SEO for Local: The Local SEO Playbook for Small Business Owners

May 23 , 2023

Similarly, according to RankRanger, 29% of all Google SERPs contain a local pack in the results.

These are eye opener statistics who want to get a good ranking in SERPs and build and grow their business through organic traffic online.

Therefore, I have devoted the current post to local SEO and would like to present a playbook on local SEO for small businesses.

It is true that enterprises have big budgets and own in-house SEO teams, but what about small and medium businesses (SMBs)?

The recent trends show that they heavily rely on outsourcing their local SEO needs.

According to MOZ, almost 40% of SMBs outsource some or all of their local SEO work. is one of those leading SEO veterans that do far better in bringing jaw-dropping results on the local SEO front.

If you're up to wetting your hands with local SEO games in a DIY (Do It Yourself) way, my playbook will prove a complete guide to do so.

I'll begin the next chapter with the most critical question of the present moment for an online world.

What Is Local SEO?

Oh! It's launch time, and I'm searching for a place for continental food in my nearby area. I've run a search on Google and found the following results.

Everyone was looking for continental food in my locality. Google picks up your current location and displays the best possible results that every searcher would like. These results are due to the keyword "Nearby Me" used in the search.

Moreover, Google has displayed three prominent matching businesses furnishing their complete details, including their addresses, thumbnails of the business, contact details, ratings, and reviews. These are called three-packs in SERPs.

If your business appears in these three packs, you will have exponential chances to grab tons of quality traffic through organic search only. We will discuss how to secure your place in 3-packs later on.

Apart from these, you have noticed that top SERPs results also have location-indicating keywords, such as the city's name or your area in particular. This increases your chances to avail advantages of local traffic for your business, which is possible only through local SEO.

Global SEO:

Suppose I'm running the exact search without the Nearby Me keyword; it will end up with altogether different SERPs.

The most notable difference between local and global searches is the absence of 3-packs and Google Maps. Instead, you will find the definition of continental food in bold characters and images of food dishes present in the SERPs.


Suppose you use location-indicating keywords, such as the name of the place in your content, particularly in headings and the body of texts. In that case, your chances of getting to rank in local searches are increasing many folds.

Which Factors Affect Local SEO?

If you are inclined to get a good ranking in your local SEO campaign, you must know many things/factors are affecting the local SEO results in the SERPs, and you need to set those things right. Let's briefly know which factors are affecting the local SEO results.

MOZ, in 2020, ran research on finding factors affecting the local SEO, and according to it:

  • Your business present on Google My Business – 7.4
  • Google reviews – 6.5
  • Searcher's proximity to the business – 6.4
  • Citation of physical address of the company – 6.1
  • Consistency of citations in local directories – 5.6

To sum up these things, I would like to mention the following factors in brief:

  • A business should have a Google My Business (GMB) page.
  • A company must have local and standard citations with consistency in information.
  • A business must achieve a presence in Google 3-packs along with the physical address.
  • A business must have a correct on-page SEO and schema markup.
  • A business must have enough backlinks for quality websites.
  • A business should acquire good ratings and reviews through Google and third-party review sites.


These ranking factors are important, and you need to implement them in your SEO campaign one by one.

Use Google My Business (GMB) Page to Do Local SEO

Google's business profile listing is a free business listing platform by Google. It is a must-have requirement for a business that wishes to capture the attention of a local audience online. GMB page helps a business to appear the business profile on SERPs, particularly in 3-packs along with Map.

Do you want to know whether your business has a profile on Google's business listing? Enter the name of your business in Google's search bar. If your business is listed, it will look like the following.

If you already have a business profile on Google, you need to edit it and keep consistency in NAP (Name-Address-Phone Number) across all your business's online listings. If you don't have one, please create one with the following tips in mind.

  • Enter your business name.
  • Add your address.
  • Add your contact info, including your phone number.
  • Add your website if you have one.
  • Add some photos of your business taken from interior and exterior perspectives. It will build trust among your visitors.
  • Describe your services with proper headings, sub-headings, description, and most possibly with an image or icon illustrating it.
  • Update your working hours for the entire week and throughout the year, particularly for holidays.
  • Add your products if you have just-like services.
  • Provide your business messages.
  • Add some questions-answers (FAQ) to address the possible concerns of visitors.
  • Ask your customers for ratings & reviews and add them to your profile.
  • Today, most local brick & mortar businesses are adding a short video tour of their business premise describing their business processes and products. So, add one or more videos.


