What is Local SEO and How Does it Help a Small Business?

Local search engine optimization or SEO may be the missing ingredient that helps a small business website to turn up in online search results. Since local SEO focuses on a particular region or geographic area, it gives local businesses an edge over competitors, including major chains. Local SEO also builds brand awareness and helps consumers find relevant service providers. More than just another online search trend, local SEO is here to stay and here’s how small businesses can use it to stand out in online search.

Why Use Local SEO? 

Local SEO is the natural outgrowth of the formerly popular search phrase “near me,” in which consumers were searching for service providers near them-leading to poorly phrased web copy that contained phrases such as “near me” in hopes of attracting customers. Local SEO fills in this gap with place names (community, county, or state level) to truly help web searchers find a service provider that is near their location.

Search engines use local keywords to display suitable matches at the top of the results page in a local search box. Simply by using local SEO, a business can leapfrog over other companies that may have a stronger web presence to land in the local search box. It’s much easier to stand out among a small group of competitors, like the handful of local search results, than it is to stand out from a crowded pool of search results  Businesses can win with local SEO without increasing their digital ad spend by doing their own SEO services or rely on a service provider if they don’t have time to tackle this task.

How to Optimize a Website for Local SEO

There are many ways a business can increase the usage of local keywords on a website, such as:

  • Registering the business with local search sites, such as Google Places, Tripadvisor, or Yelp
  • Entering the business address in local directories
  • Adding local keywords to relevant blog posts
  • Including the business address in business webpage footers or social media sites
  • Asking customers for feedback on local review sites (such as Yelp or Angie’s List) to build authority and reputation
  • Building up online citations that display business name and address information
  • Keeping up-to-date business hours, menus, services, and other details on social media, local search platforms, and the business website

It may seem time-consuming to update previously published blog posts to include local keywords or check for location information across third-party search sites. However, in most cases business owners can complete these tasks once then reap the benefits for years to come. Putting off these duties becomes they seem time-consuming can doubly penalize the business, as competitors who take the time to prioritize local SEO will win a place in local search results and boost market share accordingly.

Business owners who want the benefits of local SEO, yet do not have the time (or SEO skills) to do these tasks, can hire a digital marketing company, who can provide local SEO services.

When searchers see positive reviews next to a business listing, they are more likely to trust that service provider or to call for a quote. By getting found in local search and maintaining a positive reputation online, business owners can build market share using organic methods rather than investing in paid ads.

Over time, the benefits of local SEO outweigh the investment of time or money to improve SEO. Businesses that adopt local keywords will get found more often without spending money on ads. Businesses can build a customer base and enjoy strong market share to thrive for years to come.

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