What Is Local SEO for Small Businesses?
For small business owners, local SEO is what you do on or outside your website to ensure your business shows up when people search for your type of business around your service areas.
For example, if you run a barbers shop in Lekki, you want to show up when someone searches for “Barbers shop in Lekki” or when a person with their location turned on in Lekki searches for “Barbers shop near me.”
Like the barber’s shop, local SEO is especially crucial for businesses that serve their clients in physical locations i.e., customers have to come in to make purchases.
Why Is Local SEO Important?
According to HubSpot stats, 88% of people who search for businesses close by on their smartphones call or visit the company within a day.
Also, local SEO is a level playing field for businesses regardless of size. It helps small businesses gain a competitive advantage over big companies in the same industry based on proximity to the searcher. It is not about how good; it is about how close.
For instance, if a 2-million Naira annual revenue business has a shoe store in Lagos and Nike (a multi-billion dollar company) has a store at Sango-Otta (close to Lagos), Google shows the 2-million Naira company above Nike in searches for ‘shoe store in Lagos.’
Local SEO deals with the best business in that location, not the best business online or in the world. In addition to this, here’s how local SEO helps your business, it;
- Increases your brand’s authority near your business.
- It helps your business compete with others like you regardless of quality and size.
- Creates customers you can easily retain since they reside close to your business.
- Reduces the cost of paid ads drastically; why pay for adverts when people already find you online?
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Who Needs Local SEO?
Local SEO is most beneficial to small businesses with brick-and-mortar locations, i.e. companies that work at the office. These are companies that need foot traffic to succeed, examples include;
- Medical practices – hospitals, dentists, veterinary clinics, eye clinics, etc.
- Hospitality businesses – restaurants, hotels, bars, etc.
- Supermarkets and Grocery stores
4 Components of Local SEO
Google My Business
Google is the biggest search engine in the world, and they created a directory called Google My Business. Google My Business feeds details about the old and new businesses to Google Maps, and companies can manage their Google My Business account to get better results.
Local directories in Nigeria, like Business List, help you put your brand in more locations online. Most of them allow you to add your business name, address, and phone number. I used Business List because I have received inquiries from people who found me on the platform. Some directories allow you to add your website; this is a free backlink. Backlinks are vital for SEO. Clutch.co is an international directory small businesses in Nigeria can use, primarily for service-based (B2B) businesses.
Reviews & Testimonials
The quality and quantity of reviews you get on directories that allow reviews (e.g., Google My Business) affects your local SEO. A quality review or testimonial from a customer is well-thought, long, and states what you did for them.
For example, here are two reviews;
A: It was pleasant working with Xylem Consult
B: Xylem consult is simply the best HR consultant in Nigeria! We wanted to hire a proven digital marketing executive in Lagos. We have tried posting on free job boards and interviewed some people. Most of these guys were not good, we settled for one who performed woefully, and we had to let her go. So we searched for an HR company to do the hiring for us. Luckily we found Xylem, and they did a great job!
B is the better review. It convinces the Google search engine and prospects looking to hire an HR company. To rank higher with local SEO, do great work for your customers and ask them for reviews like B.
In addition to the great review, you need multitudes of such reviews to rank higher than your competitors. Your Google My Business reviews need to be plenty and include words related to your business – HR consultant, HR company in the above example.
On-page Local SEO
This is as simple as having a contact us page with your business name, address, and phone number on your website. In addition, you need to optimize pages on your website or blog posts to include the local SEO terms you wish to rank for.
For instance, if you are a digital marketer in Lagos, your main site title must carry this title. You can also add this to your meta description and as hyperlinks in your blog articles 😉
How Is Local SEO Done?
Here are five steps to follow to optimize your business for local SEO;
1. Create and optimize your Google My Business listing – Visit the Google My Business homepage with a Gmail address dedicated to your business. Fill in details about your business; location, business name, service hours, service area, services rendered, and lots more.
2. Add your business to local directories to build backlinks – Find free online directories or citations in your country where you can fill in details about your business and include your website URL.
3. Get reviews/testimonials from past clients – Share a link to your Google My Business profile with your clients and encourage them to share their experience working with you. Educate them on how reviews work, so they know what exactly to do to help you.
