A Complete Guide to SEO Planning, 2021 Update & Get Your Small Business Noticed

Here is a 16 chapter guide to local SEO planning, a comprehensive manual to get your small business noticed in online search engines. Let’s get started on your SEO optimisation campaign.

Chapter 1: What is Local SEO?

As a small business owner, relying on online demand, you will of course need top recognition on search engines, as a path to sending new customers your way; the trick is getting recognised within a search engine. Local SEO deals with Search Engine Optimisation for a small business. A successful local SEO campaign will; ensure your business appears on the first page of a Google search plus in the Organic Listings and Map Pack. There is a difference and impact on your small business, when it comes to SEO and local SEO campaigns; learn more through the following chapters.

Chapter 2: Optimisation and Google My Business Setup

The starting point for any local SEO is Google My Business (previously called Google Places), without a Google My Business setup, your company will not appear in the local map listings and in the SERPs (search engine results pages) displayed by Google during a majority of online searches. Setting up Google My Business is easy; 1. Visit WWW.google.com/business, 2. Click on Start Now, 3. Once redirected to Google Maps, click on your business or choose None of these match and add your business button. 4. Complete your business information. 5. Confirm your business address with Google using the pin you receive via post. 6. Upload all additional information, maps, pics etc and start your local SEO optimisation.

Chapter 3: Bing for a 100% Search Engine Optimisation

Without doubt Google is the no 1 choice and largest search engine, generating over 50% of web traffic. However, if you are looking at maximising online traffic towards your small business, you must broaden your online traffic sources. Bing is second largest to Google and garners 20% of worldwide web searches. Hence, you need to optimise your business via Bing Places for Business as well. The registration process is similar to Google My Business, with steps explained online.

Chapter 4: Researching Keywords for Local SEO

Head keywords and long-tail keywords are important aspects of proper SEO writing. Why? People searching online, do so with the use of specific keywords. Example, someone looking for a hotel in Sri Lanka may type book beach hotel in Sri Lanka. Be savvy in your keyword use to appear at the top of an online search engine result. For valuable keyword additions use the following tips and tool;

  • Google Keyword Planner, an effective keyword research tool
  • Analyse successful competitor keywords and steal them, it’s not unethical
  • Increase the number of Local Keywords – example: London Drapers
  • Focus on long-tail keywords they reflect user intent; example: buy red sneakers for girls
  • Use keyword modifiers increase the success of a long-tail keyword with an adjective; example: cheap eateries in London
  • Use Google Trends to check if your keywords are in use and which ones are trending

Chapter 5: Practise on page SEO

Make sure to use time-tested and best marketing practises with regards to your SEO campaign. Check out the following in order to increase your ranking within a search engine;

  • Keyword research – the most important aspect of On page SEO is, you get to know the type of keywords potential customers are using and integrate them into your SEO campaign
  • Title tags – this is the title for your listing as it appears on the results page of a search engine; the valuable keywords in a title tag, tell search engines what your business offers
  • Meta description – a mini advertisement of your business, the meta is the tag which describes your business in a search engine results list and must stand out above the competitors
  • Optimise images – How long your web page takes to load is today a ranking factor for Google! Optimise images so they load faster
  • Heading tags – search engine robots use heading tags to comprehend the context of your webpage. Assign headings on importance levels; example start the page with an H1 heading and assign H2 and H3 subheadings where necessary. H1 heading must contain valuable keywords
  • URL keywords – add important and main keywords to your URL heading

Chapter 6: Use Schema

Schema.org allows search engines like Yahoo, Google or Bing to provide concise information about your local business. Example: online reviews, menus, recipes, time taken to perform a task, testimonials etc. all factors which potential customers look for as deciding factors. Plus it brings your pages ranking higher during an online search.

Chapter 7: Factors Ranking Local SEO

Following are local SEO ranking factors for your small business;

  • Choosing proper category within Google My Business important; choose the correct business category
  • Consistent citations business name, address, phone number (NAP) must be the same across all web pages
  • Target citations from authoritative websites make sure your listed in top-ranking websites for best SEO coverage
  • Use MozBar to check your websites Domain Authority DA, which dictates how your website performs in a web search
  • Improve SEO rankings with your proximity to the city’s Centroid
  • Improve Backlinks which are within Google’s top 3 search engine ranking factors; a backlink links websites. Rank higher in SERP by hooking up to quality backlinks
  • Consider Town name included in title tags, names on image files, header tags, URL’s and Meta descriptions

Chapter 8: A Look at Local Citations

A mention of your business in web pages and other websites is referred to as Local Citations.  A local citation will include business name, address and phone number (NAP). A Citation is a mention of your business even if a connecting link is not present; example; online Yellow Pages. A citation is an important factor in local SEO rankings, the more citations or mentions your business website has, better the reach.

