How To Do Local SEO for Beginners Ultimate Guide: 9+ Steps for Success

May 20, 2024

How to do local SEO for beginners

Here is how to do local SEO for beginners:

  • Perform keyword research
  • Create a business website that targets local keywords
  • Set up and optimize Google Business Profile
  • Create business social media profiles
  • Build local citations with consistent NAP
  • Acquire relevant backlinks with high authority
  • Encourage Google reviews from customers
  • Publish niche-specific content
  • Monitor local performance with SEO tools

Local SEO (search engine optimization) is a digital marketing strategy that can increase the visibility of local businesses in search engine results. The aim is to help Google recognize your business location and its relevance to user searches. So if someone in the area searches for “[business] near me” or “[business] in [city]”, your site is likely to appear on top. This is crucial as the top 3 search results in Google receive 68.7% of the clicks (source: First Sage Page). Some ways to incorporate local SEO is to add local keywords, local content, and name, address, and phone number on your website.  

Local business owners are the ones who need local SEO the most as 80% of local searches result in a conversion. Moreover, a Think with Google study found that 83% of US consumers visit or call a store within 24 hours of finding it online. Besides local business owners, local SEO is also highly used by digital marketers and website service providers. 

One great example of a local business using local SEO for success is Perch LA, a restaurant in Los Angeles, CA. The restaurant took advantage of Google Business Profile. They incorporated their exact location, a make a reservation and call button and a link to their website in the listing. With this, the restaurant’s website now gets 9,300 visitors every month. Here’s another success story from someone on Reddit:

Local SEO success story

In this article, we’ll go into more detail on how to do local SEO for beginners. We’ll outline the 9 key steps to help increase website traffic and attract more customers to your local business.

How to Do Local SEO for Beginners in 9+ Steps

Step 1: Perform Keyword Research to Identify Local SEO Opportunities

Performing keyword research identifies terms and phrases your target audience is searching for. This will allow you to optimize your content with these “local keywords”. Let’s say you own a bakery in Orlando, FL. Through keyword research, you find that people in the area are searching for “gluten-free bakery in Orlando”. With this information, you can create a dedicated page on your website for gluten-free products available in your Orlando bakery. So whenever that keyword is researched, your website may appear on top. 

To find local SEO keywords, you can use tools like Google Keyword Planner, Ahrefs, Semrush, and Moz Keyword Explorer. Here are the general steps on how to perform keyword research with these tools:

  • Create an account: Some tools provide free trials and limited free versions, with a paid option that unlocks advanced features and data
  • Enter your seed keywords: This means terms or phrases related to your business, products, or services
  • Filter it by location: Use the tool’s location targeting feature to filter the keyword suggestions to your geographic area
  • Review the keyword suggestions: Pay close attention to search volume, competition, and relevance to your business and location
  • Analyze local search trends and patterns: With your keyword data, try to see what terms are usually used, such as location modifiers like city names, neighborhoods, or landmarks
  • Refine your keyword list: Pick the keywords that have a high search volume and are very relevant to your business and location. You can also choose long-tail keywords that are more specific and have lower competition so that it’s easier to rank
Google Keyword Planner

Step 2: Create an SEO Business Website That Targets Local Keywords

Creating a business website that targets local keywords will let Google know the geographic focus of your business. This is super important as a 2022 On the Map Marketing report found that a shocking 98% of consumers use the internet to find local businesses. Here is how to create a business website:

  • Plan your website's purpose, target audience, and content
  • Choose a domain name and web hosting provider
  • Select a website builder or content management system (CMS)
  • Design your website's layout and structure
  • Create and optimize your website's content
  • Customize your website's design and appearance
  • Test and review your website for functionality and user experience
  • Launch your website

Here is how to localize your business website:

  • Always include location-specific keywords in page titles, headings, meta descriptions, and body text
  • Tailor your website’s content to resonate with your local audience. For this, you can reference local events, landmarks, and community interests
  • Create a local listing with Google Business Profile. Provide accurate information on your business name, address, phone number, business hours, and categories
  • Make dedicated landing pages on your website for each location you serve
  • List your business in local business listings, online directories, and review sites

You don’t need a website for local SEO as it can work with social media and online local business directories, too. However, it’s always best to create a website to attract more local customers. According to a Maxsolz survey, 83% of people say they trust local businesses more if they have a website. LocalBright also did a study and found that most people go to Google to find local business information, more than any other platform.

