Local SEO Optimization Tips for SMBs: 6 Tips To Improve Internet Search Presence

Many small and medium business (SMBs) owners wish to rank their business on Google Search. Here are six local SEO optimization tips that are crucial for ranking your business.

Tip #1: Avoid duplicate listings

Over the years, business owners change their office locations, or their phone numbers. Since businesses are listed on multiple platforms–––Google My Business (GMB), Yelp, and Facebook––it’s vital that business owners update their information.

As an example, consider Dr. Rob, who has an office location on Pine Drive in San Jose, CA. After ten years, Dr. Rob moves to a new location, and instead of updating his office location, he creates a new GMB listing. Aside from misdirecting his clients, since they do not know which location is actually his, Dr. Rob’s Google Search rankings will also be affected.

Google Search dislikes duplicate content. The search engine may treat these duplicate listings as spam, consequently dividing search equity between the two listings. In short, duplicate and inaccurate listings affect not only customer trust, but they also significantly impair your search rankings on Google.

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Tip #2: Target local keywords for your business

Most small and medium businesses provide their services in specific geographic locations. If I’m in need of a back specialist to relieve pain in my back, I’ll search for “San Jose chiropractors” on Google rather than for “chiropractors in the United States.” If my need is more specific, and I seek holistic approaches to pain relief, I’ll probably search “San Jose holistic chiropractors.”

In the Bay Area, keyword searches can go in multiple directions. For a chiropractor in San Jose, I can search “Bay Area chiropractors,” “Santa Clara County chiropractors,” “Silicon Valley chiropractors,” or “San Jose chiropractors.” Because one geographical area can be described by four different geo-tags, it’s vital that business owners target keywords not only particular to their practice but also to their geographical vicinities.

Larger cities have more variation in their searches because of a larger population. If you’re a chiropractor in San Francisco, consider that many people search for the additional geographical area of “South San Francisco” (see the image below). This would be an additional keyword that you should target.

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Tip #3: Consider reviews for GMB in addition to Yelp and Facebook

Most businesses invest in automation software that prompts their customers to leave reviews on Facebook, Yelp, or other review platforms. Yet most businesses fail to consider the importance of reviews on their GMB page. In fact, many businesses do not ask their customers to leave reviews on their GMB page. Since Google reviews directly appear in the search results, it’s usually the best place to organically attract new customers.

If you’d like to see more data on this, take a look at a 2018 report documenting local search result ranking factors. Reviews account for 15.44% of ranking factors in location-based searches.

In terms of search rankings, the more GMB reviews you have, the more likely Google will place you at the top of local search rankings. In other words, Google trusts your customers and places a lot of faith in their comments. Though the quantity of reviews alone will not determine your local search rankings, it’s important to keep in mind that––search rankings aside––a business with more reviews will most likely get more clicks. And ask yourself, which search engine are your customers using most often for location-based searches?

Tip #4: Think about writing quality, evergreen content for your audience

I think quality content is one of the more defining factors in overall content strategy. By “quality” I mean content that offers your customers value, creates a dialogue, and focuses on delivering information relevant to the target audience. This strategy is sometimes called inbound marketing, or content marketing.

To continue the example of the holistic chiropractor––if you’re seeking to boost your search rankings, consider writing relevant and informative content for your target audience. If you specialize in treating back pain, use your expertise to write an informative article on what it takes to successfully treat back issues. Perhaps you know that most of your clients have gone to several specialists, and those specialists have failed to treat their pain. Use this information to target your audience while listing the most important steps patients can take to treat their pain. Within this article you may stress the benefits of using a holistic approach to back pain.

Evergreen content can take the form of “how-to” articles. Since a how-to article does not necessarily age (the content will always be relevant), you can ensure that this content will drive traffic.

In the end, quality content provides value for the customer, builds brand awareness, and establishes a relationship with the customer. Useful content also leads to conversions in the form of more visits to your website, or more calls to your office.

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Tip #5: Simplify and condense technical information so that it’s relatable to your audience

You should know your target audience and know how well they understand the technical nature of your job. Take a look at two previous articles I wrote about how to simplify language to make it more manageable and to make it more relatable.

If you’re a chiropractor, your audience  may not know the minute intricacies of the human body to understand what’s leading to their back pain. In order to fully explain how they may receive the full benefits of holistic treatment, you may need to examine the knowledge that is standard to you but not to your patients. Content is informative but to relay certain types of information you may need to educate along the way.

In this case, know your audience is the best truism there is. If your target audience is composed of doctors and fellow chiropractors, then it’s safe to assume they know the standard knowledge base particular to your field. However, they may not know the ins and outs of holistic treatments options, and here is where you must educate as well as inform once again.  

Tip #6: Consider working with a marketing agency to boost the growth and reach of your business

As a small and medium business owner, you’re probably very busy. The days you’re away from the office are perhaps the days that you do not want to think about your business; your off-days are devoted to other priorities in your life. Marketing takes time, and it’s often the time that you don’t have, or simply cannot devote to your business. This is where marketing agencies can help.

Marketing agencies specializing in SMBs can help take care of all your advertising, promotion, distribution, and internet presence. Good agencies will help you remove duplicate listings of your business, update your website to make sure that all local keywords will rank your website on Google Search, examine your social media, create citations to websites popular in your area (Yelp, Yellow Pages, etc.) to boost your search presence, and write quality content that captures the particularites of your business.

Marketing agencies can also help with the 4Ps of marketing: Product, Place, Price, and Promotion. Perhaps you have price figured out, but what if there are more Places where buyers can look for your product. Maybe you’re not using all the right distribution channels for your business.

Conversely, marketing agencies specializing in content can help you with Promotion by researching and understanding where, when, and how to drive your message to your target audience. If you have many competitors and some of them are doing a better job of reaching the audience you compete for, it’s worth researching your competitor’s tactics to get ahead.

If you find yourself offering a service in a field with multiple service providers, then it’s worth considering how to position your name, brand, and service. Having clear messaging that communicates your value proposition can play a significant role for customers that fall outside your referral or word-of-mouth network. Your value proposition is what makes you unique and attracts new customers.