Local SEO Guide: 15 Marketing Techniques to Promote Your Business Online

SMS Text

Launching a business online can be quite intimidating to any small business owner. Fortunately, any business can benefit from search engine optimization (SEO), which can make a small investment go a long way, as well as making sure that local buyers find their websites. Therefore, local SEO is an obvious choice to promote and market your business on the Web. The following blog post provides 15(!) low-cost marketing techniques to help drive traffic and sales to your website.

Local SEO

What is local SEO?

Local SEO is a specialist technique that aims at getting your business name and website in front of people that are physically located near it. Search engines are the modern-day yellow pages, and your potential customers are looking to find you where you and your products and services are located.

Why is local SEO important?

According to 2009 Marketingcharts.com report titled “Great Divide’ Separates Small Biz, Online Consumers,” 82 percent of local consumers use search engines to find local businesses. Furthermore, more than half (57 percent) use Yellow Pages directories with 49 percent using local directories. Local consumers are going online to find local businesses. It is important to be visible in order to acquire new or existing business.

15 Marketing Techniques to Grow Your Business

1. Submit Your Website to Search Engines

The first thing you will need to do when launching a website is submit the site to search engines; Google and Bing are the major search engines to focus on. Out of the 15 techniques, this will be the easiest but one of the most important.

Tip: There are local search engines that can be of more benefit such as Yandex (for Russians), Baidu (for Chinese), and Kvasir (for Norwegians).

2. Make Your Website Easy to Use

Before marketing your website through various online channels, make sure that your meta data is accurate and follows the Google Webmaster guidelines. On-site optimization includes page titles and meta descriptions. Page titles should include your business name and one or two keywords that you want Web visitors to find you with. Avoid using too many keywords and make the titles and descriptions appear natural.

Tip: Search for competitors in your area to see keywords they are using to attract Web traffic.

3. Implement Google Analytics

Web host providers will often try and bundle analytics and data packages, but the best, free analytics tool on the Web is Google Analytics. It takes less than two minutes to sign up and implement the code, and you can start collecting Web traffic data immediately. Data includes number of Web visitors, how long they browse your site, where the visitors are located, and how they arrived at your site. This is great data for promoting your business and the most effective channel (and geographic location).

Tip: Once your account starts collecting Web traffic data, map out goals on your website and begin tracking. Goals could be submitting a form or signing up to a newsletter.

4. Add Your Business to Google+ Local

Adding your business to Google+ Local is the next most important technique to implement. More people search for businesses online than anywhere else, and adding your website and business information to the Google local business directory can help. It’s free and simple. Also, you can manage your listing information including business description, product/service details, photos, videos, and offers.

Tip: Make sure your Google listing has a 100 percent score; most local business don’t reach 100 percent. 

5. Create Social Network Business Profiles

If you are moving your business online, a great way to spread the word about your website launch is through social networks. Sign up to the business pages of Google+, LinkedIn, Facebook, and Foursquare to promote your business to your friends and network. Make sure you claim your business URL. For example, facebook.com/mylocalbuisnes.

Not only is this at no cost, but you will also get trustworthy links from these profiles. The more trustworthy links you get to your website, the higher you will appear on Google.

Tip: Get your family, and friends to become the first to “like” or “follow” your business, and stay away from buying friends from third-parties. Build your social media presence naturally.

6. Launch an Online Marketing Campaign

The only activity on this list that has a cost is Google AdWords. Google AdWords allows you to select keywords, write for online marketing ads, and attract visitors to your website based on what customers search for. Each time your ad is clicked, you will pay Google (you set the highest amount before your campaign goes live). If no one clicks your ad, you don’t need to pay.

Launching a Google AdWords campaign does not have to be costly. In fact, you can start with $15 per week, giving you a chance to decide on whether bookings increase. A benefit of using Google AdWords is that you can be very targeted to where your ads show, whether it be state or town.

