Local SEO: Step-by-Step Guide

Table of Contents

Local SEO is a must-have for every local business.

In fact, businesses that utilize local SEO strategies get incredible results like:

  • A massive increase in sales
  • Greater number of customers
  • Lower expenses with customer acquisition

In this post, you’ll learn everything about local SEO and proven strategies to get you to the #1 spot. We’ll also share some of our hands-on secrets to beat competitors.

Let’s get started.

What Is Local SEO?

Local SEO is the process of improving search engine visibility for local businesses, primarily those with brick-and-mortar locations.

It’s one of the best ways to get your physical business into an online world.

Organic Search Results vs. Local Search Pack 

Local search results are not ranking with other organic search results. Instead, local results have their own rankings, above them, in the local search pack.

Google's local pack

This is great because you’re not competing with the whole Internet – just your local competitors.

As you can see, Google’s ocal search pack contains a map with a location for each local business and three ranked businesses.

Does Your Business Need Local SEO?

Any business that has a physical location needs a local SEO. If a potential customer is looking for businesses nearby, they search for local businesses online and make a visit (and hopefully buy.) Yet, if you’re not listed, you’ll get beaten by competitors – and risk losing valuable customers to them. 

If you don’t use a local SEO yet, now is the best time to change it.

3 Reasons Local SEO is Important for Small Business

Local SEO is critical for the success and growth of your small business. In fact, it can be a complete game changer and help you scale faster.

Here are some of the most convincing reasons to start using local SEO.

#1: Increase High-Converting Traffic

Local searches are super-popular nowadays and will most likely continue to rise in the future.

growth in "near me" mobile searches

If you were in a new location and wanted to find out about a local business, you’d definitely go online, making local SEO one of the best ways to capture new customers.

…and make a lot of sales at the same time.

76% of people who conduct a local search on their smartphone visit a place within 24 hours

Local searches are extremely profitable, since they are executed by qualified leads.

However, the only way to make the most out of this benefit (and other ones on the list) is to rank high – at least in the top 5 results. Or you’ll lose to your competitors and get no traffic.

#2: Less Advertising Costs

The best thing about local SEO is that it’s completely free. You don’t have to break the bank and pay for each click a huge amount of money with your PPC ads campaign.

average spend PPC ads

Instead, you get even better benefits without spending a penny. 

This is because customers trust organic results a lot more than ads, since if you rank high on Google without ads, it must mean your business is high-quality.

Unlike buying your way out with ads because your quality is not high enough. 

#3: Higher Authority

It may be difficult to establish yourself as a credible and authoritative business.

The way to do so, especially from the beginning, is to get a couple of reviews on your local SEO profile to make you seem more trustworthy.

local SEO reviews

It’s also one of the key ranking factors for local SEO search results. Plus, since it increases your credibility and authority, it has a direct impact on your sales. You’d rather choose a business with 100+ positive reviews than a business with none, right?

That’s what a local SEO profile with reviews can do for your business.

The Perfect Local SEO Strategies: The Step-By-Step Process

You’re about to discover the best local SEO strategies to get ranked in the #1 spot. In fact, we’ll share secrets that brought results like.

  • #1 ranking in local pack
  • 37% more phone calls
  • 120% Increase in discovery search impressions

You’ll get actionable steps and real-time examples so you can apply these to your business instantly.

#0: Perfect Your Normal SEO

Local SEO is only a small part of your normal search engine optimization. If your website is not SEO-friendly, you will never rank high for local search results.

In fact, there is a correlation between local and organic search rankings.

average organic position for local ranking GMBS

Source: Loganix

We have a complete guide to assessing and perfecting your website SEO performance. But if you don’t have time for that, here are some of the main areas to look into.

Page Load Speed

Page load speed is one of the key factors of SEO performance. This is because it has a major impact on user experience (one of the most important things for Google.)

Just one-second delay can have a fatal influence on your sales.

one second delay in page load time leads to

Source: Truconversions

Not to mention the bounce rate – potential customers leaving your site immediately.

page load time bounce rate

You can find out your page load speed by going to PageSpeed Insights. You enter your domain, run a check and get a comprehensive report with suggestions.

page speed

The highest conversion rate has been seen in websites with 0 – 2 seconds oad time.

404 Not Found Errors

404 Not Found errors are a huge user experience killer. Just imagine looking for a product on a website for hours, and then finally you find it, click on it, and…

404 not found error

… the page does not exist

Unfortunately, there is no do-over with user experience.

And even though broken links don’t directly affect your SERP rankings, they affect the perception of your customers and can have a negative impact on your sales.

You can easily find broken links with the SEMRush Site Audit tool

SEM Rush site audit

You add a new project, type in your domain, and start the audit. You’ll learn a lot of valuable insights, together with the number of broken links to fix.

SEM Rush broken links

Low Authority

Backlinks are among the top Google ranking factors. 

