There’s something so undeniably satisfying about checking things off a list. No matter how intimidating your list might be at first, the pride you take in completing each task serves as the greatest motivation to power through to the end. The same goes for local SEO. When you’re getting started it can be easy to get overwhelmed, but by following this local SEO checklist, you can ensure that your website is optimized for local search and ready to attract new customers in your area. Once you start implementing these local SEO must-haves, you’ll be well on your way to better visibility in search results.
Ready to start checking off tasks on your local SEO checklist? Let’s dive into your must-haves for on-page optimization, Google optimization and online directory optimization:
Optimize Your Images
Whenever you upload a new photo to your website or blog, make sure you include keywords in the file name and fill out the alternate text field with a brief, keyword-rich description of the photo. This will help search engines index your images properly and help people find your content when they do a Google image search. Image searches are a great way to generate traffic to your site, especially if your business is one that relies on great product photography to drive sales.
Add Meta Descriptions
A meta description is the brief snippet of text that appears under your page’s URL in the search results. A great meta description contains the keyword you’re trying to rank for, along with a call to action and persuasive language that invites a searcher to click through to your website. This is your chance to sell potential visitors on your website, so make sure your meta descriptions are keyword rich and enticing.
Check Your Page Speed
Page speed is a ranking factor for both desktop and mobile searches, so it’s important to make sure your website loads quickly. Think about it – if you were looking for something online and clicked on a link that took forever to load, would you stick around or click back to the search results and try another link? Google knows that searchers aren’t willing to wait more than an average of 3 seconds for a page to load, so they’re more likely to rank websites that load quickly. You can check your website’s page speed with Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool to ensure your load times aren’t causing your rankings to drop.
As a business owner, it’s important to keep your site updated with the latest security patches and versions of plugins. This not only helps improve your site’s performance, but also helps protect you from potential hacking attempts. Search engines are more likely to rank websites that are well-maintained and up-to-date, so make sure you’re regularly monitoring for new plugin updates.
Check for Broken Links
As you add and remove content from your website, broken links can start to crop up. These are links that lead to pages that no longer exist, which can be frustrating for users and cause them to leave your site. Not to mention, broken links can also hurt your SEO as they signal to search engines that your site is not well-maintained. Fortunately, there are free and paid tools available to check for broken links on your website and fix them as soon as possible.
Conduct Keyword Research
Keyword research is an essential part of any local SEO strategy, and a critical component of our local SEO checklist. In order to rank for the right keywords, you need to understand what your audience is searching for and make sure you’re using those same keywords on your website. The best way to conduct keyword research is to start by brainstorming a list of potential keywords, and then use a tool like Google’s Keyword Planner to get search volume data and further refine your list. Working with a digital marketing agency that specializes in local SEO can also be beneficial, as they’ll have access to the latest keyword data and insights.
Optimize Keyword Frequency via Yoast
Yoast is a popular SEO plugin that helps you optimize your website’s content for the search engines. One of its key features is the ability to monitor your keyword density, or how often a keyword appears on a page. It’s important to strike a balance here, as using a keyword too often (also known as keyword stuffing) can result in penalties from Google. However, if you don’t use a keyword enough, you won’t be able to rank for that term. Yoast can help you find the perfect balance and ensure your pages are optimized for maximum visibility.
Add Title Tags
A title tag is the main text that appears in the search results for a given page. It’s also one of the most important on-page SEO elements, as it tells both users and search engines what your page is about. Make sure your title tags are unique and keyword-rich, as this will help improve your click-through rates and organic traffic. Neglect to add title tags to your pages, and you could be missing out on a valuable opportunity to improve your rankings.
Use Schema Markup
Schema markup is a code that you can add to your website to help search engines understand your content. This can be beneficial for local SEO, as it allows you to provide additional information about your business, such as your address, phone number, and business hours. Including this information on your website can help improve your click-through rates and organic traffic, as well as your chances of appearing in the highly competitive and highly coveted local 3-pack.
