Many small businesses are confused on what the true purpose of a website is, how they can leverage their website, and what it takes to actually show up in search engine results pages and local listings. Hawkins Web Agency is a local SEO company based in Northwest Arkansas specializing in efficient and affordable SEO services for small business.
Below I go in depth on different aspects of what local SEO is, how it translates into more customers, and some of the most efficient ways to rank in local Google search results.
Table of Contents
What is the point of a small business having a website in the first place?
The main purpose of a business website is to establish expertise in a field and provide a way of communicating or displaying that expertise to reach potential customers. That will be true for both service and product oriented businesses.
Business websites help build trust and credibility, providing customers with a point of contact to learn more about your company and the services or products that you provide.
What is search engine optimization (SEO)?
Search engine optimization, or SEO, is the process of optimizing a website to improve its chances of appearing in search engine results. Put simply, good SEO will ensure that you show up visibly when potential customers are looking for a product or service related to your business.
SEO begins with understanding the keywords and phrases that people are typing into search bars, and then providing that information in an easily digestable format.
How do search engines determine what a website is about?
Search engines determine what each website is about based on the keywords used. If a website says that they sell cars, but never state the location, search engines are left to assume that they sell cars all over the world! Generally speaking, the larger the geographic area and more broad you keyword (car sales), the more difficult it is to rank and show up in search listings.
If that same car lot will instead use its location, it will stand a much higher chance of showing up for those local search terms. While there may be less traffic for more specific keywords, there is also less competition and more probably to be displayed at the top, especially in local listings.
What is the best SEO technique for a small business?
The best SEO technique for a small business is to research and match the keywords to the search intent of people looking for their product or service (without overstuffing your website with words) starting at a small local level. Then, the business must publish articles using those keywords, containing valuable information and answer relevent questions on their website, providing value and establishing credibility in their field.
How does local business SEO differ from a more broad SEO strategy?
A broad SEO strategy may target specific keywords without being tied to a specific area, whereas local SEO strategy will target those same keywords, but tied to a geographical area.
To use my own business, Hawkins Web Agency, as an example of local SEO, instead of simply going for the keyword “Best Local SEO Companies,” I would use “Best Local SEO Companies in Northwest Arkansas”. Tagging on “in Northwest Arkansas” now ties that information and page to a specific area and any people searching using that keyword, which they often do.
In other words, the information is more specific and search engines deem it to be more relevant to users looking specifically in Northwest Arkansas.
Rarely do search engine users simply enter “plumbing services,” rather they would search something like “plumbing services in St. Paul”. Therefore, if your website ranks for “plumbing services in St. Paul,” it is more likely to capture the attention of potential customers in that area, as opposed to a broad keyword.
Being more specific, or drilling down into niches, will result in a higher search engine ranking for that long tail keyword.
How does is a local SEO campaign or regional SEO campaign differ from national SEO?
Local SEO campaigns will differ from national in several ways:
First, the keywords you will be targeting will be lower volume, but also have very little in the way of competition. That fact may depend on the size of your town and the business, but the competition will almost always be lower as you zero into smaller areas compared to nationally.
Second, you may utilize off-page SEO resources to drive traffic to your website, like a Google Business profile or local Facebook Groups, but more on that later!
Why should a small business focus on local search results?
A small business should focus on local search results because it can have a drastic increase in the amount of foot traffic coming through your store’s door and/or contacting you. Word of mouth is great, but can be difficult and slow to build.
Social media marketing is also great, but you do not own any of the content you post, and your account can be suspended at any time. I do not like the idea of my only income stream being based on the permission of someone else!
Local search results can produce results and increases quickly in a matter of months. Your website being at the top of a search engine ranking page will provide a steady and reliable source of customers that cannot be quickly stripped or taken away.
How does an increase in traffic to a small business's website lead to more lead generation?
Incremental increases in web traffic will create lead generation by increasing the visibility of your business and website. As people visit and interact with your website positively, regardless of location, Google views this positively and boosts your ranking higher and higher.
This creates a waterfall effect that is self fulfilling – more web traffic results in higher website authority resulting in higher search engine rankings, and the cycle repeats. The more people that visit your website, the more potential customers you can convert into leads and revenue.
Does small business SEO change if the business sells products or provides services?
My take on this is that the technique will always target where your customers are. If you are a contractor, for example, hoping to show in local search results, you will target your immediate area when using keywords.
Likewise, if you sell a product, you will figure out your ideal client’s location and then methodically include that location in your keyword use.
For example, if you sell fitness apparel, you might use “fitness apparel in Denver,” but you could target individual surburbs as well for even more effectiveness.
You repeat this process for different keywords relating to your industry, and you move out farther and farther from your geographic location keyword-wise as your website builds authority and dominates local searches.
What are some cost effective ways to increase a small local businesses website traffic?
In my mind, there are three immediate and cost effective ways to increase web traffic local businesses. Each technique is simply a way of displaying information about the business field, and establishing credibility.
