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15 Effective Ways Small Businesses Can Leverage Local SEO

8 Mins read

Small businesses can gain a significant edge by mastering local SEO, and to uncover the most effective strategies, we’ve gathered insights from business owners and CEOs. Starting with mastering your Google Business profile and culminating in partnering with educational institutions, this article presents fifteen powerful tips for local SEO success.

Focus on Your Google Business Profile

Small businesses can leverage local SEO and get great results by optimizing their Google Business Profile. Google Business profiles are displayed within the Google Map Pack. These are the three business profiles listed underneath the Google Map at the top of a Google search results page and are separate from the standard search results.

Unlike the standard Google search results, the Map Pack displays the top three business profiles based on the area you searched from or any location-based keywords that you searched for. The advantages of optimizing to be found within the Google Map Pack, and not the standard search results.

Your Google Business Profile will be displayed above the standard search results. This is where over 50% of the clicks take place, and so it can lead to a greater number of clicks to your website.

The competition within the Google Map Pack is much less than that of the standard search results. So, a little bit of optimization can have a greater chance of ranking you within the top three results and bringing more clicks to your website.

Paired with optimizing for the standard search results, ranking your Google Business Profile higher will give you two bites at the cherry when it comes to competing for clicks.

Sam Robinson, Owner, Webspider

Create Locally Relevant Content

Fostering community interaction through locally relevant material has proven to be a strong approach to increasing our local SEO. We’ve not only connected with our local audience but also significantly improved our search engine rankings by creating blog posts, social media updates, and website content that specifically highlight our involvement in local events, collaborations with nearby artists, and the unique inspirations drawn from our community. 

Because of the local focus of our internet material, our firm displays highly when potential buyers search for jewelry in our area. This technique not only enhances our community links but also portrays Jewelry Lab as a local gem, both metaphorically and digitally, increasing our presence in local search results.

Jesús Zabala, Founder and Designer, Jewelry Lab

Build Local Links

A great way is by building local links. This means getting your business linked on websites that are important in your area.

Start by collaborating with local businesses and community groups for mutual promotion. You can also write guest articles or participate in local events to get mentioned online. These local links tell search engines that your business is a trusted part of the community, helping you rank higher in local search results.

Marco Genaro Palma, Content Marketing Manager, PRLab

Generate Consistent Citations

One way small businesses can effectively leverage local SEO is by building citations, which are just mentions of your business information like NAP (Name, Address, Phone number) on other websites and directories. 

Even though these are not as important as before, they still help your business appear when people search for local keywords. Consistent NAP (Name, Address, Phone number) across all platforms is vital to making the most of citations and improving local search rankings!

Mohammad Arman, Local Marketer, Mohammad Arman

List Your Local Address Clearly

If you are a local brick-and-mortar business, do not forget to list your address on the site. Place it in the footer and have a “Contact Us” page that also lists your phone number, email address, and links to social media, including your Google Business Profile. 

Include all of this information in your Local Business schema that will also be added to the site. It may seem small, but many businesses overlook this step when building their site.

Cari Bacon, Associate Director of SEO, Direct Agents

Optimize for Voice Search

I’ve been in the field of local SEO for more than a decade, and one key trend to focus on nowadays is optimizing your site for voice search. Voice search usage seems to have leveled off for the moment, but it’s still among the top five methods people use to ask questions on their phones. Many of these questions are looking for local information.

So, what does this mean for your strategy? At the very least, your website should be set up to answer the most common questions about what you offer. Take, for example, the likelihood of customers in a certain area wanting to know about your closest location, contact number, business hours, or other details that help them get in touch with you.

A good first step is making sure this information is easy to find on each location-specific page of your website. Then, the next thing to do is answer queries about what you’re offering. This might require some effort to figure out what information people will look for. But, spending time on this is worthwhile to ensure you’re providing the answers your customers are searching for.

Precious Abacan, Marketing Director, Softlist

Become a Local Expert

Become the local expert! Through targeting specific keywords, optimizing my online presence, and engaging with the community, I’ve been able to become a reputable and valuable entity—for clients and colleagues alike—in a handful of different regions.

I learned quickly to go beyond “houses for sale” and target neighborhood-specific keywords like “charming rentals in Rocky River, Ohio.” I always advise that researching frequently searched phrases with local modifiers—like schools, amenities, and landmarks—is a great place to start when determining the right keywords to implement. 

Additionally, I’d advise going beyond just listing your services and creating content that’s relevant to the specific neighborhood. For example, I post monthly blogs through each of our location-based sites, covering local events, highlighting school districts, or creating guides to showcase different local small businesses. Taking things a step further, try to participate in the events that you cover, or send a representative to participate on your behalf. Whether in person or virtual, it’s a great way to build rapport and trust while creating value and the potential for referrals.

I also saw a huge boost in local analytics after taking steps to optimize my online presence. Google Business Profile and local directories were my focus. Complete, verify, and regularly update your Google Business Page, and submit your business to relevant online directories and local Chambers of Commerce. Did you know that this can boost your online visibility and local authority in search engines?

