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The Beginners Guide to Local SEO

Google local SEO results for your marketing plan
Joe Martin

As a local business you need to show up on a search engine like Google. That's all there is to it. You also need to make sure you are showing up for the right terms. If you don't show up for the right terms then you are just getting website traffic that doesn't produce leads or customers. 

Small businesses that understand local Search Engine Optimization (SEO) practices are most likely to succeed in today’s digital marketing driven world. ‌Google remains the main search engine people use to find products or services in their area. To grow as a small business, you need to understand the basics of how local searches work on the Google search engine, and how to make local SEO a part of your digital marketing efforts.

When a customer types a phrase into Google, the search engine goes to work matching the keywords to the most relevant sites found online. This process is fast because Google indexes all the information ahead of time using automated bots. These bots, also known as "crawlers," look at factors like keyword relevancy and location data to find the best match.

To stand out in the crowd and to make sure you show up in local search results, small businesses need to ensure that Google is matching the right local keywords with their webpage.

If you're new to local search SEO and aren’t sure how to make it a part of your SEO strategy, there's no need to get discouraged. This guide explains exactly how to improve your local ranking with Google so your website is more visible to nearby customers. Take a few moments to learn more about using local SEO in 2021.

Picture of Google local SEO results on mobile phone

Ranking on Google with local SEO tactics should be a part of your marketing strategy

What is local SEO?

The purpose of local SEO is to ensure your business appears in Google search results when people look for nearby products or services. Using these practices can help small businesses boost their local search ranking on Google to attract more of their target audience. With local SEO, you'll have an easier time building a customer base in your area, and it needs to be a key piece of your marketing strategy.

Among other things, it is all about acquiring positive customer reviews and creating local content. It's also important to use the right keyword when building landing pages. These pieces are each a "ranking factor" in how Google shows a local listing in its search results.

You want to make sure that if you own a business or franchises, the information for each location is up-to-date with Google. Aside from that, it’s also important to create social media posts with local keywords and tags that help to flag your business for any potential customers.

‌‌Local SEO tips

Small businesses that use local SEO as a piece of their marketing attract more traffic from nearby customers. Oftentimes, finding more customers comes down to increasing your search engine ranking pages (SERPs).

With a higher ranking on Google, it will be easier to connect with leads searching for your business online. Optimizing your business for local searches involves many moving parts that can seem a little overwhelming at first.

Luckily, local SEO is easy to navigate once you understand the fundamentals of how it all works. Here are 8 essential local SEO tips that every small business should know.

1. Create a Google My Business page

The single best way to increase your search engine rankings is to create a Google My Business (GMB) page connected to your business profile. To get started, you will either need to sign in to your existing Gmail account or create one. Next, go to the Google My Business gateway to begin filling out some basic information about your main brick-and-mortar store.

Once you’ve set up your GMB profile, you can add all of your other locations to the list, and you can manage everything from a single Google account.

Businesses that have 10 or more stores can take advantage of Google’s bulk location management system to add all of their locations at once. Businesses with 9 or fewer locations need to claim or add each of their Google business listings separately.

Bear in mind that your business may already appear on Google searches, in which case you would simply click on "claim this business." After verifying a few details, you will have ownership of the listing, allowing you to make changes to any inaccurate information. If you claim a business, be sure to check for any typographical errors as well.

A Google My Business page can help improve your local SEO

2. Ensure business information is the same everywhere

Incorrect or incomplete information on Google My Business pages can be misleading to customers. This is especially true if you are managing several locations.

Take the time to verify that each of your locations has the correct business name, phone number, address, and hours of operation. The information should be the same as what’s found on your web pages and social media accounts.

Conflicting location data can interfere with Google’s ability to match customer search queries to your business.

You may also miss out on customers who come across an old website or social media page with outdated contact information. If your business moves or changes its phone number, remember to update web pages and Google listings as soon as possible.

3. Add your address and Google My Business link to other pages

Linking your Google My Business (GMB) page to blog posts or other web pages can help draw more local traffic to your business. Consider adding a Google Maps link to the Contact Us or About Us section on your website. This will help visitors to quickly get directions to your location and read reviews from previous customers.

Likewise, linking the Google My Business page to your social media accounts will further increase local traffic. Just make sure your web pages and social media accounts contain links to one another.

The importance of adding an address and GMB link to web pages increases if you own several locations. Google might associate the wrong location with customer search queries.

For example, if you own several pizza delivery restaurants throughout a city, be sure each one has its own landing page that contains a GMB link to improve your local search engine optimization. You also want to make sure to check that your phone number and location information are all correct.

4. Create content for your community

Publishing blog posts about industry-related news events in your area will attract potential customers to your site. With content marketing, you can also create a calendar to keep them updated on upcoming events near the community.

The best content marketing provides well-researched, relevant information with local keywords spread throughout. Stuffing content with too many key phrases can work against you with Google rankings. Using most keywords every 2-3 paragraphs is good spacing.