Step 3: Set Up and Optimize Google Business Profile to Boost Local SEO Efforts

Setting up and optimizing Google Business Profile will get your local business listed on Google Maps. An Intergrowth study says that 86% of people use Google Maps to search for a business location. To do this, follow these steps:

  • Create or claim your profile: You can set up your Google Business Profile using your Google account. However, some local businesses are already listed on Google Maps, even if the owner didn’t add it themselves. In this case, you should check if your business is listed and, if it is, claim it as your own
  • Verify your business: To confirm that you are the rightful owner, you will receive a PIN from Google. You can choose to receive it by mail, phone, or email. You’ll then have to enter that PIN into your account
  • Provide accurate information: This includes the exact business name, complete address and phone number, and business hours. This is important as it will build trust with customers. Plus, it will improve your search visibility as Google prioritizes consistent information
  • Optimize your business description: You’ll need to let Google and everyone else know exactly what your business is about. This is why it’s crucial to give a detailed, keyword-rich description that reflects your business services
  • List your services or products: This helps users see what you offer at a glance. It can also improve your profile’s relevance in search queries
  • Add photos and videos: To make your local listing more legit, upload high-quality photos and videos of your business. You can include your products, services, team, and premises to attract more customers
  • Use posts to engage with customers: There is a ‘Posts’ feature that will allow you to update your customers about new products, promotions, or events. This will appear directly in your business profile and search results
  • Set up messaging: Zendesk says that 3 out of 4 consumers are willing to spend more with a business that provides excellent customer service. One way to provide that is to make it easy to reach your business. This will also encourage engagement
  • Track insights: Good Business Profile has built-in analytics tools to track how customers interact with your profile. You can see how they found your profile, what they did there, and what they interacted with the most. This will help you see what works
Google Business Profile

Step 4: Create Business Social Media Profiles to Improve Local SEO Strategies

Creating business social media profiles provides additional listings on search engines. In one survey, 90% of business owners say their social media marketing efforts provided more business exposure. Meanwhile, another 75% said it increased their traffic. Here are some tips to enhance your social media for local SEO:

  • Make your social media information match your website. Your business name, address, and phone number (NAP) should be consistent across all platforms if you want to enhance local SEO
  • Use local keywords relevant to your business in your profile bio and posts. Remember, local SEO is not just about Google searches. More and more people are searching for local businesses on social media. A HubSpot study says that the top 6 best social media platforms for marketers are Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, TikTok, X, and LinkedIn
  • Geo-tag your posts and stories to boost local discovery. This is best used for Instagram and Facebook as users can search for posts in specific locations
  • Add relevant hashtags related to your local business and area
  • Post content that resonates with your local audience, such as news, events, or cultural highlights
  • Include your website link in your social media accounts and vice versa. This doesn’t directly impact your Google ranking. However, it does direct your social media audience to your website. When more people interact there, your website may rank higher

Step 5: Build Local Citations With Consistent NAP for SEO 

Building local citations with consistent NAP (name, address, phone number) means making your business information accurate and consistent across all online platforms. So go over your website, social media, online directories, and search engine listings and fix any errors. This is very important for several reasons:

  • It improves local ranking: NAP consistency is a key factor in local search algorithms 
  • It builds credibility: Search engines are always trying to deliver reliable and accurate information to users. So when you have a consistent NAP, it’s a good sign that your local business is legitimate and reliable
  • It removes confusion: An inconsistent NAP will confuse not only search engines but also the users. In turn, this can lead to lower search rankings and overall distrust
  • It enhances user experience: When your business details are consistent, the user doesn’t have to guess which is the real information. This will make it super easy and direct for them, thus improving the user experience and search results

Step 6: Acquire Relevant Backlinks With High Authority for Local SEO Improvement

Acquiring relevant backlinks with high authority will boost your website's credibility and search engine rankings. This means that an authoritative website will link to your website within its content. According to Google, backlinks are one of the top three factors for ranking a website. To do link building, here are some strategies:

