Local SEO Checklist To Grow Your Business: 11 Steps To Success

Local SEO Checklist To Grow Your Business: 11 Steps To Success
Local SEO Checklist To Grow Your Business: 11 Steps To Success

Local SEO helps brick-and-mortar and service-based businesses get found through search, even when competing with large brands and national businesses that have a massive online presence.

let’s look at the specific steps you can take to improve and optimize your brand’s online presence to boost your local SEO.

  • Make sure your site is mobile-friendly.
  • Make sure your site is fast.
  • Claim your Google My Business page.
  • Optimize your Google My Business page.
  • Build other business citations.
  • Create and optimize your social profiles.
  • Get more backlinks for your site.
  • Feature your online reviews and encourage more.
  • Optimize your content for keywords
  • Optimize your content for your location.
  • Don’t forget about general SEO best practices.

Read on to learn more about each step.

Make Sure Your Site Is Mobile Friendly
A mobile-friendly site is a responsive site that automatically repositions its layout so that the content looks good and is easy to read on every screen size. Mobile friendliness is crucial for local SEO for three reasons. Mobile friendliness is a confirmed general ranking factor. Search engines give higher rankings to sites that are responsive.

Mobile-friendliness is a top-ranking factor for mobile searches. Google can tell what type of device someone is searching for. They want to give the best results possible, so they are more likely to show a site that is mobile-friendly when the search is conducted on a mobile device.

Many local searches are conducted on mobile devices. When people look for a nearby business, they are often on the go and searching from their mobile devices. Eighty-two percent of smartphone searchers conduct “near me” searches and 90% were likely to click on the first set of results.

It’s imperative for your business website to be mobile-friendly so that search engines show your business to the customers that matter most.

A poor mobile experience will cripple your local SEO and drive away people who are actively trying to give you money. Get this one right from the get-go; and if you aren’t sure if your site is mobile-friendly or not, run a test.

Make sure your site works properly on mobile by using Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test. Enter your site URL, and the tool will report back with any problems that might exist on the mobile version.

Make Sure Your Site Is Fast
People want a good experience while using a website. They want it to look good on their screen size, and they also want it to load quickly. That is why search engines also use page load speed as a ranking factor.

Search engines give higher rankings to sites that load quickly, and they prioritize this even more for mobile searches (which is where many local searches take place). Quickly loading sites:

  • Provide an overall better user experience, which search engines want to provide.
  • Make your site easier to crawl, which helps search engines quickly understand and better rank your content.
  • Reduce bounce rates and increase conversions, which tell search engines that your site is engaging and useful to users.

To follow local SEO best practices, focus on building a quick-loading website and regularly checking in to make sure your site speed stays high.

Check Your Site Speed: Google helps you quickly identify if your load speed is up to par. Use its PageSpeed Insights tool to measure the load speed of your site. Enter your site URL, and the tool will provide loading scores for both the mobile and desktop versions of your site. It will also provide tips for what you can do to improve your site speed.

Improve Your Site Speed: To improve your site speed, use the opportunities and diagnostics reports from Google PageSpeed Insights, and follow these other best practices for improving site loading speed:

  • Enable browser caching.
  • Use file compression to reduce the size of CSS, HTML and JavaScript files.
  • Reduce image sizes.
  • Improve server response times.
  • Reduce the number of redirects.

Many tactics to improve site speed require technical knowledge, website development tasks, or back-end coding. If you can’t implement these yourself, look for a service provider who specializes in site speed to give your site the boost it needs.

Claim Your Google My Business Page
Earlier in this post, we talked about how local search results appear as Google My Business listings and featured search results. So, it should come as no surprise that setting up your Google My Business page is an essential step in a local SEO checklist.

Your Google My Business listing is the heart of your local SEO efforts and gives you an authoritative presence across Google search as well as Google Maps. It also gives you an integrated way of attracting reviews and ratings, which can help you improve your standing in Google’s revised local 3-pack results and add authority to your paid advertising. To get started on Google My Business:

  • If you haven’t already claimed your listing, create a listing for your location.
  • If you have more than one location, create a listing for each location.
  • Make sure there aren’t duplicate listings for a location. If there are, decide which is the most important and delete the other pages.
  • Make sure the page is verified.
  • Use an account email address that matches the domain of your website.

Pay close attention to the official Google My Business guidelines as you set up your basic profile information. And remember to be particularly careful in establishing your official NAP information here. This is a core set of information you want to be cited consistently online over time.

Optimize Your Google My Business Page
Once you set up your Google My Business page, you might think your work is over-but it’s not. To give your brand the best local SEO, it helps to regularly engage with, optimize and update your Google My Business page.

  • Description: Add a short blurb about what your business does and why you do it.
  • Categories: Add categories that closely describe your products or services. Be as specific as possible.
  • Appointments: Add a button that leads users to the page where they can make an appointment.
  • Business Hours: Make sure your hours are always up to date as this information appears prominently on your profile.
  • Images: Start by adding cover photos and an album of photos that show the interior and exterior of your business. Then, continue to add fresh photos that show off the personality, products, and services of your business.
  • Videos: Add a video that gives potential customers a closer look at your business and what you do or sell.
  • FAQs: Keep an eye on this section and answer any questions that come in from customers. If customers don’t provide questions, enter your own. Add the frequently asked questions that your team hears most, and provide the answers to help build out your profile.
  • Google Posts: Utilize Google Posts to share information about your business, promote events and highlight new products and services. Also, use offer posts to set a time-sensitive special offer that can drive in new customers.