Optimize Anchor Text
Anchor text is the visible text on a page that’s linked to another page or resource. When it comes to local SEO, you want to make sure your anchor text is optimized to include your target keywords. For example, if you’re a plumber in Ocean City, you would want to use the keyword “Ocean City plumber” in your anchor text. This helps signal to the search engines what your page is about and can improve your chances of ranking for that keyword. Google loves to see relevant and keyword-rich anchor text, so make sure you’re using it on your website.
Add New Content
Adding new content to your website on a regular basis is one of the best things you can do for your local SEO. Not only does it give you an opportunity to target new keywords, but it also helps keep your site fresh and relevant. The more active, up-to-date and optimized your content is, the higher it will rank in search results. While there’s no cut-and-dry rule for how often you should be producing new content, a good rule of thumb is to ensure there are changes at least monthly if not more frequently. Your audience will appreciate the regular updates, and search engines will too.
Check Mobile Friendliness
How complete would a local SEO checklist without mentioning the importance of a mobile friendly website? With more and more people using mobile devices to access the internet, it’s vital that your website is optimized for mobile viewing. This means having a responsive design that automatically adjusts to different screen sizes, as well as making sure your content is easy to read on a smaller screen. Mobile-friendliness is now one of the most important ranking factors for Google, so if your website isn’t up to par, you could be missing out on valuable traffic.
Set Up Redirects
Redirects are used when you want to send users (and search engines) from one URL to another. This is often done when a page has been moved or deleted, but it can also be used to improve your local SEO. By setting up redirects from your old non-localized URLs to your new localized ones, you can ensure that anyone who visits your site will be directed to the most relevant page. This can help improve your user experience and organic traffic, as well as your rankings in search results.It
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Claim Your Google Business Profile Listing
It wouldn’t be a local SEO checklist if we didn’t mention Google Business Profile! Claiming and optimizing your listing is one of the best things you can do for your local SEO. Your Google Business Profile is what appears in the local 3-pack on Google, so it’s essential to ensure it’s accurate and up-to-date. Both Google and your customers want to see completed profiles, so be sure to include as much information as possible. What kind of information, you ask?
Add Your NAP to Your Google Business Profile
No, not nap, NAP! Your NAP is the name, address and phone number for your business. This is the most important information to include on your listing, as it’s how potential customers will be able to find and contact you. It’s also how Google knows your business is legitimate, so including this information is essential. If any element of your NAP changes, be sure to update your listing accordingly. Inaccurate NAP information can hurt your ranking in search results, so it’s important to keep it regularly maintained.
Add Images to Your Google Business Profile
Adding images to your Google Business Profile is a great way to make it stand out and attract attention. Customers are more likely to click on listings that have photos, so including some can help improve your visibility in search results. When choosing photos for your listing, be sure to select high-quality images that accurately represent your business. You want potential customers to get a good idea of what your business is all about, so avoid using stock photos or images that don’t accurately convey who you are or what you do. With the upcoming “near me” Google Multisearch expansion on the horizon, including images on your Google Business Profile will be more important than ever in your local SEO efforts.
Choose Your Business Categories
When you claim your Google Business Profile, you’ll be asked to select up to five business categories. These categories help customers find businesses like yours in search results, so it’s important to choose ones that accurately reflect what your business does. You can also use keyword research to help you choose the right categories, as well as to find other relevant keywords to include in your listing. When in doubt, assess which categories your competitors are using and be sure to set those for your business as well.
Set Up Google Analytics
One of the most important elements of our ultimate local SEO checklist is Google Analytics. Google Analytics is a free platform that allows you to track your website traffic and see how users interact with your site. This information is essential for understanding what’s working and what isn’t in your local SEO efforts. Without Google Analytics, you won’t be able to see how your changes are impacting your traffic or conversions. It’s important to note that Google Analytics can be tricky to set up and interpret, so you may want to work with a local SEO agency to get the most value out of it.
