The Ultimate Local SEO Guide for Beginners


All types of businesses can benefit from Local SEO. It especially pays off for those with physical locations. 

Businesses like clinics, cafes, salons, repair services, etc., can boost visitor traffic using Local SEO. You can implement many local SEO best practices on your own. Read on to find out the best local SEO strategies for beginners.

14 Local SEO Tips for Beginners

1. Google My Business Optimization

Google My Business (GMB) is the gold standard for Local SEO. 

Google verifies all business information on its platform. It takes the guesswork away when you need to know if a business in your area is legit. Getting ranked well on GMB is a sure-fire way to gain more business. 

Start by creating a GMB profile and claiming it as your own. You may need to verify a few details, but this is a simple process and takes little time. Ensure that you fill in all the details asked in the profile information. 

Incomplete details here can hurt your chances of ranking high.

Follow these tips if you are a beginner:

  • Select a primary and secondary business category. For example, the primary category could be "restaurant," and the secondary could be "Turkish Cuisine" for a diner.
  • Use the Google posts feature to create small posts for your clients that show you are active. 

Here’s a screenshot of the business category setup in GMB:


2. Keep NAP Consistent

NAP stands for Name, Address, and Phone number. 

Although it may seem obvious that these details are crucial, many beginners in local SEO miss them. It's not only on Google, but NAP information must be accurate and consistent across the web. NAP consistency is a crucial factor used by Google for Local SEO rankings.

The NAP information on your site must be in standard HTML and easily crawled by search engines. As a beginner, do not ignore NAP. Follow our top tips to get the most out of your Local SEO efforts:

  • Ensure that the NAP information is always in text form. Do not include these in images or banners. Search engines can't crawl images.
  • Place the NAP details on the page headers and footers. These are the places people usually look for them.
  • Ensure you update the NAP if you move locations or change other contact details. 

You can use SEMRush to ensure consistent NAP in all your listings:


3. List on Online Directories 

A common mistake made by beginners is only focusing on Google My Business. While GMB is powerful and famous, it's not the only place where you can list your business. 

Many popular online directories serve the same purpose. Ignoring these can be detrimental to your Local SEO campaigns.

There are dozens of online directories for every type of industry. A few we recommend highly are:

  • Four Square
  • Yelp!
  • Bing Places

Get yourself listed on these and optimize the profile and any citations. Ensure that the NAP details, abbreviations, and other details are accurate and consistent.

Follow these tips to harness the power of online directories:

  • Do a Google search of your business. Delete any duplicate listings and correct any incorrect or outdated information on any directories.
  • Besides the directories listed here, search for popular online directories in your area or city. It can help you reach a bigger audience. 

Here’s a screenshot of Yelp!:


4. Audit Your Site

Spend time auditing your website for Local SEO and any other technical gaps. It is a solid tactic to help you define your business's local SEO and content strategy. 

Doing an SEO audit has many benefits:

  • It tells you where your website stands in terms of quality and performance.
  • It helps you benchmark yourself against your top competition in the area.
  • Sets a foundation to identify the key gaps and form a long-term strategy to improve your website.

As a beginner, you can audit dozens of factors, but don't look at too many items. Start with high-level things that make the most difference. 

Here Are A Few Areas To Look At:

  • Track how your Google profile ranks among other businesses in the area.
  • Check if the site loads fast and displays correctly on mobile devices.
  • Run link checkers to track any broken or incorrect links on the website. 

You can audit your site using SEMrush:


Read: Quick Local SEO Audits

5. Enhance Internal Links

Internal links help your customers navigate easily to your website. 

They are linked within the content to ease redirection. It helps people find content easily without going to the main menu each time. Internal links also play a vital role in Local SEO. 

Most internal links are contextual. They direct users to content that they find relevant or informational.

Quality internal linking can help Google and other search engines crawl your site to discover the content you offer. It's a lot more effective than relying only on external links. 

Let's Look At A Few Tips To Get The Most From It:

  • Include a solid internal linking structure as part of your Local SEO checklists. 
  • Identify your most important content. Create internal links to this content from across your website in a meaningful way.
  • Link parent and child pages as this establishes a hierarchy. Add internal links to relevant pages at the bottom of the main landing pages. 

Here’s an illustration of the internal links hierarchy:


6. Optimize On-page SEO

Creating or curating great content on your site is not enough. 

You must optimize the content on your site constantly. Every new page or content piece is a new element to crawl for search engines. Optimizing the new content for its on-page element is a proven Local SEO tactic.

