10 Tried-And-True Local SEO Tactics & Tips for small businesses
Did you know that up to 60% of consumers interested in home services search on Google to find and compare businesses and contractors ‘near’ them?
Most of those searchers will call the home services provider who:
- Caught their attention
- Had their contact information readily available on Google
Yet, fewer than 50% of small and medium-sized businesses use Local SEO services. That means they miss the opportunity to connect with local customers who search for their services and products online.
So, today it’s more important than ever for home service providers to leverage this gap in their market and get ahead of their local competitors.
To all the electricians, plumbers, house cleaners, renovation companies and anyone else involved in the home services industry out there:
Local SEO can be your magic weapon to get to the top of Google and attract more local customers!
In a nutshell, this powerful marketing strategy helps local businesses:
- Appear higher on Google search results
- Attract more local customers
- Compete against big brands
- Generate organic website traffic
- Stand out from the local competition
In this blog-article, we’ve put together the top 10 Local SEO tactics and tips for home service providers who want to increase their Google ranking and get more calls, more local customers, and more cash!
There are two Local SEO boosting pillars for small, local businesses: Google My Business & the business’s Website.
Let’s deep dive into each of them.
Table of Contents
- Set up a Google My Business account
- Request and manage Google reviews
- List your business on online local directories
- Optimize your Google My Business for multi-location
- Use keywords relevant to local customers
- Note the Geo Silo: Create content about local attractions & “how-to’s”
- Make your website fast and mobile-friendly
- Get high-quality backlinks from other local businesses
- Create dedicated location pages
- Get involved in your local community
Google My Business Tips & Tactics
1. Set up a Google My Business account
Google has become the go-to search engine and the best companion for customers and businesses alike.
But small local businesses have one more reason to love Google: Its powerhouse SEO tool, Google My Business – available to all businesses for free!
The first step in creating a GMB profile is to set up a Google My Business account. Google offers a step-by-step guide on how to complete the setup. Fill in the name of your business, local areas you serve, business hours, contact details and a description of the services and products you offer. It’s a very simple process and it’s available in your native language.
It takes from 4 to 14 days to verify your account, depending on the country. Google will mail out a verification postcard to your physical store. In rare cases, the search engine giant asks businesses to verify their listing by phone or email.
Run a Google search to check if a business listing of your company already exists on the search engine. Don’t be surprised if you find one! It means that Google has managed to pull information about your business from public records. In this case, you’ll need to claim your GMB domain and verify your account.
Once you’ve set up your Google business account, you’ll need to optimize your GMB profile. This will help boost your visibility on the platform and get to the top of local search results – without having to pay a single dime!
As a local business owner with a verified GMB profile, you can:
- Show up on Google Maps
- Offer clients directions to your store’s physical location
- Provide your contact details, e.g. phone numbers and email address
- Notify customers about your opening and closing hours
- Include a link to your website
- Add pictures of your logo, shop and products you sell
- Engage with customers through Google reviews
- Allow customers to book your services on the spot
- Publish posts about your products, services, or events you organize
- Get insights about how many users find you & how they prefer to get in touch
Top tip: Google needs detailed and accurate information to promote your listing on its search engine results pages (SERPs). So, make sure all the information you provided is correct, up to date and consistent across the web (including your social media business accounts).
Take particular note of your business’s NAP: Name, Address and Phone numbers.
If you’re a home service provider active on GMB, it won’t be long before you’re at the top of the search results for “ near me” services. Soon enough, you’ll be answering calls left and right from online users who found your business on Google results pages!
2. Request and manage Google reviews
The role of Google reviews for local businesses is two-fold:
- From a customer’s perspective, they are your social proof
- For Google, they’re an important trust factor
Imagine a homeowner in your city who is desperate for a pest control services provider. With a quick Google search, he finds five different companies near him, all offering similar services. The easiest and quickest way to decide who to call is by comparing existing reviews.
About 68% of consumers are willing to buy from a local business if it has positive Google reviews.
Reviews offer you a great chance to engage with local clients. They also help you understand how your business is performing and what customers feel and think about your services and products. The more positive reviews you get on search engines, the higher your chances are of attracting new local customers!
Google typically displays up to three customer reviews in your GMB listing, but you should collect as many reviews as you can.
You can also offer customers incentives for sharing their feedback online, such as discounts with their next order.
It is a great idea to reply to all customer reviews, whether they’re good or bad. Replying with a kind ‘thank you’ message to clients who share positive reviews will encourage them to choose your services again in the future. Even better, they could recommend you to friends and relatives who live nearby.
On the other hand, it’s even more important to reply to dissatisfied customers and less-than-stellar reviews. Take the opportunity to apologize. This will also show that you take every client’s feedback into consideration to continue improving your services.
Even the best businesses receive negative feedback every now and then. But if the number of ‘not-so-favorable’ reviews is limited compared to the positive ones, they won’t really matter to customers or for Google’s local rankings.
Above all, make sure your Google reviews are authentic and true. It’s easy for the search engine and its users to figure out which reviews are fake. Any non-genuine feedback can exact a toll on both your reputation and Google rankings.