Tip: When you create your campaign, make sure you use Ad Extensions that include local information, phone number, and Google + page.

7. Get Listed in Local Directories and Local Listings

Get listed in local directories and increase the number of trusted inbound links to your website. Most directories are free and by adding your business, you will see an increase in Web visits from potential customers. (According to Mashable, positive yelp ratings can boost a restaurant’s nightly reservations by 19 percent.)

Within two days of adding a small business to local directories, Web traffic from mobile grew from 0 percent to 18 percent of total traffic, and 30 percent of total traffic was referral.

Although claiming business citations is listed at number seven on this list, BrightLocal ran a survey in 2011 that found the top five most important local search ranking factors.

(Full report can be found here.)


Tip: To find out where your competitor gets links from, visit opensiteexplorer.org and click on the “linking domains” tab.

8. Get Involved in Your Community

This continues to bring home to Google the relevance of your business to a specific area, especially if you’re able to include links to your website (be very careful not to spam social communities, though).

If there are local forums in your field, then it’s a great idea to get your business actively participating in them. By creating a profile and adding value to the forums, this continues to add relevance of your business to Google.

Tip: Try not to spam the forums or websites with links to your online business as this will only get you banned.

9. Optimize Mobile SEO and Its Accessibility

The smartphone is the new yellow pages and mobile search, as a percentage of total Web traffic increases each month. In fact, experts predict that mobile usage will overtake desktop usage by 2014. Local business thrive on mobile searches as conversion rates searching on local terms tend to be higher. Make sure your website is optimized for mobile and is easy to use. If your website appears cluttered and loads slow to a searcher, they will most likely move on to your competitor.


Tip: Visit your website on your smartphone and find three ways to improve the experience.

10. Add Social-sharing Buttons

In the footer of your website, make sure you add a link your Google+ Local page along with other social sharing buttons.

Tip: Make sure your email address and phone number is listed on each and every page of your footer.

11. Implement Webmaster Tools

Using webmaster tools in both Google and Bing helps you identify issues with your website. By fixing these issues, you will ensure that both search engines have no issues crawling (finding) your website when a local search is made.

Implementing both tools is relatively straight forward, and your web developer should be able to support you with this.

Tip: When adding your website to Bing Webmaster tools, you will receive $50 in market funds (US only).

12. Upload Pictures

The local directory sites like to provide users with pictures of your business. To help ensure that your business gets the best exposure, upload your own pictures. They don’t need to be of a professional quality but they will represent your business, so make sure they are decent.

Tip: Save your photo with a filename that includes your business name and a keyword.

13. Ask for Reviews

Most local sites and directories allow customers reviews. Other than Yelp, most are supportive in requesting reviews. Customer reviews, whether good or bad, make your business more credible to future customers.

Research shows that having at least five reviews in Google+ Local is the magic number where the reviews may start to help with rankings. However, since the recent Google Places move to Google+ Local, reviewers are required to have a  Google+ account.

Tip: Use your website, invoices, thank you pages, and email communication to ask your customers to review your business. 

14. Launch a Blog

Write about your industry, your talent, your services, and promote it in all channels. Blogging not only helps increase awareness of your business, but it also improves your writing. You will learn more within your field (become an expert!), and it is a great way to acquire new links to your website.

Tip: Link your Facebook page and blog by adding the RSS reader application in Facebook, making sure that your blog posts will show up on your Facebook page each time a new post is published.

15. Be Consistent

Each time you add your website and business information to a local directory, social network, or forum, make sure you be consistent with your business name, address, telephone number, email address, website link, and business description.

Tip: Create a file that you can use to copy and paste the information from to make sure all listings are the same.

Local SEO is Essential to Your Business

Small businesses cannot afford to spend a great deal of money for online marketing, but using the marketing techniques above will help lower the cost and support the launch of your local business online. Local listings and SEO have always been important for small business online marketing efforts, but now they’re even more essential.

