Conversion Rate Optimisation for Local Businesses

In the SEO game, it’s easy to get overly focused on increasing traffic for the sake of traffic – especially for local businesses who may not have huge numbers of visitors each day. I’m confident in saying that the majority of local sites I come across could improve their bottom line more by focusing on actually converting the traffic they do get.

As the name suggests, conversion rate optimisation, or ‘CRO’, is the activity of improving elements on a website with the goal of improving the site’s conversion rate – the percentage of users who buy, or enquire. It’s simultaneously one of the most important and most overlooked elements of a successful digital marketing strategy.

Understanding Conversion Rate Optimisation (CRO)

Before taking a look at the strategies, let’s clarify what CRO actually means. Conversion Rate Optimisation is the process of enhancing your website and content to increase the percentage of visitors who take the desired action. This action could range from making a purchase, subscribing to a newsletter, booking a consultation, or any other activity that aligns with your overarching business goals.

For local businesses, the impact of CRO cannot be overstated. With typically smaller digital footprints and lower web traffic volumes than national corporations, local businesses can really benefit from fine-tuning their online presence to convert a higher percentage of their visitors into actionable leads or paying customers.

CRO strategies transform casual browsers into engaged, loyal customers, thereby elevating both immediate transactions and cultivating long-term customer relationships. CRO is a critical tool for local businesses aiming to maximise the effectiveness of their online channels, turning potential interest into concrete, measurable outcomes.

An Example

To illustrate the importance of CRO, imagine two websites. Both have 150 visitors a day and a conversion rate of 1%. Let’s say the average order is £50. Right now that’s an average of 1 sale and £50 per day (with me so far?).

Business A concentrates on increasing traffic and manages to get to 200 visitors per day. With a 1% conversion rate, they now make 2 sales per day for £100.

Business B undergoes a CRO audit and increases their conversion rate to 2%. They now make…2 sales per day for £100!

The key element of this (admittedly over simplistic) scenario is that the paths to increasing traffic and increasing conversion rate have different costs associated with them. Increasing traffic has a direct cost associated, whether that’s in time, SEO investment, or PPC spend etc. Conversely, increasing conversion rate can very often be effectively ‘free’ in terms of making changes to an existing website.

Throughout my career, I’ve accumulated a number of insights and strategies around making the most of a site’s traffic and skyrocketing (yes, skyrocketing!) conversion rates.

In this guide, you will receive actionable advice, backed by real-world successes. With a mixture of best practices and practical examples, this guide aims to give local businesses the skills to transform browsers and window shoppers into loyal customers.

As we’ve touched on already, local businesses often operate on a smaller scale and may not have the same web traffic as larger companies. However, this doesn’t diminish the importance of optimising web pages for conversions. In fact, with lower traffic, each visitor’s potential value increases, making it crucial to ensure your website is primed to convert efficiently.

Best Practices in CRO for Local Businesses

Know Your Audience

Grasping the nuances of your local market and the specific preferences of your audience really is the first step to building a successful CRO strategy. This initial step requires (you guessed it!) a deep dive into the data. Data tells a story. Understanding the analytics reveals behaviour patterns of your site’s visitors and can highlight issues in the customer journey.

By leveraging tools like Google Analytics and heat mapping software such as Hotjar, you can uncover a wealth of data regarding who your visitors are (demographics), how they find your site (acquisition channels), what they do once they’re on your site (behaviour), and how they interact with your content and features (engagement metrics).

When you have read and understood the data, you can begin to sculpt your customer journey to resonate more deeply with your local audience. This might involve adjusting your website’s design to reflect local tastes and cultural nuances, tailoring your content to address local issues, interests, or news, and customising your offers and promotions to align with local demand patterns. For instance, if analytics reveal a high engagement with certain types of products or content during specific local events or seasons, you can highlight these on your site to capitalise at the right times.

Understanding demographic information such as age, gender, and interests allows you to personalise the user experience further, making your website more relevant and attractive to your target audience. For example if your audience is mainly older, you might consider highlighting accessibility options. By aligning your website’s content, design, and offers with the specific needs and preferences of your local customer base, you significantly increase the likelihood of converting visitors into customers.

Website Usability and Design

A user-friendly website is foundational to keeping potential customers engaged. For local businesses, this means:

Mobile Optimisation

For over a decade now, mobile optimisation has been a necessity. It should come as no surprise that this is even more important for local businesses. A significant portion of local searches and online interactions are conducted on mobile devices. For small businesses, this means that providing a seamless and engaging mobile experience is crucial to converting this audience.

