Understanding the Importance of Local SEO for Small Businesses

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Search Engine Optimization, or what people commonly call as SEO, is an important driver of business growth that most small businesses overlook. You most probably encountered the word ‘SEO’ in several web pages but didn’t really know how to benefit from it. If you learn how to maximize SEO alongside your Google Business Profile, there is a higher chance for you to obtain greater business results. 

How Search Engines Work 

Search engines provide the best relevant information to users who are searching for a keyword at the shortest possible amount of time. 

Google Search, for example, is a fully-automated search engine that uses software known as web crawlers that explore the web regularly to find pages to add to your index. 

Google Developers described the three stages of Google Search as follows: 

  • Crawling: Using automated programs called crawlers, Google downloads text, images, and videos from the pages it found on the internet. 
  • Indexing: Google then analyzes the text, images, and video files on the pages, and stores the information in a large database called Google Index. 
  • Serving search results: When a user searches on Google, it returns information relevant to the user’s query. 

Search engines decide rankings by crawling websites and through surveys or mapping. Here are the ranking factors for organic pages: 

  • Technical SEO factors: related elements that affect the crawlability and indexability of your website and its pages. These factors are usually embedded in the backend of your website and are affected by how it was built. 
  • On-page factors: SEO factors that refers to elements found within a webpage that helps search engines understand its content. These factors affect how search engines determine the relevance of the page with regards to the search query or keyword.
  • Off-page factors: refers to building your website’s authority and visibility in other websites and assets. These are greatly influenced by backlinks. 

What is Local SEO? 

According to Search Engine Journal, Local SEO is “where you focus to improve your rankings and visibility in local search results, such as Google’s Map Pack or Local Pack.” 

The Google Map Pack, also called Google 3-Pack or Local Pack, appears on top of the search engine results pages (SERPs) for local Google searches. The pack includes three companies or businesses that best match the user’s search based on relevance, distance, and prominence. 

Traditional SEO, also called Organic SEO, focuses on improving the quality and quantity of organic traffic to a website, while Local SEO focuses on the geographic components of the search. Local SEO allows businesses to capture local search territory to connect with searches in their area. 

Importance of Local SEO 

Now, you may ask, “Why do I need to invest in Local SEO?” 

Think of it this way: if you are not seen in local search results, it is the same as choosing a location for your restaurant with no foot traffic. Ranking in local search results will greatly increase your online visibility. It is like improving the presence and reach of your store, but virtually. 

Why not just invest in ads? As Clarry Herrera said, Founder of AGENIX Digital, establishing good SEO is like investing in your own billboard; but way better. Aside from raising awareness of your business, appearing in local search results can generate conversion. SEO is also very data driven as you can track, manage your performance and measure your conversion. 

Unlike in ads where you have to pay every time you launch a campaign, once you’ve established your SEO presence, you can benefit from it for a very long time. 

Google Business Profile 

To increase your visibility on Google, you have to create your Google Business Profile. Your Business Profile is Google’s term for a business listing. Business Profiles are those that appear on a Google Map Pack. 

With Google Business Profiles, customers may leave reviews, ask and answer questions, and may even add photos. Remember, generating reviews is crucial for small businesses and startups. Maximize this tool to engage with your customers and gain insights. 

If you haven’t listed your business yet, you can go to www.google.business.com and set up your profile by providing the following information: 

  • Business name
  • Business address 
  • Phone number 
  • Business category 
  • Business hours 
  • Business description
  • Service areas 
  • Website URL
  • Services and products 
  • Location attributes 

Here are other tips on how you can further maximize your Google Business Profile: 

  • Create a Google Business Profile for each location you service 
  • Integrate review-generation in your business processes 
  • Encourage use of keywords in your reviews 
  • Always check your competitors 
  • Try to identify a benchmark profile
  • Invest on building your local brand awareness 
  • Hire a specialist or agency, if budget permits, to avoid mistakes 
  • Regularly update your information 

Local Citations  

Aside from creating a Google Business Profile, you can also explore local citations to improve your search engine rankings. A local citation refers to any online mention of a business’s name, address, and phone number. These citations usually appear on local business directories, websites and apps, and social media platforms.

Local citations can help people discover your business. Not everyone uses Google when looking for something, oftentimes they prefer to visit sites like Yelp, Yellow Pages PH, and other specialist directories such as FilipinoDoctors.org to find what they’re looking for. 

The first thing to do when building local citations is to get listed on data aggregator companies, which collect information about your business and distribute it to thousands of websites. Foursquare, Localeze, and Factual are among the most prominent data aggregators today. 

The next step is to submit your NAP (name, address, and phone number) data to core websites such as Yellow Pages, Facebook, and Yelp. After submitting to core sites, you may also consider submitting your information to industry-specific directories; for example, restaurants get listed on Zomato while hotels are usually listed on TripAdvisor. 

Why do you need to set up your website?  

Most businesses create their websites only for portfolio and proof of legitimacy purposes. What they don’t know is that your website plays an important role in growing your SEO presence. 

Search engines love websites that produce informational content since they use these for building relevance. By producing blog posts on your website, you can build brand and product awareness at the upper part of the sales funnel. 

Here are the types of content that your website can provide: 

  • Niche-relevant content 
  • Geo-relevant content 
  • Product/service pages 
  • Location pages 

If you don’t have your own website yet, you can also consider using Google sites and just purchase a custom domain. 

Business owners must understand the value of local SEO and Google Business Profile to maximize growth opportunities. SEO is important, regardless of the niche and size of your business. 

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Nenette Dizon
Nenette Dizon is a professional writer whose works focus on PR and SEO content creation. She graduated with a degree in Journalism from the University of Santo Tomas.

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