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Online Directory Optimization
Claim Your Yelp Listing
Similar to your Google Business Profile, your Yelp listing is another important asset in your local SEO arsenal. Claiming and optimizing your Yelp listing can help improve your visibility in search results, as well as attract new customers to your business. When claiming your listing, be sure to include accurate and up-to-date information about your business. You’ll also want to add photos and select the appropriate business categories. As with your Google Business Profile, accuracy is key when it comes to your Yelp listing, so be sure to regularly update your information to ensure it’s accurate.
Create Social Media Accounts
Social media and local SEO aren’t usually thought of as a pairing that goes hand in hand, but they actually complement each other quite well. Having active social media accounts can help improve your visibility in search results, as well as give you a way to connect with potential and current customers. When creating social media accounts for your business, be sure to include links to your website and other important online assets. You’ll also want to regularly post relevant and engaging content to help attract new followers and keep your existing ones engaged. It’s important to note that your business doesn’t need to be on every social media platform – just choose the ones that make the most sense for your business and where your target customers are most active.
Create Accounts on Niche Directories
There are dozens of different directories and listing sites out there, so it can be tough to know where to start. A good place to start is with niche directories that are specific to your industry or location. For example, if you’re a restaurant in New York City, you’ll want to make sure you’re listed on Zagat. If you run a bed and breakfast, you’ll want to make sure you’re listed on Tripadvisor. A great place to start for businesses of any niche or industry is with your local Chamber of Commerce – they will likely have a member directory that you can be listed on, which gives you a great opportunity to attract new local customers.
Delete Duplicate Listings
As you create new listings on different directories and listing sites, you may inadvertently create duplicate listings. It’s important to regularly check for duplicates and delete them so that your business doesn’t get penalized by search engines. Duplicate listings can also confuse customers and make it more difficult for them to find the information they’re looking for. Fortunately, finding and deleting duplicate listings is easier than you might think with the help of available tools online or a digital marketing agency that can handle it for you.
Fill Out Your Profiles
Simply having these profiles made is one thing – but filling them out correctly is another. Make sure you’re taking the time to fill out each profile completely and accurately, as this information is what potential customers will use to assess your business. Be sure to include all relevant information about your business, such as your hours of operation, address, contact information, and more. You should also take the time to write a brief description of your business, as well as add photos and videos to help give potential customers a better idea of what you have to offer.
Encourage Customer Reviews
Customer reviews are an important part of local SEO, and can help attract new customers to your business. Online reviews act as social proof, showing potential customers that other people have had a positive experience with your business. When encouraging customers to leave reviews, be sure to make it easy for them by providing links to your profiles on popular review sites. You can also send follow-up emails after a customer has made a purchase, asking them to leave a review if they’re satisfied with their experience.
Respond to Customer Reviews
In addition to encouraging customer reviews, it’s also important that you take the time to respond to them – both good and bad. Responding to reviews shows potential customers that you’re active on your profiles and that you care about what people are saying about your business. It’s important to note that you should never delete a negative review or use it as an opportunity to be combative. Instead, take the opportunity to address the issue and turn it into a positive experience. This small interaction could be the difference that makes them change their 1-star review to a 5-star review.
From Local SEO Checklist to Local SEO Success
Sure, checking things off a list is satisfying, but do you know what’s even better? Seeing results. And with the help of this local SEO checklist, you’ll be on your way to better visibility in local search, increased traffic to your website, and more customers through your door. Of course, these results won’t come overnight – local SEO is an ongoing process that requires dedication and attention. But by following these tips and staying consistent with your efforts, you’ll be able to achieve the local SEO success you’re looking for.
Not sure where to start? That’s where we come in. Level Up Local’s team of experts can help you navigate the world of local SEO and get your business on the path to success. From optimizing your website for local search to creating and claiming listings, we can help you with every step of the process. Ready to start tackling your own local SEO checklist? Contact us today to get started!
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