Local SEO for small businesses: expert insights to attract more clients your way

Local SEO is a strategy to optimize your business’s online presence so it appears in the search results of major search engines when someone looks for a specific type of business in a particular area. In this article, we’ll explore five local SEO optimization strategies to get more visitors to your website.

Ethan Kelle
Financial strategist Ethan Keller

Ethan Keller is an experienced financial strategist at Dominion. He’s passionate about safeguarding assets and maximizing wealth for high-net-worth individuals. Using an evidence-based approach focusing on risk management, Ethan excels at crafting personalized financial solutions that protect and grow wealth effectively.

The importance of local SEO

With 97% of people using search engines for location-specific searches, it’s crucial for you to have a highly optimized local SEO (search engine optimization) presence. For example, if someone searches for “coffee shops in downtown Toronto,” local SEO helps ensure your Toronto-based coffee shop shows up in those search results. 

Have you ever searched for this? Google uses location services to detect a user’s location to ensure “near me” returns results for businesses in their locality.

Claim your Google Business Profile

Optimizing your Google Business Profile (formerly known as Google My Business or GMB) listing is a crucial step in boosting your local SEO. If you do this, you’ll already be ahead of more than half of all businesses that don’t claim their listing.

The process begins with claiming and verifying your listing, a necessary step to gain control over your business information on Google. Once claimed, it’s essential to complete your GMB profile comprehensively and accurately. Your profile should include the following: 

  • Hours of operation
  • Business name
  • Phone number
  • Address

These details should be consistent with the information on your website and other online listings to avoid confusion. It’s also good practice to keep updating your GMB profile. Regularly adding new photos, posts, and special offers engages your current and potential customers and signals to Google that your business is active and relevant. Think about it like local press coverage.

“If you do this, you’ll already be ahead of more than half of all businesses that don’t claim their listing.”

Additionally, for businesses actively involved in recruitment, consider showcasing job openings, company culture, and employee testimonials in your GMB profile. This not only attracts potential hires but also enhances your overall online presence, contributing to a comprehensive local SEO strategy.

A well-optimized GMB listing appears prominently in the “local pack,” a highlighted section at the top of Google’s search results, and on Google Maps. 

Local search engine visibility is crucial because it puts your business front and center when potential customers search for services or products you offer in your area. Your Google business profile also offers insights into customer behaviors and how they interact with your listing, which is invaluable for refining your local SEO strategies. 

Integrating relevant local keywords in your GMB profile also helps align with local search terms, especially for users who do mobile searches and rely heavily on quick, accurate search results and Google Maps for local business information.

Male hands using a smartphone

On-page SEO for local keywords

On-page SEO involves strategically including location-based keywords in your website content. These are terms that potential customers are likely to use when searching for services or products in your area, such as “florist in downtown Boston” or “Dallas car repair.” 

Equally important is optimizing your website’s title tags, meta descriptions, and headers with these local keywords. This optimization ensures that your site’s pages are directly relevant to local search queries, thereby improving your chances of ranking higher in local search results. 

Creating separate pages for each location can be highly beneficial for businesses that operate in multiple areas. These location-specific pages can be tailored with relevant content specific to each area, making them more relevant to local searches in those regions. 

A targeted approach helps rank well in search engines for local queries and provides a more personalized and relevant experience for users visiting your site. 

“Creating separate pages for each location can be highly beneficial for businesses that operate in multiple areas.”

Complete local business listings

Adding your business to online directories is a fundamental element of local SEO, and utilizing local citation software can greatly enhance this process. It refers to the mentions of your business on various online platforms, particularly local directories and citation sites. These citations typically include your business name, physical address, and phone number (NAP).

The first step in leveraging local citations is to ensure your business is listed on relevant national business directories like Yelp and the Better Business Bureau (or other location or industry-specific platforms).

The consistency of your NAP information across all these platforms is vital in managing these citations. Inconsistencies in your business details (like business hours) can lead to confusion among potential customers and negatively impact your search engine rankings, as search engines like Google prioritize reliable and consistent information when presenting search results.

Regularly checking and updating your listings provides accuracy and helps build online visibility.

Top view desktop with smartphones, papers and chart

Reputation and asset management

Managing your online reputation by responding to positive and negative online reviews on Google My Business and other directories is vital to boosting local SEO.

If you’re a local restaurant owner who’s spent countless hours perfecting your local SEO strategy and attracting a steady stream of patrons, you’d like to keep your online presence thriving.

But what happens if an unfortunate incident spreads like wildfire on the internet? Without the right protection strategies, your assets and brand reputation are at risk.

You need to know how to protect your business and personal assets from a lawsuit, as well as how to respond professionally and appropriately online.

First, you and your financial advisor will prepare an asset protection plan to ensure that your hard-earned assets remain intact. Then, you’ll focus on protecting your online reputation.

When you actively engage with customer reviews, it demonstrates to potential customers and search engines that your business values customer feedback and is committed to customer satisfaction. Responding to positive reviews with gratitude and personalized messages fosters goodwill and encourages others to leave their feedback.

Regarding negative online reviews, a professional and constructive response can turn a potentially damaging situation into an opportunity to showcase your customer service commitment. It’s important to address the concerns raised in negative reviews promptly and empathetically, offering solutions or clarifications where necessary.

Frequent and thoughtful responses can positively influence your search rankings, as they signal an active and engaged business presence.

“When you actively engage with customer reviews, it demonstrates to potential customers and search engines that your business values customer feedback and is committed to customer satisfaction.”

Backlinks are links from other websites to your site. When search engines see other websites linking to yours, it serves as a vote of confidence, signaling that your content is valuable and relevant.

For local SEO, the focus is on acquiring backlinks from local sources, as these emphasize the relevance of your business to your target audience. Here’s the best way to gain local backlinks:

  • Sponsor local events that then link your website to their event page. If the event catches local media attention, this can further boost local SEO, as they’ll mention you when they write up the event.
  • Partner with other local businesses and organizations who mention your website on theirs.
  • Invest in a content marketing strategy and write guest blog posts for local businesses.
  • Invite local influencers to review your business on their blog.
  • Add links in local directories.

Local SEO is a direct path to more website visits

Local SEO efforts should play a big role in your small business’s marketing strategy, as a well-executed plan will increase your online visibility. It offers a direct pathway for small business owners to connect with local customers actively seeking their products or services via online search.

By optimizing things like your Google My Business profile for local search, you can increase your online presence and boost your credibility and relevance in your community.

*The purpose of this page is solely to provide information and should not be considered as financial advice.
**Melio does not provide legal, tax or accounting advice; you should consult a professional advisor before making any financial decisions.