  • Create high-quality content: If you want an authority site to naturally link to your website, you need to have relevant, valuable, and engaging content. The most linked contents are blog posts, infographics, research studies, and videos
  • Do guest blogging: This will allow you to write articles for reputable sites in your industry. Depending on the agreement, you can either link to your website within the article or in your brief author bio
  • Use the skyscraper technique: This involves looking for content in your niche that already has many backlinks. You’ll then create better and more comprehensive content on the same topic. Once that’s done, reach out to the websites to link to your content instead of the original one
  • Collaborate with other businesses and influencers: A partnership will allow both parties to link to each other’s sites. Besides that, you can also promote each other’s businesses or channels
  • Look for broken links: Sometimes, high-authority websites have broken links within their content. If you spot any that’s relevant to your content, you can contact the webmaster to report the broken link and suggest your content as a replacement
  • Directly reach out to authority websites: For this strategy, you need to find authority websites that perfectly align with your business. You’ll then need to write a compelling proposal on why linking to your content would be beneficial for their audience

Step 7: Encourage Google Reviews From Local Customers to Enhance SEO

Encouraging Google reviews from customers enhances your business visibility and reputation. Google reviews help local SEO as search engines prioritize businesses with higher ratings and more reviews. This is because it shows that a business is legit and offers quality products or services. Also, a study by Moz revealed that 96% of consumers read reviews about a local business before going there. To encourage customers to leave reviews, you can:

  • Offer exceptional service: The best way to earn positive reviews is by providing excellent products and services. Make your customers want to share their great experiences
  • Ask them at the right time: When a customer is satisfied, they will be very willing to leave a positive review if you simply ask them to
  • Make it easy: Online reviews are a bit of a hassle for customers. This is why you need to provide direct links to your Google review page in emails, on receipts, or via messaging. The fewer steps involved, the more likely customers are to leave a review 
  • Offer review incentives: This can include small discounts or entry into a contest. However, you need to request customers to provide honest feedback so that you’ll know where to improve
  • Respond to reviews: When people see that you engage with reviews, both the good and bad, they will be encouraged to contribute their thoughts. It also shows that you value customer feedback
  • Highlight positive reviews: Include the best reviews on your website or social media
  • Use signage: Place signs in your physical location that remind customers to leave a review on Google. Great visual cues can be a gentle nudge that prompts them to take action

Step 8: Publish Niche-Specific Content for Local SEO

Publishing niche-specific content will increase your chances of ranking in Google SERP. Blogs help local SEO as you can add local keywords into it, create fresh content, and allow for backlinking. All these are big factors when it comes to ranking. To write local SEO content:

  • Research local keywords: This is to know which relevant local keywords are most commonly searched for by your local audience. You can use tools like Google Keyword Planner or Ahrefs for this
  • Optimize for local search: This means including local keywords naturally in your titles, headers, body content, meta descriptions, and URLs. You can also reference landmarks, roads, and neighborhoods in the area
  • Make it useful and engaging: This way, people will find it helpful and trust your business even more. You’ll have better chances of getting shares and backlinks, too 
  • Focus on local content: You'll be able to engage more directly with your audience and enhance your website's local relevance. For example, if you're a local real estate agent, you can write about housing market trends in the city
  • Continuously update your content: Your local audience will stay engaged if you write about new trends and interests in the area. Plus, Google likes to rank websites that reflect newer and more relevant content

Step 9: Monitor Local Performance With SEO Tools

Monitoring local performance with SEO tools is crucial as it provides valuable insights into your content performance. This will help you pinpoint which content is doing well, and which ones need improvement. When you make the necessary changes based on these insights, you can improve your local search ranking. For this, you can use these SEO tools:

  • Google Analytics

  • Google Search Console

  • Ahrefs

  • Moz Local

  • BrightLocal

  • Semrush

  • Whitespark

To know if your local SEO strategy is working, track the key performance indicators (KPIs). This includes:

  • Local keyword rankings: See if any of your local keywords are ranking in search engine results pages
  • Organic traffic from local searches: Check how many visitors come from search engines and not through ads or other paid promotions
  • SERP visibility: Assess the visibility of your website in search engine results pages for your target keywords
  • Click-through rate (CTR): Examine the percentage of people that saw your website and clicked on it or ignored it
  • Bounce rate: Look into how many people left your website after only viewing one page

If these metrics are high (and bounce rate low), this is a good indicator that your local SEO strategies are working. 

