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I do lots of networking here in the East Midlands, and I’m always asked about the best way to find clients locally. Networking is one way to do it, especially if you sell B2B, but it can become time-consuming and expensive.

Another route is advertising, but local publications don’t always cover the areas you want or have the circulation you need. And again, advertising is costly.

But there is a way to increase your local exposure that’s relatively cheap and can be done by yourself, if you have some patience and a bit of technical know-how. And that’s by improving your local SEO.

If you’re a small business owner looking to improve your online presence to gain more local customers (and which small business owner isn’t?), the time is right for you to get your head around what local SEO is all about. It’s not just beneficial to your business – it’s essential.

In this guide, I’ll cover some key insights and strategies that will help you boost your online visibility and drive local traffic, both online and offline, right to your doorstep.

The Essence of Local SEO for Small Business

At its core, local SEO (search engine optimisation) helps connect your business with local searchers who are actively seeking what you offer. Improving your local SEO is about optimising your online touchpoints – your website and Google Business profile – to rank higher in local search results.

According to a study by Google, 46% of all searches have a local intent. Your absence from these results will mean missed opportunities and lost revenue.

Why Local SEO Is a Game-Changer

Studies from BrightLocal and HubSpot reveal the tangible impact of local SEO. With 87% of people using Google to research local businesses (2022) and 72% of consumers who did a local search visiting a store within five miles (2024), the message is clear: getting local SEO right directly influences foot traffic and sales.

Local SEO levels the playing field, allowing small businesses to stand tall amidst their larger competitors. But to take advantage, you need to understand some pretty dull technical info.

Ready? Here goes…

Laying the Foundations

Optimising your digital presence for local SEO involves several key actions:

  • Google Business Profile: Claim and meticulously update your listing (which is free). Your Google Business profile is a version of your digital storefront, which is pivotal for visibility in local searches and within Google Maps.
  • Website Mobile-Friendliness: Ensure your website offers a seamless mobile experience. Google now prioritises mobile responsiveness, which impacts your search rankings if your site is not optimised for mobile users.
  • Local Citations and Backlinks: Establish a robust network of local citations and backlinks (I’ll explain these later). These are crucial for search engines to verify and trust your location and services.
  • Localised Content: Craft content that speaks directly to your local audience, incorporating relevant keywords and topics that reflect their interests and needs.
  • Customer Reviews: Actively monitor and engage with customer reviews. This not only improves your reputation but also influences your local SEO standing.

Claiming and Optimising Your Google Business Profile

The Benefits of Your Google Business Profile for Local SEO

Google Business is a powerful tool for local SEO. By claiming and optimising your profile, you’ll increase your visibility in local search results and provide potential customers with important information about your business – such as your address, phone number, website and opening hours.

Additionally, Google Business profiles appear in Google Maps results, making it easier for local customers to find your business’s physical location.

How to Claim Your Google Business Profile

If you haven’t already, the first step in optimising your Google Business profile is to claim it. To do so, visit the Google Business website and click “Manage Now.”

You’ll then be prompted to enter your business’s information and verify your listing – typically by receiving a postcard in the mail (how ironic!) with a unique verification code.

Optimising Your Google Business Profile for Maximum Exposure

Once you’ve claimed your Google Business profile, you should optimise it. This includes filling out all relevant information – such as your business hours and services – and uploading high-quality photos of your business and products.

Encouraging customer reviews is also important for optimising your Google Business Profile. According to a study by BrightLocal, 91% of consumers read online reviews before visiting a business.

By encouraging satisfied customers to leave reviews on your Google Business Profile, you’ll improve your visibility in local search results and increase your credibility with potential customers. More on reviews later.

The Role of Content and Keywords

Creating content that is tailored to your local audience is super important for local SEO. Using your website to highlight local projects, events, or news relevant to your customers will make your business more relatable and discoverable.

Implement on-page SEO techniques, such as optimising your titles and meta descriptions, using header tags, and incorporating keywords throughout your content. If you include case studies on your website, be sure to include the project’s location in the headline.

While doing this, it’s essential to strike a balance between incorporating keywords and creating engaging, high-quality content for your readers. Keywords are important for search engines to understand what your website is about, but you should ultimately write content for your audience.

Consistency Across the Board

Maintaining NAP (name, address, phone number) consistency across all platforms solidifies your business’s credibility and search engines’ confidence in presenting your business in search results.

Regularly audit your online presence to update any inaccuracies in your NAP details. If you change locations or contact details, you must ensure your NAP details are updated everywhere. This means making sure that your business’s name, address, and phone number are exactly the same on your website and Google Business Profile, as well as on citation sources.

The Role of Citations in Local SEO

A citation is simply a mention of your business’s NAP information on a third-party website – such as a directory or review site.

Building local citations is integral to local SEO because it helps search engines verify your business’s location and category. (It’s also possibly the most tedious task you’ll ever have to do for your business, but that’s another matter.)

How to Find and Build Local Citations

To find potential citation sources, simply search for your business’s name, address, and phone number on Google. You may already have citations out there that you’re not aware of.

Once you’ve found potential citation sources, then, as mentioned above, it’s important to ensure that your NAP information is consistent across all platforms.

You can start building local citations yourself if you wish, or you could pay someone to do it for you. Here is a list of the top 50 UK citation sites for you to begin with.

Harnessing Google Reviews to Boost Your Local SEO

Google reviews are built into your Google Business profile, and positive reviews will boost your SEO, helping you stand out from competitors and attract more potential clients.

Asking for Google reviews might seem daunting, but it’s simpler than you think. The trick is to ask each of your customers, especially at the point when they’re happiest with your service. Make it easy for them by giving them direct links to your Google Business Profile and even offering examples of other top reviews to guide them. Remember, a gentle nudge in the form of a review request can make a big difference – 70% of customers will leave a review if simply asked!

To streamline the process further, consider adding a custom review link to your website or in a thank-you email. This makes leaving a review as hassle-free as possible for your customers, encouraging more of them to take the time to share their feedback.

Creating a short, custom link through your Google Business Profile and strategically placing it can significantly increase your reviews without your customers needing to jump through hoops.

Providing exceptional customer service is at the heart of generating positive Google reviews. By offering personalised support, acting on feedback, and ensuring your team is empathetic and accessible, you’re setting the stage for organic review growth. Customers appreciate when a business goes the extra mile, making them more inclined to leave a glowing review without being prompted.

Lastly, don’t forget to engage with the reviews you do receive. Responding to both positive and negative feedback shows that you value your customers’ opinions and are committed to improving their experience. Share positive reviews across your marketing channels to highlight customer satisfaction and encourage others to leave feedback.

Unleashing the Power of Local SEO for Small Business

Local SEO is your gateway to connecting with the community and making your mark in the local market. By embracing these strategies, you’re enhancing your online visibility and opening doors to more local customers, setting the stage for growth and success.

It’s all about being seen by the right people at the right time and place. With commitment and a strategic approach, the potential to improve your business’s local presence is within reach.

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If you have any queries, need more info or just want to get started, get in touch.

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author avatar
Keith Barker Designer & Marketing Consultant
I'm Keith, the driving force behind Keefomatic Marketing & Design. With a career spanning over 35 years in marketing, design and advertising, I offer a comprehensive, results-driven service tailored to the needs of small business owners.