Here is a local SEO checklist of tips and ideas to help you successfully optimize your website and reach more local customers.
Is your business visible to your targeted audience? For local businesses or organizations looking to gain from mobile usage, having a solid local SEO strategy is necessary.
So, what are some local SEO requirements that you need to tick to get the ball rolling?
Well, our detailed local SEO checklist will assist you in making your brand visible to local customers. You can discover the top elements from 6 parts below, from things with Google, on-page elements, business directories, customer reviews, content & backlinking, and monitor.
But before we do that, let’s cover the basics.
What Is Local SEO?
Local SEO is how organizations optimize their web presence to make it easier to connect to a geo-specific audience.
For instance, if you have a clinic in New York, you want nearby potential customers to easily locate your facility when searching for ‘clinic near me’ or ‘clinics in New York.’
Who Needs Local SEO
Local SEO is incredibly essential for any local business owner willing to connect with targeted customers.
Google usually pays attention to the location of users. So, you need to maximize your visibility within your locality.
But you probably need more concrete proof of local SEO benefits?
Why Do You Need Local SEO in 2022?
According to Smallbiztrends, 92% of consumers search for goods and services online before deciding.
These customers often read reviews about their favorite local businesses. In fact, GoGuf found out that almost half (46%) of Google searches are people looking for the best products and services near them.
Likewise, customers with mobile devices are increasingly searching for local businesses within their locality.
If you are still not convinced, open Google Trend now and try some searches with the term ‘near me’. One of the most outstanding things you will notice is the rapid evolution of local searches over the past few years.
Other statistics show that mobile searches for the keywords “open” + “now” + “near me” have experienced a 200% growth within just two years.
Local SEO Checklist
Here is some local SEO checklist to help you boost your local EO for your business:
#1. Things with Google
Claim and Optimize Google Business Profile Listing
The first step in a solid local SEO strategy is to claim and optimize Google Business Profile (former was Google My Business). Google Business Profile is a tool to help your business meet Google’s needs, which will allow businesses to optimize their presence across various Google properties.
GMB will boost your chances to show up in Google’s Local Finder, Local Pack, Google Maps, and Google Search ranking.
While most of the information can still be found on your website, GMB indexes the information you provide for Google’s consistency. Also, keep in mind that GMB is not just a place to find basic information.
If you can use it correctly, it is an incredible tool that can provide you with valuable insights for your users and boost your revenue. Google My Business provides users with crucial information needed to find a local business. The information includes:
- Business name and address
- Business hours
What GMB does is generate data for its database of organizations that are relevant to certain searches. From here, it synchronizes with conventional Google search for ease of searchability.
Once you created or claimed your Google My Business listing, here are some ways to optimize them:
- Local search results often favor the most relevant and detailed data for searches. So, provide complete information for your listing.
- Include important keywords and search phrases in your listing
- Provide accurate information about business operational hours
- Add multimedia, mostly photos
- Interact with your audience by responding to their reviews
- Allow customers to message you by enabling the Message button on the Google My Business app
- Make use of local posts. You can publish events, offers, products, and services.
- Use the special attributes feature
Check Website Speed
Page speed or simply page load time is the measure of how fast content on a page takes to display.
Google uses page speed when ranking your pages. That is why it offers several tools such as PageSpeed Insights Tool that webmasters and developers can use to improve loading speed. A slower site will not only frustrate your customers but also hurt your ranking.
Make Your Website Mobile-Friendly
As we found out earlier, your consumers are likely to be using their Smartphones to search for your business. In fact, mobile traffic surpassed computer internet traffic in 2016.
Recently, Google fully endorsed mobile-first indexing:
“From our analysis, most sites shown in search results are good to go for mobile-first indexing, and 70% of those shown in our search results have already shifted over. To simplify, we’ll be switching to mobile-first indexing for all websites starting September 2020.”
What it means is that its spiders will give priority to mobile-optimized sites. So, audit your site for mobile-friendliness.
Here are some mobile optimization tips that you should check out: 10 Mobile Optimization Tips For Mobile-Friendly SEO
#2. On-Page Element
On-page SEO are the SEO elements you control. By optimizing your web pages for a specific keyword or words, you’re taking the first step to improve search visibility and traffic.
Local Business Listings Submission
Local business listings play a key role in reputation ranking. Any competitive local business will consider online listings to improve visibility and maximize ROI. So, you should, too, take control of the data about your business on the internet.
You want to make sure that it is consistent, error-free, and exhaustive. Any time you submit a local business listing on popular platforms and directories such s Facebook, Google, Yelp, Bing Local, or Foursquare, you will also fill out specific details, including:
- Business name
- Phone number
- Social profile
- Payment forms accepted
- Certifications and awards
Local Keyword Research
Keyword research is crucial to designing a solid digital marketing strategy for your business, be it local or global.
