Local SEO checklist to beat your competition in 2020✓
Search engine optimization (SEO) has been proven to play a big role in driving not just more traffic, but more quality traffic to your website. More quality traffic leads to more conversions and thus more revenue. But did you know that there is something even more effective at driving quality traffic to your site? It’s called local SEO, and if your website isn’t optimized for this type of SEO, then chances are that you are missing out on opportunities to boost your profits!
Here’s a look at what exactly local SEO is, why it is so important, and a local SEO checklist to beat your competition in 2020:
WHAT IS LOCAL SEO
As the name implies, local SEO entails applying SEO tactics to a more targeted market within a specific geographical area. While many of the same ‘rules’ apply, local SEO differs from ‘regular’ SEO by placing more emphasis on the interests of the local target audience. This involves taking everything from target keywords to contents and even meta tags and giving it a more local ‘spin’. But why is local SEO so important?
WHY IS LOCAL SEARCH IMPORTANT?
The main reason why local SEO is so important is that more and more people are searching for businesses in their immediate area. In fact, searches that include ‘nearby’ or ‘near me’ increased by an astronomical 900% over the last two years! That includes everything from the nearest gas station to a local sushi restaurant, a good kindergarten, or a chiropractor in the area.
What’s more, an incredible 72% of people (88% on mobile!) visit a physical store within 5 miles of where they’re searching. With this in mind, it becomes clear that local search is a very powerful tool to attract customers and establish a customer base within the immediate vicinity of your business. But for local search to work best, you’re going to need local SEO.
LOCAL SEO CHECKLIST:
Here’s a checklist of things to include in your local SEO to boost local search, and revenue, for your business:
1. OPTIMIZE YOUR DOMAIN
The first thing you need to do when it comes to local SEO is to make sure that your domain, or URL, is optimized. The main aim of optimizing your URL is to make it memorable and easy to search. This goes for both your home page and content pages on your site.
Search engines love URLs that are simple and relate to the content that the page contains. For instance, ‘www.mysite.com/contact_us’ is a lot better than ‘www.mywebsite.com/12345/321/call_us’ for both you and the search engine to know what the page is about.
Remember to keep it concise, especially when you start going deeper into your site. Try not to stick to between 3 and 5 words. Something like ‘mysite.com/content/sport/frisbee’ is descriptive, to the point and search engine friendly.
2. GOOGLE MY BUSINESS
One of the easiest ways to get people to find your business is through Google My Business (GMB). Google My Business is a free and easy-to-use tool that Google provides businesses so that they can easily put their business information online.
One of the best features of GMB is that you enter your information once and Google pulls it through to all of its applications, including Maps, Google Posts, Knowledge Panels, and of course Search, where it feeds your information to relevant local search results.
It’s also super easy to set up a profile and will only take you 10 minutes, however, don’t rush through it. You should include as much information as possible — Google will tell you how complete your profile is. When you’re done, you simply submit it, Google sends you a verification email to verify that the information is legit, and you’re good to go.
NOTE: The Bing equivalent is called ‘Bing Places for Business’ and works in a similar manner.
3. GO SOCIAL
Social media like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, as well as directory sites like Yelp and TripAdvisor play a big role in the online visibility of your business. While these pages might not influence your SEO directly, having a presence across as many platforms as possible will help you to build backlinks (discussed below).
Having strong, related backlinks can have a positive influence on your search rankings.
Target as many of these social sites as possible, especially niche and local directories, but only as many as you can manage, because it’s important to stay active on these platforms, ensure that your content details are always up to date, and answer questions that users of these platforms might have.
4. USER REVIEWS, RATINGS & REPUTATION
In the online business world, reputation is (almost) everything because it can influence how likely people are to buy from you. It can also influence your search rankings.
Your customers not only decide your reputation, they also decide whether they want to buy from you based on this reputation. This is why positive reviews and ratings are so important. It is the word-of-mouth in the online world and confirms whether how you present yourself to the world is true, and it carries weight with search engines when it comes to determining your search ranking.
Things like customer testimonials, ratings, and feedback on both your own and other sites all contribute and influence your reputation, so pay attention to carefully manage [link to the article] this in order to get the best possible search ranking.
5. LINK BUILDING
Link building such as internal linking, backlinks, and referral traffic are staples of ‘regular’ SEO. These refer to linking to other websites related to yours, or the content that you have published, and in return, other websites doing the same and linking to yours. The traffic generated by backlinks is known as ’referral traffic’. Internal linking is when you link to pages within your own page.
