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5 Basic Local SEO Tips for SMBs With No Budget

04/17/2015 12:14 pm ET | Updated Jun 15, 2015

As a small business owner you know that you must have a website -- but what good does it do if your potential customers can't find you online?

If your business isn't showing up on the top of the local search results you are missing out on phone calls, location visits, sales and revenue. You have more than likely been pitched local SEO -- either by mail, email or phone. It sounds great, right? Position your website on top of the local search results for keywords and phrases related to your location and business.

One problem: what if you don't have the budget to hire an SEO company? My company receives inquiries often from small business owners that are just getting started or just scraping by and don't have the marketing budget to afford professional help. So, I wanted to point out five simple steps that you can take to help improve the local search visibility of your website.

1. Keep Your Name, Address and Phone Number Consistent

It is very important that any occurrence of your NAP (Name, Address and Phone Number) remain consistent online. It should appear exactly as it is written out on your website. So, if you spell out "Road" or "Avenue" then don't abbreviate them as "Rd" or "Ave" at any time.

Search engines want to provide their users with correct information, so if they sense a business might have relocated or closed they aren't going to show that location favorably in the search results. If you have different phone numbers or address variations online it doesn't give off a strong trust signal.

2. Obtain Quality Relevant Business Listings

Having your business listed on high authority directories helps to strengthen your online presence in local search. Some of the more desirable directories that you want to be listed on include:

  • Better Business Bureau
  • LinkedIn
  • Bing Places for Business
  • Yahoo Local
  • Super Pages
  • Facebook
  • Google My Business
  • Yellow Pages
  • City Search

A great tool to use to help you identify and manage local directory listings is Moz Local. This tool will identify opportunities, check for duplicate listings and help you manage your listings. This is also a great tool to help you monitor and audit your NAP as discussed above.

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3. Include Your Physical Business Address

Several small business websites will have an email address or a submission form on their contact page and not their physical business address. This doesn't help your search visibility at all. At the very least you should have your full NAP (Name, Address and Phone Number) listed on your contact page. You can also include it within your website footer, assuring that it is displayed on every page of your website.

Your physical address plays a major part in local search, and not including it on your website is a major mistake. You could have great content and properly optimized page titles, but without your address you will be at a major disadvantage.

4. Encourage Customer Reviews

There is a big difference between telling your customers to leave reviews and encouraging them to do so. You don't want to tell your customers to leave a review, as that is considered manipulating the ratings and it is against may sites terms of service, such as Yelp. Instead, let your customers know that you appreciate their feedback. You can hand out comment cards or send customer service emails that include links to your Yelp, Google, and other local sites that have a rating and review system.

This approach is very effective. Simply letting your customers know that you appreciate their feedback will lead to a large percentage of them taking the time to leave a review without you having to directly ask them. This keeps you within the terms of service and also results in natural and authentic reviews. Consumers are smart and can spot a "forced" or paid review a mile away.

5. Use "Buyer" Keywords in Your Website Copy

Make sure that you use keywords that a prospect is going to search for in order to find your business. If you operate a landscaping business in Miami then you would want to include keywords and phrases such as "lawn care service in Miami" or "Miami lawn mowing service" in your website copy. You don't want to stuff your copy with keywords; instead make sure that they occur naturally.

Proper keyword research is key, because you want to make sure that you are attracting the right kind of person via local organic search. You want people that are actively looking for the services or products that your business sells. Step back and think like your customer. What would they enter into their mobile device to find your business if they wanted to purchase your products or service?

Jonathan Long is the Founder & CEO of Market Domination Media, an online marketing agency specializing in creative outside the box branding campaigns. Connect with him on Twitter and join his company's free weekly newsletter.