Top tip #1: Mention relevant keywords and the location of your business when responding to customer reviews on Google.
For example, “We’re delighted that our water restoration experts in “city” helped you save your home and furniture after the flood. Should you need an experienced team in home restoration services again, we’ll be there to serve you.”
Top tip #2: Create a short URL and share it with your customers kindly asking them to leave a review on Google about your services.
3. List your business on online local directories
Online business directories are a simple and effective way to market a small, local business.
Find the top local directory sites in your country and add the below information:
- Business name
- Contact information
- Business hours
- A link to your website
- A description of what products or services your offer
Adding your business to these listings will boost your online visibility for local searchers.
From an SEO perspective, citations in business listings help increase Google’s trust signals towards your business.
Plus, these online business directories share and exchange information with each other. If the information you’ve provided about your local business is consistent across all directories, your authority on the online world rises, further boosting your Google ranking.
Apart from Google My Business, try to create a listing in these top business directories for 2021:
- Local (specializes in home services)
- Better Business Bureau (for the US)
- Angie’s List (for home services providers in the US)
Important note: In an effort to remain competitive and relevant, many business directories have transitioned beyond basic listings to comprehensive review websites. Make sure to regularly check your reviews on these listings, too.
4. Optimize your Google My Business for multi-location
This GMB-relevant tactic is for local companies that have multiple locations.
After all, keeping up with the demands of Local SEO can be challenging when you have many stores in different locations.
To make things easier for you, here are some tips for organizing and optimizing your business listings for each of your locations:
- When you create your GMB profile, add all of your unique locations in the master Google My Business location group account.
- Use only one general business email address for the master account.
- Share it with whoever is responsible for managing the GMB listing for each of your distinct locations.
- Make sure each listing’s NAP – name, address, phone number – is correct, consistent and up to date.
- Use Google’s bulk management tool to manage and update content across multiple locations.
- Include content with photos and videos on each of your localized GMB pages.
- Double-check that your different stores are pinned on the right location on Google Maps.
- Use the GMB insights to monitor how your business is performing in each location.
- Stay active on all your different GMB listings.
5. Use keywords relevant to local customers
Keywords are words and short, incomplete phrases that help search engines understand what your content is about. Because keywords are what people type into search engines to find the services, products or information they’re looking for, you can imagine how important they are for SEO.
Step 1: Search which keywords are relevant to your industry and services. There are plenty of keyword research tools available online that you can use, such as Google Search Console, Soovle, Jaaxy, Ahrefs Keywords Explorer, SECockpit, Google Keyword Planner, and many more.
Step 2: Filter keyword searches based on the particular city or area your business is located in. Which keywords (relevant to your services) are popular with your local customers? Create a list of these keywords.
Step 3: Place the keywords wisely into your GMB listings and your website’s content.
Top tips for including keywords in your GMB listings:
- Place your main keyword within the first words of your GMB description. For example, if you own the “Simon Electric” local electrician business in Daly City, CA, your main keyword might be: ‘Simon Electric in Daly City, CA’
- When you respond to customer reviews, remember to mention your main keyword in your reply.
- Create GMB posts with keywords. These posts should be no more than 1500 characters and expire after 7 days. Include your most relevant keywords into the first 100-150 words.
- Add tags with keywords in the filename of the photos you post on GMB.
Important note: Make sure your content flows naturally. Even though you should include your target keywords a few times in every piece of content you post online, don’t overdo it.
Google appreciates quality content and knows when you’re just cramming keywords, using them in a way that doesn’t make sense. This is called “keyword stuffing”. It may have a negative effect on user experience and Google rankings, so take care of where and how you place your keywords!
Top tips for adding keywords to your website:
- Place keywords relevant to your business and your local audience wisely into your website’s content. Your number one priority is to produce valuable, well-written and accurate content that includes answering the main questions your ideal customer has. Don’t fall into the trap of keyword stuffing.
- Work your keywords into the headings of each web page. Make sure the title accurately defines the page’s content. Do the same for header tags.
- Add keywords in your URL if possible. If this sounds a bit complicated to you, consult a website professional.
- Put keywords in file names and image captions.
Now, let’s move on to the second pillar of Local SEO for small businesses: your website!
Tips & Tactics for your Website
6. Note the Geo Silo: Create content about local attractions & “how-to’s”
This Local SEO tactic can be applied to both GMB posts and your website’s blog posts.
Focus on writing content that would be interesting to your local audience. What about mentioning region-specific hotspots and landmarks in your GMB and website posts?
These mentions will help you:
- Strengthen the local association between the area and your business
- Attract the attention of both your target users and Google
For example: if you’re a business owner or contractor offering gardening services in Maryland, US, you can dedicate a few posts about the city. Talk about the area’s local parks and public gardens popular to tourists and locals alike.
If you own a plumbing company in Andover, UK, you could include references to world-popular landmarks. Even a simple phrase like “we’re located a few minutes away from Stonehenge,” can give your Google ranking a great boost.
