Small Business Guide to Local Search Engine Marketing

Small Business Guide to Local Search Engine Marketing

May 2, 2022
(Reading time: 10 - 19 minutes)

Local SEO marketing is important because it helps your business stand out. With local SEO, you can even attract consumers even if you do not have a website. You can attract clients and consumers to your premises simply by having online leads. 

Since these leads are people who search for products and services your kind of business offers, these leads are also the ones with a high intent to buy. 

First, let us look at the data that suggests local SEO can drive traffic to businesses. Check the following data:  

  • 18% of local mobile searches end with a sale within a day (Source: Think With Google)
  • 60% of Americans search for local products and services on their smartphones and tablets. (Source: Localogy)
  • 50% of searches performed on mobile phones look for information, such as a local business location. (Source: Think With Google)
  • 78% of local searches result in offline purchases. (Source: Neustar)
  • 71% of respondents say they search for the location of a business online to confirm that it exists before accessing the brick-and-mortar location personally. (Source: Search Engine Land)
  • 97% of searchers look for local businesses online. (Source: Bright Local)

You can see how important that you leverage local search engine marketing for your business to be competitive. The trick is to put your business on the Google map in local searches when consumers look for a product or service like the one your offer.

Google search for "Car Repair Asheville" map pack view
Google search for "Car Repair Asheville"

In the above search, “car repair Asheville” gave the resulting image above a map and a local pack before you can see the organic search results below. Note the difference between these two search results. (Source: Car repair Asheville)

Additional reasons why local SEO is necessary for your business include:

  • There is less competition. Optimizing your local marketing efforts produces faster results. That is because there is less competition in local searches.
  • It does not take so much time. Local SEO is the best way to get organic traffic to your website if you do have a website. You can generate results within a month or so. On the contrary, traditional SEO takes about six months to generate results.
  • Clients see businesses as trustworthy if they see them on Google local search results. 

Here are more compelling stats:

  • 46% of Google searches ask for local information.
  • 86% of Internet searchers use Google Maps to search for the location of a business.
  • 72% of online searches for a local business visit its physical store within a five-mile radius. 

What Types of Businesses Will Benefit From Local SEO?

Many types of businesses can benefit from local search marketing, including: 

  • Those with physical locations, including businesses that serve their clients in a service area
  • Any business that serves a local market, with or without physical locations
  • Multi-location businesses. Those that have physical stores, chains, and franchises in multiple locations 

What Is Local Search Marketing? 

Local search marketing is a marketing strategy focused on a specific place and trying to rank a business in that location. If you have a brick-and-mortar location where clients can do business with you in person, then local SEO can help you earn more revenue.

Local SEO is an efficient way to promote a business online. It can help you capture targeted clients at the same exact time they need your products or services.

Further, it allows you to rank your website on business directories, such as Google Business Profile (GBP) and YellowPages.

Marketing strategies applicable for local SEO include: 

  • Adding SEO-optimized content to your website.
  • Encouraging online reviews among your clients.
  • Feedback and testimonials. 
  • Providing relevant and accurate business information. 
  • Embedding a business map on your “contact us” page. 

Working on your local SEO will take your business far, given that you exceed the expectations of your audience and manage to turn them into leads or sales. 

How Does Local Search Marketing Work? 

To improve your local search presence, you will have to provide all the details about your business. That way, Google can put your business in the right searches, and clients can find you online and buy the product they want from a business like yours. 

To make that happen, you will need to provide accurate business information, such as: 

  • Name
  • Address
  • Phone number
  • URL

You provide this information to several directories so that Google knows what your business does and where your business is located. 

You must provide accurate information across different directories. Inaccurate and inconsistent information will make Google distrust your business and penalize you for it by ranking you lower in search results. The worst is if Google suspends your online business listing because you provided inaccurate information. 

Remember that Google and Bing do not only consider the information that you have provided as the basis for accuracy. Search engines also get information from other sources, such as: 

  • Factual
  • Localeze
  • Acxiom
  • Infogroup 

Create Your Google Business Profile (GBP) 

Google Business Profile (GBP) is a platform that allows businesses to create a free business profile on Google. On this platform, you can create a profile for your service area or your storefront and then personalize it with your posts, offers, photos, and more.

