The Ultimate Guide to Local SEO for Small Business


What if you could do something for free that gave you a 50% chance of a customer visiting your location? You can—all you have to do is improve your local SEO for Small Businesses. With competition from big box stores and online shopping, things can be tough for a small local business. And if you’re just starting, you might not have the cash on hand to spend on a big advertising push.

Strengthening your search engine optimization is free and easier than you think. Take notes, because this ultimate checklist guide to local SEO for small businesses will net you results!

Table of Contents

Add Your NAP

When we talk about NAP, we don’t mean a mid-day snooze. NAP means name, address, and phone.

Your NAP has a bigger SEO influence than you might think. It gives your potential customers the info they need to make a purchase and also improves your rankings.

Here’s your essential NAP local SEO checklist:

  • Make sure your NAP is consistent across all pages and listings
  • Use your local phone number, not a toll-free number
  • Add your NAP to your home page and on the footer of every other page

Using this online checklist, Google will rank you higher as a local business. Plus, you’ll make it easier for customers to get what they need from you.

Google My Business: Your New Home Page


A discovery search is one where people aren’t searching for your name directly but find you through your goods or service listings. For example, instead of searching for “John Doe’s Car Wash,” they search for “car wash near me” and land on your page.

The majority of your traffic—up to 84% on average—will come from discovery searches. A good Google My Business listing is crucial to turning these discovery searches into conversions.

Google My Business, or GMB, is a local SEO marketing powerhouse. It takes your NAP one step further by allowing people to go to your website, call, or message you directly from the search results. If you’re wondering, “how do I register my business with Google?”, head over to the My Business page on Google’s site to get started.

Once you’re there, take advantage of all of the features you can get through GMB for free. Add offers, photos, products, and more on top of keeping your NAP up to date.

Mobile-Friendly Pages

Mobile searches have surged over 200% in recent years. That’s a big key to improving your local business’ SEO.

Once again, everything starts with NAP. Search on mobile tracks a user’s location, so your local info will rank higher in search results.

A big component of improving your search results is making sure your website’s pages are mobile-friendly. Improve your pages’ mobile navigation, load times, and more to move up in the SERPs.

Creating Quality Content

Having a small blog on your website can give you a bump in search rankings. You have to make sure that it’s filled with quality content.

Creating content that ranks isn’t as daunting as it seems and is a great way to work your local SEO for small businesses. Follow these tips and tricks for success.

Search for mid- or long-tail keywords on subjects relevant to your business. Try to incorporate your city’s name if possible (ex. “local SEO agency in St. Louis, Missouri”).

Don’t just write about yourself—educate and entertain your audience. If your business sells donuts, you can do a top 10 list of people in cars doing donuts.

Do a deep dive into one product that you offer to make sure your customers are completely informed. If you participate in any community events, write a blurb about it.

As you can see, there are plenty of ways to create unique content that helps you rank. Once inspiration hits, you’ll have lots to write about.

Share on Social

Social media written in tiles next to a cell phone

What’s your social media marketing plan? If you don’t have one, you need one now.

Social media is essentially free advertising. Here’s your chance to get your name out there and start racking up hits on search results, too.

Make sure you have accounts on all of the major channels. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Yelp are the big ones.

Share content from your blog, updates, photos, and more at least a few times a week. Don’t spam your audience, and always be authentic.

You’ll start to get reviews on social media sites, too. Let’s talk about why you can’t ignore them.

Optimize Your Images

When we mentioned mobile optimization, compressing your photos and improving their load time was part of that. There are other ways to ensure your images get your business seen in local searches.

Save your image with a specific language. Instead of just “logo.jpg,” save images as “PortlandLawnServices.jpg.”

When adding pics to your web page, don’t neglect the ALT text. ALT text is how a computer reads the image and gives you a chance to add in crucial keywords.

If you’re a restaurant, an ALT text image description could be “plate of fettuccine Alfredo at Luigi’s Pizzeria.” Don’t go overboard and stuff too many keywords in one place.

URLs, Titles, and Descriptions

Optimizing your URLs, titles, and descriptions isn’t just for SEO purposes. They directly help customers know what they’re looking at.