Your website’s design should be responsive, meaning it automatically adjusts to fit the screen size and orientation of the device it’s being viewed on. This is a given. This adaptability ensures that all users have a consistent and user-friendly experience, regardless of how they access your site.

What’s less obvious is that page loading speed on mobile devices is extremely important. Mobile users tend to have less patience for slow-loading pages, and since the Core Web Vitals update, Google has factored in mobile page speed when determining its search engine results and rankings. Optimising images, leveraging browser caching, and minimising code can help speed up load times, thereby improving user experience and potentially boosting your site’s visibility in search results.

If you have a responsive, fast site, the next step is to consider the mobile user’s journey through your site. Simplify navigation to make it easy for users to find what they’re looking for with minimal taps or swipes. Streamline forms for easy completion on mobile devices, and ensure clickable elements like buttons and links are sized appropriately for touch interaction.

Clear Call To Actions (CTAs)

The visibility of your call to actions (CTAs) is an essential step in guiding visitors through the conversion funnel and encouraging them, ultimately, to take the desired action. CTAs direct users towards goal completion, be it booking a service, making a purchase, or even visiting a physical store. For local businesses, crafting CTAs that are both compelling and straightforward can significantly boost conversions and elevate the user experience and conversion rates.


My rule of thumb is to assume our users are stupid (yes, really!), so it’s important to ensure the CTAs are visually distinct. People shouldn’t have to search for a desired call to action, it should be obvious. This can be achieved through the use of bold colours that stand out from the rest of your site’s design but still complement the overall aesthetic. The size and placement of your CTAs also matter. Like a lot. They should be large enough to be noticed immediately and positioned in strategic locations where they are most likely to catch the user’s attention. Always include a CTA above the fold on your homepage and at the end of key content sections.

The wording of your CTAs is crucial. Each CTA should be concise and action-oriented, clearly indicating what the user can expect upon clicking. Phrases like ‘Book Now,’ ‘Call Today,’ or ‘Visit Us’ are effective because they are direct and imply a benefit or next step for the user, but don’t be afraid to get creative and informal if the situation allows. Words like ‘Hurry’, ‘Quick’ or ‘Act fast’ can be effective. The language should be tailored to evoke a sense of urgency or excitement, prompting the user to act without hesitation.

CTAs should be relevant to the content around them, offering a natural next step for the user. Be specific – generic CTAs can effectively become invisible to users. For instance, a CTA to ‘Book a Free Consultation’ placed on a service description landing page is more likely to resonate and result in a conversion than a generic ‘Contact Us’ button.

By focusing on making your CTAs prominent, clear, and contextually relevant, you significantly improve the chances of turning website visitors into active, valuable customers.

Leveraging Social Proof

Social proof is a phenomenon where people look to the actions and behaviours of others to determine their own. People inherently like to ‘follow the crowd’. In the context of marketing and business, social proof refers to the use of customer testimonials, reviews, case studies, and other forms of feedback to build trust and credibility for a product or service, or a business as a whole.

Social proof suggests that if others have had a positive experience with a product or service, new customers will be more likely to trust and choose that offering themselves. It’s a powerful tool for influencing consumer behaviour and increasing conversions.

Integrating reviews into your online presence is an powerful way to build trust and ultimately to boost your conversion rates. This form of social proof serves as a trust signal for prospective customers, showcasing real-life examples of customer satisfaction and the effectiveness of your products or services. Importantly, these reviews must be real and ideally verified by a third party through platforms such as TrustPilot, Feefo and TrustIndex.

For local businesses, leveraging these elements is even more important and can make a substantial difference in attracting and retaining customers. This is because there is usually not the same brand recognition that national businesses often enjoy.

To maximise the impact of social proof, ensure that positive reviews and testimonials are prominently displayed on your website, ideally on the homepage. Highlighting reviews with a star rating system or featuring video testimonials can add authenticity and engage users more effectively, but don’t be tempted to fake it. Fake reviews look spammy and customers – as well as search engines – are good at spotting it.

In addition to reviews, case studies that showcase the results achieved can be particularly persuasive. They demonstrate your expertise and the value of your offerings but also help potential customers envision how they might benefit from your services.

Social media channels are another crucial platform for showcasing reviews and testimonials. Regularly sharing customer feedback and success stories can help build a positive online reputation, fostering a community of trust around your brand. Engaging with customer reviews, whether positive or negative, shows that you value customer feedback and are committed to continuous improvement.

