Search Engine Optimization for Local Businesses: A How-To Guide

Learn How To Grow Your Rankings With SEO

As a local business owner, your customer is a small, targeted demographic. You’re probably not trying to compete with the large corporations, who have hundreds if not hundreds of thousands of dollars to spend on a digital marketing campaign.

A budget for a local business owner is a fraction of the big dogs, therefore it is imperative to make sure that your online presence is at its best. There are a multitude of different ways you go about doing this yourself, especially if you are tech savvy or have a top notch in house digital marketing team. However, odds are one or both of those don’t apply.

Blue Water Marketing is the local digital marketing company that can help set you up for your success. With a focus in digital marketing, search engine optimization, pay-per-click ads, web design, and social media marketing; Blue Water Marketing is the go-to source for your marketing needs.

What is SEO?

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization, which is the practice of increasing the quantity and quality of traffic to your website through organic search engine results. SEO is how your website ranks on search engine results pages (SERP). Whether it is through Google, Bing, or Yahoo; each search engine has its own algorithms that rate your website. Google is the number one search engine, so much that it is not just a noun it is a verb. Everyone says, “just google it”, even if they are using a different search engine. After ranking the SERP will give you a long list of links of various web pages. These web pages have been crawled through using the “Google bots” and have been determined to provide the best answer for your query. Of course, it would be wonderful to be at the top of the SERP. Unfortunately, it’s not an easy one-step process to gain that top ranking spot, and not even easy to rank on the first page.

Expertise, Authoritativeness, & Trust: E-A-T

In a previous post, we mentioned Google’s algorithm E-A-T. Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trust, is the acronym used to determine whether or not your page is of high quality.


● “Expertise” – You will need to be an expert in your field. Ensure that through your web presence you are seen as an expert in your field.
● “Authoritativeness” – You need to ensure that you are seen as an authority in the subject matter you are posting about. Credentials are a necessity, but so are personal experiences from reviews throughout the web.
● “Trustworthiness” – Trustworthiness is especially important for eCommerce websites that ask users for their credit card information. You need to show users they can trust the content you are creating and providing.


E-A-T is an essential determinant in the value of your website. Quality raters from Google use it when judging how good a site or page is at providing essential information that the user would want to see. If the rater feels like the user would have an overall great experience reading, and would share and recommend the content then your site, ultimately you will earn a higher E-A-T score. The best analogy is, E-A-T is the reason why consumers will choose your site over the competitions!

Quality Content

Quality content is the number one driver of your search engine rankings, especially when utilizing E-A-T. When you have quality content that users are specifically looking for, it will increase site traffic, which will ultimately improve the site’s authority and relevance.

“Dwell time” is the number of time visitors spend on your website after they have clicked a link on a SERP, but before clicking back to the SERP. Everyone has done this, a lot. It looks like a page you wanted, you click, you evaluate the webpage. You determine either it will instantly provide the answer or an obvious failure. If it was an obvious failure you’ll hit that back button immediately. If the webpage provides the answer you are seeking, then you stay and explore the site.

This is a value metric for search engine algorithms. The more time you spend devouring content of a page from a SERP click, the higher the probability that page satisfied your needs. While this is a generalization, there will always be examples where this number is irrelevant. For instance, whether in a particular city. That is a quick glance at the page, and then you bounce off, clicking back to the SERP. Dwell Time is not, however, the same as bounce rate, click through rate or average time on page. It is the time spent from the time a visitor clicks on your link from the SERP to the time they click back to the SERP.

Fine-tune your content writing skills, making sure that posts are thoughtful, relevant, and of course using proper grammar. You’ll want to identify and target a keyword phrase for each page. Think about how your reader might search for that specific page’s content. You can be as specific with your keywords, for instance, “Whatchamacallit in Anywhere, America”, so you are targeting your local demographics or as broad as you might like, “Whatchamacallit”. 