All three methods are free (minus website hosting fees) and will only take time. They absolutely WILL payoff for a business’s local SEO and increase traffic to websites. See them below:
- Google Business Profile
- Publishing Info on Website Pages
- Leveraging Social Media Platforms
In addition to the ones listed above, there are other relevant tools like Google Analytics and Search Console, but these usually require more expertise to use effectively.
Google Business Profile (Also Called Google My Business)
A Google Business Profile is absolutely critical for small businesses when it comes to being competitive in local searches. It is an absolute must for all companies, and it is a free service offered by Google.
It allows you to claim your business on Google Maps and easily update information about your company such as address, hours, website links and more.
You can think of a Google Business profile as a social media account, but specifically for Google search engine results.
Publishing Info on Website Pages
Small businesses should frequently use their website pages to publish information and articles on their services and products. It is an extremely effective way to increase organic website traffic and rank for more keywords.
Focus content on local keywords, and consider using a blog to post updates about the business. This will increase your website’s authority with search engines and help you appear higher in the rankings for your industry-relevant keywords.
Leveraging Social Media Platforms
Using social media for small businesses is one of the best cost effective ways to drive traffic to websites. It is completely free, and only requires time and practice to create content that informs and engages users.
A good tool for creating and designing static social media content (like photos and infographics) is Canva.
Of the three methods, social media content seems to be the most shortlived but quick to take off. That being said, it is great for driving traffic to your website to build authority.
What kind of website traffic is best for a small business website - paid or organic traffic?
In my opinion, organic traffic is the best for small business websites. Paid traffic is great for short-term wins like product launches, but it can be unreliable and expensive. With paid campaigns, you never quite know what type of visitors your website will attract and how likely they are to convert into customers.
Once you establish organic traffic, you will find that it is more predictable and reliable. This is because with organic traffic, you are targeting visitors who are actively seeking out your products or services. You can also use content marketing to attract potential customers and increase brand awareness.
Organic traffic tends to be both cost effective and long-term, which makes it the best choice for small business websites, especially when targeting local searchers.
What are the differences between Organic Traffic and Paid Traffic?
Organic traffic is going to be when visitors involuntarily find your website through multiple different means, whether it is a search engine, direct link, social media link, or another source.
Paid traffic is going to be when you pay for visitors to find your website through advertisements. These advertisements could come in the form of Google Ads, social media ads, and other various platforms that offer advertising services.
Once you stop paying for advertising, that traffic stream disappears completely. Paid traffic and advertising is usually best suited to larger businesses with larger marketing budgets immediately, as opposed to small businesses looking for the most cost effective and sustainable option to reach customers.
The 3 Basic Pillars of Search Engine Optimization
The 3 main catergories of SEO are Technical SEO, Off-Page SEO, and On-Page SEO. The first category that I suggest small business owners work in is On-Page SEO.
Technical SEO refers to the use of optimization techniques to make sure that your website is properly indexed and crawled by search engine bots. In layman terms, this means that your website responds quickly and Google can read it easily.
In technical terms, this can include making sure your URLs, meta tags, and other elements are structured properly as well as server side optimizations such as caching, minifying code, and optimizing images.
Off-Page SEO will include social media marketing, guest blogging, link building, and other strategies that point eyeballs towards your website. This can be one of the most difficult portions of SEO, because it requires a lot of outreach and coordination with other businesses or websites.
On-Page SEO is usually the first step in the SEO journey and the most bang for your buck as a small business owner improving your website, especially in terms of generating more traffic and increasing search rankings.
The biggest mistake I see is website owners not providing information and keywords about their product, service, and location together.
Something as simple as adding keywords about the business location can have a tremendous effect on a website’s performance. Other factors like high quality content and good internal links will also play a factor.
What is the relationship between a business's physical location, online searches, and local rankings?
The relationship between a physical location, online searches, and local rankings allows businesses to take a generally searched word, and then incorporate their location.
Local traffic SEO strategies focus on providing results that are relevant to a searcher based on their location. This means that when someone types in something related to your business AND location, you will show up in the search results.
How Do Location Based Keywords Affect Search Results for My Business?
Using the example of a plumber in Cleveland, Ohio, that business would want to base its keyword research on both plumbing services AND areas it wants to service around Cleveland.
It does the plumber no good to use broadly general keywords like “plumbing repair” because the person searching could be on the other side of the country. Instead, the plumber should use “plumbing repair in Cleveland” or “plumbing services in Akron, Ohio” to make sure they are being seen by potential customers in the local area.
By incorporating location based keywords into content, search engines are able to place a businesses website in front of more relevant visitors.
How Does a Google Business Profile Help a Small Business?
A Google Business profile helps a small business by allowing them to create a simple, yet detailed page for their company. This page includes vital information such as hours of operation, photos, contact details, office location, and more.
The most important part of a Google Business profile is the ability for customers to be able to leave reviews on your profile, both out of five stars and text explaining their experience.
Obviously, positive reviews are good to see on a business’s profile, but Google actually prefers to see a mix! Only five star reviews makes Google suspicious of a business and how feasible it actually is.