Incorporating social proof into your digital marketing strategy builds trust and credibility with new visitors and encourages them to take the leap from browsing to conversion. By effectively showcasing positive customer experiences, you affirm the quality of your offerings and motivate potential customers to make that all important decision to choose your business.

Simplify the Conversion Process

Complicated customer journeys, filled with unnecessary steps and convoluted processes, can significantly increase the likelihood of customers abandoning their path to purchase, leading to lost opportunities and – you guessed it – decreased conversions.

This means that streamlining the conversion process is a really important website task, in order to minimise friction and reduce the likelihood of potential customers abandoning their journey before completing your desired outcome. Every additional step or unnecessary complication can significantly increase dropout rates.

Reducing Form Fields

A common obstacle in the conversion process that I see all the time, is overly long and complex contact forms. In an effort to capture as much data as possible, businesses are actually reducing the amount of data they receive overall. Research suggests that reducing form fields can lead to a higher conversion rate, as it lessens the effort required from users. For example, a study conducted by Hubspot found that simply reducing the number of fields from 4 to 3 resulted in an amazing 50% increase in conversions. It really is that big a difference.

To apply this, really evaluate which information is absolutely necessary at the initial point of contact. I understand the desire to qualify leads, but in many cases it’s better to capture something than nothing at all. For instance, if you’re optimising an initial enquiry form, consider only asking for an email address initially, rather than requiring full contact details, personal preferences, and additional information upfront.

Remember, you can tweak this over time. If you find you have simplified the contact form too much and you are getting a large number of low quality enquiries, it’s easy to add additional fields as necessary. Find the right balance that maximises quality leads without resulting in abandons.

Ensuring a Straightforward and Quick Checkout Process

For e-commerce sites, a streamlined and efficient checkout or is vital in making sales. Users are savvy and it comes down to trust. This means minimising the number of screens a user must navigate through and clearly indicating progress throughout the process.

Amazon’s ‘1-Click Ordering’ is a prime example of this principle in action, allowing users to make purchases with a single click by using their default payment and shipping information. Of course, smaller or local businesses are unable to use the same process as a multinational corporation, but we can certainly emulate the principles as much as possible.

Ongoing Optimisation

As with everything in the digital marketing world, conversion rate optimisation is not a one time project. It’s an ongoing, continuous task, essential for maintaining and improving the effectiveness of your online presence. It’s a process that involves continual analysis, and refinement to enhance the user experience and to increase conversions over time.

A/B Testing and Split Testing

A/B testing, or split testing, is a method where two versions of a web page (yep – version A and version B!) are compared by splitting the audience and measuring which one performs better. This approach allows for precise, controlled comparisons between different elements, providing clear insights into what changes can positively affect user behaviour and conversion rates.


Use analytics tools to track conversion rates, engagement metrics, and other relevant data for each variation. This analysis will help you identify successful changes that can be implemented across key elements of your site and uncover areas that may need further optimisation.

For local sites with lower traffic, it’s important to remember that for results to be statistically relevant, longer testing durations may be necessary.

Continuous Refinement

CRO is an iterative process that benefits from ongoing attention and refinement. A CRO’s work is never done! Insights gained from testing should inform your strategy, leading to continuous improvements in website performance and user experience. As you implement successful changes, it’s important to keep testing, even in areas that are performing well, to ensure that your site remains optimised against changing user behaviours and technological advancements.

By embedding regular testing, analysis, and refinement into your digital strategy, you ensure that your website exceeds user expectations, driving higher conversion rates and fostering business growth. Remember, the digital landscape (I hate the term ‘digital landscape’!) is always changing, and what works today may not work tomorrow, making the continuous process of CRO super important.

Conversion Rate Optimisation is an often-overlooked but extremely important component of any local business’s digital strategy. But by understanding your audience and investing in testing (I’m a poet!), local businesses can significantly improve their conversion rates. Remember, CRO is a continuous journey of learning and refinement. Stay committed, be willing to adapt, and watch your business thrive in the online world.

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About the Author


Head of SEO

Meet Jonjo, our Head of SEO. With over a decade of experience in the digital marketing industry, Jonjo brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to our team. He is passionate about all things SEO and is committed to staying up-to-date with the latest industry trends and best practices.

Jonjo is a strategic thinker and uses data-driven insights to develop and execute effective SEO campaigns that drive measurable results. He has a proven track record of improving website rankings and increasing organic traffic for a range of clients across various industries. When he’s not busy optimising websites, you can find Jonjo exploring the great outdoors or catching up on the latest SEO blogs and podcasts.