Local SEO has witnessed an upsurge in the past few years. More and more people are searching local products and services with every passing minute. This sharp uptrend may be traced back to the rise of COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent lockdowns that prompted a commoner to search and rely on local businesses even more than before. Therefore, the need for a local SEO checklist for implementation is evident as it definitely plays a pivotal role in the lifecycle of a business.
A well structured local SEO depends on a variety of factors and involves certain technical delicacies as well. This article has all the local SEO checklist items that even a beginner to the local SEO domain will find easy to follow and implement. Before we dive into the local SEO checklist, let’s walk through a rapid refresher of what local SEO really is. This refresher will help you in better understanding of the local SEO checklist.
Local SEO – A Rapid Refresher
The SEO techniques that are deployed for optimization of search results for local level searches is essentially known as local SEO. In simple words, local SEO is traditional SEO done for the local searchers of a product or service. Hence, it is a subset of traditional SEO.
For example, if you own a restaurant in New York, you will want your restaurant to appear in the top search results when someone searches for restaurants in the New York area. This can be made possible by deploying local SEO for your restaurant. Hence, the local SEO is vital for any business to grow amid the competition in today’s fast paced business world.
Now that the rapid refresher has jogged your memory, let’s go through the local SEO checklist so that you may tick all the boxes while deploying local SEO for your business.
The location strategy of your business means identifying the number of locations and type of locations from where to operate your business. Multi-office or Multi-practitioner businesses like legal firms, schools, hospitals etc. have complicated local SEO processes as compared to home based business or a brick and mortar single location business.
Once you have defined your location strategy, the subsequent steps in local SEO become streamlined with this strategy with your website as the guiding light. For businesses with less than ten locations, list all the location addresses in the footer of your website.
There are a few key factors that contribute towards the ideal optimization of your website for local SEO. Theses website related factors are listed below:
- Essential Website Pages – A homepage is very obvious but creating a ‘Contact’ and ‘About’ page is a must. The contact page should have all the details of your business including the complete name, phone number, and the address for each location. This is generally referred to as the NAP (Name, Address, and Phone number)
- Simplifying Navigation – The aim is to build a detailed sitemap of your website so that the user may find the relevant information in very few clicks. You may use a comprehensive XML sitemap for your website especially if your website is large.
- Local URL Strings – To further make the search results local, add the location or area you wish to target in the URL of your website links, like this:
Content is known as the king of SEO, be it traditional or local SEO. Local content together with geographic keywords and context ranks very highly in organic results. Now, that we have established the importance of local content, let’s go through the local content points to tick off your checklist:
- Title Tags Optimization – Include geo targeted and local keywords in your title tag e.g., “Economical Chinese Restaurants in Downtown Los Angeles” instead of only “Economical Chinese Restaurants”.
- Meta Descriptions – The same case applies to meta descriptions, including local keywords for landing pages if it makes sense for that particular page will increase local search visibility.
- Local Images – In order to complement the local content use relevant images optimized with local keywords. Be mindful of using original images and give image credits where due.
- Duplicate Listings Cleanup – Any listing that is sitting there in tandem with an already existing listing needs to be cleaned up. Detecting such listings can be done via third party tools like Moz Check Listing. Once you detect any duplicates, waste no time in cleaning it up because the further you delay the more your local SEO efforts take a hit.
Google My Business Optimization
Google My Business is the optimal platform to get your business fed in the local search engine and subsequent contextualized local searches. This is also the best way to get integrated with all Google applications like Google Maps, Knowledge Panels, Local 3 packs, and much more.
Set up your Google My Business page along with all the required data and keep it up to date in every respect. Input your company information, address, phone number, geographical radius, choose from primary and secondary business categories, write a short description of your business, upload visual content, and get your Google My Business account verified. Moreover, keep your focus on the user reviews and ratings part of Google My Business as it is very vital for robust local SEO rankings. We discuss more about the reviews and ratings checklist in the next point.
Customer Reviews and Ratings
The SEO rankings are directly proportional to your online reputation. The way your brand interacts with the website visitors and their perceived reputation of your business is related to search ranking potential. The reviews and ratings on Google My Business are the first thing a customer sees when a local search is done. Therefore, creating a social media strategy is vital for reputation management.
One strategy you may want to deploy, as far as reviews are concerned, is using an already existing customer review management tool like Demand Reviews, Chat Meter, and Review Trackers etc. These tools notify you immediately about a review and suggest you the best course of action based on the type of review the customer has left on your Google My Business page.
It has been observed that some business owners especially the beginners go for underhand tactics like fake reviews and ratings. Moreover, they try to force positive reviews and ratings by rewarding people for them. Too many reviews at the same time and fake reviews can result in suspicion and subsequent account suspension by Google. Therefore, always try to deliver the best products and services for local SEO to rank better.
Referral Traffic and Backlinks
Backlinks also known as incoming links, inbound links, or one-way links are the top factor for local SEO and they often require a lot of time and effort to generate. These are basically the links available on one website that create a link to a page on another website. If you take on board high quality local influencers who influence your local content built around high quality local keywords, your business is sure to surge in rankings.
Referral traffic can be achieved through various media and platforms. You can use social media or platforms like Yelp, TripAdvisor, and other local platforms for increasing the traffic to your site.
Mobile Pages Optimization
Mobile phone use has skyrocketed in the past decade. Most of your customers are using mobile phones for searching and browsing your site, therefore it is pertinent to work on the mobile optimization of your site.
When Google is indexing content in SERPs, it prefers mobile pages over desktop pages. This is a very logical step by Google as research shows that more than 60% of searches are conducted via mobile phones. Therefore, Google has categorized mobile friendliness of a site as one of the top ranking factors as far as SEO is concerned.
You can use the mobile-friendly test by Google to check the visibility of your site on a mobile device and whether any alterations are required as far as the presentation and/or the technical SEO perspective is concerned.
The Final Word
A local SEO when done right in its truest sense, will yield truly positive results for your business in the local market. However, Search Engine Optimization is an ever-changing science. You need to be on your toes regarding upcoming tweaks and updates regarding any aspect of SEO. No checklist whatsoever can be regarded as complete.
Local SEO checklist may seem like the full and final word but keep in mind that SEO is an ongoing process. No matter if it is traditional SEO or local SEO, you cannot simply tick all the boxes and sit back. Complying to the checklist is one thing but staying up to date on the components of the checklist and working on the ever changing SEO environment is totally another thing. Therefore, study and research as much as you can to keep adding things to your checklist for robust SEO results.