Ryan Carrigan, CEO and Founder, moveBuddha

Secure Local Media Features

This is easy—a media feature! One way a small business can effectively leverage local SEO is by targeting local news around their area. What local media outlets can you tap into to get your business placed on their website? You have to figure out what story you’re trying to tell and reach out to local outlets. 

You also have to network with local journalists and befriend them! Once you get that media feature, make sure that you get a hyperlink back to your website. If you don’t, email the journalist and ask them if they can please add it in. It shouldn’t be too much hassle on their part. And that hyperlink is a WIN for you! The more hyperlinks from reputable news organizations and sites back to your own, the better. Google will start to recognize you as an expert in your industry and push your website higher up in the search rankings.

Mercedes Barba, PR and Media Coach for Small Businesses, Mercedes and Media

Prioritize Mobile Optimization

Small businesses need to make mobile optimization a top priority to improve their local search engine optimization efforts in this era of mobile domination. You should make sure that your website is responsive and offers a great user experience across a variety of devices, particularly mobile phones. 

Since Google gives preference in search results to websites that are mobile-friendly, this optimization is necessary for achieving local visibility. Incorporating location-based keywords into mobile content should be done naturally so that users can easily and quickly access information that is relevant to them. 

Additionally, if you want to reach a larger local audience, you might consider utilizing local mobile applications and platforms. Small businesses have the opportunity to benefit from the growing number of consumers conducting local searches on their smartphones by giving mobile optimization a higher priority. This will ultimately lead to an improvement in the performance of their local search engine optimization.

Vikas Kaushik, CEO, TechAhead

Network with Local Influencers

Small businesses usually don’t create a network of local influencers for cross-promotion. This network operates on a principle of mutual benefit: Local businesses can feature each other on their websites, social media, or blogs, enhancing their local relevance in search engine algorithms. 

For instance, if you run a digital marketing agency, you could partner with a local cafe by promoting their special offers on your blog, while they could display your business cards or flyers in their cafe. This creates a web of local references and backlinks that are highly valued by search engines for local searches. 

Moreover, it fosters a sense of community among local businesses, offering a more authentic and personal connection to the local audience compared to traditional advertising. This method not only enhances local SEO but also builds lasting relationships within the community, which can be more sustainable and impactful in the long run.

Daniel Bunn, Founder and Director, DB IT

Get Listed on Local Directories

In my experience, one of the most impactful local SEO strategies we implemented for a client was getting their business listed on local directories. These directories often have high domain authority and can drive targeted traffic to your business. Also, these lists include other known businesses in the same niche, so being included here can make your business an option for comparison. 

For example, if you have a cafe in Boston, getting listed on a Boston-based food directory can put your business right in front of potential customers who are specifically looking for cafes in Boston. It’s a win-win!

Tristan Harris, Demand Generation Senior Marketing Manager, Thrive Digital Marketing Agency

Refine Job Listings for Local SEO

I’ve seen firsthand how impactful local SEO can be for small businesses looking to attract top talent. The key is optimizing your careers page and job listings for local searches. Get granular with location tags, focus on networking events in your city, and don’t neglect your Glassdoor and LinkedIn pages. 

Crafting geo-targeted content that spotlights your unique company culture goes a long way. Most importantly, build an authentic employer brand that resonates with the high-caliber candidates in your own backyard. It takes consistency and creativity, but the effort pays dividends in attracting qualified candidates.

Lou Reverchuk, Co-Founder and CEO, EchoGlobal

Accelerate Digital PR and Link-Building

From the perspective of our internal team, I would say that getting your outreach, link-building, and broader digital PR efforts together as soon as possible is one of the best ways to get ahead as a small business. Use tools like Ahrefs to “close the gap” with competitor backlinks, and then work to obtain your own unique links away from competitors.

Tracey Beveridge, HR Director, Personnel Checks

Target with Long-Tail Keywords

Local SEO is an excellent way to target smaller (but extremely valuable) customer segments. One of the local SEO strategies that we use at O+ is long-tail keywords. Basically, this allows us to reach audiences in specific areas who are looking for a specific type of product. Looking at it compared to short-tail keywords, the results are a lot less dramatic. But when you look at it more closely, the success rate of clicks and conversions is a lot higher than with short-tail keywords. 

Local SEO can help your business a lot if you know who you’re targeting and why you’re targeting them. It’s a strategy that more and more businesses are using because the benefits have been so great. There’s a lot more that you can do than simply using long-tail keywords (and we at O+ do use more), but long-tail keywords are a great method to start with.

Lauren Carlstrom, COO, Oxygen Plus

Partner with Educational Institutions

In my opinion, a less-conventional but effective strategy for small businesses in local SEO is to establish partnerships with local schools or educational institutions. Offer to provide workshops, internships, or educational resources related to your industry. 

This not only contributes positively to your community but also creates opportunities for your business to be mentioned and linked on educational websites. These high-quality backlinks can boost your local search rankings significantly, while also showcasing your commitment to local education and growth.

Cyrus Partow, CEO, ShipTheDeal

Brett Farmiloe is the founder of Featured, a Q&A platform that connects brands with expert insights.

Local SEO stock image by Inna Kot/Shutterstock

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