The URL of your page should be clear and not a long, confusing string of words. Titles and descriptions should have location and contact info, like a phone number, to help customers find you.

Manage Your Reputation


The majority of potential customers look to your reviews for an unbiased look at your customer service. Managing and responding to your reviews is in your best interest and will help your local SEO.

First, respond to all reviews, both positive and negative. With negative reviews, apologize, and then try to get them out of the public eye by offering an email for further communication.

Your responses carry SEO weight, too. If a customer says they bought a specific product, mention it in your response, too.

You can even hire a reputation management service to handle all the hard work for you.


Below are just a few of the most frequently asked questions that small businesses like you have about search engine optimization.

Does SEO Work for Small Businesses?

Unequivocally yes.

When executed well, measures taken to boost SEO can dramatically increase the visibility and success of businesses of any size.

That’s because today more than ever, people are turning to the internet to find what they need. In fact, Google now processes more than 3.5 billion searches per day and 1.2 trillion searches per year, according to Internet Live Stats.

And the higher your business ranks in those results, the more likely people will be to find your business.

Plus, according to HubSpot:

  • SEO drives 30% of traffic and 20% of revenue
  • SEO efforts perform about 5.66 times better than paid search ads
  • More than 1 in 3 internet users recognize paid ads and don’t click on them
  • Search is the #1 driver of traffic to content sites, beating social media by more than 300%

It seems pretty clear that yes, SEO works for small businesses.


How Do Local Businesses Do SEO?

Competing with national corporations for rankings on Google can be difficult due to the sheer volume of content they can offer.

Niching down can give local businesses the edge, of course. But even then, this David versus Goliath scenario doesn’t always work out in the end.

Instead, many turn to local SEO for small businesses.

What are the differences betweenlocal SEO vs. Organic SEO?

Let’s break it down.

Organic SEO is the overarching category of techniques used to rank on search engines. This includes optimizing for keywords, including robust metadata, beefing up content, etc. Performing these techniques will help you get found on a national level.

However, the local SEO advantages are that Google and other search engines recognize when the search intent is to find a local business. After all, if you’re looking for a boutique clothing store nearby, you’re not going to get much value out of Google showing you an outlet 300 miles away.

And since Google is only trying to show you the most relevant results, it ends up favoring those local businesses by showing them above the general search results. Check out the search results for local coffee shops below.

GMB 3 pack

Since these results appear higher on the page, it gives local businesses a fighting chance against larger businesses.

What Kinds of Businesses Need Local SEO?

In general, any type of business that has a physical location where it meets clients or customers can see enormous benefits from boosting their local SEO.

This includes:

  • Retail spaces
  • Restaurants
  • Bars
  • Law offices
  • Grocery stores
  • Doctor offices
  • And many more

Businesses that service a geographic location (such as a handyman or plumber that works in St. Louis and the surrounding areas) should be using local SEO too.

How Much Does Local SEO Cost?

Services that improve local SEO for small businesses can actually be surprisingly affordable.

Many businesses will see substantial traffic and sales improvements from spending around just $500 per month for a well-optimized campaign.

That being said, you should be wary of services offering suspiciously inexpensive options as you tend to get what you pay for in this industry.

For example, businesses that spent over $500 per month were 53.3% more likely to be “extremely satisfied” compared to those that spent less than $500.

Improve Your Local SEO for Small Businesses

There’s a lot of competition out there for local small businesses. But getting seen by search engines isn’t as impossible as it seems.

Taking the steps covered in this checklist guide to local SEO will help you improve your local SEO for small businesses. Be consistent and give it some time to see results.

But if you’re like most businesses, you may not have the time to boost your rankings on your own. That’s where local SEO services in St. Louis can help.

Local SEO services in St. Louis can handle all the heavy lifting of boosting both the organic and local SEO for small businesses by:

  • Managing your Google My Business page
  • Optimize your pages using research-backed keywords
  • Use white-hat techniques for link building and citation building
  • Take care of more technical aspects of SEO for your website

Looking for more guidance to help you rank higher? Interested in a local SEO audit to see what you can improve? Reach out to us and get your free consultation right now!

Have you checked your Local SEO Health? Get a free local SEO audit right now!