Keep your GMB profile/page updated with the latest information because the GMB profile has the most ranking value than other ranking factors listed here.

Use Google Review to Boost Your Local SEO

Well, you have set up your Google business profile. Now, you can ask your satisfied customers to leave their feelings or experience with your business as reviews and ratings on the Google profile. Many visitors have visited it and even purchased your products or services. So, you have a customer community online.

Google allows you to ask your business's customers to give their views through the review section. It provides a review link and facilities to send links to your customers through email, WhatsApp, or Facebook. You can use this link on social media to involve your social audience in writing reviews and give ratings to your business by sending a link through social networking sites' instant messengers.

Moreover, you can respond to already given reviews by encouraging reviewers for positive reviews or calm down the dissatisfied customer with bad experiences with your services and turn them into loyal customers.

Sometimes clarification does wonders, and responding to negative reviews with patience and suitably can turn the entire game in your favor. So, always try to answer the given thoughts, whether positive or negative.

You can turn on the Google messaging feature and directly chat with the reviewers. It is the best option against sending emails and phone calls to your reviewers. It will help you build a communication channel for future interactions.


Collect good ratings and reviews on your Google business profile and build a good rapport with satisfied customers.

Use Google Business Profile Performance Feature to Check Your Local SEO Performance

Google provides performance analytics facilities using visual indicators like graphs, bars, and tables. For instance, you can see how many people have discovered your GMB profile.

Profile Views:

You will get month-wise data to see the monthly discovery rates of your profile.

Moreover, you can get details of different devices used for your profile search. Besides these, you can find data about how many searches showed our business profile in the SERPs. It is tabulated with the used keywords so you can see which of your business keywords are proving most effective and how to enhance the performance by using those keywords in your content.

Business Calls:

The next metric is business calls made from your profile because you have given your contact number on your profile.


The next performance metric is direction requests made from your business profile on Google. It clearly indicates how many prospects of your business want to visit your location in person to meet you or make a purchase.

Website Clicks:

Again, this is a vital performance metric if you own a business website and add it to your Google listing. It gives a clearer picture of how many profile visitors have clicked to visit your website.


Please keep your eyes on various performance metrics of your Google My Business profile. It will help you improve future performance by changing the profile content accordingly.

Use Citations to Boost Your Local SEO

Online citations in old-school SEO are called directory submissions. You must furnish various business details; the most common are NAP-Name, Address, & Phone Number. Of course, you have to pick up local directories for local SEO—for instance, Yellow Pages, Yelp, Foursquare, Bing, MapQuest, Kudzu, etc.

Information for Citations:

Ensure you consistently provide NAP information on every citation or directory for your business profile. Because consistency in information is the crucial element in the local SEO ranking, even you cannot make a spelling mistake or use different cases for the texts.

Apart from NAP, citations often require different business information, such as:

  • Hours of your business opening/operation.
  • Business categories and sub-categories.
  • Tag lines for your business.
  • Email address.
  • Website URL.
  • Alternate contact details.
  • Short business description.
  • Valid payment methods.
  • Social media profiles/links.
  • Areas you covered under your service or supply of products.
  • Certificates and affiliations.
  • Business logo.
  • Images and videos of your business premise.
  • Customer/client reviews and ratings.

Types of Citations:

There are different types of citations used in the present local SEO market.

Standard Local Business Citations-

  • Facebook
  • Yelp
  • Yellow Pages
  • Bing
  • Foursquare
  • Merchant Circle
  • Google My Business

Industry-Specific Citations-

Numerous industry-specific directories exist online, and you can pick up the most popular ones to cite your business profile. Relevancy with your business niche is essential in selecting industry-specific directories, and consistency in information is also important.

Location-specific Citations-

Like location-specific keywords, search engines prefer Geo-specific directories online, and the presence of your business listing makes sense for their changing algorithms. Examples of some location-specific directories are:

  • BBB (Better Business Bureau)
  • EZLocal
  • LocalEze
  • CityGrid

Supplementary (Generic) Citations=

Generic or supplementary citations aid in ranking. Examples of generic citation directories are:

  • Glassdoor
  • Newspaper sites
  • Job board sites
  • Blog platforms

You have two ways/options to do citations for your local SEO campaign. You either do it yourself or hire an experienced local SEO veteran like for you. He hse highly skilled and vetted local SEO professionals to help you in your local SEO campaign at highly competitive rates.