Build Other Business Citations
While Google My Business is the most important place to list your business, it’s just the beginning when it comes to using business directories and citations. Google uses prominence and authority as ranking factors. It wants to show the businesses that are the most well known and trustworthy. Business listings and citations send those trust signals to Google, increasing your chances of ranking.

Having more citations makes search engines view your business more favorably, so build profiles on online business directories based on your location or industry.

Here are a few places to start:

  • Yelp
  • Foursquare
  • Angie’s List
  • Yellow Pages
  • TripAdvisor
  • MapQuest
  • Apple Maps
  • Citysearch

To find directory sites based on your location, use Moz’s Citations by City list. It includes the most popular sites in your area so you can be sure to create profiles on the sites where your competitors already are. Bear in mind that you’re after quality when it comes to these local links.

Citations on high-quality sites can boost your rankings, while citations on spammy, low-quality sites can decrease your rankings. Be mindful when reviewing directories, and only create profiles on trustworthy, high-quality sites.

Create And Optimize Your Social Profiles
Another way to show that your business is trustworthy and legitimate is by claiming your social media handles and building social profiles. Social profiles provide links back to your website and present another opportunity to share your brand’s NAP, which are both beneficial to your SEO. Plus, social media is a great way to get in front of your local customers.

If you have one location, create one social media profile on each of the top social sites:

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Instagram

Consider what other social media sites might be right for your brand, depending on your industry and audience. This could include:

  • LinkedIn (If your brand focuses on professional services like an accounting firm or a marketing agency.)
  • Snapchat (If your brand targets customers 30 and under like a clothing boutique or a nightclub.)
  • Pinterest (If your brand is visually driven like a hair salon or interior decorating firm.)

For the most part, you can use one social account for your brand as a whole. But if you have multiple locations, you might want to create a separate account for each location.

Facebook and Instagram rely heavily on location. Facebook has a section to add your full address and allows check-ins at individual locations. Instagram also uses geolocation tools to allow users to tag their specific location. It might be worthwhile to create those accounts for each of your business locations.

As you create your profiles, always include a link to your website and include as much relevant location information as possible.

Get More Backlinks For Your Site
By creating business directory profiles and building out social profiles, you’ve already started the next task in your local SEO checklist – building backlinks.

Backlinks are the lifeblood of the internet. They connect pages, show relationships between information, and help search engines decide what content is the most valuable and useful.

When you have a lot of high-quality links (links from authoritative websites) pointing to your site, it tells search engines that your site is valuable and should receive high rankings.

So in addition to building citations and social profiles, put a plan in place to build links back to your brand website. To build links for your website:

  • Approach relevant local bloggers about reviewing your business
  • Send press releases to local news sites (it’s always best to have some actual news to share)
  • Engage in guest posting
  • Link Share with other local businesses
  • Produce great content and ask other websites to link to it as a resource
  • For more tips on how to create valuable backlinks for your website, check out the GoDaddy guide: How to get backlinks to a small business website.

Feature Your Online Reviews And Encourage More
Search engines use prominence as a ranking factor. To gauge how prominent a brand is, they rely heavily on reviews. Profiles with a larger number of reviews are more likely to show up in search in places like Yelp and Google.

Good reviews help customers decide to do business with you, while also improving your visibility in local search. So, encourage customers to leave reviews on social sites as well as your Google My Business profile page. To get more reviews:

  • Don’t be afraid to come out and ask your customers for reviews.
  • Make it easy for customers to leave reviews by creating a page on your website that directs customers to where they can leave reviews on Google, Yelp, and Facebook.
  • Put up signs in your business that feature review-site logos.
  • Ask for reviews in your email newsletter.
  • Feature and ask for reviews through your social media accounts.
  • Engage with existing reviews to show that your brand cares about reviews.

Optimize Your Content For Keywords
So far in this list of local SEO tips, most of the tasks have related to Google’s proximity and prominence ranking factors. Now, let’s look at what you can do to appeal to Google’s relevance ranking factors.

To give searchers what they want, Google matches search queries with the most relevant content. The search engine wants to provide the content that best matches what the searcher is looking for.

To help Google see your content as the most relevant information, you need to use keyword optimization.

Through keyword optimization, you:

  • Perform keyword research to identify the top search terms that your target audience is searching for related to your business, products, or services.
  • Create a page of content and assign one keyword to that page of content.
  • Use on-page keyword optimization to help search engines see that the page is relevant to the assigned keyword.

Through this process, you create content that users want, appeals to search engines, and helps boost your local SEO.

