Local SEO for New Businesses: Points to Consider
Economic turmoil can be both a blessing and a curse, depending on whose perspective you are adopting. For established businesses it usually means strapped margins and dwindling revenue – but for entrepreneurs, those hardships provide opportunities.
The past three years are evidence of this. There have been hard times for many businesses, but enterprising visionaries have no doubt started their share of new businesses.
In the years 2020, 2021, and 2022, we saw impressive growth in new businesses. Nearly 5 million new business applications were submitted each year – giving nearly 15 million new businesses since that first year.
Granted, some of these businesses may not have websites, and probably some of them started and flopped. But for others, given the strong growth in eCommerce we’ve seen, things have probably improved.
Now, for local businesses, that presents a challenge. You still want to be able to attract a local market but you can’t neglect the value of SEO. Most purchases start with an organic search nowadays, anyway.
Which means regardless of where your business is or what market you serve, it’s in your best interest to optimize for local SEO.
So, from a high level, here’s what you need to know about local SEO for new businesses, and how you can optimize it.
What Is Local SEO?
There is no fundamental difference between “regular” SEO and local SEO, just that some facets of local SEO for new businesses are a little bit nuanced by comparison.
All SEO hinges on keywords and website optimization, but given the difficulty of optimizing for local-specific keywords, local SEO is a little bit different.
But, in general, the main difference between local and “national” SEO lies with the people that you want to find your business listings or your website.
With national SEO, you focus more on general keyword rankings. With local SEO, the idea is to get more eyes on your local listings, specifically the eyes of those in your area.
For instance, if you run a lawn service business in Kentucky, it’s not going to be much use to you if someone in Maine searches for “lawn care,” and your listing pops up.
See where I’m going with this?
I’ll break down some of the ways to optimize for local SEO in the following sections.
Create and Optimize Your GMB Listing
First things first, one of the most straightforward things you can do to improve your local SEO is to create and optimize a Google My Business (GMB) listing.
First, you need to create a Google My Business account, submit all the necessary details, and then you can start optimizing.
Once you complete the listing, the details provided will be available in Google Maps as well as in the Google Local Search Results.
For this reason, it is critical to furnish as much accurate data about your business as possible, including your business name, physical address, and contact information, like phone numbers and email addresses. This is also a good place to update your hours, as whether or not your business is (or is perceived to be) open will influence how many leads contact or visit you at any given time.
Create Social Media Accounts and Start Posting
Another great thing you can do is create social media profiles and start posting. What platforms work best for you will depend on what you sell as well as your market composition.
For instance, B2B models work best with LinkedIn, but B2C models can work with Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, TikTok, and any combination of these. Really, it depends.
It’s possible that this will have no more than a splash effect, but direct or indirect, the importance of organic social media outreach is growing to a fever pitch.
At the bare minimum, you should use your accounts to advertise your local listings so others in your area can follow and like them.
Moreover, you can use your social media accounts to announce upcoming sales, promotions, and special events, or to announce to release or rollout of new products or services.
One more thing: when followers interact with you on social media, return the favor. Respond to any comments that you feel need it.
Create Location Pages for Your Website
Another good tip is to create location-based pages for your website. If you have one location this is not a big deal, but if you have multiple locations you should make a dedicated landing page for each one.
When you do this, perform some keyword research or work with a local SEO expert to determine a few location-specific keywords for which you can optimize each page.
Beyond that, you should put contact particulars for each location on each relevant page, and then you should break down the services and offerings that are specific to each location.
It also doesn’t hurt to offer additional details about each location, such as history, services offered, and even special team members.
If you only have one location, create a dedicated “About Us” or “History” page on which you make sure you include contact information, parking information, store hours, and anything else that’s specific to that location.
Start Posting Local Content and Share It on Social Media
While optimizing for local keywords can be hit or miss, there is one surefire way to get more local eyes on your business: promote local events, specials, sales, and other similar items.
If a specific event involves a sale or you’re running a promotion, post it in a blog post or publish it in a newsletter. Then share it on all your social media accounts. Tag any partners involved in it too, and encourage them to interact.
You can also publish seasonal content, too, that can serve as evergreen content to help bring users back to your website (or brick-and-mortar location) when it is seasonally relevant.
If your business is ever involved in a local event, exposition, or trade show, make sure you either announce it or post about it in your blog or newsletter – follow the same routine here.
The same goes for local news and collaborations. Post information about these in your blog so they can serve as a future reference. Besides, blogging regularly will also help promote your long-term SEO efforts, not only local but also national if that ever becomes relevant.
Optimize Local Business Directories; Make Sure Contact Information Is Consistent
Another thing you can do is to ensure that your information is consistent across directories from which engines like Google may derive their information.
For instance, check out Foursquare and Factual and make sure any details on these directories (such as your address and phone number) associated with your website are not only up-to-date but in accordance with your GMB profile.
Solicit Reviews from Happy Customers
Another thing you can do to optimize local SEO for new businesses is to ask customers for reviews.
A good place to solicit reviews is through your local listing (GMB) account. The more reviews you have on there, the more active it will appear to Google, and it will likely rank more favorably. A listing with no reviews or activity is a big red flag.
It’s not just a red flag to Google, by the way, it’s a red flag to anyone who searches and finds your listing in the map pack. It’ll look frighteningly non-legit if there is no activity.
Even if that were not the case, as many as 85% of users take online reviews seriously before making a purchase.
By the way, there are a few great ways to solicit reviews. One is to automate a post-sale email asking politely for a review; another is to solicit them right through your GMB listings. You can also display reviews on your product pages asking for them.
One more thing: if you’re going to ask for reviews, pull your end of the bargain by responding to as many as possible, both positive and negative.
Start with a Local SEO Audit
Not sure where to get started with local SEO for your new business? Consider starting with a free local SEO audit. Our audits will take a look at your current optimization level with respect to a range of ranking factors, as well as what a local SEO strategy can do to improve your business’s online presence to attract more potential customers.
Otherwise, get started putting some of the observations in this article to work today. Search engine optimization follows a long-term strategy and the best time to get started is now.