November 30, 2022

Short Handbook for Local SEO

By: Mary Hiers

Strong local SEO is the bread and butter of website success for many small businesses. But what if you don’t know how to optimize your website for better search ranking? Is it that important?

Yes! According to statistics by Google, nearly one-third of all mobile searches are location-related. A staggering 78% of those who search for something near them on their phones visit a business within one day. And perhaps more importantly, 28% of local searchers buy something after a local search.

Fortunately, you can take several straightforward steps to optimize your website. You can’t control some aspects of local SEO, and you can only indirectly control some aspects of it. 

And there are a couple of aspects of local SEO that are beyond your control. But doing what you can and maintaining your local SEO efforts will continue to tilt the odds in your favor. Here is how to do it.

You Control Some Aspects of Local SEO

Begin with the aspects of local SEO you can control directly. Then move on to elements of local SEO that you can only control indirectly.

The best place to start optimizing your website for local search is your Google Business Profile (GBP). If you only do one thing toward local SEO, it should be completing and optimizing your GBP.

Google Business Profile

If you don’t have a GBP, what are you waiting for? They’re free to set up, and they can make a significant difference in your local profile. 

Start by going to Google’s business profile page and following the instructions. Verifying your GBP may take a little time, but it is time well invested. 

Make your GBP as complete as possible, and use care when choosing your business category. Use the same address and phone number information on your GBP as on your website and social media profiles. Consistency matters!

You don’t have to update your GBP with posts, photos, and videos, but it helps if you do. Seasonal or holiday-themed photos, videos, and posts are great ways to keep your GBP fresh and looking great.

A complete, accurate, consistent, up-to-date GBP can be an advertisement for your business. It can be a fantastic supplement to your paid advertising. There is no downside to having a GBP, and there are plenty of upsides.


Your business name, address, and phone number (NAP) make up an important SEO asset. Ensuring that all are correct and consistent across your web properties helps you in local searches.

Your website and GBP are two of the most critical places where NAP information resides. So tend to these first and foremost.

Additionally, ensuring complete, accurate, and consistent NAP information on your social media profiles also benefits your local SEO, though less directly. Finally, submitting NAP info to business directories and data aggregators like

  • Foursquare
  • Apple Maps
  • Yellow Pages
  • Bing
  • Facebook

add a final layer of excellence to your online SEO efforts. Again, consistency of the data is vital.

Service-Oriented Keywords 

In many situations, people do location-based searches because they need something done, sometimes urgently. They may not have time to browse half a dozen local plumbers’ websites, so they search for exactly what they need: “drain unclogging,” for example. 

These service-oriented phrases make excellent keywords to use on relevant pages of your website. There are some simple ways to find other great keywords to use on your website:

  • Use a tool like Semrush Organic research tool (Many tools like this offer free versions.) to find out which keywords your top local competitors use successfully.
  • Start typing something you suspect is a good keyword into Google Autocomplete and see how it completes your query.
  • Use the Google Keyword Planner or another free keyword planning tool. 

To use these keywords for SEO, find the page on which they are most relevant. Then edit the page to weave the keywords naturally into the body text, title, or heading. 

Make sure you don’t “stuff” the keyword into the page as often as possible. Google is great at detecting keyword stuffing and penalizes websites that do it. 

Social Media Activity

Regularly updating your social media pages can indirectly boost local SEO. For example, posts can reference and link to important pages on your website or relevant blog posts.

This type of “cross-pollination” works both ways. You can add social media sharing buttons on your web pages and blog posts so that people who want to share them can do so with one click.

The result of smart social media activity is more traffic to your website. And more traffic on your website often means more social media traffic. Ultimately, it can mean more sales.


The more local reviews your business receives, the better. Searchers care how many reviews competing businesses have. They also like to see businesses respond to reviews – particularly how they respond to negative reviews

While you can’t control what people write in their reviews, you can get more by asking for them. You may have to prompt people more than once or on multiple platforms. Don’t browbeat them into writing a review, but normalize your customer-facing employees asking for them.

When you have more reviews, you give a richer picture of what you do and how well you do it. Moreover, a single subpar review won’t affect your overall star rating as much if you have hundreds of reviews. 

Some Local SEO Is Beyond Your Control

There are a few things you can’t control with local SEO. It’s difficult to say precisely what these things are because Google doesn’t spell out its chosen ranking factors. 

There’s no sense in worrying about these factors. Focus on the SEO factors you can control. Proximity is one possible SEO factor you can’t control.

Proximity and Local SEO 

For some businesses, proximity matters to a searcher. For example, an out-of-town visitor searching for coffee shops will probably choose one near where they are staying.

If your coffee shop is on the other side of town, you may lose out on these highly specific searches. But you may “win” when searchers happen to be nearby.

Proximity Doesn’t Always Matter 

Proximity may only matter a little for certain types of businesses. For example, if someone needs a criminal defense attorney, they will likely value a provider’s reputation much more than their location.

Relevance and prominence of businesses that are suitable answers for local queries are essential factors that you can polish and improve. There’s little sense worrying about proximity unless you are planning to relocate. 

What Local Competitors Do

One final local SEO factor that you can’t directly influence is what your local competitors are doing for their local SEO. But while you can’t control it, you can monitor it.

Knowing what the competition is up to online is as important as knowing what they do in their brick-and-mortar business. Check out local competitors’ sites regularly and monitor how they rank for keywords that are important to your business. 

Make a note of changes a successful competitor makes on their website, such as the following:

  • Have they added video content?
  • Do they have a large number of reviews posted on their website?
  • Do they post to their GBP regularly?
  • Have they added service pages?
  • What is their primary business category in their GBP?

This information can give clues on how you might fine-tune your local SEO. 

Regular Local SEO Audits Matter

Since Google prioritizes websites that regularly post fresh, original content, websites don’t remain static for all time. They often have blogs or make updates to product or service pages.

Websites change frequently. Therefore, you should regularly audit your local SEO practices and your competitors’. 

In other words, local SEO isn’t a “set it and forget it” proposition. But having a plan makes it easier to monitor. 

Local SEO affects business success. It doesn’t change things overnight, but its effects can be long-lasting.

Every website that Best Websites builds comes with a completed GBP and SEO-enriched content on every page. 

If you want to create or re-boot your company’s web presence, set up a call with our team. We know how to make your business more visible on search engine results pages so you can reach more customers than ever.


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