Your Local SEO Checklist
As a local business, you feel overwhelmed when trying to compete online with big national or even international companies. But Google has designed its ranking system to help good businesses thrive online no matter how small the business is. Google’s Local Algorithm gives preference to local businesses in their local area. But to take advantage of this, you must employ smart local SEO strategies to earn local rankings.
This local SEO checklist will help you do just that.
1. Optimise Your GMB Listing
One of the most important elements of local SEO isn’t something you do to your website. It’s your Google My Business (GMB) listing.
An SEO agency experienced with the intricacies of local SEO vs traditional SEO will be the first to tell you every aspect of your GMB page matters:
- NAP (Name, Address, Phone, etc.)
- Business hours
- Posts on Google My Business
- Booking button feature
- GMB Update Messaging feature
- Photos and videos
- Earning links to your GMB page
- Maintaining your GMB reputation
Be thorough to get most out of GMB. That leads us to our next important local SEO ranking factor.
2. Manage Your Online Reviews
90% of customers now check online reviews before considering a business. This is true whether you’re an online business or the shop down the street. 88% say that a review is as trustworthy as a recommendation from a friend. Customers spend approximately 31% more with companies that have excellent reviews.
Google rarely reveals specific ranking factors for SEO. But in this case, Google tells us that “high-quality, positive reviews from your customers will improve your business’s visibility and increase the likelihood that a potential customer will visit your location.”
That couldn’t be much clearer.
Reviews in other locations like Facebook matter. But Google reviews, in particular, appear in two locations that are vital for the success of a local business:
- In local search results
- On Google Maps
Wouldn’t it be great if every happy customer automatically left reviews? But the fact is that only a fraction of people leave reviews. And if left to chance, unhappy reviews may overshadow your review page. So actively manage your Google reviews with these steps.
- Request reviews on every transaction. Use automated emails or texts to ensure everyone knows where you prefer to be reviewed and how important it is to hear about their experiences. Don’t have their email or phone number? Post physical signs in your store window or add a request for a review to their receipt. And in the long-run, collect customer contact information so that you can send these reminders automatically along with helpful content and special offers to keep them signed up.
- Carefully respond to all negative reviews. Over half of people now expect a business to respond to a negative review. Other customers read your response to shape their perception of your business. Resolve issues when you can. Some people will change a negative review once something is resolved.
- Also respond to some positive reviews. Once again Google says, ” Responding to reviews shows that you value your customers and the feedback that they leave about your business.”
Google’s local SEO algorithm favours businesses who demonstrate that they deliver an exceptional customer experience. Any SEO services you choose to invest in should include a plan to deliver that exceptional experience.
3. Put Mobile First
It’s not news to you. According to Statista, around 75% of Australians have a smartphone. 64% of advertising clicks happen on mobile devices. 56% of all website traffic is now mobile.
If your site doesn’t provide a great mobile experience, people will leave. Your local ranking will continue to drop until you disappear from searches altogether. So…
- Test how your site appears on devices. Today’s modern websites adapt to screen size. They look amazing regardless of device size.
- Test your site speed. Mobile device users expect pages to load fast even on a smartphone.
- Employ analytics to track how mobile device users respond to your website and improve the experience
Given mobile’s importance, this is one of the first things an SEO agency would recommend to almost instantly improve your local ranking.
4. Default to HTTPS
The big data breaches may make national and even global news. But 43% of cyber attacks target small businesses. Converting your website to HTTPS is a relatively easy step you can take to keep customers safe from those with malicious intent. And HTTPS is a confirmed ranking factor. We know with certainty that Google favours secure sites.
5. Locally Optimise Content
In a nutshell, Google uses a combination of authority, relevance and customer experience to determine your ranking position. And local businesses are most relevant to local customers. While Google does consider your website as a whole (the domain), it also looks at pages at an individual level. So…
- Create ample, high-quality content (blog posts, videos, interactive tools, etc.) that help people look for you in local searches.
- Build content around local businesses, events, neighbourhoods, etc.
- Include your location in text when relevant and add location to image names.
- Work to acquire local backlinks to your GMB page and website content by networking with local businesses, charities, influencers and other local websites.
- Ensure that your local phone and address are in the header or footer of most pages
6. Completely Fill-out Local and Industry Directories
Ensuring that consistent information is in local directories serves two very important functions. First, it confirms your location for search engines. You don’t want any confusion about that. And, second, it helps customers find you. Explore both local and industry-relevant directories where you need to update information.
7. Use Schema Markup
This element on our local SEO checklist is more advanced. So you may need SEO services to set this up. Search results are no longer text-only. For almost any query, you see information cards with:
- Top 10’s
- Restaurant Menus
- Event information
- Review information
All of this and more is made possible thanks to a special “language” that major search engines like Google, Bing, Yahoo and Yandex use to make search results more meaningful. When inserted into the HTML code, your pages are better understood by search engines, who will then display dynamic elements from your page.
These cards overwhelmingly earn clicks from local customers. You, therefore, need them to truly say you’ve search engine optimised your website.