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Local SEO Checklist: How to improve local search rankings

Local SEO Checklist

This Local SEO checklist is a great place to start to learn how to get your local business found online.

Local Search Optimisation helps customers find your business online, and so they can find you offline and is one of the most effective ways for small businesses to increase their website visibility and traffic. 

If you’re a business that generates revenue from a brick and mortar store, you’re a service provider, or for any other reason you want to attract local customers to your business, then you need to consider local search optimisation as part of your digital marketing mix. 

Around half of all searches online are for local products and/or services.  Where searches are on mobile devices, this is much higher.   Therefore, if you’re not properly optimised for local search, you could be missing out on valuable exposure to potential customers online.

What is Local Search Optimisation?

Local SEO is the process of increasing your online visibility for locality-based and “near me” search queries.   That includes searches, performed by local customers, looking for products and/or services in your geographical area, searches including the name of your city, suburb or general area in the search query, and mobile searches or any other search with high purchase intent. 

Why does Local Search optimisation matter?

If you have a local business, shop, agency, or restaurant, local SEO is essential to attract customers from your local area.

Local Search optimisation ensures that your website is visible in search engine results pages for locations your business is based or where your services cover.    Without it, your customers can’t find you online or your physical store information.

It is also important to note that Google and other search engines use geo-targeting to return the most relevant websites and online content for search queries.   This is true whether the user includes a locality or “near me” in their search query or not.

Optimising for local search means an opportunity for your business to be listed in search engine results pages (SERPs) for more search queries when performed by local audiences.  This can be a great strategy for smaller global businesses with a local focus to create relevance vs, large global brands. 

Marketing at a global level means increased competitors, more customers to reach and so greater budgets, time and resources to succeed.  Whereas a locally-based strategy relies on marketing your brand, products, and services to local leads and customers only.  This can be more achievable for smaller businesses, allowing them to compete against big global brands.

Local SEO Checklist: Top 9 things to win in local search

1. Select the right Keywords

Like any good SEO strategy, local SEO starts with solid keyword research and selection.  Ensure your keyword strategy includes keywords and search terms based on your customer’s real search queries.   What are they talking about online?  What questions do they have? And what products and/or services are they looking for?  

Try typing in some keywords to Google to see popular queries in Googles search suggestions.  You can also look at “what other people searched” at the bottom of search results pages for your target keywords and search queries for ideas.  Your competitors, social media, Quora/ Reddit, reviews and real interactions with your customers are also great places to start.  

Once you have some ideas, there are several keyword research tools you can use to come up with lots of ideas for different search terms and words to target.  These tools will also help you analyse the search volume for each.

2. Optimise your website content for selected keywords

Once you have your keywords, optimise your website content for them.  This includes ensuring the correct use of your selected keywords and similar words throughout, such as in headers, title tags, meta descriptions, image alt tags etc. where relevant. 

The most important thing is to ensure that your content is relevant, rather than simple keyword stuffing.  Ensure your content adds value to the reader and in response to the search queries that will land users there.  That is, it is informative and unique, as well as relevant.

3. Create locality-based landing pages

Create a location-based page for each of the physical locations your business operates from.   If you have more than one site or physical store location that you serve customers from, it can be helpful to create a unique landing page for each of them on your website. 

Each of those pages can then be optimised for local search with local, and geotagged content.  Include a map of the local area with the address and phone number for the store or office.  Help your customers find you with information on how to get there, local landmarks, amenities available and images of the area, your shop front and/or office building.  These are just a few ideas of local content you can include on these pages.

4. Post local content regularly 

Keep each page fresh and updated with new local content. This could be updates from your team and/or local customers, local promotions, or sales available to those areas or local news and updates from the business.   This can help keep your local customers engaged and keep them coming back as well as provide an opportunity to post new, geographically tagged content that will contribute to your local search rankings. 

Share your local content far and wide through social media and via relevant Google business and map listings, ensuring to link back to the website page.   This will increase the reach of your content and drive more traffic to your website.  In turn, it will help increase your search rankings further.

