Oli Lynch
Content. Marketing. Strategy.

7 SEO Hacks for Local & Small Businesses

Search engine optimisation is a long game, it’s true. And, sometimes, it doesn’t even go your way. So basically you can put in a whole heap of work and not get much back…

But there are some nifty SEO hacks that can earn you both decent exposure and some solid backlinks.

Intrigued?

Of course you are.

Let’s get SEO hacking!

1. Build a relationship with an external publication

Backlinks are critical to successful search rankings, so you do need to work on getting links back to your site. How can you guarantee some good backlinks? Write them yourself.

Lots of trade or niche publications want guest bloggers on the regular and will happily let you put together content for a free backlink. You might need to commit to doing something once a month as part of the agreement, but even then it can be very useful for a few months.

You probably already know a few niche sites or magazines in your industry. But if you’re struggling, search for ‘industry keyword’ + guest posts or write for us.

For example, ‘digital marketing guest posts’, or ‘write for us property blog’.

2. Use press releases

Although this is an SEO hack, it is a tip that requires a bit of work. The bulk of that work is building a mailing list which you can use to send your press release, and hopefully win some good backlinks.

I’ve been working with a street food business who do very well for sales and custom, but want more traffic and higher rankings for their site for some future plans.

What we’ve decided to do is to send updates to local press, bloggers, catering publications and even some hospitality focused sites. Already this has net us a few mentions and follows on social, links within ‘best of’ lists and even an article.

The trick here is not to spam publications with every item of ‘news’ that you come up with. But to send out genuinely useful updates as and when you have them. If you’re a company that has unique insight, original research or collects data then sharing some of this can be super useful too. GDPR compliant of course.

3. Social blogging

These aren’t always ‘do-follow’, which is what your search engine results are hoping for. But social blogging can be much more useful for building an audience, getting traffic and other more tangible results than simply ranking on Google.

What is social blogging? It’s publishing your blog content on sites like Linkedin, Medium, HackerNoon, BuzzFeed, Tumblr… And, actually, even Facebook.

In fact, YouTube, Instagram and TikTok can be incredibly useful from an organic traffic standpoint, not to mention the link back.

The benefit of these sites is they already have huge traffic, and so getting eyes on your content is less of a slog than on your own site. Obviously referencing your site with a backlink is going to help you too, even if that backlink is ‘no-follow’.

As an SEO hack, it can be useful for boosting the shares on your content, with a higher chance of ‘viral’ content.

4. Create and optimise your Google ‘My Business’ listing

This should be pretty much step one with any business. My Business is Google’s way of listing all the details including your location, services, opening hours and, of course, your website.

It’s a pretty key backlink and one you should definitely leverage.

As part of this, you should also get your business on Google Maps, which is another great backlink.

5. Ignore SEO & just be useful/interesting/controversial*

It can be very easy to get bogged down in finding long tail keywords, or low competition keywords when all any of us want to do is read something interesting.

Having SEO research as the foundation of your content strategy is definitely important. But, sometimes, just writing about what is interesting to your industry or local audience is going to fit the bill.

On a few of my sites I’ll occasionally go off piste and write content on a subject that just interests me, without too much keyword research. And, lo-and-behold, it starts getting traffic because it’s a genuinely interesting article – not just another listicle.

That’s not to say you should totally abandon your keyword research. Just that sometimes writing about an event you went to last week, or your personal take on an industry problem can be much more shareable than keyword stuffed fluff.

*NB: Controversy can be a good way to build a buzz, but done wrong it can seriously backfire. Try to understand who you’re likely to offend before you publish or share, and ideally get some people to check your content first. If they think it’s a bit too risqué, let it cool for a week or two and then see how you feel about it.

6. Work on winning reviews

A solid hack for local SEO especially is boosting your reviews. Google Maps, TrustPilot, TripAdvisor, G2, Capterra, Facebook…. Whichever one is relevant to you, try and encourage feedback from happy customers.

The way this can win you SEO brownie points is by getting you to the top of the listing site, which can earn you more traffic from people looking for ‘the best’.

And that’s you, right?

Oh, and if you get bad reviews, address them and try to find a solution. Don’t be defensive, but learn from them and try to understand how you can avoid getting that same bad review again.

Sometimes, bad reviews can be a blessing as they can highlight something that needs addressing. That said, too many of them can really tank your average rating, so get fixing ASAP.

7. Update existing content

If your site has a blog with existing content, take a look at it and see how you can maximise it’s impact. This is actually an SEO tip that many overlook.

Old content that gets updated is great for Google rankings. Chances are it’s already been indexed and if you refresh it with your keywords, some new images, an infographic and some internal links then boom… You could see that old shitty post climb the rankings in no time.

In fact, sometimes it’s easier to get older content to rank higher than new content – especially if you’re already on page two or three.

And, another SEO hack for you (two in one, I know I’m good to you guys), don’t stop at one update. Check back weekly, monthly, whatever.

This is especially true for content pillars or content on a competitive subject. Keep it fresh!

SEO strategy takes time

I recommend checking out my SEO cheatsheet for more info about general search engine optimisation. But, SEO does take time and is a constant battle.

The easiest way to do SEO? Get someone else to do it…

If you’ve liked these SEO hacks, drop me a line. Maybe I can help you out 🙂

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