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Local SEO Checklist

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The Complete Local SEO Checklist

Local SEO helps local businesses optimize their online presence for local search to ensure they are visible to local prospects and customers.

If your service-based business or brick-and-mortar store is focused on serving customers within a set geographical area, investing in local SEO is a necessity.

Local search constitutes 46% of search queries on Google, and your business must show up in relevant local search results if you want to drive traffic to your website and boost sales.

Local SEO is significantly different from traditional SEO since Google uses different factors to rank web pages in local search results. The ranking factors include:

  • Location of the searcher (town/city/state)
  • Proximity of relevant businesses
  • Relevant businesses with a Google My Business (GMB) listing
    Use of local keywords
  • Consistency of NAP (name, address, and phone number) of relevant businesses in online listings
  • Online reviews
  • Google Maps rating of relevant businesses
  • Social media shares

Google will look at all the factors listed above and other ranking signals to rank your business in relevant local search results.

To ensure your business does not rank below your competitors, you need to optimize your online presence for local SEO.

To help you get started, I have compiled this comprehensive local SEO checklist, and by the end of this article, you should have a firm grasp of what is needed to rank high in local search results.

Your Checklist for Local SEO

This SEO checklist guide will help you find relevant local keywords, get listed on GMB, optimize your website for local search, and finetune your online presence to ensure you build awareness with local customers.

1. Discover Relevant Local Keywords for Your Business

Traditional SEO is based on keyword research and the same applies to local SEO.

Fortunately, keyword research for local SEO is a lot more straightforward than what is required with traditional SEO.

The first step is to generate a list of seed keywords. These are relevant terms and phrases used in your industry and by your local customers. The names of the products and services you sell will also apply.

The next step is to generate a list of relevant keywords with your seed keywords. These relevant keywords are the actual terms that prospective local buyers and customers are using to look for your business.

Just type in your seed keyword into the Google search bar and check out the Google Autocomplete results.

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The keywords you are looking for are those with any of the following attributes:

  • Variations of your seed keyword (lawn care – lawn care services / lawn care company / spring lawn care / fall lawn care)
  • Seed keyword + modifier (lawn care company + near me)
  • Modifier + seed keyword + location (best + lawn care company + in Taylor, MI)

Collate all the relevant keywords for the next stage of your research. You can also steal the keywords of competing local businesses by inputting their URL into Google Keyword Planner.

Google will provide you with all the keywords their websites are ranking for.

Next, you want to be sure that a sufficient number of local customers are looking for your local keyword. It’s no use ranking for a keyword if your customers are not using it to look for your business.

Type each relevant keyword on your list into Google Keyword Planner and check the search volume of each keyword. Whittle down your list to keywords that have significant search volume.

The final keywords on your list will be used to optimize your website and online profiles for local SEO.

2. Optimize Your Website For Local SEO

Once you have your list of relevant local keywords, use them to optimize each page of your website for local search. Use the following tips to optimize your business website:

  • Integrate local keywords into the content of home, about, contact, and other landing pages.
  • Add up-to-date NAP and contact information to your landing pages that are consistent with what you have on your other online profiles.
  • Optimize the URL, title, headers, images, and meta description of each page with relevant local keywords.
  • Add Google Map to your contact page.
  • Test the mobile-friendliness of your website with Google, and if your site is not mobile-responsive, you need to revamp it.
  • Publish positive testimonials from your happy customers on your site.

3. Create Your Google My Business Profile

Google relies on the information in your GMB profile to feed local search results. It is this same information that Google used to create the profile for Winslow Heating & Cooling that you can see in the image below.

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This information is very important in optimizing your online presence for local SEO. To better understand its importance, let’s look at the local search results for the search query – “best carpet cleaners in Lincoln Park, MI

Local SEO Expert Checklist Section Image

In the image above you can notice the box that’s right at the top of the search results page. That is the Map Pack. Here, you see three local carpet cleaning businesses:

Google provides relevant information on each business including office location, opening & closing hours, website link, and Google Map directions. All of the information used was obtained from the GMB profiles of each business.

You obviously want your business to appear on that select list.

4. Set Up Your Profiles On Online Listings and Directories

Google will cross-check the information on your GMB profiles with what you have on other listing sites like Yelp, Yahoo Local, and others to confirm the authenticity and consistency of your data.

You can use SEOMoz to discover the popular citation sites for your local area and industry.

The major online directory sites are:

  • Yelp
  • Manta
  • Foursquare
  • Bing Places
  • Yahoo Local
  • Citysearch
  • Angie’s List
  • Yellow Pages
  • Facebook
  • Superpages

Make sure you only use accurate NAP and contact information that is consistent with what is on your website and your GMB profile.

5. Build Up Positive Customer Reviews

Online reviews play a crucial role in how prospective customers view your business.

Research shows that 88% of local buyers rely on online reviews to gauge the quality of the products and services of a local business.

With that in mind and the knowledge that Google will show customer reviews on your business profile in search results, it becomes extremely important that you make a good first impression to prospective buyers.

If your profile is filled with lots of negative comments, few prospective customers will be willing to engage with your business.

Positive reviews, on the other hand, are powerful testimonials that your existing customers are happy about the quality of your products and services and they took the time to support you with good reviews.

To build up positive reviews, reach out to your loyal customers and ask them to share authentic reviews on your business profile.

Don’t buy reviews since customers can smell fake testimonials from a mile away.

You should also take the time to respond to every review you get on your profile both positive and negative reviews. It shows customers that you care and it can also positively impact your local search rankings.

6. Adopt a Localized Content Strategy

The keywords you sourced from your research should be integrated into every post you publish on your blog to rank your content for relevant local search queries.

To implement a localized content strategy, write a ton of useful content that solves problems that are uniquely relevant to your target customers in your local geographical area.

Use the following tips to optimize your strategy:

  • Create a content calendar with a tool like CoSchedule and stick to it
  • Only publish original content that is relevant and useful to your target local customers
  • Integrate relevant keywords and local keywords into the natural flow of each blog post
  • Use local photos to improve the readability of your content
  • Optimize the title, URL, headings, images, and meta description of each article for local SEO
  • If your business has multiple locations in different geographical areas, create unique content that focuses on customers in each location

7. Take Advantage of Local SEO Tools

Use the following tools to fine-tune your local SEO optimization efforts:

  • BrightLocal: it is an all-in-one software that helps you track and analyze your local search performance, manage your business listings, manage customer reviews, and track your competitors.
  • Buzzstream: it is a link-building tool that will help you identify and build relationships with authority sites and influencers in your niche. These relationships can be used to build valuable backlinks to your website.
  • Moz Local: it helps you create and manage your online business listings.

Final Thoughts on Local SEO

Local SEO can help get your business in front of local prospective buyers and customers. This local SEO checklist guide has provided you with all the strategies you need to get ahead in local search.

Now, it’s up to you to apply these strategies to get your business to the front page of local search results.

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