How To Conduct Keyword Research: Keyword research is the process of looking up the terms and topics that will be most likely to attract your target audience and drive traffic to your site. To find potential keywords, start with a list of terms that are relevant to your business. Research the terms using tools like Google’s Keyword Planner or Moz’s Keyword Explorer to get information about the term’s search volume and competition and then:

  • Look for keywords with low competition. Highly competitive terms might be difficult to rank for if you’re just starting out with SEO.
  • Look for popular terms. You want to target terms that people are actively searching for, so look for terms with a decent amount of search traffic.
  • Identify terms that might be good for a pay-per-click (PPC) marketing campaign. Through a local Adwords PPC campaign, you can pay for placement on SERPs for terms that are too difficult to rank for organically.
  • Consider targeting long-tail keywords (phrases with three or more words). As voice search continues to grow, more and more searches include long phrases and questions.

How To Perform On-Page Keyword Optimization: When you find a keyword you want to use, optimize ONE page on your site for that keyword. Never assign a keyword to more than one page on your site. This leads to keyword cannibalization – where search engines don’t know which page is more important so they don’t rank either page. Optimize the page for the keyword by using the term or phrase in the:

  • Headline
  • Meta title
  • Meta description
  • Subheading
  • Page URL
  • Naturally in the content
  • Image alt tag

Remember, don’t go overboard and flood your pages with keywords. Write compelling content with important lingo naturally spread throughout. Also, as you create content, consider the search intent of the keyword. Ask yourself why someone would be searching for the keyword. Then, give the user what they would want to find in the content.

Optimize Your Content For Your Location
Keywords that relate to your brand, industry, products and services help your business show up in search when users are looking for solutions you offer.

For local SEO, you also need to use location-based keywords to help nearby customers connect with your content.

Location-based keywords are terms that reference your region or area. They might include your city, neighborhood, or district. There are two ways to optimize your site for location-based keywords.

Optimize Your Website To Highlight Your Address: Show search engines which areas and cities are relevant to your content by optimizing your site for your location.

  • Add your address to your website. Add your physical address to your contact page. If you have one location, also add your address to your website footer.
  • Embed a Google map on pages that feature one address.
  • Create a locations page. If you have multiple locations, create a page that lists the address of each of your locations.
  • Create a page for each location. Take it one step further and create a page for each of your locations. Include the full address as well as an embedded Google map.
  • Optimize your homepage’s title tag and meta description to include your city, neighborhood or defining region.
  • Use Schema markup to add your business address and details to the backend of your website. Schema markup is a type of structured data that provides extra information to search engines so they can better understand and rank the page.

Optimize Individual Pages To Target Location-Based Keywords: Optimize individual pages of content by targeting a general keyword along with a location-based keyword (e.g., “hair salon Tampa” or “plumber in San Francisco”). Also, optimize your site for searches that include a general keyword plus a “near me” phrase (e.g., “hair salon near me” or “who’s a good plumber near me”).

Use the same on-page keyword optimization tips listed above to optimize pages for location-based keywords.

Don’t Forget About General SEO Best Practices
When it comes to local SEO, general SEO is still very important. You need to implement SEO best practices on your websites to ensure that your business can compete in search. You should:

  • Create an on-going content strategy that allows you to create fresh content that engages readers and attracts search engine bots.
  • Submit your sitemap to search engines.
  • Use an organized and natural site architecture.
  • Add security to your site by installing an SSL certificate.
  • Use redirects or delete repeat content to resolve duplicate content issues.
  • Use both inbound and outbound links to tie your website to the rest of the online world.

Local SEO Tools
As you go through the tips outlined in this post, try using local SEO tools to help you through the process.

Google My Business: Your local SEO presence is built around your Google My Business page, so it should be no surprise that this free tool is at the top of the list of local SEO tools. Sign up for free, and use it to manage the local search results that show up for your business. Create your free Google My Business business profile.

Schema Plugins: In the list of local SEO tips, we briefly mentioned using schema markup as a way to provide extra information to search engines to let them know what your page is about and where your business is located. Adding Schema markup requires adding code to the backend of your website. But there are plugins that make it easy to add Schema markup through simple front-end forms. Top Schema plugins include:

  • Schema Pro
  • Schema – All In One Schema Rich Snippets
  • Schema

Use These Local SEO Tips To Grow Your Business
Now you know the answer to the question “what is SEO?” You know what local SEO is, why it’s important to brick-and-mortar and service-based businesses, and you have the steps you need to implement a local SEO plan. Use these local SEO tips to build and grow your online presence and start driving more traffic to your business and website.

  • Make your site mobile-friendly.
  • Speed up your site.
  • Claim your Google My Business page.
  • Optimize your Google My Business page.
  • Build other business citations.
  • Create social profiles for your business.
  • Get more backlinks for your site.
  • Feature your online reviews and encourage more.
  • Optimize your content for keywords
  • Optimize your content for your location.
  • Don’t forget about general SEO best practices.

But if all of this still sounds too daunting even with the list of local SEO tools, GoDaddy is here to help.

originally posted on godaddy.com by Raubi Marie Perilli

About Author: Raubi Perilli is a website strategist, content creator, and founder of Simply Stated Media. She loves helping freelancers, small businesses and start-ups use their websites to drive more interest, leads, and sales.