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What is SEO for local businesses?

Sep 28

If you own a local business, you might have heard of the term SEO, or search engine optimization. But what exactly is SEO and how can it help your business grow online? In this blog post, we will give you a brief introduction to the topic of SEO for local businesses and explain why it is important for your online visibility and success.

Why SEO matters for local businesses

Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of improving the visibility and relevance of a website or a web page in the organic results of a search engine. Part of the process includes optimizing website for keywords, adding relevant information such as location, contact details, and reviews, and using tools such as Google My Business and Bing Places,  

Do local businesses need SEO? Yes, absolutely. On average, 97% of online searches are looking for local businesses, which means people are more interested in businesses within their reach. However, only businesses with good online visibility can take advantage of the clamor for local businesses.

SEO matters for local businesses because it helps you attract customers who are searching for your products or services in their area by improving your brand’s online visibility.

SEO for local business
Image courtesy of Seobility, licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

How does SEO help local businesses?

The primary benefit of optimizing your business website for search engines is improving online visibility for organic searchers. Although increasing online visibility can be achieved in other ways (e.g., paid advertisements) there are more benefits to SEO for local businesses. Some of which are;

  • Increasing traffic and leads from potential customers who are searching for products or services in their area.
  • Building trust and credibility with online users who see the website ranking high on search results pages.
  • Enhancing brand awareness and reputation among target audiences.
  • Saving costs and resources by focusing on organic marketing strategies rather than paid advertising campaigns.

SEO best practices for local businesses

As a local business owner, you should know that there are minimum requirements your business website must meet to reach a search engine-optimized level. Fortunately, there are best practices that can put your business in competition or improve its advantage. Furthermore, you can take it a step forward by fine-tuning these best practices to suit your unique value propositions.

For example, SEO for general contractors will include construction related keywords, collaboration with complementary businesses, general construction keywords, listings on general construction business listings, etc,. to make a headway in that niche.

Here are some of the SEO best practices and how you can adapt them to your business’ peculiarity.

Create and promote quality content

Optimizing your website for SEO starts with creating and promoting local content. This helps you rank higher for local keywords, attract more local customers, and build trust and authority in your niche. The following steps are ways to improve your content quality.

  • Identify the local topics and keywords that your audience is interested in. Keywords are words or phrases that people in need of your services or goods tend to input on search engines. Analytics of these keywords shows their volume (the number of searches each word or phrase has), and trends (increasing or decreasing volume) to give business owners insight. 

Tools like Google Trends, Keyword Planner, or AnswerThePublic are useful for finding out what people are searching for in your area. For example, a simple data input of ‘New York’ and ‘general contractor’ on Keyword Planner shows you the best keywords in the area. However, refine the search with more specific location inputs like…

  • Create local content that answers questions, solves problems, or provides the information that your audience is looking for. While putting out content is good, quality content is the key to standing out from competitors. I dare say one good content is better than dozens of mediocre contents.

In addition, you can use different formats, such as blog posts, videos, podcasts, infographics, or ebooks, to pass your message across, depending on your target audience.

  • Optimize your local content for search engines by using the local keywords in your title, headings, meta tags, URL, and body text. Basically, your webpage contents should revolve around local keywords. 
  • Promote your local content with off-page SEO. You can use social media, email newsletters, online directories, or local media outlets to bring attention to your contents. More attention means your chances of landing a qualified lead is increasing. 

You can also collaborate with other local businesses or influencers to cross-promote your content and reach a wider audience.

google business profile for local seo
Image courtesy of Seobility, licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

Use Google My Business

Google My Business (GMB) is a platform that lists information about local businesses, such as their name, address, phone number, website, and reviews. GMB is responsible for the Google local 3-pack list which appears when you search for a service in a specific area. To show the importance of GMB to businesses, an average of 44% of local searchers click through the Google 3-pack, increasing the businesses’ chances of landing a lead.

If you don’t have a GMB account yet, you can start with these steps:

  1. Go to and sign in with your Google account. If you don't have one, you can create one for free.
  2. Enter your business name and address. If your business is already on Google, you can claim it. If not, you can add it as a new listing.
  3. Choose a business category that best describes what you do.
  4. Add your contact details, such as phone number, website, and hours of operation.
  5. Verify your business by choosing one of the available methods, such as phone, email, or postcard.
  6. Once verified, you can access your Google My Business dashboard and start optimizing your profile with photos, posts, reviews, and more.

Use other online Directories

Apart from Google My Business, there are other online directories. Although they are not directly linked to search engines, they boast a large number of users looking for businesses in a chosen area. 

