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The Importance of Local SEO for SMBs

Darcy Price
Written By
Darcy Price
Published On
Jul 29, 2021
A person searches for a business on their smartphone with a 3D map showing the results

Picture this: it’s Friday night, you’ve had a long week, and you’re craving your favourite food – pizza, of course – but are looking to try someplace new, so what do you do? The answer is easy. You open your browser and search “pizza near me,” or if you’re me, “delicious thin crust pizza in Little Italy.”

The top results for a search-based query are presented to the user in what is called a “Local Map Pack.” The Local Map Pack is a list of the top three Google My Business profiles that are highly personalized based on your keywords. So, in my case, this Maps-based list makes my quest to find a pizza place, specifically ones with reviews that mention thin crust, incredibly easy. 

This is just one of the many facets of how local search marketing can help drive consumers to your business’ brick and mortar location. In fact, 88% of people who search for businesses nearby on their smartphones visit or call said business within a day – and 78% result in a purchase.

In this blog, we’ll discuss exactly what local SEO is, Google’s ranking factors, as well as 5 local SEO tips SMBs can start implementing right now. Let’s get started!

What is Local Search Engine Marketing?

Local search engine marketing, or local SEO, offers hyper-relevant information to a consumer based on their search and their location. As a business, optimizing your website for local search can increase traffic, leads, and brand awareness.

In the grand scheme of things, local SEO is extremely beneficial to the growth of any small business, enterprise-level corporation, or chain. As long as your business operates with customers face-to-face, anything you do on the internet will contribute to your local SEO. This can be in the form of relevant content, on-page optimizations, optimizing your GMB profile, or local link building on your website. 

A man searches for a business on Google Maps

What Are Local Results Based On?

Every time a user enters a query on Google the search engine scans its index in order to provide the best results based on the keywords. Today, two people searching the same query one kilometre apart will probably get very different results – this is because local SEO is also based on the user’s search history. So, how does local SEO work?

When it comes to local search, Google actually uses a unique set of ranking factors different from its typical lifecycle. This primarily includes:

Relevance – Is your business relevant to the search query?

Distance – Is your business in close proximity to the searchers’ location?

Prominence – How well known is your business online? This can be calculated by the number of reviews, website traffic, domain rating, and more. Well known and more established businesses may take precedence over newer businesses.

As a business owner, you can’t control all of these factors. However, you can control certain aspects of your local SEO strategy – and we’re here to help you with this. 

Understanding Local SEO Searcher Intent

Essentially, there are two different types of searches when it comes to local SEO. A user could search for “how to get thin pizza crust,” but the SERP will likely give you the top results for how to make a pizza with thin crust.

However, if the user includes a location, such as a region, city, or neighbourhood to their query, Google understands that the search is geographical or transactional in intent and therefore brings the user to the Local Search Results Page with business suggestions that fit the rest of the keywords. In fact, 46% of all searches in Google have “local intent.”

The best part of local SEO is that you can’t ask for better buyer intent. Your business isn’t competing with the top search engine rankings on a global scale, it’s only competing with other companies in the same region that offer similar products and services. This is just one of the reasons why SMBs should prioritize local SEO as part of their marketing strategy.

Two small business owners optimize their GMB listing

5 Local Search Marketing Tips for SMBs

While landing your business a spot in the Local Map Pack or on the first page of the local search results probably won’t happen overnight, we’re here to offer up some local SEO tips for SMBs that you can implement right now.

1. Perfect Your Google My Business Profile

Creating and optimizing your Google My Business profile is arguably one of the most important parts of local SEO marketing in terms of discoverability. It tells the user exactly what type of business you are, where to find you, how to contact you, and more. Here are some things to keep in mind when customizing your account:

  • Choose the best primary category when setting up your profile. This is how Google indexes your business and lets consumers know what you specialize in. Ask yourself, what is it your business most well-known for and what do customers need from you?
  • Add high-quality photos! Visuals are integral in telling the story of your brand and showcasing your products.
  • Verify your locations. 
  • Manage and encourage customer reviews. By responding to reviews it shows that you value your customers and their feedback, plus when writing a review, statistics show that 20% of consumers expect to receive a response within one day. 
  • Keep your business hours accurate and update them regularly, including holiday hours.

2. Keep NAP Citations Updated

Business citations, also known as NAP citations, is the name, address, and phone number of your business. This simple information is just as important to consumers as it is for search engines. It’s actually a top ranking factor for local SEO – as long as it’s accurate. If two NAP citations differ (even by something as miniscule as punctuation), it can decrease their effectiveness. 

A great tip for those looking to grow their business is to index their company’s NAP citations on more than just Google My Business. Directories such as Yelp!, YellowPages, Facebook, and Bing are also opportunities to link back to your website, incorporate accurate citations, and correct any existing errors.

3. Identify Local Keywords

Start by targeting keywords that have local search intent. Similar to on-page SEO, keyword research should include a balance between a variety of methods including competitor analysis and brainstorming; but your local SEO keyword strategy should combine those efforts while focusing on your existing customer data. Determine the regions that are worth your local search engine marketing strategies and incorporate them into your existing non-localized keywords. 

For example, “pizza in Toronto,” is a straightforward short-tailed keyword. Long-tailed keywords such as “thin crust pizza in Little Italy,” are more specialized and usually indicate stronger buyer intent. In this case, focus your keywords on what your business does best!

a hand scrolls through an Instagram feed

4. Create Complementary Local Content

Now that you’ve identified the local keywords you want to target, you’ll need somewhere to put them. This is where running a company blog comes in handy. Blogging helps boost your SEO quality and positioning, giving you more opportunities to rank for a wide range of keywords – including those that are highly localized. Don’t just create generic content, instead, write pieces that are specific to your location. For example, “top 10 places to get thin crust pizza in Little Italy,” includes your local keyword in the title and caters to your demographic.

5. Be Active on Social Media

“Prominence” is one of Google’s top three factors when it comes to organically ranking on the SERP. Essentially, this is how popular your business is, which is determined by signal links and online buzz.

One of the most effective ways to make noise, especially as a small business, is to have a larger than life social media presence. By posting local-based content, you can drive social shares, start conversations about your brand, and ultimately drive traffic from your community to your brick and mortar location.

Drive Organic Traffic with Local SEO

As you can see, local search engine marketing can dramatically increase your leads online. Businesses of any size will reap the rewards that this simple, but highly effective strategy can offer.

Does your business need help with your local SEO, content, or other digital marketing strategy? Let the expert team at The Influence Agency help! Contact us today for more information about our services; we’d love to get in touch.



  • Darcy Price

    Darcy Price is a Content Manager at TIA. She finds creative inspiration through nature, travel, cooking, reading, and writing. Recommend your favourite book to her @darcy_.

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  • Darcy Price

    Darcy Price is a Content Manager at TIA. She finds creative inspiration through nature, travel, cooking, reading, and writing. Recommend your favourite book to her @darcy_.

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