Follow these steps when setting a GBP profile for your business. 

  • Choose a relevant category and business address. Choose the area that you want to target 
  • Add high-resolution images
  • Use a local business number 
  • Add your products and services
  • Indicate your working or business hours
  • Indicate the modes of payment you accept
  • Include the logo of your company 
  • Give a clear description of your business

Some tips for optimizing your GBP

Here are tips to optimize your GBP listing:

  • Your GBP information should match your listing everywhere else, and make sure you avoid Google penalties. 
  • Reviews are very important for building your local search presence, so encourage your clients to give reviews of your services. 
  • Make sure your website’s content is optimized for searches. 
  • Enable Google business messaging to allow clients to interact directly with you. 

Create a GBP post for users to read when they see your profile. You can also post the same content on social media channels for added online exposure.

Review signals

Reviews play an integral part in succeeding in local SEO targeting. These elements do not only help in increasing your rankings. Reviews also help to drive conversions and trust in your business.

Bright Local reported from a survey they commissioned that 91% of consumers aged 18–34 years old consider reviews before purchasing and consider online reviews as valuable as the recommendation from family and friends.

Collect positive reviews and include them in your GBP. You can also post reviews on the landing pages of your website.

Link Signals

Building links to your web pages is necessary to push your website up in search rankings, whether talking about local SEO or organic SEO.

Consider the local business entities you can link to your site. Also, look for local news outlets willing to get you featured on their sites and publications.

The local university where you graduated can also help spread word-of-mouth about your business and the benefits it brings to consumers.

Reach out to local organizations, pitch them, and encourage them to link to your website.

Citation Signals

You can also create citation entries on social media channels and general citation sites like YellowPages. Citations are business directories that allow businesses to list relevant information about themselves.

One example is your local BBB. Such citation services allow businesses to sign-up and list their business for free. 

However, most businesses avoid the minimal monthly fees these services charge.

That can mean less competition in terms of online presence and visibility if you use this service. In turn, you have more opportunities of driving traffic to your website.

Optimize Your Website

You will also need to optimize your website to increase your local traffic from organic results on Google. Local search engine optimization is a subset of traditional SEO. While these two run on different algorithms, they somehow overlap each other. 

What local SEO does is localize traditional SEO. So, searchers can see different results for search terms like car repair, car repair Asheville, and car repair services near me.

It is important for your business to have your web pages on top of search engine results, and you can do that by optimizing your website. If you can get your pages in the first three results, then your click-through rate will improve. 

Here is the graph showing that the top three results are the ones getting the highest number of clicks, whether on mobile (47.6%) or desktop (57%). 

Chart showing that the top three results get the the highest number of clicks.

Here are ways to optimize your website. 

  • Improve your website’s loading speed. 
  • Use keywords in the right places, and use related keywords as well. 
  • Improve your bounce rate by encouraging visitors to your site to stay longer. 
  • Delete zombie pages since they are not generating traffic.
  • Study the strategies of your successful competitors. 
  • Update the information and content on your web pages. 
  • Add text to videos, podcasts, and Infographics. 

Why Local SEO Matters

Organic SEO is important for all businesses that run a website, but not for local businesses with physical stores targeting local clients.

If your business targets a specific geographical area, you have to go beyond organic SEO and focus your efforts on local search marketing instead. That is the way your business can gain online visibility fast.

Whether your business is about plumbing repair or dental services, you can use your physical store to compete with “online-only” businesses. To achieve this feat, first, you must do your best to land your business on Google’s local pack.

The local pack is a SERP feature that shows on the first page for search queries with local intent. The page features a map of business locations together with a listing of three businesses based on the intent of the search.  

The local pack three-item listing is where you want your business to land. If you apply local SEO the right way, you can hit the top spot in the local pack. This, in turn, means your business can easily be found by people who use search engines to buy products and services. 

See example images below (search terms: pediatric dentist Asheville) 

Google search for "Pediatric Dentist Asheville" map pack view
Google search for "Pediatric Dentist Asheville"

(Source: Pediatric Dentist Asheville)

Customized Results

Local search engine marketing is becoming to be a very effective way to attract traffic. It ensures that people get what they want from businesses and services.

When people perform local searches, they get customized results. It means that the search engines have algorithms focused on making searches more client-centric.

