Small businesses need to do everything they can to stand out from the competition and keep new customers coming through the doors. While paid advertising can be a valuable route to getting more eyes on your small business, appearing in Google’s local pack (or three-pack) when people in your area conduct a search could be your golden ticket to cheaper client acquisition and higher revenues.
Local users presented with three good-looking options are often happy to narrow it down from there and won’t bother to click “more places”, meaning the business in fourth place might as well not rank at all. Fortunately, there’s local SEO for small businesses who understand the importance of ranking well in the local pack and don’t want to see potential customers going straight to competitors. By working on their local listings, Google Business Profile, social media presence, blog and website, small business owners can steadily climb the local rankings and could even end up as the number one result for their target market.
Unlike a lot of marketing channels, local SEO is actually pretty simple to get started with. The first thing you’ll want to do is roll out your business listings. This not only gives you a better presence on the web, but also helps Google check your citations to determine your local rankings. As a bare minimum, citations are your business’ NAP data (name, address, phone number), but there’s so much more you should add to give your small business the best chance of rising in the ranks. A good listing will feature a logo, tell users the opening hours, show some photos of staff and the location, categories, products, services… all the details that help remove any doubt that you’re a business worth visiting. The most important listing your small business needs is a Google Business Profile (GBP). This is the prime real estate that pops up on the Google results page when a user searches a business name and also what Google Maps uses to populate a business’ details.
Time saver: With Semrush’s Listing Management tool, you can distribute your listings to 70+ directories and only input your details once, letting you move on to the next stage of your small business’ local SEO campaign faster.
It probably goes without saying that the more rave reviews a business has, the better chance it has of rising in the local rankings. Google favours GBPs with lots of 4 or 5-star ratings and considers reviews to be an important ranking factor.
Getting more reviews for your GBP (or other platforms that could use some extra social proof) is essentially a simple case of putting together a good outreach strategy and making it easy for customers to share their feedback (texting them the GBP review link, for example). However, getting back to all of them is where things get a bit tricky. Businesses that reply to their reviews look better than the ones that don’t because they’re publicly demonstrating that they care about what their customers think of them. Using Semrush’s Listing Management tool to manage your reviews ensures they all get a nice reply, and you can also use it to keep an eye on your reply rate so no review falls through the cracks.
Well-optimized website content is the path to top organic positions, but it can also help boost your local pack rankings if you get your keyword research right. Localized content and location-specific landing pages (with an embedded Google Map) make it clear you’re based in that geographical area and not, for example, simply trying to game the GBP platform as a national or global business.
Bonus tip: Semrush's Listing Management tool makes local SEO for small businesses a breeze, with its simple listings distribution, review management and local rankings tracker.
You’ll also want to make sure your website itself is in tip-top SEO health, with no broken links, and a nice user-friendly site structure. Aim to build a few local links from other local websites that are happy to give you a recommendation, or offer to write some content for them in exchange for a backlink to your site. On top of your website and blog content, make a plan to regularly upload fresh content to your GBP, such as photos, videos and posts about what’s going on in your business.