have eCommerce functionality, local SEO is vital for your business.
2. Businesses Without a Website
It’s estimated that one in four small businesses don’t have a website. If you’re a microbusiness, have a small marketing budget, or don’t have much time, creating a website might not be the top of your to-do list.
However, the good news is that local SEO can help even if you don’t have your own online presence.
A Google Business Profile can let you interact with your customers and increase the odds of appearing in the ‘Google Local Pack’ at the top of the local search results. We’ll look at Google Business Profiles in a little more detail later.
Mentions of your name, address, and phone number on other websites and directories can boost your business, even if you haven’t got a website. ‘NAP’ citations are seen as the fifth most valuable ranking factor for local SEO.
3. Businesses with a lot of competition
Some businesses naturally have a lot of competitors. As an example, London is the city with the most bars and pubs in the world, beating out New York, Tokyo, Madrid, and Barcelona!
This means that if you have a lot of rivals down your street, local SEO for small businesses isn’t something that’s ‘nice to have – it’s a must.
A solid local SEO strategy means you have a higher chance of beating your competitors to the top of the search engine results, increasing the chances of customers coming to visit.
So whether you work in property, hospitality, or legal, be sure to consider local SEO.
What Are the Best Local SEO Strategies for Small Businesses?
Now you know a little more about what local SEO is, you might be wondering how best to implement it in your small business.
There are many different local SEO strategies you can introduce to improve your presence in the search engines. Some are quick wins, while others might take a little longer.
Before you begin, Bubblegum Search always recommends carrying out some research. Consider:
- The keywords you want to rank for
- The target audience you want to attract
- The competitors who offer similar products and services to you
This will give you the information you need to make the right decisions.
1. Website optimization
Auditing the existing content on your website is a great starting point when it comes to local SEO. Look at the localized keywords you want to rank for and see if your web pages and blog articles target them.
Don’t just check the words on your pages. Your links, images, and meta descriptions can all play a part in determining your search engine presence.
2. Claiming and optimizing your Google Business Profile
A Google Business Profile (formerly known as Google My Business) is a simple way of improving your local SEO. You can use it to create an online presence for your business and increase the odds of appearing on Google for local searches.
Bing Places for Business is Bing’s alternative, and you can import your Google Business Profile information across too.
3. Social proof
70% of people will trust a recommendation from someone else, even if it’s someone they don’t know. This can make gathering reviews and feedback for your small business a worthwhile endeavor.
Reviews from Trustpilot, TripAdvisor, Yell, and your Google Business Profile all rank highly in the search engines, helping prospective customers make an informed choice.
4. Technical SEO
Technical SEO refers to the non-content-related considerations that can help or hinder your site.
For example, can Google crawl & index your web pages to find and rank the right content?
Do your pages load too slowly? Is your website usable on both desktop and mobile phones?
Bubblegum Search recommends signing up to Google Search Central. This is a free tool that will let you know if there are any issues that will impact your search engine rankings. You can then fix the problems yourself or ask a web developer to take a look for you.
5. Link building
Getting links to high-quality sites and directories is a positive local SEO ranking signal and helps to show that the content on your website is authoritative and trusted.
Link building is a lot harder than it looks to get a link from a high-quality website; you need to offer value. What can you offer them that no one else can?
94% of website content has no external links, so if you can get just one high-quality link from another site to your newly published page, you’re doing a great job!
Is Local SEO Worth It for Small Businesses?
When you’re responsible for marketing a small business, every penny counts. You need to ensure the money you spend leads to a healthy return on investment.
The return on investment you’ll receive will vary depending on the industry you work in and your competition.
However, local SEO is one of the most cost-effective marketing channels for small businesses.
Compare local SEO to pay-per-click advertising (PPC). With pay-per-click advertising, you pay to get your business to the top of the search engines. However, when you stop or pause your campaigns, your ad disappears. With local SEO, you’ll continue to rank highly, even after you’ve stopped focusing on it.
Given a choice between local SEO and PPC, 70% of marketers will pick SEO each and every time.
Investing in local SEO doesn’t just give you a financial advantage. It can help you generate trust in your local community too. By engaging with other local businesses and organizations, you’re building your brand and creating positive publicity that will put your company in good stead in the future.
In Conclusion – local SEO for small businesses is more than often a necessity
Local SEO for small businesses can seem like a challenge, especially if you don’t have any existing experience.
However, it’s definitely worth investing in, and even the smallest changes can positively impact your rankings in the search engines.
We want to leave you with a final thought. 97% of people learn about a local company through the internet. This means having a localized search engine presence, even if you don’t have a website of your own, can give you the edge over your competitors.
Take the time to look at where you currently rank in the search engines. If you’re not happy with where you are, there are plenty of things you can do to improve.