Thus, when someone searches for “pediatric dentist near me,” Google can provide the names of the nearest dental clinics. It goes the same with searchers searching for car repair services, AC suppliers, etc.

It is about giving people the kind of experience they want based on their intent and expectations. Your foremost function in this grand scheme is to make your business searchable and then give people the excellent products and services your business promises.

Near-me Searches

Google takes “near-me” queries seriously, so you must devise ways to include such a concept in your content. Many years ago, people started using their mobile phones to look for local businesses nearby, and Google recognized that.

In 2012, the company updated its search engine algorithm to include local searches. This particular change in the system allowed the delivery of local results based on the user’s location.

That way, the near-me searches have been addressed, and people can find the nearest stores from which they can buy their products. Those stores that are successful in search results are stores with correct information on the Google Business Profile platform and other platforms mentioned above.

So, focus on what Google wants you to do. That is, you should focus on providing the correct details of your  Name, Address, and Phone number (NAP) of your business. This information should be consistent in all the directories where your company is listed.

According to Google, reputable companies in their niches pay attention to the details they provide for their business. Correct NAP citations are enough for Google to rank you higher than your competitors. 

Local SEO Checklist

Free Resource

Are you looking for help with help with your Local SEO? This local SEO checklist is full of tips and ideas to help you supercharge your local marketing and boost local SEO for your business.

Download Your Local SEO Checklist!

 

Top 5 Local Search Marketing Tips

Here are tried and tested tips for building an effective local search marketing strategy

1. List Your Business on Multiple Directories

Find reputable online directories and get your business listed on all of them. Some of these are Citysearch, Yelp, and Merchant Circle. 

Find reputable directories with the following steps: 

  • Check local newspaper websites if they run business directories. 
  • Also, check with your local chamber of commerce. 
  • Google “(your business location) business directory. 

With 80% of people using Google to look for local businesses, it is a big mistake for your business not to claim local listings on local directories.

2. Use Structured Data Markup

Structured data markup allows Google and web crawlers to get an idea of what the content of websites means instead of just seeing a collection of images, links, and texts. 

Say you have a website for a dental clinic. Google’s crawler’s bot looks at the pages of your website to figure out what they are all about. After which, it indexes these pages for relevant searches. 

Somewhere on your site, you should have days your dental clinic is open, hours of operation, address, contact information, dental cleaning services, custom mouth guards, tooth filling, tooth extraction, etc.  

Here’s the point. Computers do not understand human language, culture, and context. So, we help them understand by using structured data. It is done by adding structured data markup from a vocabulary computers use as a reference. 

Here are the steps to incorporate structured data markup on your content: 

  • Open Structured Data Markup tool of Google.
  • Select your data type. Enter the URL of the page. 
  • Highlight the elements of the page and assign data tags to them. 
  • Place the schema markup on the page. 
  • Use Google’s structured data testing tool to test your markup. 

3. Pay Attention to Online Reviews

A recent survey showed that 84% of consumers have high trust in reviews

The same survey reported that about 70% of consumers write reviews for a business if prodded to do so. 

Thus, you must track and manage the reviews clients submit about your business. In addition, you should work hard to get reviews. 

Also, you should make sure to respond to all reviews submitted by your clients. Doing so will send the message that you care for your clients. 

So, regularly check reviews on your GBP profile and social media pages. Most people will come across your business’s reviews on these platforms. 

Do reviews affect your SEO? Yes, they do, according to Google. Google states that positive reviews improve a business’s visibility. 

4. Leverage Titles and Meta-Tags

Title and meta-description tags provide SEO values, as these elements are not just tags for web page builders to fill in. The information they provide can help improve the ranking of your website pages, so make sure to optimize these elements. 

For instance, if you are a pediatric dentist from the state of North Carolina, you can have a title tag that says “the best pediatric dentist in North Carolina.” 

That way, Google will think that the page is linked with North Carolina. This will increase the probability that you will be found by potential clients from North Carolina. 

Keep your title tags limited to 60 characters only. For your meta-descriptions, keep them at 160 characters or less. 

Also: 

  • Avoid repeating meta-descriptions on your website by creating a distinct description for each page. 
  • Be concise, accurate, and descriptive. 
  • Use sentence case, and match with the intent of searchers in your niche. 
  • You may include your target keywords, but make sure it makes sense overall. 