Google Analytics

How Long Does It Take Local SEO to Work?

It can take 1 week to 12 months for local SEO to work. This timeframe ranges greatly as it depends on many factors. This includes industry competitiveness, local market size, quality of SEO efforts, and current online presence. Here is what one Reddit user has to say:

How long does it take for local SEO to work

Allan Harvey, the founder of the digital marketing company D-Marketing, says that you can start seeing local SEO improvement in 4 to 6 months. However, he says that significant results may take 12 months or more. Another Reddit user puts everything nicely into perspective:

How long does local seo work

Local SEO is worth it. In fact, it’s essential for attracting more local customers. Just to show you how important it is - 46% of ALL Google searches are for local businesses (source: WebFX). One local business that saw great success with local SEO is Deblanc + Murphy, an accountant and advisor service in Washington DC. Rich with target local specific keywords, the new website had an average rise of three spots in local search rankings within 6 months. This led to a 35% increase in website traffic and a 55% increase in website visibility.

Local SEO success stories

Which Is Better: Local SEO or Paid Search?

Local SEO is better than paid search if your goal is to build long-term visibility and credibility in the most cost-effective way. It can also build trust and reputation within a local community. Local SEO helps establish a strong digital foundation that can yield increasing returns. However, it does require more work than paid search. You’ll have to constantly search for relevant local keywords, add fresh content, and manage local business listings. What’s more, your local SEO efforts may take several months or years before you see any success. 

On the other hand, paid search provides immediate visibility to highly targeted audiences. This is perfect for promotions, new businesses, or competitive markets. But you’ll need an ongoing budget to keep your Google ads up to maintain visibility. 

What Are the Major Local SEO Ranking Factors?

The major local SEO ranking factors are:

  • Relevant local keywords added to your website and content
  • Distance between the user and business location listed
  • Backlinks from authority local websites
  • Consistent business name, address, and phone number across multiple online platforms. This includes online local business directories, websites, and social media
  • Many positive online reviews
  • Content quality and structure
  • Positive behavioral signals. This includes high click-through rates, conversion rates, call-to-action tab clicks, low bounce rates
  • Optimized website and Google Business Profile. This includes fast speeds, mobile-friendliness, easy navigation, and accurate business information
  • Local schema markup to help search engines better understand the content of your site

Top Local SEO Tips for Small Businesses

  • Use keywords in your URL: This sends clear signals to Google crawlers and users about your pages
  • Add long-tailed keywords: Although very specific phrases get less traffic, they often have a higher conversion rate. This is because people who search for them are more likely to find exactly what they need on your website
  • Place keyword tags: This helps improve search engine optimization for local searches. So include meta tags, title tags, heading tags, and image tags
  • Implement EAT in your content: To make your content high-quality, it needs to show expertise, authority, and trustworthiness (EAT). One way to do this is to focus on the user’s intent
  • Put internal links: Linking to other pages in your website can improve user experience and help you promote key content. It can also reduce bounce rates
  • Optimize your website for mobile users: This is super important as 58% of consumers are searching for local businesses on their phones (source: Sagapixel)
  • Keep your website secure: Cyberattacks are becoming more and more common. This is why your website should have an SSL certificate and anti-malware software
  • Make your website crawlable: Search engine crawlers need to be able to access and index your site’s content effectively. For this, create an XML sitemap, fix broken links, improve page speed, optimize URL structures, etc

Conclusion: Do You Need a Physical Business for Local SEO?

You don’t need a physical business for local SEO. There are many online businesses and website service providers that use local SEO strategies. An e-commerce store may want to sell to a specific geographic location, so they use local keywords to attract potential customers. Digital marketing agencies may also include local SEO services.


Local lead generation is a business model that uses local SEO to rank websites and rent them out to local businesses. This is one of the best businesses for local SEO as there is no risk and you earn a streamlined revenue every month. Plus, since the website is already ranked, local business owners will be more than willing to rent it from you. You can earn a monthly income of $50,000 without doing much. 

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Ippei Kanehara

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