Small Business Local SEO – The Good, The Bad, and How to Improve

Search Engine Optimization is a big piece of a business's digital presence, and it's essential in reaching its audience, increasing sales, and building a brand name. Additionally, local SEO is vital for brick-and-mortar businesses or businesses that offer geographically-specific services. 

Fun Statistic: 75% of marketers feel their SEO tactics are ‘extremely effective’ or ‘very effective’ at helping them achieve their marketing goals (Source).

Local SEO is a search engine optimization strategy that allows local businesses to be more visible in Google’s search results. When companies have a physical location or serve a geographic area, they’ll need to optimize their local SEO to reach their target audience and grow their business. 

All types of businesses that interact with customers in specific regions can benefit from local SEO. These could be retail stores, restaurants, construction companies, banks, etc. 

In this article, we’ll expand on the good and bad of SEO, the impacts of bad SEO on a business, why SEO is essential for small businesses to grow, and how to improve your local SEO strategies to improve your business. 

Table of Contents: 

Good vs. Bad SEO 

Search Engines, like Google, are powerful tools.

According to Statista, Google currently has over 85% of the search engine market, meaning that every business should want to have a presence on that search engine.  

So how do you build an online presence on Google? Like any business, you want to build brand awareness, generate leads, and connect with the right audience – Search Engine Optimization is an effective way to do all that.

With good SEO, you’re creating trust between your business and the search engine. 

When you have good SEO, Google will show your website and content on the first page of the search engine results page. As a result, you can earn 70-90% of search clicks compared to other businesses. 

By having good SEO and continuously revisiting your search engine practices, you can increase your ranking within Google, reach people who are already interested in your business or services, and improve your conversations. 

There are many ways to enhance your business’s SEO; however, poor practices could result in bad SEO. 

Some examples of bad SEO could be: 

  • Targeting the wrong keywords 
  • Not having a user-friendly website 
  • Irrelevant Ads 

Whether or not those bad practices were intentional, businesses implementing bad SEO strategies suffer consequences.

Impacts of Bad SEO 

Bad SEO can negatively affect how Google crawls and understands your website. 

Those negative impacts can: 

  1. Be harmful to your traffic potential 
  2. Contribute to a negative user experience 
  3. Cause long-term damages

We’ll expand on each below.

It is harmful to your traffic potential. 

Bad SEO can be damaging to your website’s traffic. 

When businesses invest time into their SEO efforts and strategies, they tend to rank higher, which helps them show up on the first page or at the top of Google’s Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs). 

The first page in a Google search receives 70-90% of all clicks, so it’s a coveted spot by many digital marketers. By ranking in those top spaces, your business will increase clicks and visits to your website.

However, if you have bad SEO, Google will lower your ranking, you will not show up on the first page of the SERPs, and you risk losing hundreds of thousands of views and visitors. 

Unfortunately, if you have a low ranking on Google, regardless of how relevant and beneficial your business is, you will not see a lot of website traffic. 

Negative user experience

Google is all about providing its customers with a positive experience. So, if you have SEO practices like: 

  • A slow website 
  • Irrelevant keywords 
  • Misleading copy 

You’re contributing to a negative user experience, and Google will penalize you by lowering your ranking. 

A large portion of our business involves the customer experience; this experience includes our digital presence. When users have a specific need, they search for it on Google. 

A website with good SEO will understand and meet those needs, making it a seamless experience for its customers.

What if you have bad SEO? With bad SEO, you’re contributing to a negative user experience, and Google will rank you lower. 

As mentioned, when Google ranks you lower, it’s unlikely that you will show up on the first page of the search engine results page and earn more customers or leads. 

Ineffective SEO is also associated with an unclear, disjointed, or slow user experience. When the user experience is not beneficial to the customer, they will likely exit your website. 

Poor SEO impacts your search ranking, but you’re also alienating customers, losing traffic, and damaging your credibility. 

Long-Term Damages 

By having consistently bad SEO, Google will be unlikely to rank you for any search term moving forward. 

As mentioned, Google’s priority is to give its users the best experience by delivering accurate search results.

 If your business and website continuously offer a terrible digital experience, it will not want to recommend you. 

Google defines bad SEO as low domain authority, limited traffic, and high bounce rate.

Google will also penalize you for using what they called Blackhat tactics. Blackhat SEO is a practice that is used to get a site ranking higher in search results. They are typically unethical tactics, including keyword stuffing, cloaking, and private link networks. 

If you use unethical tactics like this and do not solve for whatever the customer is searching for, you will often get a penalty from google.

It’s essential to check on your SEO ranking periodically. The sooner you catch and implement better SEO practices, the sooner you will see results. Ignoring a low ranking or blackhat practices, you’re ignoring months of low traffic and unseen content. 

Importance of SEO for Small Businesses 

Obviously, bad SEO habits are damaging. And they’re damaging for businesses of any size. 

With all the information on SEO we discussed, let’s shift our focus to small businesses, specifically their relationship with SEO. While small businesses must focus on SEO, they also have another avenue of SEO: local SEO. 