As an example if you have a post on your site about ‘The Best Homemade Pies’, you can have a link to a recipe for apple pie on your site, link to an external site with tips on how to make the perfect pie crust, or a link from a local foodie influencer linking to your article from a pie-making demonstration video.
With link-building, reputation again plays a big part, because the higher the reputation of the sites that you link to and the sites from which you receive referral traffic, the higher your search ranking will be. Don’t link to just any page. As shown in the example, it must be relevant, build on the content, and be complementary to the content you are posting. Other factors that determine the strength (and thereby the weight it carries with search engines) include the popularity of the linking page, the number of links to that page, and the credibility of the information on the page.
For local search, this means linking to as many local websites as possible, as well as getting links from local websites or influencers. This shows search engines that you have a good local reputation and makes them more likely to place you higher on local search results. Getting local backlinks may require you to build relationships with certain key people and influencers in the community, like collaborating with a local Instagram influencer. Just remember, their reputation will influence your reputation.
Note that building quality links can take a lot of time and effort, but considering the influence that local search can have on your website traffic, and thereby your revenue, it is definitely worth it.
6. BE MOBILE FRIENDLY
When last did you search for a business on your phone while sitting in your car or at a coffee shop? Chances are that it’s fairly recently. In fact, you probably found the coffee shop you’re sitting in via your mobile phone.
If you want to rank high on local search, then your website better be mobile-friendly. Why? Because the overwhelming majority of people search for local businesses on their mobile phones. Even more important, an incredible 76% of those people are likely to visit the store they searched for within 24 hours!
Still not convinced? In 2019 Google announced that it is switching over to what they call mobile-first indexing. This means that Google’s search algorithm primarily focusses on the mobile version (and indexes it first) of a website when ranking and delivering search results. This not only makes mobile important for people to find you on their phones, it’s also important for people to find you on search engines everywhere!
Use Google’s handy ‘Test My Site’ tool to see how mobile-friendly your site is.
7. THE RIGHT KEYWORDS
Using the right keywords is critical for local SEO, and forms the foundation for most content produced online, especially written content. Finding the most appropriate keywords that will result in the best performing search rankings is almost an art form with many people specializing in keyword research. You are looking for words and phrases that people are likely to search for, which isn’t always that obvious.
Keywords are especially important for local search, because search engine search results generally center around location, and also because people in different areas may use different words and spellings for things. For instance, if your audience is in the UK you should use ‘boot’ instead of ‘trunk’, and ‘tyre’ when referring to a car’s tire.
Once you have the applicable keywords, don’t just write sentences filled with keywords that don’t make sense to the point where it sounds robotic. Search engines (and readers) will pick up on this ‘keyword stuffing’ and may penalize you for it. Instead, weave them into the text and space them out enough so it sounds natural and reads easily.
8. GOOGLE MAPS
It’s simple, if you want people to find your business, then show them where it is! Adding a Google Map to your website’s contact page is super easy and will make it easy for both people and search engines to see where you are and how to get there. If you are already using ‘Google My Business’ or ‘Bing Place for Business’, then this will add yet another data point for the search algorithm to use.
9. LOCAL CONTENT
Content is a big deal and a favorite among online marketers, especially when it comes to local SEO. This is because nearly 70% of people would rather get information about a company from articles or blog posts than via traditional marketing methods. Not only that, search engines also love content.
But not just any content, if you want to have a high search ranking, the content you publish should be relevant to your business, interesting and informative, original, and importantly, well-written with keywords expertly woven into the text. And remember to keep it local — for instance, if you run a bike shop, post articles about local trails, events, and specials.
Content is also good for business in general. Good, local-centric content is more shareable on social media, it promotes your business as a credible source of information and keeps your business top-of-mind by keeping customers engaged. When people want their bicycle serviced so they can go ride a local trail, they’ll know who to call.
IMPORTANT: There are many online services where you can hire writers to produce content for really cheap. Be very careful when you use these services, as you often get what you pay for, and a couple of badly written, unoriginal articles can hurt your rankings.
As mentioned before, local search is very important for the success of your business. The higher your local ranking, the more (of the right) people will find you online, the more people are likely to turn into customers. Implementing this local SEO checklist will give your local search ranking a boost and ensure that you’re the first business people call!
Last Updated on November 29, 2021 by Gregor Blair