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Local SEO Best Practices to Help your Small Business Stand Out


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If you read our digital marketing glossary you’ll get the gist of what SEO is:

“SEO (Search Engine Optimization)  is a marketing discipline used to increase your visibility in unpaid or organic search engine results.”

Better SEO will help increase your Web traffic, brand visibility, and revenue. But how do you, as a local business owner, improve your SEO to gain these benefits? This guide will help you understand local SEO and give you some strategies to improve your ranking.

Use Keywords and Phrases

Keywords are essential in the search-marketing field and can make or break your online presence. To improve your ranking, research which terms and phrases your customers use to find businesses like yours.

Keyword tips:

  • Tools like Google Keyword Planner and Ubersuggest can help you find the best keywords and phrases that aren’t too competitive.
  • Use long-tail keywords for your SEO campaign, which are phrases that people use to search, as opposed to singular words. They provide more specific information that users and search engines will both notice and will be seen as more reputable that sites using a repetition of generic keywords.
  • Use what people are actually searching for instead of jargon.
  • Keywords are important throughout your content, but you should focus on using them in intros, conclusions, and titles (more about this later).
  • Use regional keywords, like the city you operate in or the region you serve (again, more about this later).
  • Most importantly, use keywords naturally—context is important and you want your reader to have a pleasant experience. Write for people, not for search engines.


Design a Mobile-Friendly Website


Many people searching for a local business will do so from a mobile device. A study by SurePayroll revealed that 4 out of 5 consumers conduct local searches on search engines and 88% of those searches are on a smartphone.

Since the Google mobile-friendly update in 2015, having a mobile-friendly site has become a significant ranking factor and since most people search on smartphones, making sure the process is smooth should be a top priority.

Having content that is structured for a mobile reader is also very important. Most people are accessing the web while on the go, so you want to make the content easy to read. Use bullet lists, bolding headings and increase the size of the font on mobile sites.

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Build NAP Citations

NAP may sound like a snooze, but it’s actually one of the most important ways to show up in local search rankings.

NAP is short for Name, Address, Phone and this is the information you need to include to build local citations or listings.

Think about when you were in school and you had to give citations to prove that your information came from credible sources. Creating these citations helps to show Google, Bing, and Yahoo! that you’re legitimate. Google My Business and 411.ca are great places to start.

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NAP tips:

  • Be consistent with your NAP across platforms, right down to punctuation and spacing
  • Use a local phone number to further show search engines you’re local
  • The first 3 categories are the most important, but select up to 5
  • Include at least 5 high-quality images in your listing
  • Verify your listing on each platform
  • Remove duplicate listings because they hurt your search ranking


Get Online Reviews


Word-of-mouth has typically been the most common form of referrals, but according to BrightLocal, 92% of consumers now read online reviews. With an increasing amount of people turning to the Internet for information about businesses, getting customer reviews is essential for SEO.

The quantity and quality of your online reviews play a direct role in our search visibility. The more 5-star reviews your business has, the more online exposure it will receive.

So, don’t just focus on Google—encourage your happy customers to write sites like YelpHomeStars, and 411.ca reviews, as well as on industry niche sites.


Improve On-Page SEO

Finally, let’s talk about on-page SEO factors. What do you type into a search engine when you’re looking for a specific product or service?

It’s generally the city you’re looking to buy in and what you’re looking to buy, like “Hamilton plumber” or “Calgary florist” so provide that information on your site/pages.

On-page SEO tips:

  • Include your business name, City/Region, and relevant keywords within your landing page title tag, like Maria’s Italian Kitchen | Italian Restaurant and Catering in Toronto
  • Include your City/Region and relevant keywords within your landing page H1 tag
  • Include your City/Region and relevant keywords within your landing page URL, like, http://www.website/Maria’s-Italian-Restaurant-Toronto
  • Include your City/Region and relevant keywords, within your landing page content.
  • Include your City/Region and relevant keywords within your landing page image ALT attributes
  • Provide a Google map with your business marker on your landing page

Local SEO is important to helping your business succeed and grow. Following these local SEO best practices will help to drive Web traffic, build your brand, and ultimately increase your revenue.

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Laura has a B.A. in Honours Communications Studies from McMaster University and is currently enrolled in Humber’s Public Relations Postgraduate program. She is passionate about writing and local business, so this blog is the perfect combination of the two.