When it comes to your website’s blog section, there is no shortage of different types of content you can create. But there is one type that stands out from the rest – the “how-to” posts.
Bloggers and readers love them. They’re helpful, informative and valuable. It’s a content type that stands the test of time. In fact, ‘how-to’ posts generate about 55% more views than any other type of blog post.
Feel free to create long and detailed “how-to” posts for your website. For your GMB posts, though, make sure to keep the world count below 1500 characters.
If you own a local business offering water restoration services, a good idea for a post would be “how to dry out water-damaged walls.” This piece of content is perfect for both your GMB posts and your website’s blog. Soon enough, with a bit of effort and consistency, you’ll be ranking higher on search results! Every time a local Google user searches for water damage restoration tips, your business will be one of the first to show up!
7. Make your website fast and mobile-friendly
Mobile search and local search go hand in hand. This is especially true for the home services industry, where more than 65% of customers search for such services on mobile phones and tablets.
So if you want to be a noticeable player in Local SEO, you need to optimize your website for mobile devices.
Google appreciates and rewards mobile-friendly websites because they provide an overall better experience for users. That’s why the search engine has switched to a mobile-first index and can rank responsive web pages higher on SERPs.
Here are some tips and tricks to optimize your web page for mobile devices:
- Remove or delay any pop-ups (Google calls these interstitials)
- Make sure the website and all images load fast (<3 seconds)
- Make it easy for users to access the menu
- Use easy-to-read fonts
- Run tests to assess user experience
- Make your call-to-action (CTAs) and buttons large and easy to press
- Don’t overload pages with content and superfluous details
It’s also important to think of what features, images or information can grab the attention of on-the-go users, or those in urgent need of a home service provider nearby.
Top insight: Some of the fastest-growing search terms in England for mobile phone users are “landscaping near me,” “plumbers near me,” “HVAC repair,” and “roofing companies” (Source: Google).
8. Get high-quality backlinks from other local businesses
First off, let’s explain what a backlink is.
It’s a blue, underlined hyperlink on another website, which points to your own website. In other words, it’s a third-party link.
Here is an example to help you better understand backlinks and their importance:
A local business selling sinks publishes a blog post vouching for the excellent services of a local plumbing business. These two companies are not competitors, but there is a high relevance between the services they offer.
Backlinks like these will help the plumbing service provider get more traffic and improve their Local SEO.
It’s important to get backlinks from relevant businesses located in your area and with a good reputation online. The higher the relevance, authority and trust of the online business that links back to you, the higher the quality of the backlink.
Here are some tips on getting high-quality backlinks:
- Create well-written, helpful and informative content for your website’s blog section to encourage relevant local businesses to link to your blog posts.
- Interact with local industry experts on social media to increase the chances of mentioning your business on their online channels.
- Guest posting on relevant local websites with high domain authority (DA).
As SEO experts like to say: links are like votes! They can determine who comes first on Google search results pages.
So, place an extra focus on them when planning your SEO strategy. 😉
9. Create dedicated location pages
Location pages are a must for businesses that have stores in (or service) different locations, but only one website.
If you offer similar services and products in all locations, you don’t need to create different websites for each of them. In fact, having one website is a cost-effective option as you would only pay for a single domain name. And because it’s “all in one place”, it’s also easier to run a single digital marketing campaign and keep your messages consistent.
To keep your website organized and get higher visibility on SERPs in each location, you can have separate landing pages.
These pages should include the following information:
- Business hours
- Unique business descriptions
- Distinct testimonials
Don’t forget to:
- Pin each location on Google Maps and include the map on each landing page
- Create unique content for each location to gain ranking for city-specific searches
10. Get involved in your local community
Participating in your local community increases your visibility and authority both online and offline. It also makes your customers more loyal and your profits more reliable.
Here are some ways to get more involved with local customers and neighborhood businesses:
- Sponsor a local, online or offline event
- Write an article for a local online news portal or print newspaper
- Support the initiatives of local non-profit organizations
- Schedule a volunteer day for your employees
- Donate recyclable materials that would otherwise end up in landfills
- Organize a recycling or food drive
- Help local people in need
- Serve on a community board
For example, a local construction business could provide roofing, repair or other related services for families in need, such as households with elderly family members or those in financial hardship.
Local retailers with strong community ties can earn brand recognition, mentions on local news portals and quality backlinks.
Plus, it’s also a great way to set your business apart from your competitors!
Local SEO is a magic weapon for small home service businesses or any other local business that wants to be where its customers and prospects are: Online!
The SEO landscape is known for its constant changes, though. Google introduces small updates and new features on its SERPs almost every day. That’s why many small businesses find it challenging to keep up with these changes.
The Local SEO tactics, tips and tricks we discussed in this blog-article are fundamental for practicing effective local SEO. Based on these, you can create your SEO strategy, keep yourself updated on important changes to Google’s search algorithm and work on any adjustments.
But if you want to take Local SEO one step further, look for a superhero SEO agency that can help you set up your Local SEO strategy and maximize your results!