Does your business have a physical location? In case it does, is it optimized for local searches? If you haven’t optimized it yet, then you’re missing out on a big opportunity to reach out to more prospects in your local area.
Local search algorithms are always subject to change, just like everything to do with Google. However, some ranking factors remain constant even when key algorithms change. Thus, you should know how to outmaneuver your competitors by using this checklist for local SEO and lead in local search results.
What does Local SEO Mean
Local SEO refers to the act of enhancing search visibility based on the physical location of a business. When Google realizes that you’re searching for local products or services, traditional search engine algorithms are used in conjunction with local algorithm filters.
Domain authority and backlinks are some of the traditional measures that Google use to rank search engine results. Well-optimized and higher authority websites earn higher ranking on search results. For instance, searching by a keyword such as “mobile phone repair tips” gives results with information on how to do the repair. The results are more relevant to the keyword and ranking depends on the trustworthy in terms of link profile and decent authority.
On the other hand, if you search for “mobile phone repair”, Google will assume that you’re searching for a mobile phone repair service and not for information on how to repair a mobile phone.
Here’s is a checklist for local SEO in collaboration with Hari Menon that you should follow to get your website ranking higher on local searches:
Before we go through the checklist, you need to know more about Google’s local pack. Google’s local pack, sometimes referred to as local 3 pack or snack pack, are the three search results that appear after making a local search.
Some of Google’s snack pack search results are typically based on physical proximity. The proximity is established by the location of your IP address. Google uses proximity to prioritize search results on where you can easily get a service or product, and this is likely to be the service provider nearest to your physical location.
The other three-pack local rankings are based on coding, reviews, and on-page web optimization.
In case your business has a physical location, there are ten key factors that determine local SEO. Add these factors to your SEO checklist to have your site optimized for local searches.
Local SEO Ranking Factor Number 1
The homepage of your website should tell the visitor who you really are, where you’re located, and the kind of business you do
The leading search engine, Google, works like a robot. You need to tell a robot certain things in a clear manner. Every homepage must have Meta content and H1 headline that describes you and the kind of products or services you offer.
Local SEO Ranking Factor Number 2
Only use keywords that are locally-relevant.
Some people use the word pop while others simply say sodaThese two terms mean the same thing, only that one word is used in a different location from the other. Make use of Google’s Keyword Planner to filter keywords by specific locations.
Unless you’re using paid ads to boost your site, Google won’t exact number of the people that search for specific keywords. However, you should at least make a listing of the keywords that searchers are using. While a keyword planner offers loose numbers, you can still compare the popularity of your keywords.
Always ensure that your keywords are relevant and specific. For instance, if you’re operating a facility for retirement, prospects who are searching for something like “retirement home” will be more interested in the service you offer than those searching for something like “retirement.”
Once you make the list, use the keywords when making your site’s copy, headers, Meta content, and URLs.
Remember to mention local landmarks and neighborhoods. For instance, if a nearby Miami downtown restaurant offers dinner, something like “best dinner menu in downtown Miami” would assist the search engine to build local context near your business, thereby delivering those search results.
Building web content relevant to local search terms will also be advantageous to local SEO. Local pack search results are usually dependent on the location of a business in terms of the physical address or city.
For instance, if you offer moving services and serve different neighborhoods or towns, then you should develop localized web content that includes these areas. For instance, a Miami-based moving business should create content like:
- “Doing a Miami Office Move the Right Way”
- “The Ideal Time for a Miami Move”
- “How to Find the Best Miami Neighborhood for Public Transport”
Local SEO Ranking Factor Number 3
You should create a separate page for each and every service or product you offer.
Always avoid having a page such as services and products. Ensure each and every webpage on your site has one topic. The topic should be clearly defined.
If you put all your services or products on a single page, it’ll become challenging for search engines to cite your business as a professional in one of these areas. The consequence will be diminishing potential in ranking.
For instance, if a company requires a webpage for web content strategy, it should have a title like “Content Strategy Company”. Include another webpage for something like user experience with a title like “User Experience.” In this example, Google will not direct a prospect searcher to a mishmash webpage they’re using, but will likely direct them to “Content Strategy Company,” which is the page matching their query.
Remember to create separate webpages for different products or services for the best SEO website structure. In case your business is purely local, optimize every page using local language such as “Miami roofing” or “Plumbing Repair Services in Miami”.
Local SEO Ranking Factor Number 4
Only use data markups that are structured for a local business.
Structured data gives Google more details that assist it in a getting deeper understanding of a webpage. For instance, when it comes to local schema, you’re giving the search engine the name of your business, your phone number, address, business hours, email, services, and other details that can assist the search engine in displaying your business in the best way possible.
