Why a back to basics local SEO checklist? Because you need to dominate local search results to win new customers.  The one constant with Google is that they are constantly “updating” their algorithms to give their search customers the absolute best results.  By giving people individualized and highly relevant answers to their search queries Google dominates the internet search game, logging users in numbers far above all others combined.  The importance of local SEO (local search engine optimization) grows as Google’s methods become more intricate, and search users expect even more individualized results.  This local SEO checklist gives you a starting point for your local SEO strategy.

local seo checklist statsJump Start Your Local SEO with this Local SEO Checklist

[  ] Research Keywords Your Target Audience Uses to Search

Don’t underestimate the importance of finding effective keywords to drive your local SEO.  Top keywords for your local business are going to be the services or products you provide and your location (city, neighborhood, major landmarks).  Beyond those specifications, you’ll use your buyer persona to think like the consumer and identify the most common phrases and terms a potential customer would use when searching for a business like yours.

Use one (or all) of the FREE keyword research tools to dig deep, compare the competition, and find the keywords you can rank high for to attract more customers:

Google Keyword Planner

SmallSEOTools.com Keyword Rank Checker

WordStream – PPC and SEO Keywords

Internet Marketing Ninjas – Side-By-Side SEO Comparison

KeywordTool.io – Long Tail Google, YouTube, Bing, Amazon, AppStore

Bing Keyword Tool

[  ] Create and Monitor Accurate Business Listings and NAP Citations

Build a set of citations for each location and ensure your NAP is consistent across your website and accurately match your business listings and citations.  There are hundreds of directories and websites your business could be listed on.  Do you know how to find your business listings or how to correct incorrect listings?  Business listings management can be easily and effectively outsourced to ensure your business is accurately listed where it needs to be indexed by search engines and found by customers.

Accuracy and consistency are of the upmost importance! Google’s algorithms are smart enough to normalize data and figure out standard address and phone number formats, but be sure you know acceptable abbreviations, so you don’t create duplicate listings.

Google NAP Abbreviations RepLoopALSO READ: The What Why and How of Business Listings and Citations

[  ]  Have a Customer Review System that Generates and Posts Positive Reviews

Customer reviews are a powerful tool in optimizing your website for local search.  On-page they give you fresh, localized content for your web pages.  Off-page customer review sites like Facebook often rank in the first or second spot for local search results showing the star ratings of top businesses.  Have a system in place that continuously solicits feedback from your customers, tags unsatisfied customers for customer service and resolution, and funnels positive reviews to the review sites that matter most in your industry.  Using a system like Reputation Loop allows you to automate your customer review management.

ALSO READ: Big List of Customer Review Sites

[  ] Claim and Optimize Google My Business Listing

Google My Business listings affect how your business shows up in local search results.  Google uses these listings to verify your business cross-check the accuracy of other listings.  If you want a chance at showing up in the Local 3-Pack at the top of local search results pages, your Google My Business profile needs to be complete and optimized.  Read “How to Optimize Your Google My Business Listing” to learn seven ways to optimize your listing and give Google the information they need to put your business in front of customers using Google Search and Google Maps.

 [  ]  Optimize Website for Mobile Searches

Your customers are on the go and now use their smartphones to conduct local searches.  Studies show that the most searched information is address, hours, phone numbers, directions and product availability. Now that you know what your customers are looking for make sure you give it to them on a responsive website that looks good on desktops and mobile devices like tablets and smartphones. Learn more about the WHY and HOW of Mobile Optimization for Local Search.

local seo checklist stats2[  ] Consistent Publishing of High-Quality Content

Avoid scraping or copying content from other websites, even if it is from corporate or manufacturer websites.  Publish unique, keyword and location specific content to attract local customers.  Use testimonials from customers in your location cities who mention specific products or services for unique landing page content.  Use an on-site blog to consistently publish customer-centric and geographic-specific content to build a library of useful and shareable content.

 [   ]  Hyper-Localize Title Tags, Videos, and Images

Title tags are the actual words of the anchor text in search results that links to your website.  Be sure the title tags make sense to local customers.  Use your keywords and location in a logical way that matches how customers would pick your business as relevant from a list of results:

GOOD TITLE TAG   “North Dallas Dog Kennels and Training”

BAD TITLE TAGkennels training dallas dog

Look at these Google search results for “north dallas dog kennel”:

local seo checklist SERPUse appropriate and localized tags with real words and phrases to label your images and videos.  Consider publishing a transcript of the video when posting for keyword rich text content.

 [  ] Each Location Has a Dedicated Page on Your Website

For businesses with more than one location, it is hard to localize your website.  Instead of stuffing your pages with half a dozen geographical keywords and tags give each location its own hyper-local page.  Each location page should be linked to from a high-level navigation menu.  Make phone numbers highly visible and clickable on mobile devices.  If you have just a handful of locations, fit the full NAP of each location in the footer of your website.  In addition, when you have specialized services that people search for like sedation for pediatric dental patients or local delivery services, create pages specific to those services as well with internal links to your location pages.

Follow the basic tips in the Local SEO Checklist to ensure your business is getting the most out of local search.

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Zach_Color_Trans_small_CroppedAbout The Author

Zach Anderson is the co-founder of Reputation Loop (helping small businesses grow by generating customer feedback and online reviews) who loves online marketing and golf.