Local search is for businesses that want to target people searching for companies, products, and services in a specific location.

For example, if someone is looking for a cleaning service, they would search “home cleaners near me” and find a list of companies specializing in home cleaning in their city. 

A local search is more geographically specific than a general Google search. 

Local SEO is the process of enhancing your visibility to show up in local search results. Local SEO is essential for businesses because it helps you to: 

  1. Increase foot traffic 
  2. Be more targeted 
  3. Build trust & credibility 
  4. Grow your online visibility 

If you’re still hesitant about the importance of Local SEO, here are a few statistics on Local SEO and a company’s visibility and success: 

  • 67.6% of user clicks are received by the first 5 Google results (source).
  • Over 72% of local searches result in actual visits within a 5-mile distance (source). 
  • 75% of users never go further than the first page on Google (source).
  • 24% of users look for things online when they have a clear intent to buy something (source).

3 Ways to Improve Local SEO

If you’re a local business looking to gain more traffic and become more geographically targeted, Local SEO is where you want to invest time. Keep reading to learn more about how to enhance your Local SEO strategy. 

Create a Google My Business Account

First, you want to create a Google My Business Account (GMB). This may be one of the most effective ways to gain visibility in Google Search and rank higher on Google Maps. From there, you can create a business profile. Once you create your GMB account, all the information provided will be added to your Business Profile, appearing in Google’s local search results and Google maps. 

We recommend you regularly visit your GMB profile to ensure that you have accurate and up-to-date information, including your logo, hours, acceptable payment methods, plenty of images, and a link to your website. 

Encourage your customers to leave reviews, and respond thoughtfully and authentically to those reviews. 

Lastly, consistently publish announcements, special offers, updates, and events to your GMB page!  

Google My Business is highly visible and allows businesses to connect with potential customers more effectively than other social media platforms because these people are actively looking for you. 

Outside of SEO, GMB comes with powerful features and tools that provide insights into your business. With that information, you can refine your strategies and make better business decisions.

Reviews, Reviews, Reviews 

As mentioned earlier, encourage your customers to leave reviews. Reviews not only optimize your Google My Business presence but also builds trust with potential customers.

For shoppers, reviews are the equivalent of personal recommendations. Therefore, having positive reviews can boost customer trust and influence decision-making. Additionally, customers consider the age of a review when deciding whether or not they want to work with you, so ensure that you’re continuously getting up-to-date reviews. 

Also, if you receive any negative reviews, address those comments thoughtfully and work to remedy the situation to prevent future negative reviews. 

Reviews play an integral part in the decision-making process for buyers. Here are statistics on the impact of customer reviews on buying habits: 

  • 97% of people base their final choice on what others say about the product or service (source).
  • 79% of customers put as much weight on online reviews as they would on personal recommendations (source).
  • On average, reviews produce an 18% uplift in sales (source).
  • 86% of people hesitate to do business with a company if it has negative online reviews (source).

Customer reviews are not a one-and-done process and require a business to consistently gain reviews and respond to those reviews to secure trust. 

Keep in mind that Google is OK with you asking customers for reviews, while Yelp discourages it. However, if you’re looking for ways to encourage your customers to leave reviews, you can: 

  1. Ask in person after the close of a sale. 
  2. Send a post-service or purchase email asking for a review 
  3. Respond to existing reviews (good and bad!)

Do Not Ignore Your Website, Especially on Mobile 

Lastly, you want to ensure that you consistently improve your website. Google loves consistency and seeing a website get involved with its audience. This can be done by: 

  1. Creating new pages 
  2. Updating product descriptions 
  3. Publishing new blogs 
  4. Optimizing your website for mobile 

Mobile has an enormous impact on a business’s SEO. With the rise of smartphones, it’s only natural that most people use their phones to complete local searches. 

When designing your website, don’t forget about your mobile users. A mobile-friendly website creates a better user experience, and now mobile users can navigate your website and find the information they need quickly and efficiently. 

Search Engine Optimization is vital for a business of any size. However, local SEO proves its importance for companies that cater to specific geographical regions. Everyday service providers like cleaning, plumbing, and roofing companies find success in implementing only a few local SEO tactics we discussed. 

Most SEO is free to businesses; unfortunately, if done incorrectly, it can cost businesses a lot of money. This is because they lose leads and sales and end up having to invest money in remedying their mistakes. 

While SEO is not the central portion of your business, it is essential. According to HubSpot, 61% of B2B marketers stated that SEO and organic traffic generate more leads than any other marketing initiative. 

If you’re a business looking to optimize its digital marketing efforts, put more effort into SEO, and set your business up for success by implementing the proper SEO strategies, consider working with a digital marketing agency like Two Trees PPC. 

We are a full-service digital marketing agency that works with home service businesses to increase revenue, leads, and accomplish our partner’s goals. Schedule a call today

If you’re interested in learning more about SEO and local SEO, check out our blog! https://twotreesppc.com/blog/

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