Blogs too are a form of citation, where a local blog, perhaps of bakeries in your area, will create exposure to your small business if you are in the same trade. A Google search will yield top blogs where you can contact the owner to run a review with backlinks to your business.

Chapter 9: Optimisation to Improve Rankings Within Local Map Pack Results

Google made changes to Map Pack Results; they now appear besides all organic results. Giving local businesses an edge, but also creating competition as the number of businesses listed under maps are reduced. Consider the following to optimise your business ranking in maps;

  • Keep NAP data consistent
  • Create Google My Business Account
  • Encourage online reviews
  • Have many citations
  • Create Backlinks where possible
  • Define your local location with keyword optimisation

Chapter 10: Use Local Reviews to Build Credibility

Online testimonials and local reviews are very important in building the credibility of your local business. Search engines pay attention to online reviews; research has proven that reviews do impact search engine rankings of a local business website which encourages customers to leave reviews. The more reviews and testimonials your business website garners, the better your SEO ranking.

Chapter 11: Strategies for Building SEO Backlinks

As mentioned before, backlinks are amongst the top 3 factors affecting Google SEO rankings. Backlinks are not needed for just improving your SEO ranking but to also improve your websites DA (Domain Authority), thus affecting your webs search engine ranking directly. Here’s how to build backlinks to local businesses;

  • Choose to sponsor a local sports team to improve credibility, build awareness and create exposure; you not only get citations in a credible sports website, but get linked via social media on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook etc. Plus coverage on local news events and inclusion in local blogs too; all improving your local SEO rankings
  • Host Local Events Christmas or other holidays are ideal for your to host planned events, thus creating backlinks to your business
  • meetup.com is perfect to find a host of local groups of people often looking for goods or services; offering local links to your business will create the perfect backlink and improve your SEO ranking locally
  • Nominate your business for local rewards and awards, the best type of advertising and search engine optimisation
  • Get a listing in a local business directory

Chapter 12: Google Analytics and Search Engine Console Setup

With an online business you can track just about every aspect of your business concern; and with Google Analytics you are given a chance to track and analyse your business on a host of platforms, plus it’s a free tool. While setting up Google Analytics you can also initiate Google Console Setup.

Chapter 13: Run a Local SEO Audit of your Website

Track your business and audit it to stay on top, most businesses which don’t, are known to crash after the first 12 months. To optimise local SEO, grow stronger and climb higher on search engine rankings, you need to run a regular SEO audit of your website by analysing the following;

  • Keyword Analysis – keywords aimed at target audiences plus keywords optimising your website
  • Analyse Organic Search Results do so by typing one of your top keywords while browsing incognito and check out the results, which will show your competitors page ranking too within the search engine
  • Meta Description too must be audited any anomalies must be identified and fixed. You can scan your meta descriptions for loopholes via free apps such as Screaming Frogs
  • Google Search Console the SEO health of your business website can be measured via Google Search Console; use the provided information while running the SEO audit and improve/fix where necessary

Chapter 14: Audit your Competitors SEO

Go ahead and audit your competitor websites to gain ideas on how you can improve your own websites SEO ranking! Make list of new keywords to target and beat the competition down. Sneaky but ethical, you’re not the only one practising this method.

Chapter 15: Track the Progress of your SEO Campaign

Regularly track the progress of your SEO campaign in order to gauge its success. Do so by looking into;

  • Overall Organic Traffic of your website
  • Goals met and conversions achieved (such as converting website visitors to go for an e-mail subscription)
  • Mobile Traffic – the higher the website traffic, the better your ranking seems to be; examine this on both desktop and mobile traffic
  • Increase of Backlink Profile – a clear indication your small business is growing and gaining more recognition is the increase in backlinks to your website
  • Referral Traffic – track how much traffic you get via Google maps, Yelp etc
  • Ranking Position – Gauge your ranking on Google with your main keywords by browsing incognito via Chrome; you can use MOZ too to track your ranking on a regular basis

Chapter 16: Combine it All

Local SEO rankings are probably the most important aspect of a local business. By fine tuning on the above tools and techniques offered, you should improve your rankings, popularity and presence within the local community and all potential customers scouring the website for your product or services. Local SEO ranking factors which are most important include;

  • Keyword Research
  • On Page Optimisation
  • Google My Business Setup
  • Backlinks
  • Reviews
  • Schema Mark Up

Pay special attention to the above factors as a way of increasing traffic to your website, promoting your business and increasing sales! Concentrate of increasing the number of high-quality backlinks from top sites, increase citations and encourage reviews and testimonials.

There is plenty of information available online to further clarify the above methods and tools with instructions on how to get about; simply make sure to cover all bases mentioned in this article and to continuously analyse you website ranking and performance to stay on top of the game, thus increasing your Local SEO Rankings!