Businesses can also reply to reviews thanking the customer, explaining whatever the miscommunication, etc. Replying to reviews is highly suggested and shows clients that a business stays involved.
How Does Local SEO Help for Ranking on Google Maps?
Local SEO is essentially using the same principles as regular SEO with a particular focus on using geographically targeting keywords also to reach your target audience. So without using geo targeting keywords, Google will have no clue where you are or what your business address is, therefore, you will never show up in Google Maps!
You really need a Google Business profile to boost your ranking in Google Maps as well, as these will be shown first!
How Can a Local Business Rank Better on Google Maps?
In order to rank higher in Google Maps, you need to be using the keywords the person searching is using, which includes the location targeting keywords. You don’t have to be using the exact same location, but nearby town names should suffice.
The better filled out your Google Business profile is, the higher Google will rank it as well, assuming you are similar distance as other competitors away from the individual search.
How Do I Set Up Google My Business for Local SEO?
There are do two distinct ways to set up your Google My Business with regards to Local SEO. You can set up your Google My Business profile as a Storefront Business or a Service Area Business (or a hybrid of the two).
If you have a Storefront Business with a real address, Google is going to base your ranking on (for keywords) how far away you are from a searcher’s location, comparatively to other businesses, along with how thoroughly you have filled out your profile with photos, store and product information, and reviews.
If you do not have a store and are a Service Area Only Business (SAB), then your Google Business profile will be based on the zip codes you input as your service area. This should be no more than two hours away from you, per Google’s guidelines.
Then, similar to having a storefront profile, you will be ranked based on the searcher’s present zip code for keywords and your profile robustness, versus other competitors in the same zip codes.
How to Choose Affordable SEO Services for Small Business?
I think that small businesses are limited when it comes to hiring local SEO experts. Most SEO firms are going to be focusing on much larger or national businesses and projects, and will not be reasonable for small business needs.
I think individuals (like myself at Hawkins Web Agency) or small groups are more suited to provide the best local SEO services for small businesses because there is less overhead and and the ability to scale up or down the SEO strategy to meet the businesses needs and preference. Strategies can be amended as time passes as well to adapt to changing enivronments.
Usually, intense work, changes, and a lot of content is needed on the front end of a strategy to build web traffic. Then, when a local business starts gaining more traffic, both in terms of website visitors and foot traffic, you can switch to more of a maintenence style approach and adjust to stay ahead of competitors using keyword research.
Should a Business Owner Do Their Own Local Search Engine Optimization for the Website?
I believe that whether or not an invidiual business owner should do their own website’s local SEO depends on their experience and expertise in the field. In my opinion, if they have a good grasp of SEO principles and implementation, there is absolutely no reason why they shouldn’t be doing their own (very basic) local search engine optimization for their website.
However, it can be difficult to know exactly what keywords to target with the limited real estate a website provides. This doesn’t take into account keeping up with all the latest trends and changes to Google’s algorithms, and making sure technical aspects (like website speed and dealing with Google indexing issues) are not affecting how their website link may be competing.
That being said, I understand small businesses wanting to get the most bang for their buck and many SEO companies being out of reach.
That is precisely the gap Hawkins Web Agency prefers to fill, where my local SEO pricing and packages can be tailored to fit a small businesses needs exactly, and stretch their dollar as far as possible.
Should I Use Local SEO Companies For My Local SEO?
It is absolutely not necessary to use local SEO agencies in order to have good service, cost, and results for your website.
In fact, as a business owner you should be careful about using local SEO companies for your online presence. Working with an experienced professional or agency is important, as there is no substitute for experience and expertise in this field.
What Price Should I Expect When Looking at Local SEO Packages?
I wish that I could give a straight answer to this question, but I don’t think it exists! It will absolutely depend on the scope and size of your business, as well as the manpower used by the local SEO agency.
According to mediashower, a 1500 word article written can cost you anywhere from $300 to $750 (in 2021) for a decently written one with research, relevant keywords, and high-quality content.
Looking for pricing of a la carte services on websites like Fivver will give you a range of prices that you can use to estimate for a total local SEO services package. Overall, I would expect anything from $500 per month for basic local business SEO services upwards of $15,000 per month for total enterprise solutions working with the best local SEO companies.
Are you a small business owner looking to increase your website traffic and foot traffic? Reach out to Hawkins Web Agency today! Sign up now for our free consultation!
Many times, local SEO can seem like a dark art or prohibitively expensive. By using efficeint keyword research and tools like Google Business profiles, small businesses can dominate local and regional searches to increase foot traffic.
I am the best local SEO option because I provide expertise and access to software that would otherwise be unrealistic for one company to use and master. This results in a distinct edge over competitors. Local SEO can be affordable and effective for small business owners when done correctly, and when you’re working with someone who knows how to do it.
I provide SEO services to small businesses that are tailored to their budget, and I believe this is the best approach. With the right mix of keywords and content writing, I can help any business get ahead of larger competitors in terms of local SEO rankings. Ultimately, this will help them make more money through organic website traffic as well as foot traffic.