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Local SEO has a lot in common with traditional SEO.
However, in some ways, it’s completely different.
One of the major differences between local SEO and “regular” SEO is how you target customers.
For example, when doing local SEO you must always keep geography in mind when targeting your keywords. This is because proximity to searcher is a key local search ranking factor.
If your business doesn’t show up when someone in your location performs a search, that’s a huge missed opportunity. One of your competitors is taking customers – and money – out of your pocket.
Luckily, local SEO can fix that for you. Yes, it will take time and effort, but it’s worth it.
Ready to start winning more local customers?
Here’s a complete local SEO checklist to help you.
Local SEO: Optimizing Your Website
- Define your location strategy. Multi-practitioner businesses (e.g., medical, legal) have different, more complicated strategies when compared to a single location, brick-and-mortar business or a home-based business.
- Create a contact, about, and home page on your website.
- On the contact page, include the complete name, address, and phone number (NAP) for each location.
- For businesses with less than 10 locations, list all the addresses in the website’s footer.
- If you don’t want to include your business address for privacy reasons, don’t publish it. Instead, make sure to include all phone numbers that are used for business purposes, and make them visible on the website.
- Ensure phone numbers are clickable via mobile.
- Ensure all NAP entries are consistent everywhere they are mentioned on the website.
- Add a Google Map to the Contact page so that customers can easily find you and to further optimize for local SEO.
- Use Schema structured data markup to help Google more easily identify your local business.
- Complete your Google My Business page, and verify your website.
Local SEO: Content
High-quality content attract links. So you need a local content strategy.
Links and content are the two most important Google ranking factors. This is also true in local SEO.
A Local SEO Guide study demonstrated that if the business website has a good ranking in organic search, it’s also more likely to do well on Google My Business.
Furthermore, relevant/high-authority backlinks are one of the top ranking factors to consider when it comes to local SEO. “Links are the key competitive differentiator even when it comes to Google My Business Rankings,” according to the same Local SEO Guide study.
- Create a consistent website content strategy that’s cognizant of accessibility.
- Optimize title tags and meta descriptions with localized keywords (e.g., “Third Wave Coffee Shops New York” instead of “Third Wave Coffee Shops”).
- Optimize static text content and blog content with semantic variations of local keyword targets. For example, if your business is selling real estate in New York, in addition to using content to share information about homes, you’d also want to create content about what to do near those homes in New York.
- Include local photos and videos (optimized with relevant keywords) to enrich and complement the content.
- Publish original content.
- Clean up duplicate listings. You can do this using a free tool like Moz Local.
- While you’re at it, clean up any other duplicate content issues that might be hurting your SEO efforts.
Content for Multiple Businesses
If you have multiple businesses in multiple locations, think hard about whether you need to create multiple websites. Local SEO experts will tell you that it’s better to have one strong website that houses all of your brands.
- Offer location-specific promotions to differentiate each location.
- Host or sponsor events in different cities to have something to write about on your website.
- Write a blog post on tips that apply to a certain demographic, season, or location.
- Create a content calendar. This allows you to plan your content and comes in handy for staying on top of seasonal content ranking opportunities.
- Use Google Trends to identify seasonal trends.
- Ask users to submit user-generated content (e.g., reviews, testimonials).
Local SEO: Citations
Citations are complete or partial references to your name, address, phone number, and website (NAP+W) online.
- Add manual or automatic citations. The advantage of manual citations is that you can control them, but managing them can get tedious if you decide to move or re-brand. Automatic citations, on the other hand, save you time and effort, but you ultimately have less control over your business listings.
- Use a third party for local citations and listings. These third-party providers include BrightLocal, MozLocal, Whitespark, Advice Local, and Yext.
Local SEO: Social Media & Customer Reviews
- Take advantage of customer testimonials and reviews for your products and services. Post them on your website.
- List your business on Yelp.
- List your business on Foursquare.
- List your business on Zagat (if applicable).
- List your business on Bing Places.
- If you haven’t already, list your business on Google My Business. This can have the biggest impact on your SEO because Google reviews are the first reviews people see when they do a search on Google for your business.
- Pick a business listing management tool to help you optimize your local business information across the web. A couple of the many business listing management tools include Acxiom My Business Listing Manager and Localhub.
- Invest in customer review management tools such as BirdEye, ChatMeter, OnDemandReviews, and ReviewTrackers to be immediately notified of customer reviews that may require further action.
- Create a social media strategy.
- Identify social media sites that are popular with your customers/clients and target audience.
- Claim a profile for your business on every major social media platform. Make accounts for Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, and Google Plus.
- Localize all of your social networks and link them back to your site.
- Add the NAP+W to each social media listing.
- Try to get verified on these social media listings.
- Designate or hire someone to tend to all social media sites so customer queries don’t go unanswered and to maintain a consistent content strategy.
- Share user-generated content on your social media sites.
- Optimize the Google My Business profile you created by adding details. Use a relevant keyword to help you rank at least 1.5 spots higher than the next most relevant local business.
- Get your Google My Business profile verified.
- Add photos to your Google My Business profile.
- Encourage customers to add reviews to your Google My Business listing – but don’t force or reward reviews! Too many reviews at any single time can cause suspicion and account suspension.
- Don’t be tempted to pay for fake reviews.
- Brush up on the rules for customer reviews.
- It’s inevitable that your business will get a negative review at some point. Be prepared to respond.
- Track and analyze your rankings, including organic keyword rank. Consider tools like Analytics SEO, SERPS.com, RankWatch, WhiteSpark Local Rank Tracker, and Moz.com Pro Rank Tracker.
- Do a site audit every so often to check for any red flags.
Local SEO: The Real World
- Hire and train your employees well. This complete local SEO checklist is only truly useful if you consistently give your customers great service.
- Be present. Know your staff, customers, as well as your products and services.
- Anticipate problems before they arise. Whenever possible, have a backup plan in place.
- Hold regular meetings to celebrate and replicate the good, and how to avoid and reduce the bad.
- Know that the “local” in local SEO is not only confined to the internet. Maintain a mix of local advertising such as flyers, newspaper, radio, and TV advertising (depending on your budget and business).
- Do everything to make your brand the best it could be and the first that comes to mind when people are looking for the product or service you’re offering. This is essentially what local SEO is about: being top of mind.
Local SEO involves many elements that are much different from general SEO best practices. Now that you have this local SEO checklist, you can effectively optimize your website, market your business, reach more local customers when they’re searching for what you offer, and start bringing in more revenue.
Featured Image: Pixabay
Local SEO: In the Real World Image: Unsplash
Screenshots by Maddy Osman. Taken May 2017.