Local SEO on a Budget

Google Maps has over 1 billion monthly active users. If you own a local business—whether it’s a restaurant, a service provider, or another local business type—appearing high in Google Maps results is absolutely essential. Marketing agencies know this, and that’s why local SEO services can set you back thousands of dollars each month. The truth is, local SEO is not as complex as agencies might want you to believe. How do I know? I used to work for a marketing agency.

With that said, local SEO isn’t a scam. In fact, investing in local SEO can be one of the most valuable parts of your business's marketing strategy. Since starting in digital marketing in 2010, I’ve learned that you can definitely manage local SEO yourself, without the hefty fees that come with hiring an agency. If you are paying an agency to manage your local SEO and you are receiving poor results/service, this article may give you the confidence to fire your agency and mange local SEO yourself.

Four Top Ranking Factors for Local SEO

In this article, I’ll share four of the top ranking factors that can help your business appear in the local map pack results. These tips won’t guarantee the number one spot, but they’ll likely boost your business visibility significantly.

1. Citations

Citations, often abbreviated as NAP (Name, Address, Phone Number), are your business's listings on various websites.

Name Image Phone Number

What Are Citations?

Citations are essentially your local profiles on both popular and less-known websites. Examples include Yelp, Google My Business, and industry-specific sites.

Key Points:

  • Relevance: Ensure your business is listed on the most influential citation sites.

  • Consistency: Make sure the information is accurate across all platforms.

For example, if Yelp lists a different address or phone number than your Google profile, you’ll run into issues. Consistency is key.

Tool Recommendation: Check out Moz’s list of category-specific citation sites.

Using BrightLocal

One efficient way to manage citations is with BrightLocal. This tool identifies where your business should have citations and checks for current listings. And yes, it even creates these citations for you.

bright local logo

Many marketing agencies use BrightLocal while charging clients exorbitant fees. By going directly to BrightLocal, you can cut out the middleman and save a lot of money. (**Disclosure: If you use the link(s) above and sign up with BrightLocal, I will get a percentage of the sale. Thank you!**)

2. Reviews

Online reviews are a crucial ranking factor, with 93% of consumers considering them during their decision-making process. Getting more and positive reviews can set you apart from your competition.

google my business review

How to Get Reviews?

Here are some simple strategies:

  • Ask happy customers directly for reviews.

  • Provide a QR code at your business entrance.

  • Include a review link on your website.

  • Request reviews via email, especially if you have an existing email marketing list.

Pro Tip: Offer incentives like gift cards for reviews. But keep it ethical! 

Using third-party services—including BrightLocal—can help you gather reviews, although it's not always necessary. Often, simply asking your customers can yield excellent results.

3. Google My Business Profile

Your Google My Business (GMB) profile is perhaps the most crucial citation you can have.

google my business logo

Optimizing Your GMB Profile

To have a chance at showing up in Google Maps results, you need a well-optimized GMB profile. Ensure every detail is filled out meticulously. Look at how top competitors have structured their profiles for ideas.

Key Areas to Focus On:

  • Business Hours

  • Address

  • Contact Information

  • Photos and Videos

  • Services or Products Offered

4. Business Location

Your business's physical location plays a significant role in local SEO. The closer you are to the city center or the area from which most of your searches come, the better your chances of ranking higher.

Location Matters

If your business is far from the central point of the map results, it'll be challenging to rank highly. While moving your business may not be feasible, understanding this factor helps you set realistic expectations.

Summing It Up

Local SEO is incredibly important but not overly complicated. Most of the tasks performed by marketing agencies can be handled by you with a bit of effort and the right tools. Here’s a quick recap:

  1. Citations: Build and ensure consistency.

  2. Reviews: Ask for them and maintain a good online reputation.

  3. Google My Business: Make it comprehensive and up-to-date.

  4. Location: Understand its impact on ranking.


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