Any page on your site consists of at least a few of these elements:

  • Titles
  • Headers
  • URL's
  • Meta descriptions

Using top keywords or giving meaningful titles for your content lends it more context. It makes it relevant to specific local searches and helps you rank higher in local search results.

Do These Things To Optimize On-Page Elements:

  • Along with generic keywords, compile a list of local keywords and use them in your content. For example, a compelling title could be "Best Gaming Arcades in Downtown Seattle."
  • Use keywords naturally in your titles and URLs, and avoid stuffing your on-page elements with keywords. 

You can use WordStream to find keywords:


Read: How to Optimize Your Website for On-Page SEO

7. Focus on Local Content

Writing relevant content for your users is great for SEO. The catch is that most content you put out may also be generic. Generic content attracts a broad audience but removes the focus from your local audience.

To shine at Local SEO, a top strategy is to write with a razor-sharp focus on the audiences you want to reach locally. It boosts your content marketing efforts

Start by identifying topics that may interest a local audience in your industry. 

For example, an article on the best furniture trends in your city can be helpful if you are a furniture store.

After identifying topics, list local keywords you can use naturally within this content. Doing this will make your content reach the local audience and help rank it higher in searches in your area. 

Create content around local news or events relevant to your industry to get more traffic. 

Here’s an example of local content:


8. Mobile-first Approach

You will be surprised at the number of people in your neighborhood who use mobile phones to look up a business. Ignoring these users can be catastrophic to your Local SEO efforts. 

Make a mobile-friendly website design a part of your Local SEO checklist. 

People use mobiles to search for many things online. It could be reviews, addresses, pricing, or information. It is frustrating when a site is not optimized for mobile. It makes browsing tricky and causes them to exit the site. 

Many users leaving your site on mobile phones after a few minutes send a wrong signal to search engines. 

Follow these tips to get it right:

  • Plan for mobile readiness right at the start of your website design process. 
  • Audit your website for mobile readiness with free tools. The Google Mobile-friendly Test is a great tool. It tells you the areas to focus on for your business website. 

Here’s a screenshot of Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test tool:


9. Use Social Media Right

Quality content on social media is more important than ever. Google and search engines attach more value to Local SEO than in the past. 

Social media makes it easy to share your Web content or pages from your Google My Business profile. 

For example, you can share the Google My Business review page on Facebook to showcase top reviews or ask for it.

Social media links to your site form a large part of your Local SEO strategy. There are many ways to do it right.

  • Never ignore your competitors. Follow their social handles. It will help you create strategies and content that help drive more website traffic.
  • Create content that people can share to boost your link building. The number of likes, comments, and shares adds to your Local SEO rankings.
  • Update your Social profiles with relevant details about your business. Make sure the address and contact details are up-to-date. 

Here’s a screenshot of Microsoft’s Twitter containing backlinks:


10. Work on Link Building

The number of sites that link to content on your website is a powerful way to boost your Local SEO. Google ranks sites based on authority in your industry. 

For example, a top used-car web page linking to your content on servicing tips boosts your reputation. 

Link building is an activity that takes time and effort. Don't expect results in a few days. When done right over several months, it truly pays off.

There are many ways to get inbound links:

  • Sponsor top local companies for events or build partnerships. It is a great way to help each other mutually. Linking to each other's content boosts your local reputation. 
  • Guest blogs on popular local websites are another great way to get inbound links. Write quality content on topics that are of interest in your industry. A popular local website will be glad to link your site or your other blogs in exchange for your contribution. 

You can ensure high-quality links by checking the domain authority of the sites that link to your website. You can check the DA of sites using ahrefs:


Read: Benefits of Link Building for Local SEO

11. Research Local Keywords

As a beginner, start by researching keywords. In the case of Local SEO, these are known as local keywords. Local keywords are those terms or phrases people in your locality use to look for products and services. 

A few examples of local keywords:

  • Event planner in Houston
  • Guitar repairs Downtown LA
  • Best Sushi restaurants in Phoenix

Local keyword research follows the same concept as regular keywords. The main difference is the hyper-local focus. There are many free or paid tools for Local keyword research

Tools like Keyword FX and UberSuggest are popular for this purpose. They can help you get a list of dozens of keywords based on the business or search term you use. 

Here are some additional tips:

  • Make sure you specify your location along with the type of business. For example, Carpet cleaning Manhattan.
  • Use industry-specific keywords that search engines track—for example, Surgical equipment in Dallas. 