If you want to know whether your site has schema, run the homepage through the data testing facility offered by Google. When adding schema, ensure to add “service” or “product” schema to every service or product on the page. This way, the search engine will know your location and the kind of products or services you offer.
Local SEO Ranking Factor Number 5
Try to NAP to the maximum.
NAP refers to the name, address (physical), and the phone number of your business. These details are extremely important when it comes to local SEO. You should include these details on every webpage in your site. You can create a shared section at the footer or header to include NAP.
If your business serves multiple locations, then ensure each location has its own page with the corresponding NAP.
Ensure you include your address in full, including your zip code. Also, specify your full physical location details, especially if you’re based in a major city. It’s also important to include your accurate Google Map location.
Local SEO Ranking Factor Number 6
Develop your Google My Business page.
Information from multiple sources is usually fed into search engines to understand your business and display it in search results.
Google users usually see an information graph upon selecting your Google map location or from a local pack. This is where your clients can write some reviews about your service or products. Develop this section carefully since its where most of your first-time customers will get introduced to your kind of business.
Google’s My Business is one of the major sources of data used in the information graph. Thus, you should add Google’s My Business webpage or claim an already existing one.
Upon claiming the page, ensure that the business categories, website information, the hours you operate, and NAP are correct.
It would also help to add images of your staff, logo, products, and building. You’ll also have a chance to select at most three business categories. Google offers around 2,400 business categories. Thus, choose your categories wisely and accurately to ensure what you choose fits your business.
Local SEO Ranking Factor Number 7
Create optimized webpages for each and every location.
In case your business serves multiple physical locations, optimize each webpage on your site for each and every location.
Ensure every page for each location has local schema and the location’s NAP. Also, create Google’s My Business webpage for each location.
Local SEO Ranking Factor Number 8
Double-check your directories to maintain consistency.
There’re many local directories referenced by search engines to determine ranking for local searches. Ensure there’s NAP consistency in the directories you list for Google to get your correct address.
You can use the MOZ Local tool to assess your site. MOZ Local offers free website assessment to show consistency and completeness across the relevant directories.
You can choose to pay annually for MOZ Local to automatically align your listings and maintain them in many directories. It will also assist you on the listings that are incomplete and those you can duplicate.
Local SEO Ranking Factor Number 9
Give reviews top priority.
Google’s main role is providing the best answer to a query. They never want to lead prospects to bad businesses. That’s why reviews are an important factor in determining local ranking.
If you try to search for a local business, you’ll probably see Yelp appearing on the first page. Even if your site doesn’t rank on the first page for local searches, Yelp will most likely do. Simply ensure Yelp has your correct NAP details and remember to give reviews high priority. Always thank people who leave positive reviews and respond to negative feedback in a kind and helpful manner.
It’s also important to consider reviews on Google’s My Business webpage. You can find them in the Google local pack. They can assist you in improving your rate of click-through from searches.
Google also logs and displays Facebook reviews. Thus, ensure you have set up your brand page on Facebook.
Garnering reviews should be included in your daily work process. Always remind your customers to leave a good review of your business. Be gentle when doing so. Customers who like your services or products will want your business to succeed. Hence, inform them that they can help your business grow by leaving good reviews.
Local SEO Ranking Factor Number 10
Review and obtain links pointed to your website.
Although standard ranking algorithms are disrupted by local searches, links are still important. You should take time to create good links for your business. Links are usually made to signify authority. Search engines see links coming from other sites to your website as votes of a quality website. There’re many techniques used to create links to a website. You can start with building links that can enhance local relationships.
When building links, consider other companies that work with you and any organizations that are supported by your business. Their sites will be great options where you can add links while planning for larger strategies to boost your local ranking.
Local Businesses Can Outdo Big Businesses
Local SEO should be taken seriously by any entrepreneur. It has the potential to shift big websites away from high ranking and rank properly-optimized local sites higher. You should integrate these factors in your site to rank higher in local searches and attract more searchers, thereby beating larger competitors. Hence, remember to include these elements in your website:
- Develop a great homepage that says who you really are, the location of your business, and the kind of business you do.
- Optimize your site for local searches in Meta content and on-page content.
- Optimize your site with keywords that are relevant to your local area.
- Create a webpage for every service and product you offer.
- Include business schema in your website.
- Include NAP in every webpage.
- Get Google’s My Business webpage for each location you serve.
- Ensure each physical location for your business has a locally optimized page.
- Ensure there’s consistency when listing your business in relevant directories.
- Garner as many reviews as possible, especially on Yelp and Google.
- Build some links on other websites to your website.