In this 8-minute read:
- Does local SEO matter for small businesses?
- 3 main approaches to small business SEO
- Consider local SEO services for your small business
- How reputation management software can improve local SEO
Due to the explosive growth of local “near me” searches, local SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, has become a vital process for local business owners to understand. In this post you will learn some of the key techniques and local SEO services that can maximize your visibility, improve your ranking in local searches, and attract more customers.
Do small businesses need local SEO services?
Many local business owners still wonder why they need to worry about how they show up in online searches. After all, aren’t people just asking their friends which local businesses they should visit?
Well, yes, they are—but there’s a catch. In today’s digital world, that conversation is now happening online, on review sites and search engines.
Even people standing on the sidewalk outside your store or sitting in your parking lot are often checking their smartphones for your reviews before they decide to buy from you.
97% of people read online reviews for local shops, and 88% of your potential local customers trust those reviews as much as a personal recommendation from family or friends.
For local businesses, it’s vital that you show up in Google’s “map pack”—the list of the top three or four local businesses in the searcher’s selected category (see an example below). In order to make this happen, you need to engage in local SEO practices.
In short, local SEO definitely matters, whether you run a nail salon, a restaurant, an auto service center, a boutique, a butcher shop, or any other small business.
For small, local businesses, there are effectively three main approaches to local SEO. Let’s talk about each in more detail.
1. Hire a local SEO services company
There are literally hundreds of “local SEO services” companies, which shows that there is a real and perceived need for these solutions. Run a Google search and see what comes up for you. We found that more than half of the results on the first few pages were ads, both above and beneath the primary results. In other words, serious money is involved in showing up well here.
Since searching for “local SEO services” produces self-reflexive search results that ostensibly display the companies’ skill in showing up well in local searches, we’d recommend running a search yourself and calling a few of the top companies. Let’s look at a couple that ranked high for us in our searches.
Companies like Blue Corona showed up well, stating local SEO “increases your website’s rankings in the search results and in the local pack, receives the highest conversion levels of all local advertising channels, helps mobile users easily find your business, whether that’s in the search engines, through directories, or through social media channels, and ensures your business is found on Google maps and through other navigational apps.”
Boostability was also high on our list of results, and they say their solution “gives small businesses top-quality strategies that have gotten tens of thousands of small businesses on the first page of Google.”
How much do local SEO services cost?
Blue Corona declines publishing their pricing structure, stating, “Your company is unique from every other company out there, which is why we build customer pricing and packages based on your individual needs. We avoid giving pricing until we understand your specific needs because it varies so much—some local businesses only have a $1,000 budget and only need basic, affordable local SEO services, while others with multiple locations have a $10,000 budget and need the works.”
So, we can infer from this that if you want “the works” from a company like Blue Corona, it’s going to run you at least 5 figures.
Boostability doesn’t publish pricing either, and they go into great detail why here. Be sure to give them a call for your free consultation if you want an idea of what it may cost you. They do state they require a minimum 6 month contract (which makes sense, because it takes time to see the results of SEO strategies), and are forthcoming when they state, “No company can guarantee first page results as part of your search engine optimization strategy. If they tell you they can, they are being dishonest.”
Pricing for local SEO services varies widely, but if you look at the top ads those companies claim to be able to provide local SEO for around $200-$300 per month to start. Again, we recommend doing your research, getting personalized consultations, and asking several companies what specific services they can provide and at what cost.
In any case, you can be confident that hiring an experienced, dedicated SEO company is not going to be cheap. But for busy, successful local businesses (or even if you WANT to be busier and more successful), that expense might be worth it.
2. Handle all your local SEO efforts yourself
Small, brick-and-mortar businesses may not have the funds to hire a professional SEO firm, or they may simply prefer to keep full control of the business in-house.
Luckily, there are a lot of things you can do to improve your local SEO yourself. Learning how to claim your online listings is a fantastic start, and is absolutely essential for success in local searches.
Set up Google Alerts to get notifications when you receive new reviews. Replying to your online reviews is not only polite and good business practice, but Google has confirmed that it improves your local SEO. (Plus, data from Womply shows that businesses that regularly reply to reviews earn up to 49% more revenue!)
You should also read up on improving your website’s SEO (you do have a website, right?) with the proper use of keywords, anchor text, load speed optimization, images, meta description, tags, and title.
For more details, please refer to our full article—Local SEO: 15 free tips for better search rankings.
Google Analytics is a free tool and can be a big help in doing keyword research to boost your search rankings, and in tracking your inbound traffic.
Spend some time learning the relevant features and find some topical, high-value, low-competition keywords you can start to target in your Yelp and Google and TripAdvisor listings, on your website, and on your social media profiles.
Remember: Google is smarter than you are. Don’t try to “game” the system. Don’t post repetitive or duplicate content. Don’t “stuff” keywords or farm worthless links. Don’t attempt to appear as something you aren’t—or Google will punish you and you’ll end up ranking lower than you started.
3. Use reputation management software to boost optimization
If this all sounds a little overwhelming, you’re not alone. Busy small business owners rarely have a lot of time to improve their local SEO by managing their online presence and staying on top of all their reviews.
A good reputation management software solution like the one Womply offers can save you a lot of time—for not a lot of money. This takes some of the work off your plate and frees up your time to serve customers and manage other aspects of your SEO strategy.
With Womply you can read and respond to all your reviews on all the popular review sites, on one page with one login. You can get business insights about your customers, your revenue, your competitors, and more, and easily (even automatically, if you wish) send timely reminders, promotional emails, birthday wishes, and thank yous. Click for your free, personalized demo.
As you engage more regularly with your customers, you will improve loyalty, boost your online presence, and improve local SEO.