For small businesses, ranking in search results is a great way to get in front of an online audience and expand your reach. But that doesn’t mean you should no longer seek out local business for your storefront. 

Small business owners and local businesses can benefit greatly from appearing in local searches. Optimizing your small business for local search allows your company to get more store visits, phone orders, bookings, and appointments. It can also help establish your business as a local hotspot and put you on the radars of visitors and vacationers. 

Let’s dive into what local SEO is and how you can take advantage of it for your business.

What is Local SEO?

Local SEO refers to business and website optimization for local products or service-based businesses that have physical stores, with the goal of appearing in local searches within specific regions and locations (usually the areas these businesses serve).

Why is a Local SEO Strategy Important for Small Businesses

Many consumers are turning to Google to evaluate local businesses. In turn, small businesses need to make sure their business is easily found by these consumers in the process.

Let’s get a bit deeper and break down the benefits local SEO offers:

Improved Online Visibility

With local SEO, you not only improve the chances of being found via local search but improve your overall small business visibility. Optimizing for Local SEO involves submitting your business name, address, and phone numbers to different directories.

Doing this means there’s an increased probability of being found when people actively search for the specific products and services you offer in their local area.

Increased In-Store Traffic

Part of the reason for local search is to connect people with local businesses that are closer to them. Review Tracker’s November 2021 report found that 42% of millennials who used local search paid visits to discover businesses most of the time.

If you optimize your business for local search, there is bound to be an increase in store visits as your company is being discovered by people looking for what you offer. 

Contributing to the Local Economy

Small businesses are pillars of their community and local economy. When consumers choose to source products they need locally and are prioritizing shopping from neighborhood stores and small business owners, they’re putting their money back into their local economy, which is good for building their community. 

Optimizing your small business for local SEO ensures consumers close to you in your geographic location can actively find you when they need to source products and services like yours locally. This, overall, encourages consumers to support more small businesses instead of big brands and companies. 

How to Audit your Business and Website for Local SEO

Now that you understand what local SEO is and how it benefits your business, the next step is to audit your business for local SEO to put it on the map and ensure visibility. While it may look like a complex process, your business could be on its way to getting local SEO-ready in just a few steps.

1. Conduct Keyword Research

Conduct keyword research to discover keywords that customers use to search for your products or services. Ideally, local search keywords usually include “near me” or the city’s name.

For example:

  • “Lawyers near me”
  • “Dentists in Florida”
  • “Home decor services in Glendale”

Make sure to note all your service offerings, as customers could be searching for any of them specifically.

2. Do a Website Audit

Once you have a list of keywords, it is time to audit your website for links and authority. This step is more than just doing website maintenance

When auditing your business’s website, you need to:

Your website audit will take the longest to implement, and it’s an ongoing process. To make it a bit easier, start by seeing what content you already have ranking and for what keywords. Then, reverse engineer by updating the content that’s ranking for high-priority keywords. 

3. Update Your Google Business Profile

A Google business profile allows you to put your business details on Google, which comes up during local searches. The details include information about your business like name, address, phone number, website, opening hours, business category, and other vital information.

Keep up-to-date information on your Google business profile to increase credibility and increase your rank in SERP.

4. NAP Citation Analysis

Name, address, and phone number (NAP) citation is any online mention of your business and its details. You should have as many citations as possible to boost your local search rankings.

Submit your NAP to multiple local and online directories, yellow pages, or your local chamber of commerce website. Take care to keep this information updated regularly. 93% of consumers say they are tired of getting incorrect information from business directories, while 80% lose trust in such businesses.

5. Review Analysis

Reviews are essential for your business’s local SEO and sales. Consumers are more likely to patronize a business with positive reviews. Stats show that 97% of consumers will read online reviews to discover local businesses, while 12% do so daily.

Ask past customers to leave reviews on your Google business profile page, and consider adding an incentive to encourage your customers to take action.

Take a look at past reviews and observe the pattern. The presence of many negative reviews may mean you need to do a review of your business and what you can improve on. Take time to respond to some reviews, as this cements trust and portrays your business as responsive.

6. Social Media Audit

Social media is a marketing channel, and your small business should be utilizing it. Your presence on social media also impacts your local SEO and search rankings. You do not have to be on every social media platform, but you should choose the ones that your audience is active on and complement your business and stay active on those.

Look for brand consistency across your social media pages, and consider your activities – are you consistent with your posts and engagements? Do you respond to questions and inquiries from customers? Consider building out a social media calendar to help you stay consistent with your posting and presence. 

7. Analytics Review and Competitor Analysis

Use Google Analytics to audit your website. Look at the numbers and identify the successful keywords your business is already ranking for and the ones you need to work on. Use analytics to discover where your traffic is coming from, how visitors typically get to your website and your website performance.

Use SEMRush’s keyword gap analysis tool to search your keywords and see how your rank against your competitors. Look at the content that’s ranking for those terms (both yours and your competitors) and analyze the strengths and weaknesses. 

Also, take time to check in on your competitors on their social media pages and Google business profiles. Identify what they are doing that you are not doing, what they’re doing differently, and how you can improve to stay competitive in your local marketplace.

As a small business owner with a brick-and-mortar store looking to improve sales and grow business, it is important that you optimize and audit your business for local search with local SEO. Use this seven-step guide, and your business can reap the benefits of local SEO in just a few months.