The Perfect Local SEO Checklist for Your Business
Eric Regan, March 10, 2016
Making sure your local business is easy to find online is a very important aspect of business. Fortunately, there are many things you can to do help your business expand its online visibility ranging from basic steps to highly detailed actions. Below is your go to checklist to make sure your business is on the path to success.
On Page Elements
Let’s start with the things you can do to your webpage to ensure everything is set up properly and you are sending search engines and your users the right signals. As a local business you want to have local elements on your page. Those elements can include the content, title tags, meta descriptions and heading tags. Utilizing the city or even cities you are targeting in these elements can help with your local ranking. Put your city and state in the title tag, add your phone number in the meta description and optimize your content with geo-focused keywords. Making sure these elements are correctly optimized is an important first step for any local business.
But this is about local businesses, what can you do to make sure people know where you are and can find you? When it comes to local business, Name Address and Phone Number (NAP) is key, and displaying this information on your webpage is very important. Ensuring search engines know exactly where you are will help you show up in local results. Also, embedding a map of your location from a place like Google Maps on your webpage can go a long way in showing a search engine your exact pinpoint in language they are very familiar with. The more consistent NAP listings you have, the better.
Combing the first two items of our list, schemas is simple markup language used in the code of your website that can alter the way your site shows up in search results. Have you ever seen star ratings, events or extra business information listed under a search result or knowledge graph (to the right of the results) about a particular entry? All of these things come from schema and having the right schema set up for your type of business is very helpful. There is basic business schema but going beyond this basic information and diving into what is best for your industry is how you get the best results. Is Google Carousel used in my business’s industry? Do people want to know my hours of operation? What have my competitors included in their knowledge graph? These are all questions you should be asking yourself when it comes to what to include.
Phones have surpassed desktops as the number one source for web traffic. Accordingly, they are becoming one of the most important parts of how people use the web and this is especially true for local business. Now this is one of the reasons your NAP is so important but it is also why having a mobile friendly site is necessary. This is how people are finding you and if they can’t navigate your page, you are already losing customers. In fact, people aren’t the only reason having a mobile friendly site is important. The search engines also care and just how important they are to search engines is increasing every day. With each update to the search engines algorithms factors like how your site looks and how easy it is the obtain data on mobile platforms becomes more important.
So far we have been focusing on what you need to do on your site to help your SEO, but that is only a part of the whole picture. There are many offsite factors that matter as well. The biggest of these are business pages like Google My Business, formerly known to many as Google+ or Google Local. As Google is by far the biggest search engine, this is the most important one to have set up and verified but not the only one. Bing, Yahoo and Facebook both have their own versions of these local pages and you definitely want to bet set up on these as well. In fact, you want to be on as many as possible. The more you can get a consistent NAP out there on these business pages, the better it is for your local ranking.
Local listings are the next best way to get your NAP out there. Some of these can be big names like Yellow Pages but there are also smaller sites that can be just as important. The biggest thing to keep in mind when creating or finding these listings is that consistency matters. You do not want to send search engines mixed signals about important information like where you are located or what your phone number is. When they see inconsistencies in this type of information, they tend to not rank you as well as others. If you find outdated listings out there on the web, do everything you can to have them corrected. Be sure to keep track of all your logins for these pages for good organization and quick edits, if needed.
Just as with the onsite and technical side of things, the nuts and bolts of SEO still apply to local business. Building up your website with strong content is still very important. Establishing relationships with communities, social media platforms and having quality sites linking back to your site will help you strengthen your search results. In the end, all of this comes back to link building. A key factor in your local ranking comes down to domain authority and an effective link building strategy will help increase your domain authority.
SEO is a vital part of a local business’s online visibility. Lots of choices you make can add up to a whole lot of success if you do it right. Your site’s design, usability and especially the code you use to make it can make huge differences in how people can find you. Of course these aren’t the only things that matter. Making sure you get your brand out there and getting it out there consistently will not only save you headaches but help you make strides above your competition. But the most important thing to remember is that all the other important aspects of SEO still matter for local as well. Following this check list will set you on the right path to success.