5. Ensure your website is mobile friendly with good page experience

Improve your website performance to improve your search rankings.  

Ensuring your website is mobile-friendly, loads fast and has a good user experience is more critical than ever before.    This may require the assistance of a website developer or digital marketing agency with the technical skillset to make necessary updates to your site.   However, investing in the right help can go a long way to how your business performs online. 

Customers are time poor and online customers, even more so.  A study by Aberdeen found page views dropped by 11% for every second over two seconds a page took to load.  According to Google, for each additional second, it takes a mobile page to load, conversions can drop by up to 20%.  For a business that generates $10,000 a day, that results in around $2.5 million to $4.5 million in revenue annually.

With over half of all web searches now being done via mobile devices, this number being even higher for local search, it’s critical that your website is mobile-friendly. 

If that wasn’t enough to convince you, Google tracks mobile-friendliness and website performance for all websites and uses this data as a key search ranking factor.   This includes things such as load speeds, cumulative layout shift and mobile-friendliness.  This data is visible via Google Search Console and Page-Speed Insights Tool.

More on how your website performance can impact your SEO here.

6. Optimise your Google Business Listing

If you haven’t already done so, claim your business on Google Maps and Optimise your Google my Business Listing.   You can do this for each of the geographical areas you have a physical presence. 

To optimise each listing for local search queries, we recommend the following.

  • Complete every bit of information you can from service locations to product information… every bit of information should be complete for each listing.
  • Optimise all content with unique copy that is properly keyword optimised.
  • Ensure that each google maps or google business listing is linked back to the appropriate location page on your website. 
  • Request reviews from local customers and reply to them, leveraging keywords where appropriate.
  • Share website articles and local content via posts to your listings.  Ensure to link them back to the relevant content on your website.

For more, see How to Optimise Google my Business Listings for SEO

7. Ensure consistent Name, Address and Phone number (NAP) across all digital platforms

Ensure your name, address and phone number or NAP is consistent across all digital media and the footer of your website.  This is important for Google to recognise all mentions about your business and its location online.  The more mentions it can attribute to the same business – Your business – the better for your search rankings.    This includes on your Google my business listing as well as in your website footer and anywhere else your business might be mentioned e.g., Via local business directories.

The formatting of your NAP, including the spelling, commas, and spacing must be identical.  That is for example if the footer of your website says “street” vs. “st.” then ensure that it is treated the same and listed as “street” across all other mentions online.  Similarly, if you include a comma after this, then ensure it is included on all other mentions online.    Your NAP must be identical wherever it is mentioned with your business name online.

8. Get active on social media

Social media connects you with your customers and drives engagement.  This can provide new insight into your customers and what questions they have online, helping to guide your keyword selection as well as your content marketing strategy. 

At a local level, social media can help you connect with local communities.  It can help local content creators stay up to date with local news and source local content to share online. 

Social media is also a great way to share your content and drive traffic to your website.   This increased exposure to your content can even form part of a good backlink building strategy – note, social media links aren’t classified as backlinks however, they can just increase the exposure of your content which in turn can result in more references to your content. 

What’s more, social media accounts can rank higher in search results than many new websites, helping you get higher in SERPs than your website content could alone.

Read our article on ways to use social media to drive your SEO for more.

9. Get local business citations

Local business citations are a mention of your business with your NAP – Name, address, and phone number.  This can also include a link back to your website, customer reviews, and other information about your business, depending on the platform.

A great way to get local business citations is via online business directories that you can sign up for yourself.  There are hundreds of free and paid for directories available online that you can add your business to.  Many of which include “do follow” links back to your website which can help you build your backlink diversity, and so improve your local SEO.

Putting this Local SEO Checklist to use

We hang our hats on our ability to get local businesses in competitive environments better search results.

Found Online is a Local SEO agency with local SEO expertise and a local Sydney based team.   That means we know how to get you superior search engine results for locality-based and near me search online.  And we do it locally meaning we can create local content and we understand what is engaging your local market.  

Give us a call or email us to discuss a package that suits your needs.


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