5. Use Internal Linking

Learn how to improve or build the internal linking architecture of your website. Add internal links if you think they are relevant to your visitors and will give them a better user experience. 

By using internal links, you can lead your visitors to pages that they might be interested to see. You can use internal linking to lead your visitors to pages for your blog posts, service pages, sales copy, product descriptions, etc. 

Follow these rules to improve your website’s internal linking makeup: 

  • Create as many pages as possible within your site. 
  • Link to other pages within your website pages, not just from the homepage. 
  • Focus on user experience. 
  • Build only useful and relevant pages. 

Lastly, avoid putting a bunch of target keywords on your links’ URLs. This will not impress Google. What you should do is make your visitors happy. Then Google and other search engines will follow. 

Make Your Website’s Design and Navigation Intuitive

The easier it is to use your website, the more your users will use it, and an important aspect of being easy to use is intuitiveness. An intuitive design means that when your users see your website, they will know exactly how to use it.

With an intuitive and navigable website, you allow your visitors to focus on tasks that are important to them. 

Think of Jakob’s law that says users spend time mostly on browsing sites other than yours. Given this, your users expect your site will work the way other sites do. In all, intuitive website designs focus on user experience.

Consider that you’re on mobile. Which part of the page should the navigation be? Where should the phone number and address be? What colors and fonts should you use so that your page looks uncluttered and appealing?

Interact With Your Audience by Responding to Reviews

Most consumers expect companies to interact with them in meaningful ways, and one effective way to do this is to respond to reviews. You should respond to all reviews and feedback of your clients about you and the way you do business. 

Doing this will show your clients that their feedback is valued and that you want to make sure that the next time they do business with you, they will get the best client experience. 

In addition, reviews have an impact on the factors Google has for local ranking, which shows on map packs on SERP. These factors are prominence, distance, and relevance. 

Do Not Aim for 100% Positive Reviews

The thing is, there is no perfect kind of service. There will always be defects in products and services, which will eventually be mentioned in reviews. 

If your reviews are all perfect fives, people will wonder if these are all fabricated, and you will sound untruthful to potential clients. So, instead of eventually becoming your clients, people will rather shy away from your business.

Besides, you want to improve the way you do business, so you want to know the areas that need improvement, and negative reviews will provide you with an oasis of such information. 

Many studies show that having less than perfect reviews is actually better for business. Here are a few examples of studies that support this idea: 

How to Look for a Reputable Local Search Engine Marketing Company such as Cube Creative DesignHow to Look for a Reputable Local Search Engine Marketing Company

If you’re too busy running your business and do not have much time to do online marketing, you will be thankful some companies can do the job for you

When looking for the best local search engine marketing services, you want to find out if they are competent to deliver the following: 

  • Get your business discovered on Yelp, Google Maps, and YellowPages. Other business directories include TripAdvisor, Mapquest, and other directories mentioned above. 
  • Create accurate NAP for your business across the web with the goal of boosting your local visibility on tablets, desktops, and mobile phones. 
  • Teach your team how to effectively manage your online reviews on social media channels and directories. 
  • Expand your website’s local content. 

Avoid local business search engine marketing companies that make eccentric promises. No one can get to the top of Google search results overnight. Read reviews on these companies to know their strength and weakness. 

Also, make sure that the company will work side by side with you, with their team updating you on algorithm changes and devising new strategies to help your campaign succeed. 

Conclusion

A lot of aspects of people’s lives have moved digital and mobile, but our need for local businesses remains. People’s need to find these businesses is absolutely still there. 

Your business in this state of affairs is to help these people discover your business, and with local SEO done right, your business can capture that audience. 

To know more about local search marketing and how it can make your business more visible and easily searchable online, contact me here for a free consultation.

Chad Treadway

Written by:  |  May 2, 2022

Chad is a Partner and our Chief Smarketing Officer. He will help you survey your small business needs, educating you on your options before suggesting any solution. Chad is passionate about rural marketing in the United States and North Carolina. He also has several certifications through HubSpot to better assist you with your internet and inbound marketing.

See Chad Treadway's' bio: cubecreative.design/about/chad-treadway