Claiming Your Citation:

You need to verify your listing in the reputed directories because they accept citations only from the indisputable authority of the business to avoid fraudulent or false entries in their directories. There are three ways to verify your business profile in a business directory.

  • Email
  • SMS
  • Call

Use the most convenient method and enter the code they gave you through any route in the next screen and verify your business.

Optimize Your Citation:

It is a best practice that you provide more information as possible. However, the following are standard information required in a typical business directory used for local SEO.

  • Include your location keywords often in the listing, including headings and descriptions.
  • Pinpoint your business location on their Map.
  • Select the proper categories, sub-categories, and services for your business.
  • Add your service areas in the listing, such as city, state, or country.
  • Add your business hours.
  • Add your specialty and history. It is the place where you can be personal and stand out from the crowd.
  • Add relevant photos and videos of your business, including your business premise, business processes, and products.
  • Participate in deals and certificate programs offered by many business directories like Yelp. It will help you acquire customers right from directories and collect their reviews.


Many leading business directories offer added advantages other than ranking in SERPs, such as professional contacts, traffic to your business, and customers through various ads and incentives available in directories.

Rank in Google Map Pack to Boost Your Local SEO

A recent survey on clicks on SERPs indicates something interesting for local SEO professionals.

It clearly tells us that top-3 packs are receiving the most percentages of clicks by the SERPs visitors. It is why we will know how to get a good ranking in the top-3 Pack in the SERPs.

Factors to Rank within Google Map Pack:

Let's learn which factors are influencing ranking within Google Map Pack.

  • Google My Business signals.
  • Directory citation signals.
  • Right on-page SEO signals.
  • Link-building signals.
  • Local customer ratings and reviews signals.
  • Business behavior/experience signals.

You might be surprised that we have covered most of the points given in the Google Map Pack ranking factors in this playbook.


Please follow my suggestions in this playbook to boost your local SEO because local SEO strategies can impact your Google Map Pack results.

Do Right On-page SEO to Boost Your Local SEO Ranking

If you think you can bang your local SEO without having your/own website, it's a nightmare. You must have a website with a distinct URL containing your business name.

Your website is a storefront online. You need to prepare it to welcome your online visitors, and on-page SEO is the way to do so.

Search engines always look within web pages. Yes, they crawl the entire code of your web page, including texts, images, multimedia content, etc. The crawling of a web page helps a search engine determine how the web page is relevant to the search term.

So, to establish relevance, you need to optimize on-page code and content using relevant keywords and optimize code for easy and fast crawling by search engines. Let's see how we will optimize on-page SEO in this section.

Before doing anything for on-page optimization of your web page, we must know three pillars of on-page SEO, and they are:

  • 1. Content
  • 2. Site Architecture
  • 3. HTML code
Let's learn these pillars in detail.


  • Content freshness.
  • Long-form vs. short-form content.
  • Research-backed vs. shallow content.

2-Website Architecture:

  • Web page URL.
  • HTTP vs. HTTPS.
  • Web page loading speed.
  • Responsive web design.

3-HTML Code:

  • Metadata optimization
  • Headings optimization
  • Content body optimization
  • Image optimization
  • Schema Markup

With these outlines, let's learn how to go for on-page SEO.

Approaching On-page SEO:

Above, we have listed the main pillars of on-page SEO. Now, consider them as the main tasks to do on-page SEO. In short, our approach to on-page SEO contains these listed tasks.

Write SEO-friendly URL:

What is an SEO-friendly URL?

It's an easily readable URL that precisely describes the purpose of the web page or website.

For instance, I own a website-

We are in the software technology business, and Tech Soft is a word that describes it precisely and is easy to read.

In the screenshot, you can see the company's name in the URL. If you read the description in the SERPs, it's entirely relevant for the company name in the URL and what the company does.

This is about the homepage, so what about other pages on a website? Let's see an example URL of the same website.

I've taken an URL of a service page that falls into the digital marketing category and search engine optimization sub-category. The Slug is a Google search engine optimization service. The following section is a domain name; these two sections remain common for the web pages on the entire website. The first is the website protocol, and it's HTTPS.

This understanding is essential because many websites' backends, particularly WordPress websites, allow you to set your custom URL for website pages and blog posts. You can select an URL keeping this order of different sections in mind.