Here’s a screenshot of Keyword FX:


12. Voice Search Optimization

Voice search is how you optimize the content on your website for voice searches online. Common Local SEO practice is to optimize just for Mobiles. A way to stand out in Local SEO searches is to go ahead and optimize for voice searches.

Voice search is not as popular as text but is growing fast. This is due to the broad usage of voice assistants such as Alexa and Siri. Many people in the younger age group prefer it to save time typing.

Here Is How You Can Optimize For Voice Searches Without Spending A Fortune:

  • Optimize for long-tail searches. These are phrases that people use while searching. When doing a voice search, people are likely to say whole sentences. For example, What's the phone number for St. Mary's hospital in Baltimore?
  • Maintain an FAQ section on your website with probable questions from customers. Q&A content is better optimized for voice searches. 

Here’s a screenshot of a FAQ section on a website:


13. Monitor GMB Reviews

You must keep tabs on your Google My Business profile reviews. It is an essential aspect of Local SEO, and you must focus on it as a beginner. 

Positive reviews are great for your reputation online. It instills confidence in new customers and search engines.

There may inevitably be negative reviews. How you manage can build trust in customers and contribute to better Local SEO scores.

Let's Look At A Few Strategies To Boost Local SEO:

  • Be responsive. Whether positive or negative, respond to reviews using the person's name in natural language. Avoid canned responses or trying to justify poor service.
  • If customers are happy with your business, encourage them to leave a review. Share the link on SMS or email and educate them on the steps to do it. 
  • Monitor reviews on other platforms like Yelp! or Foursquare too. 

Here’s a screenshot of a business owner responding to a positive customer review:


14. Engage in Community Events

Public relations go a long way in building your reputation locally. An easy and inexpensive way to do this is through Local SEO. Engaging with the community through your brand brings visibility and will lead to better business and web traffic.

There are many ways in which you can engage with the community. Here are a few ideas:

  • Sponsor a local event and cover it with images and a blog on your website. Ask the event organizer to embed your website link on their website and any social media handles. 
  • Write articles on your industry in the local press and local online blogs. These articles must focus on regional trends and insights. 
  • Cover popular local events such as parades and special town holidays. This is an excellent opportunity to meet people directly and bond with your community. Don't try to promote your business but instead give away freebies with your branding to increase brand recognition. 

Here’s a screenshot of a website having a blog section that you can use to cover local events:


Local SEO for Beginners – FAQs

1. How Different is it from Normal SEO?

The primary difference is that your focus is not only on your website but also on optimizing your Google My Business profile. You must research more on local keywords and phrases. The objective is to appear prominently in local searches. 

2. What Type of Businesses Can Use Local SEO?

Local SEO is great for any business with a local presence. Think of companies with physical locations—for example, dentists, cafes, florists, etc. Local SEO won't be helpful for businesses that are 100% online, like ecommerce sites. 

3. How Long Will It Take for Results?

Local SEO is a long-term strategy. It may take several weeks or even months until you can reap the rewards. Follow a Local SEO checklist with clearly defined timelines. Do not expect overnight results. 

4. How to Check my Local SEO Rankings?

Google My Business is a great starting point. It's free and gives you insights into where you stand. On the paid side, you can consider exploring sites like BrightLocalWhiteSpark, and Local Falcon. These sites have more sophisticated ranking systems. 

Key Takeaways

  • Start with setting up and optimizing your Google My Business profile.
  • Optimize your website for mobile searches. Use Google Mobile-friendly test site to monitor any gaps or issues.
  • Spend time researching local keywords in your content, descriptions, and titles.
  • Leverage the power of social media to share your most-loved content.
  • Keep your NAP information consistent across all your digital properties. This includes online directory listings such as Yelp!.
  • Create a Local SEO checklist for your website. Plan your deliverables and work on them consistently.
  • Focus on local content that is relevant to your industry. Author guest blogs and engage in community events.

Rank Your Website

Brice Decker

Brice has been handling marketing projects for more than 12 years and he is providing consulting services on SEO, Social Media and PPC. He has a huge expertise in working at large corporations including Accenture Interactive & PwC Digital Services.


Brice Decker

Brice has been handling marketing projects for more than 12 years and he is providing consulting services on SEO, Social Media and PPC. He has a huge expertise in working at large corporations including Accenture Interactive & PwC Digital Services.

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