The Bare Minimum Guide to Local SEO for a Small Business

Cecilia Nysing

The thing you learn about owning a small business is that there is always something else you should be doing. It might be focusing on business development tasks, writing an employee handbook, or updating your year-to-date revenue actuals to forecast. But, there is always something that stays on the to-do list month after month and never really gets checked.

For many local professional services businesses, that something is local Search Engine Optimization. I totally get it. Unfortunately, SEO isn’t something you can do once and move on; it is an ongoing process. Plus, it can be technical. It can be overwhelming. It isn’t particularly fun. And you have to keep at it for a while before you see any results. It is the best-case scenario in scary productivity discouraging tasks. But, there are few marketing tactics that have the potential upside of local SEO for a small business. Plus, if your competitors aren’t actively working on local SEO, you can own the field. This is truly an area where you don’t have to run faster than the bear; you need to run faster than your friend running from the bear.

Okay, so what are some tactics that your local professional services marketing agency should definitely move onto your to-do list (that aren’t too cumbersome and time-consuming)?

1. Google My Business

If Google is the be-all and end-all of SEO, then Google My Business (GMB) is the be-all and end-all of local SEO. If you aren’t familiar with GMB, the listing shows up on the Google search results page on the right column when you search for a business name. The work you do on GMB also helps determine if you’re displayed in the “3-Pack,” the top three local results that show up when a potential client searches on a more general term like “Bethesda Web Design Firm.” (Sigh. Yep, we aren’t quite there yet, but we’re working on it!)

2. Online Reviews

Whenever you have a client tell you how satisfied they are with your service, your next sentence should be: “Can I get you to share that with the world?” For most companies, there are different options on where to ask people to rank you. Whether on Google, an industry-specific database, or LinkedIn, reviews help with reputation and SEO ranking.

3. Location and Contact Information

If you have a physical location or locations, you definitely want to make sure you have a page that prominently displays your address(es) and other relevant information, like your phone number. Make sure that the page is easily accessible when people visit your website.

4. A Geo-Relevant Portfolio

For a fully virtual organization like Spring Insight, consider including location information in your portfolio. For instance, the new Spring Insight marketing case study for Office Accomplice in our website’s Portfolio section identifies the company as based in Washington, DC. Am I doing that because I think people will care where the company is located? Not really. But it helps search engines connect my marketing agency with Washington, DC, and the surrounding areas.

5. Geo-Relevant Content

Your portfolio isn’t the only place where you can think local. Glance through this blog. Though content can be used by a company anywhere in the US, I make references to local cities and municipalities. Think that is an accident? Nah, I know you don’t–since I am giving away the game here.

6. Updated Directories

Now, this is where things get time-consuming and a bit technical. No matter what kind of small business you have, there will be many directories that your business will be listed on. This could be hundreds for certain businesses, although most are fewer. But, you probably know (or could easily figure out) the top five. GMB is definitely going to be one of them (see item 1). Yelp might be one. Anything industry-specific and big (for instance Houzz for the home building trades) should be in there. And don’t forget your local chamber of commerce. Even the most basic attention to these directories can be super helpful. Make sure the information is complete, correct, and consistent.

I know, I warned you: it is a lot. Local SEO for a small business isn’t easy. However, this is a super good task to outsource if you want to get it right.


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