Infuse Keywords in Meta Title:

When you write a meta title tag on a web page, don't forget to include your primary business keywords. The better placement is at the beginning of the meta title to infuse the keyword.

Now, I'm talking about location-indicating keywords in the meta title. Let's go back to our search example for continental food in the nearby area. Our search ended with this result on the SERP.

You can see the "Near Me" keyword in the meta title besides the city name. To succeed in local SEO, the presence of location-indicating keywords in meta tiles is crucial to rank high in the SERPs.

Infuse Location Indicating Keywords in Meta Description:

Look at the example above.

We can see the presence of the exact location indicating the keyword at the beginning of the meta description. You can place the keyword anywhere in the description, but the beginning of the sentence is the most prominent place.

Location Indicating Keyword in the Headings:

When we write web page content or a blog post/article, we use a hierarchy of headings from H1 to H6. The best SEO content writing practice also recommends infusing location-indicating keywords in headings. It will increase keyword prominence and chances of visibility in local searches.

Location Indicating Keyword in the Content Body:

It seems like old-school SEO practice, but it's still relevant and efficient in the changed scenario and algorithms of search engines. You need not do keyword stuffing but organically use the location-indicating keywords along with your primary business keywords.

The presence of keywords in the content body and distributed evenly among the content paragraphs tempt bots to consider positive signals for your local SEO.

Responsive Web Design:

We live in a mobile era where most of our audience uses mobile devices, such as smartphones and tablets, to carry out their searches on the web using mobile browsers.

Therefore, your website must have a responsive web design that displays your website on various devices and browsers, including mobiles and desktop devices and their browsers.

Moreover, Google prioritizes mobile-friendly websites with the best user experience (UX) in its ranking algorithm. So, we cannot afford ignorance of responsive web design, giving the best mobile UX.

Now, the question is, how do you check whether your website has a responsive web design or not?

It's a simple trick. Open your website in a desktop browser. Right-click the homepage and select the "Inspect" option at the end of the right-click menu. Your browser will split into two sections. One will be the front-end design, and another will be the website code you can see in the backend.

Most of the latest browsers offer you the facility to mimic your website in desktop or mobile mode. Select the mobile mode and check the graphics interface simulating a display of your website on a mobile device. If you find a satisfactory display of your website in mobile mode, it means your website is designed with responsive web design.

Internal Linking:

Internal linking means you need to link each web page of your website with another relevant web page/s. It poses certain advantages, including

  • You can send your readers to the relevant web page for additional information.
  • Internal links also send bots to crawl other relevant web pages on your website. Hence, it speeds up the crawling and indexing of your website.
  • You can pass link juice through internal links from higher authority to lower authority pages.
  • Internal linking helps cut bounce rates by increasing engagement and time spent on your website.

Web Page Loading Speed/Site Speed:

We know that more than half of searches are done through mobile devices. However, mobile devices come with low CPU power and bandwidth. It intimidates the loading of heavy web pages.

This is one facet of the coin. On another facet, our patience in waiting to load the website on mobile devices is becoming thinner and thinner. We are hardly ready to wait for more than three seconds for the first loading of a web page. Here, UX matters more than anything, and Google and other search engines have considered this fact and prioritize fast loading speed as a ranking factor for modern websites.

There are many ways to optimize a website for fast loading speed, giving some brief points here.

  • You should optimize the images on the website using the latest image compression technologies.
  • You must not include videos and animations as the resources to load along with web pages. Instead, upload them on third-party sites like YouTube and embed their URLs in your web pages.
  • Optimize code and use CSS files in your web pages as external resources.
  • You must avoid in-line CSS and JavaScript codes because they take longer to load from the server.
  • You can use CDN (Content Distribution Network) to enhance the loading speed of your web pages and their content.
  • Use faster hosting options like VPS or dedicated hosting facilities to host your website and boost its server-level performance.

Image Optimization:

Often, browsers, particularly mobile browsers, are unable to load images. At that time, the Alt Tag of an image appears instead of a whole image, giving us a clue about the unloaded image. It's a prime reason search engines are looking for Alt attributes of an image in background code. I'm giving you some hints short of optimizing the image.

  • Use an Alt-tag, including your business keyword, and write a description that describes the image adequately.
  • You can add heavy images to your sitemap for faster loading.
  • You can use OpenGraph and Twitter cards for social media sharing.
  • Use images of different resolutions to support responsive web design. Make images Retina-ready.