With local keyword research, you can generate landing pages that focus on specific searchable phrases.
You can also understand the searching habits of your target audience. In a way, you will get the best ways to attract and interact with your target customers. And who knows, you may find other related markets to expand into.
For example, over 50% of all “near me” searches will result in an offline store visit. So, “near me” is a top keyword that you can consider to target to your audience.
Now how do you conduct local keyword research?
Easy. Use BiQ’s Keyword Intelligence to discover your local keyword opportunities.
First, enter your target keyword. Then, choose your preferred locations and languages.
The fantastic keyword tool will show you the list of relevant keywords the local people are using.
Your target keyword’s search volume could be 1,000 in your preferred location and possibly less than 100 in another. That’s simply because of the different demands in different places.
So choose the keyword that has high volume but lower competition. I know it can be quite challenging to decide which keyword to use. That’s where you can sort the keyword value in Keyword Intelligence.
A high-value keyword means it will bring more traffic to your website at a lower competition.
Use Keyword in Title Tags
Once you got your keyword, you need to place them at the places where it gives the most impact. One of them is the title tags.
Title tags define the title of your page, and they are important on-page SEO ranking factors. Most search engines rely on these tags to get a clue about a page’s topic. Browsers, too, use these tags for tab and bookmark descriptions. Perhaps more important is that search engines use title tags together with Meta tags to create a rich search snippet in search results.
Title tags should appear like this on your page:
<title>This is the Page’s Title</title>
Besides this, you should also optimize these tags with targeted keywords. Include targeted keywords with local intent, but try as much as possible to use natural language. The ideal length for a page tile is about 50 – 60 characters and should be unique.
Use Keyword in Meta Descriptions
The meta description is a summary that search engines often display below the page title in search result pages. It looks like this:
Your meta description can be of any length. However, Google will truncate it to about 155- 160 characters. So, try to keep yours within this range, but the most important thing is to provide value and generate clicks.
You can also optimize yours with targeted keywords. While they might not be a ranking factor, the meta descriptions allow you to advertise your content to your target audience. It impacts a page’s click-through-rate, which can influence its ability to rank.
Set Up Schema Tags for Your Pages
Schema is a semantic vocabulary of microdata that you can include in your page HTML to make it easier for search engines to read your pages. Using Schema tags enriches the snippets that usually appear beneath your page title.
For example, the first search result above doesn’t contain ratings, but this can be added using Schema easily. In fact, you can mark up several other items such as events, person, product, organization, place, and creative work.
You can use Google’s Structured Data Markup Helper to allow Google to display more data about business in their search results.
#3. Business Directory
Citations or online mentions of your business name, address, and phone number help potential customers to discover your local business. It also plays a crucial role in local search engine rankings.
Short answer: Google indexes the directory entries.
Local citation allows you to place your NAP information somewhere on the internet and drop a link on high-quality websites that are not spam, including Yelp, CityGrid, Foursquare, and so on.
Adding your website to local directories can help boost your position in search results.
You may not see your GMB listing, but you have the chance of featuring on the local directories if you submit your website to those local directories.
Eventually, it helps to improve your website visibility to those who are using those directories.
You can also consider industry- or geo-specific platforms such as TripAdvisor, FindLaw, and HealthGrades.
A tip for you: If you’re building your citations manually, you should create a document with all of these fields pre-filled with your accurate information to ensure consistency and prevent mistakes.
Create Landing Pages for Specific Locations
Landing pages matter, especially if you are a small brand looking to compete with nationwide brands.
When you are operating in more than one location, your customers will most likely choose the location near them. So, when you create local landing pages, you will cater to each target market or area.
Let’s say you ran a chain of bike shops, with locations in two parts of New York. So you may create two separate pages with separate URLs.
Make sure to have a distinct copy for each page because the search engine may penalize if they found duplicate content.
The best part about having geo-specific landing pages is you can better make use of on-page elements like localized page title, URLs, optimized content, and H1s.
#4. Customer Reviews & Testimonial
Reputation management is vital in local SEO. How your customers and site visitors interact with your brand online correlates to ranking potential.
One of the common and easy way to increase your online reputation is get more genuine reviews from your customers via Google, Yelp, TripAdvisor.
When deciding whether or not to purchase a product or service, most people often look for recommendations from their friends or online communities.
And you know what? Your best marketers today might not be your sales reps – they are your existing clients.
Statistics from BrightLocal show that 85% of consumers value online reviews as much as in-person recommendations.
