In the digital age, it might seem easy to start a business. But it’s actually more difficult than ever to have a surviving business. With so many options available to internet users with just a few clicks or taps, it’s a real challenge to stand out. For small, locally-run businesses, different techniques are required. Local SEO can allow your small business to separate itself from the competition and find success.

What is Local SEO?

As you might already know, search engine optimization (SEO) refers to techniques used to improve your position in search rankings. This allows internet users to find your website by driving traffic and grow your business through increased sales. Local SEO is a more specific version of optimization that focuses on your geographical area. Instead of targeting the entirety of the world online, these tactics are used to help customers in your specific region find you.

This is often extremely important for small businesses, as they tend to thrive on local traffic. It’s also helpful for internet users, who actually want to find nearby search results in the majority of cases. It’s no wonder that 14 million small businesses across the U.S. have invested time and money into SEO. Ultimately, embracing local SEO is a win/win — which is why Google gives priority to local businesses in many of their algorithm updates. If you want to thrive as a small business, you’ll need to embrace local SEO methods to ensure people in close proximity to you can find you easily. But how do you get started? The tips below should help.

3 Local SEO Tips for Small Businesses

  1. Use Geotagged Keywords: With local search engine optimization, you’ll need to think specific (rather than broad). Instead of spending a lot of money to rank on “plumber” or “electrician,” try a localized version instead. Optimizing with “Santa Clarita plumber” or “Buffalo NY electrician” will help people searching in these areas actually find the services they need. Find out what local users are looking for and make sure that you’re targeting the areas in which you work. Otherwise, you might show up in searches that aren’t relevant to your service area — or be noticeably absent from those that are.
  2. Utilize Local Listings: When you conduct a search for a local business and see a bunch of information pop up in a highlighted square in the results, you’re seeing Google’s local listings at work. Google My Business is key for small business owners — and it costs nothing to have your business highlighted in this way. You’ll need to claim your GMB profile and fill out all of the information asked of you (which includes a description, your hours, relevant categories, address, phone number, and more). This is one of the easiest ways to ensure customers can find you. Plus, it will increase your chances of showing up in other featured sections of search results. Listing your business in other directories is a good idea, as well. Be sure to claim your business on Yelp, TripAdvisor, FourSquare, and other platforms to increase your visibility online.
  3. Collect Some Reviews: Another important part of small business marketing is having a strong number of reviews. Not every review will be an overwhelmingly positive one. In fact, users will see you as more trustworthy if not every review contains five stars. It’s more important that you actually have reviews (on several platforms!). Most people would rather see a mix of ratings than no reviews at all. Encourage your customers to leave you a review on Google, Facebook, Yelp, or other platforms. While you should never incentivize these reviews, you can always politely ask that if they enjoyed their experience and would recommend your business to others that they leave a review. In today’s world, this is the new word-of-mouth.

It’s not always easy to compete as a small business in the digital age. But by following these tips, you’ll improve your chances of success and make certain that people can always find you — whether they want to shop online or in person.