SEO for Local Businesses Guide: 9 Tips You Need to Try

Emily is a Web Marketing Consultant with an M.S. in digital marketing. She specializes in content and email marketing and is certified in Google Analytics. In her free time, she enjoys hiking, road trips, and drinking strong coffee. Follow her on Twitter @emcarter16.

SEO for local businesses harnesses the power of the Internet to drive online traffic to your website and foot traffic to your physical location.

With 80% of local searches driving conversions, local business SEO is a turnkey solution for earning more leads and revenue through in-person and online sales.

In this post, we’ll look at:

Our complete local SEO guide will help you turn online traffic into sales, so let’s dive in!

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What is SEO for local businesses?

SEO for local businesses uses many of the same strategies as traditional search engine optimization (SEO). The difference? While traditional SEO promotes national or even global rankings, local SEO helps businesses rank in local search results.

Local search results also include a distinct feature — the local SEO 3-pack.

SEO vs. local SEO: Local SEO 3-pack

The local SEO 3-pack distinguishes local SEO vs. SEO in search results.

When people conduct local searches, like “italian restaurants near me” or “italian restaurants in harrisburg,” Google returns a local SEO 3-pack.

What is the local SEO 3-pack, you ask?

For local searches, Google generates a list of the top three local businesses that best match the search query. These results, known as the local SEO 3-pack, appear at the top of search results with information pulled directly from your Google My Business (GMB) account (more about GMB listings below).

Why does SEO for local businesses matter?

When customers in your area search keywords related to your business, local SEO ensures your site greets them at the top of search results. Ranking at the top of search results allows more people to find — and ultimately visit and purchase from — your local business, making it well worth the investment.

Local SEO ranking factors 2021

Now that you know what SEO for local businesses is, you’re probably wondering how it works.

Numerous ranking factors impact where your small business’s website appears in local search results.

However, local SEO rankings boil down to:

  • Relevance: Does this business do or sell what the searcher is looking for?
  • Proximity: Is the business close to the searcher?
  • Prominence: Is the business well-known and reputable?

Not sure how to optimize for these local SEO ranking factors? Just keep reading.

9 SEO for local business tips you need to try

Here are nine SEO tips for local business in 2021 to boost relevance, proximity, and prominence — and help secure your spot at the top of the SERPs:

  1. Create a Google My Business account
  2. Build local citations and ensure NAP consistency
  3. Encourage reviews from local customers
  4. Conduct local keyword research
  5. Create location-based content
  6. Optimize for voice search
  7. Earn high-quality backlinks from local companies
  8. Make your site mobile responsive
  9. Stay active on social media

Let’s break down each tip.

1.       Create a Google My Business account

The first step to improving SEO for your local business is claiming your Google My Business account.

Creating a Google My Business account helps ensure you show up in:

  • Google local search results
  • Google Maps
  • Google Search Knowledge Panel

You’ll also want to optimize your listing to get the best results.

To get started optimizing your Google My Business:

  • Verify your business ownership
  • Provide up-to-date information about your products and services, location, hours of operation, and payment methods
  • Add your logo and images to give searchers an inside look at your business
  • Share regular posts about product updates, events, and special offers
  • Encourage and respond to Google reviews

Claiming and optimizing your Google My Business listing will help you show up in local search results and boost your local SEO.

2.       Build local citations and ensure NAP consistency

In addition to claiming your GMB listing, you’ll also want to build local citations on sites like:

When optimizing your citations, be sure to include:

  • Your business name, address, and phone number (NAP)
  • Description of your business
  • Link to your website

Learn more about building local citations, and check out our proprietary LocalFX software for help managing your local listings and SEO.

3.       Encourage reviews from local customers

Next on our list of SEO for local business tips is encouraging customer reviews.

Earning reviews from local customers helps optimize your Google My Business listing — and reviews add social proof that encourages people to buy.

To earn reviews on Google, you can:

  • Create a link to help customers find and review your business
  • Add the URL above to your website and marketing materials and remind customers to review your local business
  • Respond to reviews to build trust with customers

In addition to earning reviews on Google, you can encourage people to review your local business on your website, social media, and third-party review sites. For more tips on earning reviews, check out this page.

Reviews impact SEO rankings for local businesses, and responding to reviews boosts your trustworthiness in the eyes of leads. So, earning reviews is essential when it comes to SEO for local businesses.

  • Good agencies have more than 50 testimonials.
  • Great agencies have more than 100 testimonials.
  • WebFX has over 500+ glowing client testimonials.
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4.       Conduct local keyword research

Keyword research is crucial for successful local SEO campaigns.

With keyword research, you can uncover keywords and phrases local customers search to find businesses, products, and services like yours.

To start researching local SEO keywords, we recommend using tools like:

These tools will give you insights into metrics like monthly search volume, cost per click, and competition, so you can choose the keywords that are most valuable for your business.

When conducting keyword research, try to focus on long-tail, local keywords. Long-tail keywords —three or more words — often have lower competition, making them easier to rank for. Also, it’s easier to determine search intent — the reason someone searches a particular phrase — for long-tail phrases.

For example, if someone searches “harrisburg restaurants,” it’s not immediately clear what type of restaurant they’re looking for. However, if someone searches, “best thai food restaurant in harrisburg pa,” you know exactly what they want to find.

Understanding search intent helps you create local SEO content that best matches a searcher’s query, giving you a better chance of ranking at the top of results.

5.       Create location-based content

After conducting keyword research, you need to create content to rank in local search results.

Creating location-based pages and blog posts allows you to:

  • Demonstrate authority in your local area
  • Target local keywords
  • Rank at the top of local search results
  • Share local industry news and events
  • Keep searchers in the know about important business updates
  • Encourage purchases from local customers
  • Inspire customer loyalty and repeat purchases

If your business has multiple locations, make sure to create unique content, so local searchers can find and visit your location closest to them.

Content is one of the most important elements of our local SEO checklist — and it’s essential for boosting your local rankings.

6.       Optimize for voice search

Today, voice searches account for nearly half of all online searches.

This means if your site isn’t optimized for voice search, you’re missing out on valuable local leads and revenue.

For local searches especially, more and more people use voice search to find businesses near them.

Many voice search optimization strategies overlap with local SEO tactics, so you can save time and money by optimizing your site for voice and traditional search.

Here are a few voice search optimization tips to help you get started:

  • Focus on targeting long-tail, local keywords related to your business.

For example, if you’re an Italian restaurant, you could create content to target the phrase “best italian restaurant in [your location].” This will help your site appear in voice search results and traditional local SEO results.

  • Optimize for Position Zero (P0) — the first search result that appears above organic listings.

Voice search devices pull information directly from Position Zero results and featured snippets, so optimizing your content for P0 will help you rank in more voice search results.

  • Create easy-to-digest content that directly answers searchers’ questions.

Breaking your content into 2-3 sentence paragraphs and using bullet points when possible is an excellent strategy for earning a P0 spot in search results.

In addition, directly answering searchers’ queries will help you rank at the top of search results since Google wants to show results that provide the best user experience (UX).

To learn more about voice search optimization for your local business, check out our top-rated voice search SEO services.

7.       Earn high-quality backlinks from local companies

Creating local content is also a great way to earn backlinks from reputable companies in your area.

Google looks at the number and quality of backlinks to your website when ranking local content. So, it’s important to expand your link portfolio by earning links from other high-authority sites.

When you create quality local content, it’s an opportunity for businesses in your area to link to pages on your site naturally. You can also reach out to industry leaders and bloggers in your niche and ask if they’ll share and link to your content.

Earning reputable backlinks will help your site appear higher in local search results, and it also increases awareness of your brand.

8.       Make your site mobile responsive

More than half of online traffic comes from mobile devices. So, you’ll want to make sure your SEO for local business strategy includes responsive design.

With Google’s mobile-first indexing, responsive design is more important than ever for making sure your local business ranks at the top of search results.

Responsive design ensures your content displays correctly, no matter the device someone uses to access your site. This means people who use mobile phones or tablets will enjoy the same great experience as desktop users.

Not only does responsive design impact your local SEO rankings, it’s also necessary for boosting conversions.

By 2021, more than 70% of U.S. ecommerce sales will come from mobile devices. If your site isn’t optimized to provide a great mobile experience, shoppers will waste no time hitting the back button.

If you want to reach and convert local customers, you need to implement this SEO for local business tip.

But how do you know if your site is mobile responsive? Start by entering your URL into a tool like WebFX’s mobile SEO Checker or Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test.

If you’re not happy with the results, WebFX can help! Check out our responsive design services, or contact us to learn more.

9.       Stay active on social media

While social media may not directly impact your rankings, social media marketing can support your SEO strategy in several ways.

Here are just a few ways social media impacts local business SEO and conversions:

  • Social media increases your brand awareness online
  • Social media helps you send traffic to your website and blog
  • Social media helps you earn more backlinks from local influencers
  • Social media helps you earn and respond to more reviews
  • Social media boosts trust signals with potential customers
  • Social media helps you develop meaningful relationships that lead to purchases

To get started with social media for your local business, you can easily create profiles on social media sites like:

Not sure what to share on social media? Here are a few ideas:

  • Your local SEO content and blog posts
  • Local news and industry updates
  • Updates about community events you’re sponsoring
  • User-generated content from local customers
  • Interactive polls and quizzes to engage local leads and followers
  • Links to purchase

These ideas just scratch the surface, so feel free to view our social media services and connect with our team for personalized recommendations for your local business.

Get started with SEO for local businesses!

SEO is essential for boosting traffic, leads, and revenue for local businesses.

Want to learn more about how local SEO can drive results for you in 2021 and beyond? WebFX can help!

In the past five years, we’ve driven more than $2.4 billion in revenue for our clients — and we want to help you achieve your business goals.

Check out our local SEO plans, and connect with our team for a custom quote!