This is because when other businesses link back to your site, they are essentially vouching for you. If you were a scammer, no one would link to your site.

That’s why the number of backlinks and their quality is one of the strongest indicators of authority.

backlinks and Google position

Source: Backlinko

…and is also closely correlated with rankings.

You can check your website authority with a free Website Authority Checker from Ahrefs.

website authority checker

You just type in your domain name and get the results.

The authority of 40 to 50 is considered an average, so anything above that is considered good and will help you rank higher.

There is so much more that goes into your SEO performance.

Check out our complete guide on SEO to make it on-point. You’ll get actionable steps to perfect of these areas to maximize your chances of #1 local ranking.

#1: Create a Google Business Profile

The first step of your local SEO journey starts with creating your Google Business profile. If you don’t have a GMB profile, you won’t be able to show up in the local search pack.

First, head over to Google My Business, sign in, and add your company name.

Google My Business company name

You’ll then have to select the type of business you have.

Google My Business company type

You’ll select your business category.

Google My Business business category

And then, you’ll have to select your region, address, and contact information. The last step is to verify your GMB profile, which you can do by:

  1. Getting a phone call
  2. Getting an SMS code

After that, you are all set up and ready to roll.

Quick Tip: We suggest filling in as much information as you can. That way, you give Google and customers all information they need to rank you high or visit your store.

#2: Submit Your Business To Local Directories

Local search results on Google are the most popular place for finding local businesses nearby. But there are also other places – online directories.

Yelp business directory

It’s essential you get into the most popular directories like:

  1. Yelp
  2. Bing places
  3. Facebook

Creating a profile in these directories takes only a few minutes. Yet, it can bring valuable customers to your store and help you stack up with competitors.

#3: Ensure NAP Consistency

NAP stands for name, address, and phone number.

You want your NAP data to be 100% consistent everywhere, whether it’s your GMB profile, online directories, social media, and every other place.

There is nothing worse than having an inconsistent NAP – it makes you look completely unprofessional.

…or may lead to poor user experience and negative reviews.

inconsistent NAP information

Source: Search Engine Watch

You can check your NAP consistency with a free citation tool from WhiteSpark.

WhiteSpark NAP consistency

After you run an audit, you need to compare each contact info with your current up-to-date NAP and make any necessary changes to be consistent.

#4: Create Content Based on Local News

Creating content around local news can help you establish yourself as an authority. 

Moreover, it can help you separate your business from competitors, provide value to customers, and show Google you’re an active business.

content based on local news

It’s extremely easy, yet almost no local business does it – which is a great way for you to stand out.

However, avoid overly promoting your products or services with this news. Think of it as a top of funnel content that goes beyond what your business sells.

(you should use a few local keywords here, though.)

Try to make it helpful, and engaging, without an obsessive promotion of their products or services.

#5: Optimize for Voice Search

The voice search is on a rise – more than 1 in 5 customers using it nowadays. It’s important you optimize your whole business for voice queries.

27% of the global online population is using voice search on mobile

This trend is very likely to continue in the future since there is a massive increase in smart speakers.

…it’s also one of Google’s search ranking factors.

Optimizing for voice search takes a little effort. It has mostly to do with the way you think about your content. The easiest way to optimize for it is to imagine you’re talking to a friend.

(that’s essentially what you do with a voice assistant.)

That will allow you to transform phrases like these.

  • Cook lunch
  • Morning routine
  • Keyword research guide

Into voice search friendly sentences like these:

  • How to cook lunch for beginners?
  • What is the best morning routine?
  • How to conduct keyword research?

It’s not difficult, yet it can be very valuable, help you rank higher, and show Google that you care about your local searchers.

#6: Establish Localized Link Building

Link building is critical for showing Google you’re an authoritative source of information, so it can rank you high in Google search results. But if you have a local business, you should shift your focus on local link-building.

Let’s look at a few ways to acquire a lot of high-quality local backlinks.

Get Links from Review Sites

Majority of people read reviews before they ever visit a local business.

Getting links from review sites can help you kill two birds with one stone – you get a high-quality backlink and a positive review at the same time.

It’s as simple as searching for “best +  [your business type] + in + [your city].”

local Google search

You can encourage your customers to leave a review on these websites, by:

  1. Providing them a discount
  2. Proactively asking them for a review

Or just cold pitch these review websites.

Create a Blog Covering Local Topics

The next thing you can do is create blog posts covering local topics. In fact, that’s the strategy we use and it has brought massive results in terms of backlinks.

Here are a few ways you can leverage your local blog posts to get valuable backlinks.

  • Pitch your content to link roundups. Roundups highlight great new content in a specific niche, and since the authors are always looking for content to feature
  • Highlight your posts on social media. The more people share your content, the more likely it is you’ll reach bloggers looking for content to link to
  • Be active on platforms like Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook. Build business relationships, establish yourself as a local expert, and you’ll acquire backlinks naturally

Hold Special Events and Promotions

Holding a special event will increase your brand awareness and make others share your local business.

