A good SEO strategy is hard enough to pull off even when you have all the bells and whistles at your fingertips. As a small business, it can seem nearly impossible to rank among the big dogs.

With so many companies competing for the same keywords, it’s not surprising that well-established brands with boundless budgets are always top of the search engines. But it’s not game over. Small businesses can outrank the competition through local SEO. Read on to find out six ways to improve your local ranking.

What is local ranking and why should you care?

A good SEO strategy is crucial to increase discoverability, drive website traffic and convert customers. To put it simply, SEO is the process of improving your website’s ability to rank highly on search engines.

The further up you appear on the results page, the more likely potential customers will click on your website. In fact, a quarter of searchers only click on results on the first page of Google. Once those visitors land on your website, you can expect a click-through rate of 28.5%. So it’s a pretty big deal to get it right.

Your local ranking, as you may have guessed, determines your position for geographical search terms. After all, someone in Manchester looking for a bar wouldn’t appreciate results in Birmingham. By mentioning on your website that you’re Manchester-based, you’ll exclusively target searchers in your area.

Focusing on local ranking could boost your chances of nabbing that top spot while saving you time, resources, and money.

Getting friendly with the algorithm

Understanding the algorithm is the first step to success. Google’s algorithm takes into account the relevance, distance and prominence of your business to the searcher. What does this mean for you?

  • Relevance – How closely your business matches the search intent. For example, optimising your site for “vegan cafe in Bristol” will make sure you’ll rank for “vegan cafe Bristol”.
  • Distance – The proximity between your business and the searcher’s location, displayed on Google Maps.
  • Prominence – How well-known your business is offline. If someone searches “department store London”, you can expect Harrods to appear near the top.

It’s worth remembering that Google and other search engines change their algorithms regularly. So staying up to date with the latest in SEO is vital to make it to the top and stay there.

Your shot at the top

You don’t have to have a huge marketing team or budget to rank.
Here are our tips:

1. Complete your business information

We’re going to assume you’ve already set up your Google Business Profile. If there’s missing information, you’re unlikely to rank on Google and you'll confuse potential customers who find your site. So keep your address, opening hours and contact information up-to-date and accurate.

2. Location, location, location

Google’s main search engine isn’t your only target. Google Maps is also a great way to boost SEO. It goes without saying, but if you want to rank locally, you’ll need to ensure your business address is correct. Verify your location on Google to make sure you appear on the map.

3. Choose the right keywords

Carefully selected keywords are like gold dust for any content marketing strategy. Research the most relevant keywords with tools like SEMRush or Keywords Everywhere and sprinkle them into your copy to optimise your site. But don’t overdo it and stuff it with unnecessary words. Search engines prioritise good quality, valuable content.

4. A picture is worth a thousand words

Sure keywords are great, but potential customers are also going to respond to images of your store, products or services. Adding a selection of high-quality photos to your Business Profile will tell Google’s algorithm that you're not messing around.

5. Encourage customer reviews

People trust people. You can have the best keyword strategy or the highest quality images on your website, but without positive reviews you’re unlikely to rank. Encourage and incentivise existing customers to leave a review and watch your ranking soar.

Supercharge your strategy

In a world of ecommerce, SEO and social media, it can feel like everyone's expected to be a marketing genius. But that might not be where you shine. We get it.

Our SEO Manager does all the grunt work so you don’t have to. See what keywords your audience is searching for, keep an eye on the competition and track your local ranking in real-time, all in one place.