Is Search Engine Marketing Right for Your Local Business?

Did you know that a local business can have a top-ranking Google Business Profile and a website that hovers on page three for organic search? This may lead some to rethink the necessity of a website. With millions of websites competing for the top positions, your business website won’t earn the top positions for every keyword. That’s why a diverse local SEO strategy includes local search engine marketing.  

What is Local Search Marketing?

Local search marketing is a powerful way for businesses to reach their target customers. By focusing their search engine optimization (SEO) efforts on a specific geographic area, businesses increase their visibility in search results for relevant local queries.

Local search marketing involves various strategies, such as ensuring your website is optimized for local searches and providing up-to-date business across channels like Google Business Profile and social media. Additionally, creating localized content which caters to the specific needs of the target audience will improve the user experience and build trust.

Local SEM Strategies

Local search engine marketing (SEM) focuses on creating ads that are triggered by local keywords for searchers in a specified geographic location. A small business won’t benefit from trying to rank for highly competitive general terms like “plumber.”  Rather than targeting broad, expensive terms, business owners focusing on localized keywords like “Plumber Brevard County” or “Central FL Plumber” will better attract local customers.

Key Local Business SEM Best Practices

1. Conduct Thorough Keyword Research

Conducting keyword research is essential for understanding how your target audience searches for the products and services you offer. By leveraging a research tool like Google Keyword Planner, you can determine the competition level of a given keyword (low, medium, or high), as well as the estimated cost-per-click (CPC). Through in-depth research, you can find related keywords and phrases that can be used to optimize your website for search engine optimization (SEO) as well as for paid advertising campaigns through search engine marketing (SEM).

2. Optimize Google Ads Location Settings

Google Ads allows you to target people by region, state, or postal code. You can choose whether you want to target anyone searching for content related to your specific location and limit those searches to one region or country instead of including everyone who has shown previous interest. Keeping these location parameters updated will save money and ensure that ads target people who have the opportunity actually to visit the physical store advertised.

3. Structure Your Campaigns and Ad Groups by Location

Structuring your campaigns and ad groups by location is essential to a successful digital marketing campaign. It not only ensures that potential customers receive the most relevant ads for their area, but it also ensures that your business appears in the right search results. With local searches becoming increasingly popular, more and more businesses are using these features to optimize their campaigns for local audiences.

By breaking up campaigns into separate locations and service areas, you can accurately target potential customers with localized keywords and messaging. Doing this enables you to create hyper-relevant ads that customers will be more likely to click on since they are associated with a particular area or service line. Your landing pages should also be tailored to each location or service line so it can further increase relevancy and conversion rates. Ensuring your campaigns are structured by location will help you make the most out of all opportunities online!

For more information, read: Paid Search Marketing 101: How to Set Up a Google Ads Campaign

Additional Local SEO Best Practices

Local SEO is vital for small businesses that depend on foot traffic and service industries that focus on a small map radius of clients. Through local searches, potential customers can quickly find information about products, prices, and reviews online before they visit a store. This helps to guide customers to an informed decision on their purchase and build trust in the business. By improving visibility in local search results, businesses increase their digital presence and elevate their ranking in relevant queries. This ensures they are competitive within their geographical area and make it easier for customers to find them.

Local SEO also helps promote businesses online, making it more affordable than traditional advertising methods like billboards or radio advertisements. Achieving higher rankings through local SEO builds trust, credibility, and long-term customer loyalty. Here are several ways to improve your local SEO strategy.

Optimize Your Google Business Profile

Creating a Google Business Profile (GBP) is essential for businesses looking to increase brand recognition. With more than 84% of the global market share, Google has become the go-to search engine for businesses to promote their offerings. Your GBP syncs with Google Maps, which increases your opportunities to show up in “near me” searches. 

While your GBP is valuable, it should not be your only point of contact for customers for one significant reason. Google owns your profile. You own your website. 

Don’t Forget Bing and Yahoo!

To ensure your business is noticed and reaches the widest audience possible, expanding your presence to different search engines like Yahoo! and Bing is important. Creating a listing on both of these search engines works just the same as with Google – you’ll first need to log in or create a profile, then add all your necessary information like name, address, phone number, website link, hours of operation, and recent content.

Optimize Social Platforms

Optimizing their presence on local directories and social platforms should be a top priority for businesses looking to increase their visibility and credibility online. Nearby customers may ask friends for recommendations on Facebook or search YouTube for a DIY option. When your social pages are available to tag, you help your current customers easily share about your company.

Leverage Local Business Directories

In addition to social media profiles, including your business in local listings will improve your website authority. These listings are an indication of trustworthiness that customers will also recognize when they are researching businesses in their local area. All these steps together help boost your brand recognition leading to more customers choosing you over competitors with lower visibility online.

For directories, your business Name, Address, and Phone Number (NAP) should be the exact same on Facebook, Better Business Bureau, Yelp, Foursquare, Yellow Pages, and other local listing sites. Any inconsistencies in this information may confuse potential customers or even lead search engine rankings to suffer.

Improve Your Website’s SEO Health

Making sure your website’s SEO is up to date and putting its best foot forward with search engine results can be a daunting task. Improving your website’s SEO health includes understanding your site’s coding, structure, and general design. Many details go into ensuring your website ranks highly on search engines and its user experience is top-notch. Begin by removing any duplicate content or old pages from your website; this will help you avoid being penalized by search engine algorithms. Implementing HTML tags properly to structure page content correctly will aid in improving search rankings. Monitoring technical errors like broken links or missing metadata will also help ensure optimal performance when a user visits your website.

Learn more with our Local SEO Website Checklist.

Provide a Good User Experience with Great Site Quality

A website with clearly defined products and services will improve the user experience of a target audience by querying for relevant searches. For example, when a potential customer searching for PPC services finds your company online, they should be able to click on your domain and quickly find information on the PPC services you offer and how to contact you for more information.

A good user experience includes a fast site loading speed, business information on an About Page, and an address if your business has a physical location. Social profile links and customer reviews also add helpful information for your target audience. 

Publish Helpful Content

Helpful content could include FAQ pages, blog posts delving into important industry topics, regular reports on industry news, and more. Businesses should provide valuable content without expecting anything in return because it helps build brand trust over time and gives off the impression of a credible source when potential customers seek advice or information. What’s more, giving away expertise for free leads to increased loyalty from users, which will pay off in the end.

Add Local Business Schema

With the competition for local SEO becoming ever more fierce, online businesses must take advantage of every opportunity to stand out in search engine rankings. One of the most powerful ways they can do this is by adding Local Business Schema markup code directly to their website. This schema type gives search engines access to important business details such as NAP (name, address, phone number), specific services or products offered, pricing information, and more. All of this information helps make a business appear clearly and prominently in local-specific searches.

When considering a local search engine marketing strategy, it’s best to look for ways that SEM and SEO will work together to improve your digital presence. Looking for ways to improve your website’s local SEO strategy? Start with our Local SEO Website Checklist. 

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Beth Walker is a Content Manager who is passionate about storytelling. She leads our In-House writing team and works closely with clients and CSMs to ensure all the content SMA creates meets SEO best practices and tells each client's unique story.

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