4. Optimize your website for local search terms you wish to rank for – On your homepage and service pages, mention your business and the areas you serve. Your website’s main title should include your business’s region. This gives website visitors and Google bots a perception of your service areas if it works for them or searches terms, respectively.
5. Write blog articles to help potential customers with their needs – Research to find the interest of your target audience. Then, write articles related to these interests and integrate the local search terms above in such articles.
4 Most Effective Local SEO Tips for Small Businesses in Nigeria
1. Add a Postal Code to Your Address to Get Approved for Google My Business
Most Nigerian business owners find it challenging to get their Google My Business listing approved. You usually don’t need to hire and pay an ‘expert’ to do this. You need to add your address’s postal code to your location when filling in your details.
To quickly find your postal code, type your address into the Google search box or on Google maps. You should see your address postal code near your address.
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2. Fill In Your Complete Business Details on Your Google My Business Account
Add your logo, services you offer, your business hours, service areas, etc to your Google My Business profile. Ensure your listing is up to date with as much information as possible with descriptions where necessary.
Make a copy of the service pages on your website on your GMB listing. For instance, if you are a plumber in Lagos, there are several other services related to that. Create individual pages for each service on your website and add those as services on your GMB listing with direct links to the corresponding pages on your website.
3. Publish Regularly on Your GMB Account
Google My Business is another social media platform for businesses. Repost articles you have on your website, pictures of your business, videos, etc. Just like you post on Instagram and other social media platforms you use, update your Google My Business account with posts regularly.
4. Ask Your Customers for Reviews ASAP
Once you are sure your customer is satisfied with their purchase, request a review immediately. Don’t expect your customers to know the kind of reviews to give you, ask for exactly what you want and send a direct link to your GMB profile.
“Kindly give us a 5-star review on our Google My Business profile. Please tell people about what we did for you, this will help us reach more people. Thank you!”
After customers give you reviews, ensure you respond to their reviews with keywords stating the services you provided to them. You can offer incentives to encourage your customers to give you helpful reviews e.g. a discount on their next purchase.
Also, if you got a bad review from a client, give a response stating how you intend to make things right. This helps potential customers who see these reviews see that you are available to deal with issues.
Frequently Asked Questions About Local SEO
How Much Does It Cost to Do Local SEO?
In Nigeria, it cost between ₦100,000 and ₦300,000 for the first month of local SEO work for small businesses. This work includes SEO Audit of the business, Google My Business account creation and optimization, Directories listing, On-page optimization on the client’s website, etc. How much you pay for local SEO in Nigeria depends on the experience of the person you hire and the scope of work agreed upon.
Also, the cost of SEO for subsequent months ranges from ₦50,000-₦100,000 monthly.
What Is the Difference Between SEO and Local SEO?
The purpose of local SEO is to rank you above your local competitors in your service region. Also, local SEO serves to drive foot traffic to your physical location, hence, your business address and phone number have a key role to play in local SEO.
SEO on the other hand as a whole includes everything you do to rank your website for keywords related to your industry both locally and internationally. Regular SEO does not care about your location, its purpose is to drive massive traffic to your website.
Most SEO experts offer local SEO as a part of their complete SEO plan in a bid to get you to rank and get quality traffic faster.
How Can Local SEO Increase Sales?
Most people who search for something with a specific location in mind are usually ready to buy. Hence, when you do local SEO, you are inviting quality traffic to your website or your physical store. These people are looking for a small business they can walk into and get what they need, local SEO helps you capture these quality leads.
Compared with social media adverts or Google search adverts, local SEO tends to bring in more sales at no additional cost to you. Appending location to search keywords in Google search ads tends to give advertisers a better quality score and exposes their ads to people who are nearby and ready to buy.
Is Local SEO Paid?
Google does not charge you to show your business (or website) on search results. However, ranking your business locally could require loads of work depending on your industry’s competitiveness. If you are not conversant with the tricks involved in getting a better ranking with local SEO, you would require the services of an SEO expert. You will need to pay to hire the services of an SEO expert. However, once the local SEO work is done, you don’t incur any other costs.
How Can Local SEO Help Businesses?
Local SEO helps businesses outrank competitors for their offerings within their service area. Also, people who search with phrases including location are usually ready to purchase or visit the vendor, therefore, local SEO gives small business access to quality leads.
In addition, local SEO reduces the amount businesses spend on paid ads by exposing the business to long-term top rank for profitable keywords.