Photo credit: Local SEO – courtesy © senoldo – Fotolia.com

Steven Macdonald

Steven Macdonald

Content strategist at SuperOffice
Steven Macdonald works with Content Marketing at SuperOffice and has been working with online marketing since 2005. Based in Tallinn, Estonia, Steven has had his... Read Full Bio
Steven Macdonald
Subscribe to SEJ!
Get our weekly newsletter from SEJ's Founder Loren Baker about the latest news in the industry!
  • Amit Porwal


    I read the whole post and I am a regular reader and commentator of your blog, what is new in this post? I couldn’t find anything new that you have posted in this post.


  • Amit Porwal

    I am looking for something new that bang seo startups and helps them to overcome the google’s latest updates. SEO is a curse these days and mainly the seo in other languages.
    I am not sure how to do link building for websites in other languages. No specific resources are available for multilingual seo.


    • Steven

      Hi Amit,

      Thanks for commenting. I hope to have a really useful multilingual SEO post published soon so hope you find that more useful. Thanks and have a great day!

      • Amit Porwal

        Thanks Steven

        I really appreciate your efforts and will be waiting for the great post because I dont think I should know all languages spoken in this world to be a SEO pro. There should be some method to do seo for other language websites if I am a SEO guy. I do SEO only for a few clients and just try to do quality work.

      • Wordpress Developer

        Hello Steven,

        Do you have any post for multilingual seo?


  • Brittanie

    Number 13, about asking for reviews, is really a key point for local SEO . It’s also important to ask your customers to actually mention your company within the review, that will it will show up when potential customers are looking for reviews.

  • Rebecca

    Great article for local SEO.
    In regards to #5: I have many clients that have social media accounts and have never used them. Alot of business owners think that simply having the account will increase traffic. They need to be active on the accounts and interact with their customers. Building a following goes a long way.

  • craig lewis


    What a great post to help local business, as a local graphic / website designer I will sure pass this onto my new clients who are just stating up in business.


  • SEJ Reader

    Might want to check your links before you hit Publish. In this day, it’s unacceptable to have broken links. Being an SEO based website, you should know better.

    Under #5 – LinkedIn for Business
    Under #7 – local.yahoo.com
    Under #14 – wordpress.com

    Could be more…

    • Phil Butler


      Thanks for the catch, amending those broken links as I type this.


      Phil Butler
      The Editor

  • WillIam Bakhos

    Do people submit their site to Google anymore? A good new fashioned +1 should get the ball rolling!

    Great post for new small businesses… Especially the emphasis on mobile
    Will Bakhos

    • Steven

      Great point! Share on G+ and collect the +1’s

      • Umberto Orefice

        You may try this.. http://www.exactseek.com/featured_listings.html, seems interesting.

  • David

    I’ve done everything in this post, except paying for Adwords. I’ve found that Adwords are cost prohibitive in my industry. Insurance agents have to pay as much as $40 per click. As a result I am forced to stay on the organic side of the fence. I’d love your input.

    • Steven

      $40 per click is expensive! Have you had time to create guest blogs within your niche?

  • Kio

    I’m looking to seo my site, thank for your great help!

  • Cameron Whitaker

    Some great tips and well worth investing your time into if you are serious about your local business. While Google+ Local (formerly Google Places) is essential it can also cause all types of headaches. One thing to be aware of are duplicate listings that can be generated automatically by Google scraping the info from other directories. Before creating your Google+ Local account it’s best to check there isn’t already one that has been created you can claim. Make sure your name, address and phone number(NAP) is always consistent across the web to avoid ranking issues as well.

    • Steven

      Thanks for the comment Cameron. During the last few weeks, I have seen many references to NAP (name, address, phone) and believe we will see it a whole lot more in 2013

  • Michael Cox

    Does anyone do any back linking to there Google + local accounts, does it give any kind of a boost? Or is it more based on customer reviews?

  • Chris

    Great hint!

