Understanding local SEO for small businesses


When it comes to SEO or Search Engine Optimization it seems like everyone has a different definition. If you Google “SEO”, you will literally get hundreds of millions of results.

In its simplest form, SEO is the process of getting your website or web page(s) as close as possible on the first page of search results without paying for it when a consumer searches for your products or services.

It’s important to note that certain factors or algorithms search engines use change, however there are major component that seem to be consistent “for the most part”.

In this article we will take a look at the major component search engine use to rank web pages when consumers search for local products and services.

  1. Citations

A major component search engines like Google and Bing use to ranking web pages is something called “Citations”. Citations can be defined by the number of business directories (i.e. Google Local, Yahoo, Bing, Yelp, etc.) your businesses name, address, phone number, business description, and website is accurately listed on these sites. Without a doubt, citations are a critical component for more consumers to find your local business immediately.

  1. Online Reviews

If you do a search for your product or service and your specific location (i.e. Dentist + Ashburn VA) you will find online reviews on the first page. Focusing on a great customer experience and advocating your customers to write online reviews can help your business rank higher on sites like Google Local, Yelp, and Angie’s List. According to bright local 88% of people read online reviews and 72% trust a local business more when reading positive online reviews. With so much at stake, enable more of your customers to build your business for you faster with online reviews.

  • If you’re looking to increase your online reviews before your customers leave your business checkout the RealiReviews App
  1. Optimize Your Website
  • Keywords – Determine which words are most important to your business and industry (choose between 10 – 20). Use these words in your citation descriptions, article links, key website optimization areas, and content on your website.
  • Links – This can come from citations and important articles you write on a blog. Creating keyword that link to your website can help as well (i.e. creating a link called “Dentist” to your dental article or website).
  • Website Optimization using keywords
    • Title Page
    • Meta Description
    • H1 and H2 Tags
    • Keywords in your content
  • If you’re looking for a new site or to optimize it with the latest design, checkout these web developers.
  1. Constant Fresh Content

Maintaining a blog that you can provide fresh and relevant information on a constant basis can help when customers are searching for similar products or services you offer. Search engines look for fresh content when keywords start trending. You can also add links, and keywords to help you even more. If you want to stay a step ahead always remember ABC, Always Be Creating.

There are a few things search engines don’t like for local businesses.

  • 800 Numbers – They are looking for local numbers and an 800 number could hurt your results.
  • Multiple Addresses and listings on a single page – Contact Information on your website and citation profiles should be constant for one location per page and profile.
  • Negative Reviews – It’s important to understand you can’t remove negative online reviews and any customer can write them. That’s why it’s critical to provide the best possible service to all customers.
    • Here are some things you should do:
      • Reply to all reviews. It shows you care to anyone reading your reviews
      • Always be diplomatic when replying to negative reviews
      • Always focus on getting more reviews, as they build trust, transparency, and your reputation

Before you ever think about online marketing your first step should be SEO, online reputation, then social media. If done correctly you may never need to spend a dime on online marketing.