With that said, local SEO is more than simply optimizing articles for popular search terms. Images and videos can also be helpful tools for engaging a local audience online. Be sure to include these to be more appealing to your community and customers. You'll also want to check that your photos or videos contain the right meta tags for your area.

‌‌Don't forget to include a meta description in your blog posts. Those can be both informative on a local search result and can also include a keyword to support the content marketing you are doing.

5. Partner with other community businesses with content

Partnering with other businesses is a great way to get links to your website through the local content they share with you. It will help Google identify your business as an area authority, and you'll receive more traffic in return. ‌

You can work with important businesses in your area to produce community content. Announce your support for a charity organization with a blog post or newsletter.

You can get involved in community events that receive local news coverage. Co-sponsoring a job fair or festival with another trusted industry leader is another way to gain local attention.

Or try hosting your own local event in partnership with a local non-profit organization or business that is well-liked in the community. Either way, your business will become more familiar to community members, and they will want to buy from you.

6. Conduct regular local SEO audits

‌Performing a local SEO audit can reveal weak points in your content, website structure, and marketing campaigns. Many of these weaknesses may not be obvious at first. Since search engines like Google change their algorithms all the time, local SEO audits can help you stay on top of any updates. Common issues found during an SEO audit can include:‌

  • Outdated or dead hyperlinks
  • Website navigation problems
  • Lack of relevant keywords in content and meta tags
  • Disorganized website structure
  • Improper link structure
  • Technical errors
  • Inaccurate contact or location data

‌‌If you are uncertain about conducting a local SEO audit yourself, it may be best to outsource the task to an experienced third party.

Professionals in local SEO understand how to get more people to visit your site. If you have any issues, they will help to guide you through the process. With their help, you will have more time to focus on running your business instead of laboring over data, spreadsheets, and keywords.

7. Get local reviews from customers and have them add location

Encourage customers to leave a Google review of your business whenever possible. The most obvious way to get positive feedback is to provide outstanding service, but you can also try reaching out to customers directly.

Consider sending a thank-you email following a recent purchase and provide a link to fill out a review. Customers who are actively invited to leave a review may be more interested in sharing their experience.

Or, you can encourage customers to leave a review online by printing survey invites onto receipts or placing a few QR codes inside the store.

‌With that said, sometimes bad reviews are unavoidable. Google offers a function that allows business owners to respond to customer concerns or complaints.

The ability to reply to negative reviews gives you a chance to apologize for any inconvenience. You can also offer assurance that you remain committed to addressing issues presented by customers.

Meanwhile, responding to a positive review demonstrates gratitude to your audience. A simple "thank you" sends positive signals to others interested in doing business with you.

‌‌A subtle piece of marketing is just showing up for your customers. Engaging with them in reviews will only help your local listing to rank better, get your more positive reviews, and boost your business profile in local search results.

8. Find the right tools and partners

The right tools and companies who are SEO experts can make adding local SEO practices much easier. While there are many local seo services available online, some free applications can be useful and more budget-friendly.

SEO tools can improve website performance, keyword usage, and search engine rankings. Here are some simple local SEO tools that every business owner should have:

Scorpion Local Marketing Platform

The Scorpion local marketing platform will give you all that you need to rank higher on local searches on Google and Bing/Yahoo. You can manage reviews, improve SEO, research your customers and content, and grow your business.

Scorpion provides dashboards and analytics to help you manage your business even on the go with its mobile app. The Scorpion local marketing platform has been build specifically for small businesses like yours in the legal, home services, medical, and other spaces.

Scorpion will also give you access to the team to help you grow if you don’t want to manage marketing and lead generation yourself.

Google Analytics

‌Another vital tool for small business owners is Google Analytics. It looks at huge amounts of data such as website traffic, page navigation speed, visitor behavior, content page views, and much more.

The user interface is very intuitive, making it easy for beginners to make sense of the most insightful metrics. To help with local SEO management, Google Analytics contains a Geo tab that displays where users are located.

It also shows you how long visitors spend on your website, and how many of them become paying customers. You can create custom reports with Google Analytics to get a better look at data that is most important to your business.

Create infographics for specific metrics, and use these findings to improve your local SEO strategies. You can also track how well your website is ranking in real-time, which will tell you where you can improve.

‌Google Search Console

Google provides a great search engine optimization tool for its search engine called Google Search Console. It will show your the keyword you are ranking for and provide insights on how to improve your local marketing. You can track the data yourself or hire an SEO company to give you updates on what Google Search Console is showing each month.

Similar to a lot of Google's tools for local business, Search Console is free and can be connected to your website and Google Analytics accounts.

Google Screened

For law firms specifically, Google now has what is called Google Screened. It helps to verify a business and can have a badge show up at the top of a local search ad result. To learn more about Google Screened, here is a guide

Improve local SEO with Scorpion

Are you having trouble navigating the complexities of local SEO? Our experienced team at Scorpion is here to help.

We provide custom-tailored solutions to help our clients achieve their goals. We specialize in local SEO for all businesses, and we can help you to attract more visitors to your website and followers to your social media pages.

Let us help you connect with customers in your area. Call us today to learn more!