Here in the digital age, though, search engine optimization is more than just helpful to have when it comes to a brand’s ongoing marketing campaign. It’s an absolute essential for any business looking to get noticed and succeed, and this is just as much the case for local businesses as it is for global brands.
Up to 97 percent of modern consumers looking for information on local businesses take to the internet to look for it. Not only do they want answers fast, but they’re looking for them on the go with the intention of visiting a local business in person within days if not hours.
A comprehensive local SEO strategy can make sure people looking for what you offer can find you. Check out our complete local business SEO checklist to ensure your marketing team covers all the bases.
Keyword Research and On-Page Optimization
Although a more generalized approach to SEO can also be helpful for local businesses, it’s not a substitute for dedicated local keyword research and on-page optimization. Here’s a brief rundown of some key steps to take.
- Build a list of localized keywords related to your business, products, and services
- Implement keyword modifiers to refine your efforts (e.g., near me, in <location>, etc.)
- Carefully consider user intent when selecting keywords – what the user is truly looking to accomplish with a search
- Build content for your static pages, landing pages, and blog around your chosen keywords
- Use local keywords to optimize key on-page elements like header tags, alt image tags, and URLs
- Sprinkle relevant keywords throughout your written content, taking care to use them naturally and in relevant contexts
- Enrich your content by adding relevant internal and external links to further information people might find useful
- Implement proper local business schema markup to help Google develop a better understanding of your site and products
- Ensure all contact details and informational tidbits are consistent everywhere they appear (e.g., business name, business hours, phone number, and address)
Google My Business Optimization
After optimizing your actual website and making sure everything’s in place for your visitors, optimizing your Google My Business profile for success is the most important thing you’ll do to help your local SEO.
Get started by adding your business to the database (or claiming your existing listing if it’s already there). Then, take the following steps to ensure everything’s as it should be.
- Choose the most appropriate category for your business, preferably something that’s relevant to your business and includes keywords people use to search Google
- Fill out as many fields on the form as possible to tell Google and its users about your business
- Add a dynamic description that catches the eye and captures the energy of your business
- Triple-check to ensure key information (like business hours, telephone number, and address) is correct
- Upload lots of photos of your business, take care to ensure they are high-resolution and visually compelling images
- Consider adding videos to your profile, as well, if you have some available
- Ensure you’re using your actual official business name on your profile
- Encourage customers to rate and review your business, taking care to respond to each message, whether it is positive or negative
- Check and update your profile often
Online Reviews and Reputation Management
Social proof is a powerful motivator when it comes to marketing, especially from a local standpoint. When someone is unfamiliar with your business or on the fence about buying from you, positive reviews and feedback from other consumers can help move the needle in your favor.
That said, online reputation management is crucial to any complete local SEO audit checklist. Here are some steps to keep in mind moving forward.
- Ask your customers to review your business and products across various platforms, including Google and social media
- Offer incentives when it makes sense to encourage people to leave insightful, positive feedback
- Engage with your customers and followers on social media, responding promptly to comments and messages
- Periodically audit your online reputation and actively monitor your mentions
- Lay claim to any directory listings for your business so you can ensure accuracy and quality
- Respond promptly and professionally to reviews, taking care to make things right when feedback is negative
- Create and implement an ongoing strategy for locating, managing, and responding to reviews
Building Local Citations
An SEO citation includes any online mention of a brand or business, including media coverage. However, local citations (sometimes called NAP citations) are specific mentions, including the business’s NAP information (name, address, and phone number).
Local citations are most likely to appear across interfaces like directories or platforms that might act as directories, including apps and social media platforms. Building a strong citation portfolio is an important part of any complete local SEO checklist.
- Leverage data aggregators to streamline the process
- Actively submit your local business’s NAP data to important core sites
- Flesh out your citation profile by submitting your business info to relevant niche websites and local directories
- Identify and explore opportunities to earn additional citations via media coverage, influencer mentions, in-depth reviews, and more
- Leverage Google to keep track of your local citations, as well as address any possible gaps that may appear
- Develop a strategy for keeping track of your citations and ensuring they’re current everywhere they appear
- Work on your review catalog, as well, as customer reviews also help flesh out your local citation profile
Local Link-Building Strategies
Mentions and backlinks from other reputable local sites help boost your brand’s credibility and let local consumers know you’re offering services that may be useful to them.
Local backlinks also signal to Google that your site is important and deserves high SERP rankings. Here are some pointers and steps to consider.
- Network with other local business owners and personalities in your community, and foster amicable ongoing relationships
- Ensure your business is listed in relevant local directories, as well as important industry-specific alternatives
- Reach out to local bloggers, media outlets, and influencers to discuss possible backlinking opportunities
- Consider negotiating a few sponsored posts from relevant local sites and businesses in your niche (or a related one)
- Seek out local business associations appropriate for your industry or niche and join up
- Engage with other locals as often as possible, including in-person and across major social media platforms
- Brainstorm and implement a strategy for building your local backlink catalog
- Create and post consistently next-level content others can’t resist linking to organically
- Track, measure, and analyze the results of your efforts
Mobile-Friendly and User Experience Optimization
In 2022, more than 60 percent of all web traffic originated from mobile phones. And people aren’t just using mobile devices to search for broad, global topics, either. They’re using their phones to research future purchasing decisions in their spare time, as well as Googling on the go to find local places to eat, shop, or kill some time.
That said, your local brand’s website and content assets need to be mobile-friendly. They also need to provide a positive user experience overall to ensure visitors stick around once they’ve found you.
- Ensure your website design is mobile-friendly and responsive to a variety of screen sizes
- Go large and simple when it comes to font choices, so your site is easy to read and skim
- Clear your site of any intrusive or unnecessary clutter
- Implement link interfaces and buttons that are easy to click via a smaller screen without the need to zoom
- Format your content with mobile in mind via short sentences and paragraphs, plenty of headings, and helpful visuals
- Ensure all calls to action are clear and easy to understand
Voice Search Optimization for Local SEO
With voice assistants and search interfaces becoming increasingly popular these days, including with users looking for localized information, it only makes sense that voice SEO is now a must-do on every local SEO checklist. Here are some key steps to add to your ongoing to-do list.
- Ensure your content is optimized for voice search by implementing options like natural language phrasing, long-tail keywords, and wording that sounds conversational in nature
- Put yourself into your customer’s shoes, consider what they might say aloud to a voice assistant to find a business like yours, and optimize accordingly
- Implement proper schema markup to improve your site’s chances of showing up in Google’s featured snippets, often the first type of result displayed in a voice SERP
- Make your keyword strategy more voice-friendly by including question words (e.g., what, how, or why) and filler phrases (e.g., to, for, I, on the, etc.)
- Add a comprehensive FAQ page to your site, taking care to include plenty of localized questions people might put to a voice assistant
Excellent local SEO ensures your site is visible to potential customers so they can find you easily. Creating a perfect SEO-friendly site is not that complicated. Keep a complete local SEO checklist handy to ensure you don’t miss any key points that can help you stay on track.
Still, staying on top of your localized SEO strategy can be too big a job for one person to handle on their own. You need the right help in your corner, including expert copywriters, SEO professionals, and content creators who can help your content hit all the right notes.
Connect with some of the best SEO experts when you sign up for your free two-week WriterAccess trial today! You’ll love the difference the right expertise can make.