Local SEO for Small Business: Where to Start

May 19, 2023
Written by
SendGrid Team
Opinions expressed by Twilio contributors are their own
Reviewed by
Ayanna Julien
Opinions expressed by Twilio contributors are their own

Local SEO for Small Business: Where to Start

Search engine optimization (SEO) connects online audiences to your web content through on-page copy that contains common keyphrases people type into search engines. And if it’s a storefront business you’re marketing, local SEO—or local search engine marketing—will help you reach more specific audiences based on geographic keyphrases.

Here, we’ll cover the importance of local SEO, best optimization practices for your online business profile, and how to improve local search rankings to set your business apart from competitors. 

Local SEO: Why does it matter?

Small storefront businesses rely heavily on foot traffic to survive. Mobile devices change the game, as 76% of customers search for prices and reviews online before they visit a store. Shoppers might want to look up prices, inventory, or directions to your location. 

Local search helps attract online orders and drives local store visits so you remain competitive within your geographic area. 

Visibility in local search results is a relatively easy and affordable way to promote your business online. With higher rankings and elevated digital presence for location-based queries, trust and authority increase—which can help your local business sustain long-term loyalty, whether your customers purchase online or in store.

Now that you know why local SEO for small business is worth your while, let’s take a look at best practices to optimize your online profile and help your business appear on local Google maps. 

Set up a local profile 

A local profile allows potential customers to learn about your offerings after a relevant search. It’s a must-have for any business to thrive in a digitally saturated space. For instance, if you have a brick-and-mortar retail store, you can create your profile on different platforms with up-to-date information about your address and operating hours. That way, people can quickly decide if they want to visit your location in person. 

You can set up your business for search in 4 easy steps:

1. Create a Google Business Profile

With a global market share of about 84.69%, Google remains the top search engine for businesses to increase brand recognition. To get started, you can sign up for a free Google Business Profile to ensure your business shows up on Google Maps.

A Google Business Profile allows you to add essential information, logos, photos, and relevant labels. You can also interact with customers and promote any upcoming events that might pique their interests. These best practices build authentic connections, create repeat business, and solidify loyalty. 

Additionally, if customers have questions about your store, you can respond directly and strengthen your rapport. Then, when satisfied, customers can leave you a favorable Google review. 

2. Expand your presence to Bing and other search engines

Once you learn how to put your business on Google, expand your digital presence and create profiles on other popular search engines. Bing and Yahoo! are 2 other business directories to add your information to appear in additional location-based search results.

3. Ensure you’re compliant

It’s crucial to comply with all search engine policies and rules as you set up your business profile. For instance, Google requires you to:
  • Limit your presence to one business profile per search engine.
  • Verify your physical address and contact information.
  • Maintain accurate and updated listings of your locations, hours, and availability.
Additionally, some search engines prohibit you from revealing sensitive details that might violate user privacy—and it’s always better to play it safe than damage your business’ reputation.

4. Clarify your services 

To address consumer needs, always outline a clear and concise description of your offerings. Doing so makes it easy for people to skim your profile and understand your business.

Optimize for local 

Before a shopping trip, customers might search Google Maps to find what they need nearby or browse Yelp reviews to learn about your business. The more resources and time you devote to location-based SEO, the more likely your priority customers will convert into foot traffic and store sales. 

You can optimize your business for local traffic in 3 easy steps:

1. Conduct keyword research for local 

For customers, keywords help narrow down their search and connect with relevant solutions. However, for marketers, keyword research identifies potential prospects based on the terms and phrases they seek. For search engines, keywords are a valuable ranking signal to indicate whether you meet the needs of the online community and deserve a higher position in the listings.

2. Optimize your profile and local listings

Once you choose the main and secondary categories that define your business, fill in as many attributes as you can on your profile to increase local visibility. Attributes can provide added details about your locations and help you attract a particular audience. For instance, you might include tags like: 
  • Pet friendly 
  • Outdoor seating
  • Wi-Fi available 
  • Wheelchair accessible 
  • Family friendly 
  • Festive atmosphere 
  • Delivery available 
  • Donates to charity

3. Incorporate images and assets

A picture speaks a thousand words. And when you incorporate images, videos, or social profiles, you allow customers to get a clearer sense of your brand, offerings, and location. This best practice boosts engagement and brand awareness.

Monitor your performance

Track various metrics—such as search engine rankings, clicks, and website traffic—to determine your business profile performance. With this knowledge, you can make decisions that further optimize your local search strategy.

Incorporate analytics and other tools 

Once you track the various metrics, analytics help you pinpoint the effectiveness of your marketing efforts and identify areas for potential growth. Google Search Console is a free analytics tool that can help you improve your SEO.
  • Check if your business is mobile-friendly.
  • Identify any issues that may impair performance in search results. 
  • Submit your sitemap to help Google understand how you structure your content better. 
  • View clicks, impressions, and average click-through rates for specific keywords.
Other paid tools exist to provide greater control and management of your local listings. For instance, there are tools to help you research local keyword opportunities, monitor and respond to online reviews proactively, maintain accurate and updated listings, or track rankings across all search engines. 

Use multiple channels

Your efforts to improve visibility should expand to other marketing and engagement channels depending on your audience and their preferred platforms. Consider:
  • Do customers engage directly on your business profile page and leave reviews? 
  • Do you have an active social media presence that complements your business profile? 
  • Do you email customers discount and promotional event offers that increase web traffic?
When you combine local search engine marketing with social media and email marketing strategies, you increase website views and the chance to reach customers within your locale. Email, in particular, is a great way to drive traffic to your website and lower bounce rates—which, in turn, improves your website’s search ranking. 

You can also use email marketing to request reviews or survey your local customers. Over time, these strategies work together to strengthen your ability to meet the needs of audiences, whether they seek solutions online, in your stores, or both.

If you want to learn more about small business email marketing, we offer a few tips to help you get started.

Expand your digital presence with Twilio SendGrid 

Local SEO is an effective way to drive traffic to your business website and encourage customer engagement. When you combine local SEO with the latest analytics and marketing tools, your business becomes a highly visible customer magnet. 

Once you establish a business profile, you can use Twilio SendGrid to create and send email marketing campaigns that drive additional website views and increase your position in local search listings effectively. 

Sign up today to get started for free.

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