The results of a survey carried out in 2017 reveal that 97 percent of people look online to find local businesses. Almost 20 percent of consumers search online to find local businesses multiple times per week, demonstrating that it is vitally important for local businesses to have a strong online presence. Here are three search engine optimization tips that can help small businesses increase their online visibility in their local community.

1. Use Local Keywords

Keywords are at the heart of any good SEO strategy. However, as a small business owner, you cannot hope to compete with big brands for popular single-word keywords, such as “florist” or “plumber.” Local keywords, which contain the name of your town or city along with the subject, for example “Brooklyn florist” or “plumber in Salem, MA,” face far less competition from other sites. They are also likely to attract searchers in your local area, who you stand a good chance of converting into customers.

To find out what keywords people use when searching for businesses like yours in your local area, you can use the Google Keyword Planner. This tool is free to use and provides information about how often Google users search for particular keywords and phrases. Select keywords with lower competition and higher search volumes for maximum effectiveness.

2. Submit Your Site to Local Listings

List your business on Google Places, Yelp and any other listings sites that are popular in your local region. On your profile, be sure to include accurate contact information, opening hours, pictures of your business, and a working link to your website. Links from listing sites to your website will help to boost its search ranking, while the listings will help local searchers to find your business.

3. Encourage Reviews

Encourage your customers to leave reviews for your brand on listing sites and on your social media pages. These reviews can help to boost the visibility and authenticity of your brand. Even negative reviews can be a chance to show how much you care about your customers, as long as you respond quickly and offer a solution to any disgruntled customers. As your listing and social media pages gain more activity, they will show up higher in searches, which in turn could lead more people to your website.