Local SEO for Small Business Owners

Written by: Jason Bayless | March 07, 2015

Search engine optimization is about a lot more than just making your business appear higher on the page in Google searches. It involves building a presence for your business that will help you draw in new customers and expand your potential market. Local SEO is all about building your business’s profile on important search pages, like Yelp, that aren’t necessarily related to search engines.

A combination of updates to Google’s search algorithm and refinements in the way search engine optimization marketing teams approach small business marketing means that the original focus of just making a business’s website appear in searches for keywords is not enough anymore. The important thing is monitoring a small business’s reputation and tracking the buzz. For example, a business nowadays really needs a full fledged profile on the local favorite business tracking pages, like Angie’s List or Yelp. For a restaurant, a Yelp profile can be both a critical source of information for customers and a way for business owners to see and respond to reviews and criticism.

Modern SEO, therefore, emphasizes building and maintaining such profiles. Not only do these profiles provide an important channel for customers to learn about the business’s hours, services, and reputation, but they also tie into old SEO goals. Having a Yelp profile, for example, will increase a business’s performance on Google searches. The Yelp page’s information will appear directly on Google searches. Furthermore, the mere fact of having an official, associated business profile is enough to have Google promote your business higher on the page rankings.
In the world of marketing, there is nothing more important that giving customers the right information. Being able to communicate is critical. The largest challenge is the fact that a business cannot directly contact potential customers and tell them about itself. It has to place the information in a place where customers will be able to find it on their own. Local SEO teams are expert in creating profiles that are informative, accessible, and positive. It is important for customers to be able to find a local business quickly and easily.

Of course, this varies based on the type of business. For example, a restaurant is something that people often look up in the spur of the moment. When they look up a restaurant, people need to see the hours, the type of food, some kind of information about the reputation of the restaurant, and maybe a few choice items from the menu. Business profiles that have that information are great assets for customer searches. On the other hand, a business like a contractor or a dance studio can have a more detailed profile. The customers for these businesses are looking for more detail, rather than making a snap decision.

The bottom line is that local SEO for small businesses has changed drastically both in quality and in focus since the early days. The original narrow-minded focus on page rank results is now just one element in a multifaceted marketing strategy. The importance of conveying information to customers needs to be central to any SEO process. Furthermore, such strategies are no longer easy to generalize. SEO teams have now learned how to customize their approach for every client and partner. That way, the team will be sure to emphasize the strengths of the business and target their specific audience.

It all comes down to a customer-centered approach to marketing. If a business can successfully convey its critical information to as many potential customers as possible, it will be in the best possible position to develop strong relationships with them. That is the key to building a base of repeat customers.