Likewise, Hubspot found out that more than half (60%) of customers believe that online reviews are trustworthy.
So, find a way to ask customers to review your business on platforms such as Yelp, Google, and Trip Advisor.
You can ask them via email, SMS, in person, or even design a landing page for receiving reviews. Several positive reviews will boost your ranking, and most importantly, your conversion.
Tips for you:
- Encourage customers to add reviews to your Google Business Profile listing, but don’t force or reward reviews.
- Don’t be tempted to pay for fake reviews.
#5. Website content & Backlinking
Being proximate, ranking highly in organic results, having numerous reviews and link profiles robust with category and relevant keywords are still the core things you need to rank in local pack results.
Thus, don’t forget about your links. Link building is an essential part of a strong SEO strategy because it helps the search engines discover your websites. It also plays a role in telling Google which website should rank higher in the SERPs.
Optimize Content for Local Searches
High-quality local content usually attracts visitors and links. So, you need a solid local content strategy to effectively target local customers.
Your local SEO strategy should help you create consistent content with localized keywords. For the best outcome, try to optimize blog content and static text content with semantic variations of relevant local keywords.
For instance, if your business involves real estate brokerage, you can create content about homes in your city.
On top of this, you can also create content that talks about things to do near homes in your locality. You may use BiQ’s Keyword Intelligence to find out what are the most popular search phrases people are searching for locally.
Just enter your keyword and select your preferred location and language. Then, the keyword tool will come up with a list of content ideas you can write about.
The best part? All keywords come with a set of vital metrics that you can use when deciding which topics you want to focus on.
For example, you can use the search volume to determine the demand for the topic. At the same time, the trends tell you if the topic is emerging. Keep an eye on what’s trending to capitalize on it to get engagement.
Read more on how you can use Keyword Intelligence to level up your SEO strategy.
Let’s move to the next local SEO checklist…
Focus on Localized Link Building
Localized link building is a crucial ranking factor when it comes to local SEO. This practice involves getting other sites in your locality linked to your website. Let’s use this scenario as an example.
If you are an attorney in Houston, Texas, would you contact an attorney in Boise, Idaho for a link exchange? True, this is industry-specific, but are you going to get business from Boise? Likely not.
Moz’s survey found out that link signals are the most important ranking factor for local organic results, followed by a local snack pack.
If you get a large number of these local backlinks, you stand a better chance of outperforming the SERPs competition.
Take Part in Local Forum Discussions
While forums remain a contentious issue in SEO, they can be valuable for some local sites. It all depends on your goal of participating in forums. Taking part in local forum discussion not only boosts your visibility and profile, but it also gives you a chance to drive traffic to your site. It allows you to improve your off-page SEO factors.
Do Internal Linking from the Homepage to Your City Target Landing Page
Internal links are hyperlinks that connect content on different pages on your website.
If you have a landing page for a specific location, you can link it with your high traffic page such as your homepage.
When done correctly, internal linking will help search spiders to discover your local page, increase visitors’ time on your site, and build a great network of related content or pages.
With relevant content, better navigation, and a lower bounce rate, Google will treat your site favorably.
#6. Monitor your local SEO
You need to understand your local visibility to keep adjusting your local profile.
Local visibility refers to whether your business is appearing on the local search results. If you don’t appear at the top of local search results, potential customers won’t be able to find your website, and you won’t get much traffic and revenue for your business.
So how should you find out about your local visibility and local search ranking?
Grid My Business is a great tool for that. It helps users to discover the local search ranking they have for specific search queries for their business. With this information, you can discover your local search visibility as you’ll know where your business stands on the search results page.
Discover your local search ranking by entering the business or location you wish to scan and the search query of your choice. Then, set your scan parameters, run the scan and receive your report along with regular updates on your ranking.
You can see your position on the SERPs page. If you are not in the top 20, you know you need to optimize your profile.
With Grid My Business, you can also run multiple scans at the same time with “Bulk Scan” feature, which mean saving tons of waiting time.
The tool will run all your queries and you can track your positions later on the “My Report” page.
The tool also helps you to monitor your queries every 3 days, get to know the most updated changes in your ranking.
For each queries, you can activate the monitoring process by choosing “Start”. The tool will continuously track the performance and keep you up to date with the results. When you want to view the reports, Grid My Business lets you view them in a side-by-side comparison. This type of view allows you easily determine whether your strategy has been working or not.
There you go, top local SEO checklist that you can follow and hopefully find a few ways to improve your website’s local optimization.
Local SEO is an ongoing process, and it would be nearly impossible to include everything important in one checklist. It is also necessary for you to keep updating the news about local SEO in the near future for any changes.