You’ll want to repeat this phrase several times throughout the page—once or twice in the opening and closing paragraphs, and two to four more times throughout the remaining content. However, you do not want to make your content unreadable. Using too many keyword phrases can come off as unnatural and will deter your reader from continuing throughout your site. This will ultimately affect your SEO ranking.

Images, videos, slideshows, and audio can help enrich the user experience and allow you to deliver content in a way that is most suited to your target audience. This is also a signal of “quality content” to the google bots that you have put forth a little more effort into making your website interactive, and content better. Video marketing is becoming an integral element in driving user engagement and conversion, all of which ties into high search engine ranking. 

Page Load Speed

The world is full of impatient people, we are in a society of “give it to me now”. Therefore users are not wanting to wait for a site or page to load, even for a few extra seconds. All search engines take page load speed into account using algorithms. A lag in load time will ultimately hurt your SEO ranking. Do not despair, there are many ways to increase page load speed. Including using a caching plug-in, making sure the code is clean and streamlined, optimizing image sizes, reducing the number of plug-ins, and minimizing redirects.

Broken Links

Have you ever been so excited to click on a web page only to get a 404 error page? No one wants to get a 404 page after clicking on a link. Broken links make for bad usability, and signals that the creator of the page is not maintaining their site. Search engines consider a large number of broken links as a signal of an old, neglected site and this can impact your SEO ranking.

Thankfully, you don’t have to go through every single page on your website and test the links manually. There are many tools and apps to help ensure that your site is free of broken links, such as:

Broken Link Repair for SEO

Layout and Formatting

Proper formatting and a user-friendly layout will help improve user experience and make your content easy to scan and digest. This leads to an increase in site duration, click through, and conversion rates. Formatting can help dramatically improve a webpage’s usability by making the content easy to read:

  • Use font size and typography that are easy to read, and not too small or large.
  • Ensure the proper use of title tags.
  • Proper placement of your phone number and google my business page.
  • Use bold type and colors – sparingly and strategically – to call out important information and make the content easy to scan.
  • Use short paragraphs and ample line spacing in between – nobody likes a wall of text.
  • Use bulleted or numbered lists for clarity.
  • Add interactivity to organize content, with drop-down-menus, rollover elements, progressive layouts.
  • Break up content into sections with subheads. Proper use of header tags that include keywords also helps improve SEO ranking.
  • Make sure to include your meta description, so that people know what your page is.

Contact Us Page

Having a proper contact information page, according to Google, is considered to be more trustworthy. Which we should know by now, will rank high with E-A-T, and therefore may rank higher by search engines. You should include a Contact Us page on your website. Putting the link in the navigation not only makes for good user experience (especially if you have an e-commerce site) but can also potentially earn you some Google points! Having a well-designed contact form will increase user participation in a company’s online presence. It will also help generate new business opportunities, capture new leads, improve customer service, and more.

Website Mobile Optimization

In today’s society, everyone has a smartphone, whether it is Apple or an Android. We have the world at our fingertips, literally, and therefore websites should be adapting to being mobile friendly. Google has started to penalize sites that are not mobile optimized by decreasing their search engine ranking.

More and more users are consuming content on mobile devices, and not being mobile optimized is going to affect user experience and conversion. How many times have you gone to the website on your phone, only to have to pinch the screen, drag the screen, or scroll back and forth just to read the content? Now, think about how long you stayed on that site. This is a clear example of why Google is penalizing websites for not being optimized for mobile devices.

As a local business, it is imperative to continue to modify and edit your content on your website. Continual updates will increase the optimization of your ranking on SEPR. As noted, there are several actionable items that one can take to increase the search engine optimization, and impress the Google bots. While there is are many more ways to increase your ranking, providing quality content and user and mobile friendly websites are a great way to start. If you are reading this list and feeling a tad overwhelmed, trust your local digital marketing company to help.

Blue Water Marketing is a local South Florida Digital Marketing firm that can assist with creating, monitoring, and improving your website.

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