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Beginner’s guide to SEO for local businesses

Mar 21, 2023 | Marketing, SEO

In today’s digital age, having a strong online presence is crucial for the success of any brick-and-mortar business. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a powerful tool that can help local businesses improve their visibility online, attract more customers and increase revenue. Here are some tips on how to get started with SEO for your local business.

How to optimize your local SEO in 6 steps

If you own a business with a physical location, such as a spa, beauty salon, or fitness, studio, optimizing your local SEO is essential, especially if your business is new and you can’t rely on word-of-mouth to get new customers in the door. SEO might sound daunting, but it’s not very difficult. And once you put in the legwork upfront, SEO requires minimal effort to maintain over time, especially compared to social media and other forms of content marketing.

Here are six steps to get started with SEO for local businesses.

1. Claim your Google My Business listing

The first step I recommend to any local business owner who’s just getting started with SEO is to claim your Google My Business listing. Google My Business is a free tool that allows businesses to manage their online presence across Google, including Search and Maps. Taking the time to create a comprehensive listing that’s regularly updated with posts, photos, and reviews goes a long way in improving your business’s visibility online.

Example of the Google My Business listings that appear when I search for Philadelphia hair salons

2. Build local citations on online directories and blogs

Local citations are online references to your business’s name, address, and phone number. Building local citations on reputable websites such as Yelp, Yellow Pages, and Facebook can improve your search engine rankings and drive more traffic to your website. Just make sure your business information is consistent across all directories.

You can also request links or shout-outs to your business on local blogs, travel guides, and media outlets. For example, my web design client Y2B Fit, a Philadelphia fitness studio, is featured in multiple Philly media outlets. Backlinks like these are great for boosting SEO, visibility, and credibility.

3. Research your target audience and keywords

The number one key to SEO success is to understand your target audience and the keywords they use to search for businesses like yours. Conduct thorough research on the keywords related to your business and location. There are many online tools that can help you identify the most relevant keywords that you should target. The two that I personally use the most are Google Keyword Planner (free to use but requires an AdWords account) and Ubersuggest (free and premium plans available).

That said, you don’t need a fancy tool to get started with keyword research. An easy way to start is by going to Google and searching “your business type (i.e. pilates studio)” + “your location.” As you scroll down, you’ll see a section titled “People also search for,” which provides valuable insight into what people are actually looking for when searching for your type of business. You can also check out the “Related searches” for additional ideas for keywords to try ranking for.

Questions people are searching for in relation to pilates studios in Philadelphia

4. Optimize your website

Optimizing your website is crucial to improve your search engine rankings. Make sure your website is mobile-friendly, loads quickly, and has clear and concise content. Include your target keywords in your website’s content, titles, meta descriptions, and header tags. Add your business address and phone number on every page of your website, typically in the footer, and make sure it matches the information on your Google My Business listing.

Another tip to optimize your website for local SEO is to create a separate Contact page. This makes it easier for people to quickly find the info they need to contact your business, such as a phone number or email address. Embed a map on the page to pinpoint your storefront’s location. In addition, make sure your email address and phone number are clickable. If someone is browsing your site on their phone, they should be able to simply click on your phone number to make a call.

Related post: 10 simple ways to optimize your website

5. Prioritize getting online reviews

Reviews are critical to the success of local businesses and have a significant impact on SEO. Reviews posted to your Google My Business listing not only make your business look more trustworthy to potential customers, they also signal to Google to improve your ranking. If you’ve ever used Google Maps to search for a local business, you’ve probably noticed that the listings with the most positive reviews tend to come up first.

So how can you prioritize getting more online reviews? It’s really as simple as asking for them. More likely than not, your customers are happy to support your business with a positive review, but they may need a gentle nudge to do so. Try one or more of the following tactics:

  • Put up signs at your reception desk asking customers to leave a review
  • Send an automated follow-up email to customers after they’ve completed their appointment with a link to your listing
  • Share recent reviews on social media with gratitude and ask your audience to contribute theirs
  • Add a link to leave a review in your email signature

Another tip when it comes to reviews is to respond to every one, especially the not-so-nice ones. It’s an easy way to show your customers that you value them and their experiences.

Related post: How to create a client experience that will get you return customers

6. Claim your social media profiles

My final SEO tip for local businesses is to claim your social media profiles. Social media is a great way to both reach new customers and engage with your existing customer base. That said, it’s important to be selective about which social media platforms you utilize so that you don’t waste valuable time and resources. I recommend choosing no more than three platforms that you know your ideal customers are active on. For instance, a hair salon is likely to perform better on visual platforms like Instagram and TikTok versus a more buttoned-up platform like LinkedIn.

Get support in growing your local business

In this guide, we covered six fundamental steps to improve SEO for your local business. By implementing each of these steps, you’ll start to see an increase in the amount of traffic your website is getting, and in turn, the number of bookings you get for your services.

Of course, there are other factors that influence how well your website converts, such as the quality of your branding, messaging, and how easy it is to navigate the site.


If you’re eager to learn more about SEO, I’d love to invite you to enroll in my course, The SEO Essentials Kit. In this beginner-friendly course, I’m teaching the fundamentals of SEO that you need to know in order to start ranking on Google and steadily grow your website traffic.

In the course, I’ll share the exact strategy I’ve used for the past few years to turn my blog into my #1 source of client inquiries for my design services. No social media necessary. Whether you’re a service provider, blogger, or e-commerce business owner, SEO can help you grow a loyal fan base and increase your revenue sustainably. SEO Essentials Kit will show you how.

Click here to learn more about the course and enroll today.

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Steph Corrigan Design Blogger

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BRAND AND WEB DESIGNER + FOUNDER

I’m here to break down everything you’ve been wondering about when it comes to starting and scaling a small business in the most aligned way possible. From branding basics to tried-and-true marketing strategies, you’ll get my unfiltered thoughts and advice on how to make your brand stand out.

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