    BTW, I always prefer local SEO as I am targeting local audience only

  • Chandler Bryson

    hey Steven, nice reminder about the basic of local SEO. I am looking for more about mobile SEO, the number of people using smartphone is increasing day by day and i think we should target mobile SEO to get more number of visitors.

    • Steven

      Great point Chandler. Local & mobile SEO go hand in hand

  • Bangkok Graphic Design

    A lot of this is common sense, but some good tips. Thanks!

    • Steven

      Thanks for the comment. The goal of this post was not to be ground breaking but to have small business owners find useful information all in one place in a means to promote their brand online at low cost.

  • Laurie

    Thanks for all the tips. I’m working on my first website and I can use all the help I can get. Your information gave me a lot to think about and work on. Thanks.

  • Mike

    Solid tips. Getting ranked even locally is getting more difficult. One of the most important things to do is provide valuable content that your visitor enjoys, then shares.

  • Sanjaya

    I’m having this curiosity. What is better. To get more Facebook fan page likes or G+1’s. Since G+ is google’s I think that has more weight. But I’m not sure.

    • Steven

      Great question. I believe the best approach is that when you launch new content, you should promote in Google+ first, then Facebook.

  • Michael

    Local SEO guide is a must one for every webmaster so that they will be aware of promoting the products and business on specified targeting geographical region rather than whole.

    Love your article 🙂

  • web design in Pensacola FL

    The main negative side of a Local SEO campaign is it’s limited reach.
    Many businesses service regions larger than their local city or town.
    The local search results generally only return business listings within
    the city of the searcher.It wont gives the list of neighborhood regions.

  • Matt Coffy

    Citation building is making news as of late. Making sure your name, address, and phone number (NAP) consistent through and through will give you a huge benefit for Local SEO. I’ve also learned to realize that it’s better to use phone number with local area code than the 1-800 in your listings.

    I’ve enjoyed reading your list of guide, Steven. It further strengthens our understanding of what is relevant and advantageous for SEO nowadays. Thank you.

  • Rasmus

    Local SEO is going strong right now. I live in Sweden and compared to USA we are a very small country but it doesn’t matter. Local SEO is extremely important and I have noticed it in the couple of last months. Great tips by the way. I love to read this kind of posts. There is always something new to learn.

    • Steven

      Thanks Rasmus, appreciate your comment.

  • Michelle Castillo

    Good list. Thank you!
    In regard to blogging ( item #14 ) , I think it is a better approach to integrate the blog into the business website.
    Especially for business that do not have a lot of resources to create content.
    Fresh quality content helps with SEO. You loose this benefit if you publish the content in other platforms

    • Steven

      Great point Michelle!

  • Todd Bryson

    In regards to number how to optimize the mobile SEO and its accessibility keep inn mind that what this really means is to optimize your Google plus local listing because when people search their maps app on their phone or their search Google on their phone, typically the results that they are going to be giving are local results and those are driven by the Google places listings
    So do everything you need to do to optimize your Google plus local listing, like claim it make sure that it’s a 100% then go out and claim a lot of local directories make sure that your nap is consistent. And then work on your website; make sure that your website has a lot of onsite SEO as well as lots of offsite SEO.
    And that is how you are going to optimize your business for mobile

  • Tyler Jones

    Awesome techniques. Thank you for sharing.

  • Brian Park

    Nice..It can be great starting guide for diy business owners. Maybe more citations and data feeder such as infousa submissions can be more helpful.

  • ansh

    Thanks steven for great article …please tell me how to improve link building.

  • keyword removed

    Well the fact about for the great promoting tool is SEO, when utilize properly it is great, when used hapazardly, it is Search Engines Badness- “Local SEO Guide: 15 Marketing Techniques to Promote Your Business Online”, Greatly written post, i am sharing this on my Facebook Page.

  • Tim Dugan

    An awesome, basic, nuts-n-bolts Local SEO Checklist – thanks!