Small business owners should not assume that SEO is only for big businesses – in fact, they do so at their peril. Small businesses, especially small businesses with a local presence, need SEO and Local SEO to make sure that their customers can find them online. There are several important steps that small businesses should take to enhance their local presence.
In most cases, small business owners do not have the time or the knowledge to establish a local internet presence on their own. They turn to Local SEO experts who can identify their Local SEO needs based on where they currently stand in their digital marketing efforts, the relevant industry and their goals.
Local SEO for Small Business
Many small businesses cater to a local market – think a small bakery or vacuum repair shop. Today, these types of “Mom and Pop” shops often need an online presence to get the business they need to stay busy. That means understanding the importance of digital marketing and either taking the time to learn how to do it or choosing a digital marketing agency who can handle the work for you.
According to Yoast Partner, Michiel Heijmans, the three pillars of Local SEO are proximity, prominence and relevance. He says these are the three factors that determine whether a website will show up at the top of the local Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) for specific, relevant search terms. This is what he refers to as “Ranking Locally.”
Proximity means the geographical distance that the searcher is from your business. Search engines use zip codes and/or geo-coordinates to determine proximity so they can be sure to deliver relevant search results. For example, many searchers type in searches like “coffee shop near me.” If the searcher is located in Bellingham, Washington at the time of their search, it wouldn’t be helpful for the search engine to return search results for coffee shops in Yuma, Arizona.
Search engines determine “prominence” in order to figure out how well-known your business is because they like to place the more well-known businesses at the top of the search engine results. Prominence or authority in a given category is earned through reviews, citations, web links and relevant content. Other factors used to calculate authority may include indexed, detailed services pages and the expertise of the business owner or staff shared on the site.
Search engines want to make sure that the search results they provide their customers are relevant to the search they made. Specifically, Google uses a trademarked algorithm called PageRank to assign each web page a relevancy score. This score allows the search engine to understand how relevant your website would be to what the user is searching for. The best way to make sure that Google understands who and what you are offering, is to make sure your Google My Business account is filled out and updated when any changes happen. For example, updating business hours with holiday or COVID hours ensures that searchers know your actual hours and Google appreciates this. It’s also important to understand that Google values history so sometimes it just takes time to establish relevancy.
Seek the Help of a Local Business SEO Expert
Most small business owners do not know how to improve their search engine results rankings to drive traffic to their websites, let alone local traffic. The best thing to do is find an SEO expert who is knowledgeable about how to improve local business rankings who can help your business achieve its goals to increase sales, brand loyalty and online traffic.
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