Use Modifiers to Your Metadata:

A survey on local small business searches has shown that people often use long-tail keywords or an entire sentence to search for a business nearby. Unfortunately, existing keyword research tools lack the facilities to display these long-tail keywords or key phrases in their results.

So, how to overcome this deficiency of keyword research tools? As a simple solution, local SEO experts prescribe a formula that uses modifiers to your Metadata, particularly Meta Titles. I'm giving you a short list of these essential and mainly used modifiers in constructing MetaData.

  • Name of city/town/state/country
  • Near me
  • Best
  • Guide
  • Kid-friendly
  • Pet-friendly
  • Environment-friendly
  • Current year
  • Fast
  • Cheap
  • Urgent
  • How to
  • Checklist
  • Discount
  • Coupon
  • Review

SSL Certificates:

SSL or Security Socket Layer certificate indicates that your website uses the latest encryption technology to secure your data and its exchanges from server to client. When your website has an SSL certificate, its protocol changes from HTTP to HTTPS, and a ped lock appears in front of the protocol.

Obtaining the SSL certificate for your website is vital because search engines prioritize ranking HTTPS websites against only HTTP protocol-exhibiting websites. So, don't miss getting an SSL certificate for your website to rank high in local SEO. Your hosting service can help you in this regard.

Schema Markup:

Schema markup is also known as structured data because the data about your website are available in a structured form so search engines can scan them and present them in a structured manner in SERPs. Without structured data, search engines struggle to accumulate required information about your website and display it all in SERPs.

Therefore, search engines have made the presence of schema markup a ranking factor. Schema markup mainly comes into three known formats:

  • 1. Microdata
  • 2. JSON-LD
  • 3. RDFa

Schema markup, on the one hand, increases ranking by providing searchers succinct information in the SERPs and growing traffic and conversion rate.

How to Add Structured Data in Your Website Code?

To add structure data to your website code, you need to go to the Structure Data Markup Help tool.

You can add your website URL and start tagging the structure data. Once you finish tagging, the tool will create HTML for your selected tags, and you can copy it and use the Structure Data Testing tool to test your code, available mainly in JSON-LD format.

If your schema markup has any error, you will find it. You can add your copied code to your website's backup in the header section and test using this tool.

Get Backlinks to Boost Your Local SEO

Citation vs. Backlink

We often misunderstood citation or directory submission as a backlink-building process. In fact, it is not because citations may or may not turn visitors to your website. Backlink is the last and most important factor for ranking in local SEO that you need to care about.

The sole purpose of citation is to strengthen the consistency in NAM data online, whereas backlinks may vary in anchor texts and never support NAM attributes.

However, backlinks should be from relevant websites only, but citations may not be the case. Moreover, the citation impact is up to Map Pack, but backlinks may influence ranking and Map Pack.

How To Build Backlinks?

There are different methods to build backlinks; you can't cling to only one or two. Instead, using a mix of methods in your link-building campaign would be best.

Reach Out to NCC (Non-competitive Competitors):

There are three types of NCC:

  • Type-1: They are more or less in the same business as you, but not exactly.
  • Type-2: They are in the same business but serving different locations.
  • Type-3: They are in the same location, but their businesses differ.

Running Scholarship Program:

It's a bit expensive if it's relevant to your business. Still, it gives unprecedented advantages because education websites rank high in search engines and can earn goodwill for your business in return. You can run scholarship programs in multiple universities and earn high authoritative backlinks from their website by advertising/listing your program with your business name and address.

Guest Posting:

When you post a blog or article to other blog sites with your link, you can earn an authoritative backlink from their blogs. You have dual advantages of guest posting. The first is getting a quality audience from someone else audience. The second is obtaining a quality backlink from the websites relevant to your business somehow.

However, you need to select websites/blogs with high authoritative websites only, mostly above 20 DA scores.


We learned the difference between global SEO and local SEO. We know several ranking factors play vital roles in boosting local SEO. Apart from these, we also know different methods of local SEO practices, such as creating a Google My Business profile, using Google reviews, use of citations, getting to rank in Google Map Pack, doing on-page SEO correctly, and getting backlinks.

Of course, you cannot apply one or two methods for local SEO. Instead, you need to surge cumulative effects by using all possible local SEO methods in your campaign.

If you wish to focus on your core business tasks and leave a local SEO campaign on someone dependable, consider as the most reliable name in the industry.