(giving you a lot of backlinks.)

Here are a few event ideas you can run with your business:

  • host a charity fundraiser
  • run a workshop
  • Hold a contest

It’s especially great if you can get PR involved. PR can massively boost your efforts and provide you with a high number of local backlinks. 

4 Tips to Get Your Local SEO Strategy to the Next Level

Looking to get even greater results – or speed up the process?

Here are some of the most impactful tips for your local business. They will help you achieve your goals faster and give you better chances of hitting the #1 spot.

#1: Keep Mobile in Mind

Most local searches are done on mobile devices. Think about it, when you’re looking for a local business, you’re probably outside, searching for businesses near you. That’s why it’s essential that your website is mobile friendly.

Or you risk losing a majority of potential customers.

poor mobile experience

Source: SuperOffice CRM

You can easily check the mobile friendliness of your website with Google Mobile-Friendly Test. You just enter your domain name and hit the Test URL.

page mobile-friendly tool

After a minute, you get your results, together with recommendations.

page is mobile friendly

We highly recommend working on providing the best mobile experience for your customers. It’s one of the key pillars of every successful local business.

#2: Get Reviews

Reviews play one of the most important roles in local businesses.

In fact, 92% of customers check reviews before they make an actual visit to a local business. That’s almost everybody!

And they trust them like crazy…

reviews and testimonials personal recommendations

Source: Wyzovl

That’s why it’s essential to avoid negative reviews – or you risk losing a lot of customers.

negative reviews

Source: Canny

Also, make sure you don’t just leave reviews as they are. Customers value when you take the time to read their reviews and answer them. 

This is also true for negative reviews – where it has an even greater impact.

We’ve talked about a few strategies to get reviews for your local business. Overall, it all comes down to delivering great service, being proactive, and encouraging customers to leave a review.

It’s very simple, yet only a tiny fraction of local businesses actually do it.

#3: Add Schema Markup

Schema markup (or structured data) helps Google understand your site better.

Essentially, it’s about adding microdata to your website that can describe each element of your page to the search engine.

You can see an example of schema markup code below.

Schema.org schema markup

In search results, it can add valuable information for customers, like open hours or a phone number. Here are some of the most common schema markup types to use with a local business.

  • Telephone
  • Menu
  • Price range
  • Currencies accepted
  • Logo

And so much more. Check the full list of local schema markup types.

Adding schema markup to your website is easy – you don’t need any coding experience. You’ll just need to head over to Google’s Structured Data Markup Helper and fill in the basic information.

Structured data markup helper

Next, you highlight information and select the appropriate tag. 

You can see how we selected the address on our website and applied the address markup tag to it in the screenshot below.

marking structured data

You will then need to export it as HTML and add to the <head> section of your site’s HTML. If you have a WordPress site, you can also use the free Schama plugin.

Schema plugin for WordPress

We suggest checking the schema markup you generated, so everything works as it should. You can do that with a free Google’s structured data testing tool.

Just paste the code into the tool and check for errors.

#4: Make the Most of Social Listening

Social listening can help you get insights into what potential customers in your location say. It’s a very valuable tool that can help you with:

  • Collecting information about audience interests, and priorities
  • Figuring out what your customers say about your business

For instance, you might notice people complain about the lack of outdoor seating at your restaurant. Or maybe you’ve noticed people wishing your hair salon also provided manicure services. Either way, it’s essential to act on these suggestions to provide superior service and attract customers.

There are a bunch of tools you can use for social listening, such as:

  • Hootsuite
  • TalkWalker
  • Mentionlytics

They will help you group everything customers say about you, your niche, or your area in one place and help you act on it.

what others say about you on social media

You should definitely give it a go.

How Long Does Local SEO Take?

You can get results from applying these strategies in as little as 4 – 8 weeks.

Of course, this is usually true for businesses with claimed Google listing, at least some sort of authority, and a solid website.

However, it’s very individual, so it can be difficult to estimate if you’re not an expert.

Reach out to us and we will do the whole process for you. We’ll connect you with our professionals who have ranked 50+ local businesses on the #1 spot.

Ready to Rank #1 in Local Search?

Local SEO is a critical aspect of every brick-and-mortar business looking to get online. Customers are sophisticated nowadays and the first place they check for local businesses is Google. You need to ensure you rank high so they’ll see your business and make a visit.

That’s precisely what we have helped you with today. If you follow the strategies above, you’ll be on the right track to beating your competitors and getting to that sweet #1 spot.

Not sure how to implement what you’ve learnt into your business?

Reach out to us and we will do the whole process for you. We’ll connect you with our professionals who have ranked 50+ local businesses on the #1 spot.

It’s the best way to get the results you desire.