local seo on a lalptop

SEO: Local Search 101 for  Local  Businesses

At KMD, we believe in helping small local businesses grow and get found online. SEO is hard, and we want to simplify it. Our goal is to help educate you on the process of local SEO (search engine optimization) and working with an SEO specialist. Have you ever wondered why having an online presence is important for a physical storefront or office space?

Having your business online is more than just that. As business owners having an online presence really is the lifeblood of local businesses. We mean businesses with a physical presence versus e-commerce. This can include both small and large businesses with store locations or offices. How do you get to be part of the near me search results? Read on to learn more.

Text box saying Around 97% and 84% of online searches are really about discovery. Even more the top 3 search results get about 75% of the clicks.

We want to help you understand how and why SEO should be a part of your marketing strategy. Furthermore, let’s bust some myths when it comes to local and organic searches. Why do we have so many questions about local SEO and better understand how you can utilize local and organic SEO?

Local SEO is search engine optimization for local marketing. It means this is the practice of optimizing your website to be crawled and indexed by search engines for search results. Many times, this applies to the map pack (Google Maps) that includes your address and phone number. Local SEO is how small local businesses get found. Additionally, this means those near me search when consumers are online searching for health care providers, somewhere to eat, or a fun activity for the weekend in a new area with a local radius and great reputation. That is why these practices will help you rank higher against competitors and stand out from the types of services or products you sell and why you are the best in the business. And how you can draw these clients or customers in.

How does Google determine local search rankings?

Spoiler alert, Google doesn’t openly share their details about how they calculate local search results. However, according to their guidelines, there are three main factors that you, as a business owner, should focus on when optimizing for local searches.


Connects searches with answers. This is the goal of Google’s local search algorithm to connect searchers with answers. For example, when a consumer is searching for a nearby chiropractor or childcare options, they should get the best options. As a business, it’s important to maintain a Google business listing with relevant information about your business and images. As a result, you can guarantee that potential customers looking for services like yours find you instead of maybe your competitor, who is not open or whose reputation is not the best.


The proximity of the searcher to your business. Distance is another major factor that is considered when determining local search ranking. In recent years, map packs and near-me search results have grown. Today, consumers often bypass the search engine and go straight to the map pack to find a restaurant near them, a boutique near them, or even a chiropractor near them. This applies to map apps outside of a browser like Safari or Chrome when searching mobile. This is the importance of local search and growing your presence. Therefore, it’s important to include your address, hours, and other relevant information in online directories.


This is the online reputation for your business. How well is your business known in the community? I’m sure you are sitting here thinking we are very well-known in our community. That is amazing and should be celebrated. However, is that same community cheering for you online? If they aren’t, start asking them to leave an online review. Other factors to your online prominence are directory listings and online reviews from your customers. According to Google, both businesses’ overall star ratings, review quantity, and review quality are used as metrics. It’s not only important to have many reviews, but you want a consistent drip of reviews that are mixed with ratings.

SEO Myths

Organic search and local SEO are the same. This is not accurate. Organic search refers to keywords or organically ranking, even on a national level. Whereas local SEO is focused on competing for local keyword rankings. We are talking about showing up on search results as customers try to find you locally for whatever services or products you offer. They are not the same. Both SEO strategies have specific steps to take to increase your online credibility and visibility. In sum, organic SEO is based on relevance to search terms. Local SEO is based on location signals.

Reviews are “nice to have.” The fact is if you are a business with a physical and local presence. Therefore, reviews are a must-have, in our opinion. Review importance, influence, and consumption are rapidly increasing in consumer mindshare today.

Think about how often you have searched for a business, read the reviews, and decided based on that alone. How do you typically get new customers/ clients? Is it through referrals, your website, social media, or other sources? You may be saying referrals are the number one source of your new business. And this is very common for many businesses. We as humans love to refer our colleagues, friends, and family when we have a great experience. We also love to help those same connections avoid a similarly bad experience. Therefore, as a business, you need to have the entire scope in place when you want to attract new clients. And like-minded clients. This is so much more than word-of-mouth marketing; you need to start playing online to continue gaining new clients. At the end of the day, it’s all about being found.

The way consumers discover business hasn’t changed much over the past few years. Many reports are showing us the way consumers use search queries to discover your business is changing. You should too. As a marketer, owner, or entrepreneur, you should always think about how consumers find us. Consumers discover many businesses through many platforms.

 78% of location-based mobile searches result in an offline purchase.

Consumers want the best and are willing to travel to get it. When it comes to local search, not only do consumers want the best, but they want it close by. Some common search phrases for the best and local are “best burger,” “best burger near me,” or “close by.” Consumers are often looking for quality and convenience. Today consumers search in a specific way. It’s our job to help understand the consumer, their search patterns, and how we can help them solve their problems.

Print and online advertising drive in-person visits. Online advertising is highly effective. However, if you have a small marketing budget, the decision on how to grow your business gets tough. As a marketer, I suggest putting it into search. This is known as high intent search. Consumers are searching for your product or service to solve a problem they have. Of course, many will probably disagree with local smartphone searches driving in-person visits. But consumers trust what others have experienced and what others have to say online.

Google just prioritizes the best-ranking businesses, regardless of whether they are local. Think about it if you are searching for chiropractors and you live in Minnesota, you don’t want to find one in Iowa. Google is evolving and trying to fit the searches in with the audiences. In fact, Google wants to prioritize local businesses in the results of local searches. The point is local SEO is making it easier for us to become pickier. Like other forms of marketing, you want to ensure you are competing online to drive traffic into your storefront.

Now what? Local Search 101 for Local Businesses

Verify your locations within Google Business. This information applies to all local businesses with one location or many. To show up on a Google search results page, you want to verify each of your locations. This is a simple process that you can verify by phone, email, or mail. Next, review all information for accuracy or any last-minute changes. Lastly, remember you can’t update your business name until the verification process is complete. There is nothing more frustrating as a consumer than when the wrong information is listed on Google and shows up to the business to see the hours have changed. Please keep this information accurate, and this includes holiday or seasonal hours.

Add high-quality photos. Businesses with profiles that feature photos see 35% more click-throughs than profiles without photos. For example, show quality photos of your current menu items if you are a local restaurant. If it looks good, it must taste good. Or a chiropractor, showcase your office. Consumers want to get an idea of what the user experience is like. Additionally, ensure these photos are on your website and label each photo with keywords related to the image.

Keep your Google Business profile up-to-date. For those with complete and accurate information, it is easier for Google to match you to consumers in a search engine. This means your business name, address, and phone (NAP) need to match what is on your website. Hours of operation and a description are other important features to include.

Use keywords to your advantage. Use keywords in your description anywhere you can while sounding natural. Next, start with the service location for all your products or services. For example, Waconia chiropractic care. Lastly, use a keyword generator tool if you’re struggling to get started.

Manage and respond to reviews. Collecting reviews should be a focus for businesses. Not only does it help you show up higher in searches, but it also helps influence consumers to discover you. Another important part of reviews is responding to them.

If you are just starting local SEO, get listed on Google Business with the basic information of your local business. Then move forward from there. And if you’re still feeling overwhelmed, reach out to us.

Hey there I'm kayla dammann of KMD Marketing.

Thanks for stopping by the blog—I love educating small business owners + nonprofits about event marketing, SEO, website design, and social media strategy.

Sign up for our emails and let’s learn and grow!