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Local SEO for small business

Happypath is a website development company in Melbourne. We build great websites for small businesses.

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You’ve got your shiny new website, now all you need is some visitors! Visitors still come mainly from search, and search is still synonymous with Google - although this is decreasing slowly.

When you search Google, it has to decide what the context of your search request is and if there is local intent. This makes complete sense, if you are looking for a car mechanic is unlikely that you want one in a different city. You probably want one reasonably close to where you are. In this instance Google uses different signals to return its results list. Along with proximity your search results are still ranked so they will hopefully give you the best match, not just the ones nearby.

Google uses a mixture of ‘signals’ to help decide which websites are the best match to your query. When local intent has been established these are different to a general information search. Along with proximity, Google uses reviews (it’s own and other review services), ‘on page’, or technical SEO, mobile responsiveness, and citations - links from listings and directory sites confirming your address and contact details. More on this later.

All this means your shiny new website is likely to rank differently on Google depending on where the search is made from, even down to a hyper local level. You will likely rank higher in your own suburb than a neighbouring one. This is why when you see SEO companies offering you ‘top position on Google’ you should probably not engage them - they are probably going to run a Pay per click ad campaign, get your ad to show up at the top of the page and hope you don’t know the difference. I have seen this done!

If you want to rank highly for searches with local intent, your strategy needs to be slightly different.

Onsite local SEO

The first thing you need is the same for all SEO. You need to have is a solid website foundation. You are wasting time and money undertaking any SEO activity if you do not have this in place to begin with. Your site needs to have good semantic structure, correct metadata, schema markup (information about your business in some specific code) and be getting decent Core Web Vital Scores. Funnily enough this is exactly what we specialise in at happypath so if all of this is just too much information, stop reading and give us a call!

Along with optimised code and website structure there are basic content must haves. Your address an contact details should be clearly displayed on every page. Convention places this in the footer, and this is where real live people tend to look too so it’s a good convention to follow. In your written content you don’t need to keyword stuff your location every two sentences. If your contact details and schema are correct Google knows where you are, you don’t need to keep telling them. If your business has multiple sites then you need to include all your addresses, a separate page for each premises is also good practice. So now your standard SEO activities such as blog posts come into play. With local search you have narrowed your competition immensely. If you write blog post content for your business it only needs to rank higher than your local competitors, not every other website in the world in the same niche. You can additionally influence local results if you can include some locally focused content. If you are a restaurant that uses local suppliers you could create content about them, tieing it all back to your own business and the local area. This needs to make sense, if you are the afore mentioned car mechanic then writing about local nature walks might not be a good fit, but there maybe a car related event that would be. This is where you can add an additional layer of local keyword targeting. Study your competitors usage of local keywords and match and surpass them where you can. Keyword research tools like SEMrush or AHrefs are useful for this.

Offsite local SEO

The big mother here is your Google Business Profile. You are going right to the source, telling Google all about your services, opening times, specific information and contact details. Google uses this profile as your virtual business representation, most importantly this is where your Google reviews sit and when you come up in local search results these can easily be read by your potential visitors. Google also uses the reviews as a ranking signal so it’s important to treat these as currency. Do everything in your power to collect genuine reviews. Do not make them up, they stand out 100% and destroy your credibility to readers, and if Google thinks they are suspicious it will remove them or penalise you. Respond promptly to both positive and negative reviews, the occasional negative review is fine as long as the problem is addressed in the response.

Along with your Business Profile you should build a network of citation and listings such as Yelp. Google puts some emphasis on NAP (Name, Address and Phone number), these should be in the same format across all these listings. Google will get confused if your NAP listings are inconsistent. If your business moves, or your details change for some reason you need to be on top of this.

Social media can be more effective in a local context, but make sure you choose the correct network for your audience. If you’re running a bakery, using platforms like Facebook and Instagram could be more effective as they allow you to engage with the local community through posts and stories featuring photographs. If you offer professional services such as accounting, LinkedIn might be a better platform due to its business-focused user base.

The extra bit

What is Local SEO?

Local SEO refers to the process of optimising a website to increase its visibility for local searches. This includes strategies to improve search engine rankings within a specific geographic area, making it easier for local customers to find your business online.

Why is Google Business Profile optimisation important for Local SEO?

Google Business Profile optimisation is crucial as it helps businesses appear in local searches and on Google Maps. By providing accurate and updated information about your business, you enhance its visibility and credibility in local search results.

How can small businesses leverage social media for local reach?

Small businesses can use social media platforms strategically by engaging with the local community, sharing relevant content, promoting events or offers, and actively responding to customer inquiries. This not only increases brand awareness but also fosters a strong connection with the local audience.

What are On-Page SEO Strategies for Local Businesses?

On-Page SEO strategies involve optimising individual web pages to rank higher and earn more relevant traffic in search engines. For local businesses, this may include incorporating location-based keywords, creating locally-focused content, optimising meta tags with location information, and ensuring NAP consistency across the website.

Why should small businesses focus on managing online reviews and ratings?

Managing online reviews and ratings is essential as they directly impact a business’s reputation and influence consumer decisions. By actively monitoring feedback, responding promptly to both positive and negative reviews while maintaining transparency builds trust among potential customers.

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I found this experience so easy and straightforward. I have had a lot of issues in the past with other providers which didn't do what I asked and found follow up and future changes cost more on top of what I had paid. Jared came up with some great ideas to help with the SEO which helps more traffic come to my website. I can't recommend Happy Path highly enough and if you're looking for a web designer who's affordable, listens to the needs of your business, and gets your website up and running in a matter of weeks then Happy Path are the people for you.

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