Local Search engine optimization and SEO check list for business

The term local SEO is unknown to many business owners but for some businesses this is all they need to succeed online. Our local SEO checklist will help optimize your website for local search.

What is Local SEO?

Local SEO is the process of optimizing your website so that it appears in the first positions of major search engines for searches that are related to your area / city / country.  
Example 1: dentist in Mosman
When a user types in the location in the search query then the intent is clear and Google will try to satisfy the user by returning in the top results businesses (in this case dentist) that are registered to operate in Mosman.
The general idea about local SEO is that the user wants to find an address or a telephone number so as to take a visit or call to satisfy a requirement.

Who needs local SEO?

From the example above it is clear that every business that has an address and operates in a certain area needs local SEO. Are you a doctor, mechanic or a retailer? You need to have a website that is optimized for local SEO.
People use the Internet to search for a business’s before they actually visit and if they don’t find you it’s obvious that you are losing customers and opportunities and someone else will take advantage of them.


What are the benefits of local SEO for business?

Increase your chances of appearing high in the Search engine result page.
More conversions – There is a high rate of conversion since visitors coming to the website from local search are highly targeted.
Brand Visibility and awareness – More people searching for businesses in your area will know about your existence and this will make your brand more recognizable and also raise awareness’s about your business.
High return on investment – An optimized website for local search can generate more value to a business since all they want is to get customers searching the web for businesses in their area. This generates a high return on the investment made and potential higher growth than companies who don’t take advantage of this.

How is local SEO different than general SEO?

Local SEO is for searches in a specific geo location while SEO practices are applicable for global wide searches. It should be noted that all SEO advice either about on page or off page SEO are applicable for local as well. The difference is that for local you also need to make sure that you provide more signals to Google.
Also, if you are searching from mobile or if you allowed Google to track your location when searching from Desktop, you don’t have to type a location in your search string because Google already knows where you are located.


Local SEO Process

1. Optimize your logo – One of the first things that search engines encounter when crawling your website is the logo image and this is also a good place to start your local SEO optimization.
  • Make sure that your image filename is descriptive. Instead of using logo.png better use a more meaningful description like a combination of ‘keyword-location-logo.png’
  • ALT text is important for all images but more important for the logo. You can use the ALT text to give more details about the image and in this case the location of your business.
  • Add the location in the title tag of the link. For example keyword-location” href=”….
  • Try to use the same logo across all channels (Website, FB, Google+ business page, etc)

  • 2. Work on your titles and descriptions – Titles and Descriptions are very important for local SEO, the title should help both users and search engines understand as many things possible about the website before visiting. The title is only 70 characters but if you are targeting local customers then the location (and if possible phone number) should be part of your title and description. Examples:

    3. Full address details and contact information on the home page – On the home page make sure that your full address details (street number, post code, state, country, telephone number, fax number, email) are visible as text (not image) in a prominent position on the home page. You can add this info in the sidebar
    4. Full address details and contact information for the rest of the pages – For the rest of the pages you can have the contact information in the footer (if you don’t want to keep it on the sidebar).
    5. Add a map in the contact information page – It’s very easy to add a Google map of your business in the contact us page and another indication of your location for search engines.
    6. Create a Google+ Business page – Make sure that you also fill in your contact details and these are the same as the contact info you have on your website, on FB and anywhere else. Ensure that you provide enough info in the ‘About’ fields (including your location).
    7. Register with Google Places for Business – Google will verify your address and ownership of the business and then you get to reply to customer reviews and provide more information about your business.
    8. Register with Yahoo – Yahoo has a service for local listings and while it is not free. Once you do it, make sure that you link to your Yahoo profile from your Google+ Business page. In fact make the Google+ Business page the hub to link for all your other profiles.
    9. Implement Google Authorship – This may not have a direct impact on local SEO but it can help you get more visits once you show up in the search results. Various studies have shown that users are more likely to click on a link when the author picture is shown together with the title and description of the page.
    10. Use the structured data markup helper to give more information about your local business to Google – When you login to your webmaster tools, under ‘Additional tools’ you can find the ‘Structured Data Markup helper’ tool. You can use the option local businesses to tell Google about your business name, location etc. Once you are done the result is a file that matches the requirements definition of local business at schema.org.  You can then download the file and add it to you website.
    11. Register with Bing for places
    12. Register to Local directories
    13. Create a business page on Facebook – Besides providing other information you also need to ensure that the address and telephone number are filled correctly. Once you are done go and edit your Google+ Business page and link to your FB business page.
    14. Register your business with Yelp for Business 
    15. Register with Foursquare for Business
    16. Encourage and reply to every single review on every platform
    You can also ask your customers to leave a review on their favorite platform either by giving those incentives i.e. 5% on their next purchase or by sending them reminders by SMS or email.
    17. Mentions from local press – If you can get a mention from a trusted local online newspaper for example this also send a signal about your location.
    19. Mobile optimization – Do not forget about mobile especially when it comes to finding customers locally. Many people use their mobile while on the go and having a non-mobile friendly website will keep them away. You can ensure that your mobile application has a map feature to show your location and maybe a GPS function to help users come into your store or office by following directions.
    20. Start a blog – How can a blog help local SEO?
    You can post high quality content on a regular basis and do location aware internal linking. For example from a blog post you can link to your services pages using the anchor ‘financial services in Texas’. This alone will not do much but it is another small step in your overall optimization process.
    Also you can use the blog to target ‘local keywords’ in the title and content of the blog posts
    21. Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube and more

     Local SEO Checklist

    1. Optimize your logo
    2. Work on your titles and descriptions
    3. Add your full address details and contact information on the home page
    4. Add your full address details and contact information on the rest of the pages
    5. Add a map in the contact information page
    6. Create a Google+ Business page
    7. Register with Google Places for Business
    8. Register with Yahoo!Localworks
    9. Implement Google Authorship
    10. Use the structured data markup helper to give more information about your local business to Google
    11. Register with Bing for places
    12. Register to Local directories
    13. Create a business page on Facebook
    14. Register your business with Yelp for Business
    15. Register with Foursquare for Business
    16. Encourage and reply to every single review on every platform
    17. Try to get mentions from local press
    18. SEO Audit your website
    19. Optimize for mobile
    20. Start a blog
    21. Register with Twitter, Pinterest, YoutTube etc

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