These online directories can help improve local SEO (search engine optimization) by increasing the visibility and credibility of a business in its target area. To use business directories effectively, you should follow these steps:

  • Find relevant and reputable directories for your industry and location, such as Google My Business, Yelp, or TripAdvisor.
  • Create or claim your listings on these directories and fill out all the required fields with accurate and consistent information.
  • Optimize your listing with keywords, categories, descriptions, photos, and videos that showcase your products or services and highlight your unique selling points.
  • Encourage and respond to customer reviews, ratings, and feedback on these directories, as they can influence the ranking and reputation of a business.
  • Monitor and update their listings regularly to ensure they reflect any changes in their business information, offerings, or policies.
local citations for local seo
Image courtesy of Seobility, licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0


Build local citations and links

Citations are online mentions of your business name, address, and phone number (NAP) on search engines, social media channels, business directories, review sites, etc. Links are hyperlinks from other websites (authoritative sites are a plus) that point to your site. Both citations and links can help you boost your local authority and trustworthiness. 

You can build citations and links by submitting your NAP to local directories, joining local associations, sponsoring local events, and creating valuable content. Although, link building is almost exclusive to content creation. 

Both citations and links help search engines verify your business information, location, and authority, which can improve your visibility and ranking in local search results.

Optimize your website for mobile devices

More and more people are using their smartphones to search for local businesses and services. You can optimize your website for mobile devices by using a responsive design, improving your site speed, simplifying your navigation, and using clear calls to action.

Get more reviews and ratings from customers

Reviews and ratings show that your website is trustworthy, relevant, and popular among your target audience. They also provide valuable feedback and insights that can help you optimize your products or services. 

Reviews and ratings can be collected through various methods, such as surveys, testimonials, social media, or third-party platforms. However, you need to follow some best practices to ensure that your reviews and ratings are authentic, ethical, and effective. 

Here are some tips to get more reviews and ratings from your customers:

  • Ask for reviews and ratings at the right time and place. You want to ask your customers for their opinions when they are most satisfied and engaged with your website and service. For example, you can ask them after they have achieved a goal. 

You also want to make it easy and convenient for them to leave a review or rating. For example, you can use pop-ups, email reminders, or mobile notifications.

  • Provide incentives and rewards for reviews and ratings. You want to motivate your customers to share their experiences and opinions with you and others. For example, you can offer them discounts, coupons, freebies, or loyalty points for leaving a review or rating. You can also create contests, giveaways, or referral programs that encourage them to invite their friends and family to review or rate your website.
  • Showcase and respond to reviews and ratings. You want to show your customers that you appreciate and value their feedback. For example, you can display your reviews and ratings on your website, social media, or marketing materials. 

You can also feature some of the best or most helpful reviews and ratings on your homepage or landing pages. You also want to respond to your reviews and ratings, especially the negative ones. For example, you can thank your customers for their compliments, apologize for their complaints, or offer solutions for their problems.

  • Monitor and analyze reviews and ratings. You want to keep track of your reviews and ratings and use them to improve your website and service's performance. For example, you can use tools like Moz or Sentiment analysis to measure and monitor your reviews and ratings. 
metrics for local seo
Image courtesy of Seobility, licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0


Measure and improve your local SEO performance

Measuring your local SEO performance is the only way to know if your SEO efforts are a success. Here are some ways to measure and improve your local SEO performance:

  • Define your local SEO goals and key performance indicators (KPIs). What are you trying to achieve with local SEO? Do you want to increase traffic, leads, sales, or reviews? How will you measure these outcomes? Some common KPIs for local SEO are organic sessions, local pack impressions, clicks, calls, directions requests, and conversions.
  • Track your local rankings. You can use tools like Google Search Console, Bing Webmaster Tools, or Moz Local to monitor how your site ranks for local keywords and queries. You should also check for how much traffic you get from different locations and sources.


  • What is SEO for local businesses and why is it important?

SEO for local business is optimizing a local business website to improve its search result rankings on search engines. The importance of SEO to local businesses is in improving their visibility, and chances of getting a lead or customer. 

  • What are some common SEO mistakes?

Some common SEO mistakes include redundant contents, failure to monitor and update SEO strategies, and not optimizing content for mobile friendliness. 


SEO for local businesses is a no-brainer in a competitive market. You get the needed exposure which also guarantees a boost in leads gained. In addition, it gives local businesses a niche they can explore with fewer competitors.

You can optimize your local business website for SEO by using local keywords associated with your service, optimizing for mobile, producing quality content, listing your business on online directories, and regularly updating your SEO strategies. Following these strategies on a consistent basis is the key to staying atop the digital marketing space.