Why is 'Local SEO' vital for small businesses?



For small, local businesses, being found by potential customers in your area is vital to keep customers coming through the doors and for generating more revenue.


With so much opportunity to be found online and so much local competition you are likely to have, if your website’s SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) isn’t being maintained, you’re going to be missing on a lot of traffic from people that are searching for businesses like your in your local area.


Keeping up with your SEO, especially local SEO, helps you improve your website’s position in search results with a focus on searches in your local area.


In this article, we’ll be covering why local SEO is so important for small businesses, and what you need to do to improve your local SEO.


Contents:

1. What is 'Local SEO'?

2. Why is Local SEO important?

3. What does Local SEO involve?

3(a). Identifying Keywords

3(b). On-page Optimisation

3(c). Local Directory Backlinks

4. Need help improving your local SEO?



What is 'Local SEO'?


While SEO refers to the general process of optimising your website to improve its ranking position in search results, local SEO is an approach that focuses on improving visibility in local search results for specific keywords and phrases.


Hand written sign that reads 'What is local SEO?'

For businesses that have a physical location or operate within a specific geographic area, local SEO is a great way to focus your optimisation on the locations that will generate the most relevant traffic to your website.


While search engines these days will show users search results based on their location from the get-go, improving your local SEO gives you more of an opportunity to show up on the first page of search results.



Why is Local SEO important?


With 46% of all Google searches being made by users looking for local information, improving how you rank for relevant search terms locally is very important for small businesses



As well as positioning your business for increased and more relevant website traffic, when done correctly, local SEO can help you stay ahead of your competition in search results.


For many local businesses like plumbers, electricians, mechanics, cafés, restaurants, hotels, retailers (the list goes on), there’s a lot of local competition to overcome, which is why local SEO is so important, alongside maintaining an active presence on social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram.



What does Local SEO involve?



Identifying Keywords


Before you start optimising your local SEO, the first step is to identify the search terms that your potential customers will use to find businesses like yours.


These keywords should include your type of business or the products/services that you provide. You can also include where you are located, but nowadays, Google uses location information to present relevant search results for the user, wherever they may be; this means optimising for search queries that include ‘near me’ is important.


For example, if you’re a local mechanic with a garage located in or near Southampton, your target keywords are likely to be:

  • Mechanics near me

  • MOT garage near me

  • Mechanics in Southampton

  • MOT garage Southampton

  • Car servicing Southampton

To get the most out of your SEO, you’ll need to identify and target keywords that get a good amount of traffic and aren’t too difficult in terms of competition.


To help you with this, you can use tools like Moz’s Keyword Explorer or Semrush’s Keyword Magic Tool to analyse search phrases for their monthly traffic, difficulty, and related keyword suggestions.


Moz's Keyword Explorer tool in action.

Once you have identified your target keywords, you can then move on to implementing them on your website!


On-page Optimisation


To optimise your website for the local target keywords that you have identified, you’ll need to cover a few areas.


Metadata



Including your target keywords in your meta titles and descriptions is the first step in optimising your web pages for local SEO.


If you’re unaware, meta titles and descriptions are the pieces of text that appear in search engine results. Google and other search engines use this text as part of their process to determine what your page is about and what search results it should appear for. This text is also the first thing your potential users will see when they come across your site, so it must appeal to them and make them want to visit your website.


Taking from the previous example, if you were a local mechanic based in Southampton, and you wanted to optimise your homepage for the keyphrase ‘MOT Garage Southampton’ you could structure your metadata as follows:

Example of optimised metadata for a car garage shown in Google search results.

While the keyword isn’t an exact match, you’ll still have all of the relevant information there for search engines e.g. ‘Southampton’ and ‘MOT Testing’ as well as pricing and a call to action for search engine users.


It’s important to strike the right balance when writing your metadata – if you write it with only search engines in mind, it won’t entice your target audience; and if you write with just your target audience in mind, you may not be including enough, or the right keywords you want to rank for.


Heading Tags


Another aspect of your web pages that search engines will look at to quickly gauge what your site is about is your page headings.


Having a good structure of your heading tags from <H1> through to <H6> is a good start, but if you aren’t including your keywords within these headings, particularly the higher-level headings, you may not rank as well for your target keywords.


Website code showing the meta tags and heading tags of a web page.

This can be very simply remedied, however, and just requires a rework of your page headings. Just as when writing your metadata, it’s important to remember to strike the right balance between search engine and search user intent when writing these headings.


Content


Optimising your on-page content with your locally focused keywords helps search engines pick up on what your page is about and where your business is based.


It’s important to add keywords into your content where they make sense and sound natural – otherwise, you could diminish your user experience with nonsense paragraphs and keyword stuffing.


A great way to include more keyword-rich content on your site is with a blog.


Businessman writing a blog post for his business.

Blog posts are a great way to show off your expertise and to grow relevant traffic on your website. With a blog, you can target keywords and phrases related to your business and create content that provides value to your audience and helps you rank for different search queries.


Say, for example, you run a charity that does work in your local community, and your main target keyword for your site is ‘Charities in Fareham’. There is a range of blog content that you could create surrounding this specific keyword and others related to it.


You could create a list of charities in Fareham with links out to other local organisations doing great work in the community. You could also create a post giving details on any upcoming charity fundraising events in the local community, which you could release monthly. You could even drill down further into specific fundraising events that you have run or taken part in across the local community and what was involved/how much was raised.


All of this content that focuses on local events that your organisation is involved in, will do wonders for your local SEO efforts!


Local Directory Backlinks


As with any SEO strategy, growing your backlink profile should be a top priority.


While building contextual backlinks from high-ranking websites in your industry should be one of your main focuses, if you are trying to improve your local ranking and grow your traffic, local directories are a great place to start.


Business listing on a website directory.

Directory backlinks are typically seen as the low-hanging fruit of the backlinking world – as they are easier to obtain but don’t provide a lot of SEO value. However, for local businesses, getting listed on local business directories can be very worthwhile.


Even if the link itself doesn’t hold a lot of weight when it comes to site authority, or even if it’s a ‘nofollow’ link, if the directory gets a lot of organic traffic to its profiles, you could see an increase in traffic from that one link.


Popular directories like Yell or Yelp are good places to start, but try looking at directories focused on your industry too.


If you’re a plumber, submitting your website for a profile on a local tradesman directory, or specifically a plumbing directory, could not only help to increase traffic from your ideal target audience but can also provide more context to search engines on what your site is about.



Need help improving your local SEO?


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If you’re struggling with your SEO and want to improve your ranking position in local search results, give us a call on 01329 595003 or send an email to sales@inspireddigital.co.uk to speak to a member of our team about our on-site SEO service!

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