grace built co design studio

March 2024

Local SEO 101: Why it’s important and how to leverage it for your small business

There are a whole lot of people near your business searching for services and products that match yours.

There are over 99,000 Google searches happening every second. 

That’s 8.5 BILLION searches every day.

Almost half of those have local search intent. 

In other words – there are a whole lot of people near your business searching for services and products that match yours.

Local SEO becomes even more important for your small business if you run a traditional brick-and-mortar storefront or serve local customers. Because nearly 50% of all searches that include the words “near me” result in a physical store visit.

(You know the ones: “flower shop near me,” “pizza near me,” “dog grooming near me.”)

And 88% of local searches made from someone’s phone – because how else do any of us do a local search these days – result in a call or visit within 24 hours.

These statistics are seriously staggering.

But even more staggering is the fact that a whopping 58% of companies haven’t optimized for local search intent.

If you fall into this category, it’s time to start thinking about how you can capitalize on this huge opportunity to get more local exposure.

And make more sales.

88% of local searches made from someone’s phone – because how else do any of us do a local search these days – result in a call or visit within 24 hours.

What is local SEO

As shocking as these facts are, you probably have some questions.

Like what local SEO actually is.

Local SEO is the process of increasing your business’s visibility in search engines. 

There are tons of search engines out there – Bing, Yahoo, OpenVerse, etc. – but Google accounts for 91.54% of the Global Search Engine Market, so we’ll use them for our purposes.

When you optimize your business for local search intent, your goal is to appear toward the top of the Local Map Pack* and Organic Search Results (a.k.a. not paid/sponsored ads) when:

1. Someone in the local area performs a search

2. A search includes your specific location

*Local Map Pack = A SERP (search engine results page) feature that appears at the top of the page when someone searches locally. It’s the results that show up next to the map on Google.

How Local SEO Works

Google is constantly updating and improving its algorithm to include the most relevant and useful content in any search.

Local SEO is no different, which is why Google has a host of local ranking factors to determine which businesses show up on the SERPs when a local search is made.

3 of these ranking factors include:

1. Relevance: How closely your business profile matches what someone is searching for.

2. Distance: How close your business is in proximity to where someone is searching from. (This is most important for those local area searches we mentioned above since Google uses location data to determine the distance if no actual location is included in the search.)

3. Prominence: How important or well-known Google thinks your business is to the people searching for you. (This doesn’t just mean how famous your business is – though that does factor in for things like well-known brands, museums, local attractions, etc. – but it also accounts for your web presence. In other words, how optimized your content is for search intent.)

According to Google, “ a combination of these factors helps us find the best match for your search.”

If your business isn’t set up to meet these criteria, the algorithm might decide that a business farther away from the searcher is a better match to what they’re looking for.

Any business that serves customers locally will benefit from optimizing for local search intent.

Leverage Local SEO For Your Small Business

Any business that serves customers locally will benefit from optimizing for local search intent. Think retail, restaurants, cafes, offices, plumbing, landscaping, personal training, etc.

And as you might have already guessed, Local SEO is a less expensive method for increasing your small business visibility.

(When compared to paid advertising.)

But it’s not free.

It will either cost you money – to have someone research the best keywords and improve your content or write new content.

Or it will cost you time doing it yourself, so you can actually “rank” on Google’s SERPs.

Either way…

Here are the steps to improving local SEO for your small business

1. Create a Google Business Profile and optimize it with keywords: You can use a keyword research tool, like SEMrush or Moz Keyword Explorer, to figure out what people are searching for and the search intent behind those words.

2. Encourage and manage your Google Reviews: Obviously, you’re aiming for those 5-star reviews, but if they aren’t all gems, remember that negative reviews make your business believable, and your responses can also count in your favor when people search for you.

3. Manage your business info on local directories: Local directories are websites that aggregate business information and can help you get found, both via the local directory and thanks to the local SEO boost this gives you.

4. Optimize your web pages with local keywords and content: Another opportunity to use your keyword research tool to infuse strong local intent content into your website. 

5. Build high-quality backlinks: Backlinks are links that link back (say that 10 times fast) to your website from another website. But not all backlinks are good backlinks. Ideally, the sites that link to yours are categorized as high authority by Google’s algorithm. This means people actually trust that website.

Keep in mind that your efforts won’t result in an overnight success story – the average time to see positive ROI from Local SEO is 4.76 months. 

What To Do Next

Local searches result in purchases 28% of the time.

Yet another statistic that says, “local SEO is important for small businesses.” Very important.

And you’ve no doubt realized that whether you decide to spend your time or money, Local SEO is worth every second/penny.

As long as you keep in mind that your efforts won’t result in an overnight success story – the average time to see positive ROI from Local SEO is 4.76 months. 

But the ROI has the potential to be very positive.

So claim your Google Business profile and get optimizing!

Here are a more resources you can use when you’re ready: