SEO (search engine optimization) provides businesses with an opportunity to increase organic traffic to their websites. Though the fundamentals are the same, enhancing search engine rankings for local businesses are unique in many aspects.
Examples of local searches would be:
Pizza near me
Primary Physicians in Alexandria, VA
Senior Living facility near Hoboken, NJ
Google indexes these searches differently than, say, broader listings for national businesses so it’s important to pay attention to the details of what Google is looking for.
First, some stats indicating why Local SEO is important
46% of all Google searches are looking for local information. (Source: GoGulf)
72% of consumers that did a local search visited a store within five miles. (Source: HubSpot Marketing Statistics)
97% of people learn more about a local company online than anywhere else. (Source: SEO Tribunal)
88% of searches for local businesses on a mobile device either call or visit the business within 24 hours. (Source: Nectafy)
61% of mobile searchers are more likely to contact a local business if they have a mobile-friendly site. (Source: HubSpot Marketing Statistics)
By 2021, mobile devices will influence more than $1.4 trillion in local sales. (Source: Forrester)
18% of local smartphone searches led to a purchase within a day, whereas only 7% of non-local searches led to a sale. (Source: Think with Google)
78% of location-based mobile searches result in an offline purchase. (Source: SEO Tribunal)
“Near me” or "close by" type searches grew by more than 900% over two years. (Source: Chat Meter)
With that said, here is a quick checklist to optimize your website for local SEO.
On-Page Local SEO Checklist
1. Optimize Title Tag: A <title> tag is one of the most important components of a page. It is used as the link to your page from the search engine and is meant to describe the purpose of the page in a few words. Include keywords that you want to rank for within your title tags.
2. Structure your URL’s: Provide simple and clean URL structure throughout the website and make sure the target keywords are included in the URL.
3. Optimize your images: Make sure the images are web friendly, not huge in size and have keywords as the image name and alt tags.
4. Optimize navigation menu: Similar to URL structure, provide a simple and clean navigation for your site. The result: more conversions and greater search visibility.
5. Consistent company information (NAP): Your Business Name, Address and Phone number should be consistent across the site and should be visible on every page so it’s a good idea to put this in the footer.
6. Add a sitemap: A sitemap.xml lists all the public pages of your website so a crawler can easily find them. You should only include pages that you wish a search engine to crawl.
7. Include Robots.txt file: A Robots.txt file gives instructions to any web crawlers, including search engines, on what pages of a website they should crawl. This way you can choose which pages you would want to be indexed on Google for example. Missing this file may cause some of your pages to be ignored by Google.
8. Fast loading site: A slow page can be frustrating for users and will lower your relevance in the eyes of a search engine. Most users will not put up with a slow page and go elsewhere. No page should take longer than 7 seconds to load the page.
9. Good UX = Good SEO: Provide a good user experience on the website. A user should be able to find what they are looking for within few clicks. If the website is frustrating to use, the visitor may go elsewhere.
10. Mobile optimized site: Make sure the website provides a good experience on mobile and tablets, including fast-loading pages.
11. 4xx Errors: These errors normally occur because a page does not exist (404), requires authentication (401), or a user is forbidden from accessing the page (403). Make sure you deal with each type of code appropriately.
Listing/Directories: Listing and directories are great to get a citation i.e. a link back to your website.
12. Create Google MyBusiness Listing
13. Create Bing Listing
14. Create Yelp Listing
15. Create/claim listing on other directories: There are over 50 directories, make sure that website is listed on all with correct information.
List of top 25 directories (Source: Hubspot)
Facebook (Domain Authority = 100)
Apple Maps (Domain Authority = 100)
Google My Business (Domain Authority = 100)
LinkedIn Company Directory (Domain Authority = 98)
Bing (Domain Authority = 94)
Yelp (Domain Authority = 94)
Better Business Bureau (Domain Authority = 93)
Foursquare (Domain Authority = 92)
MapQuest (Domain Authority = 92)
HubSpot (Domain Authority = 91)
Yellow Pages (Domain Authority = 91)
Angies List (Domain Authority = 91)
Yahoo! Local (Domain Authority = 91)
Manta (Domain Authority = 87)
Merchant Circle (Domain Authority = 86)
Super Pages (Domain Authority = 84)
Yellow Book (Domain Authority = 83)
Thumbtack (Domain Authority = 82)
Local.com (Domain Authority = 77)
Kudzu.com (Domain Authority = 76)
Hot Frog (Domain Authority = 76)
Communitywalk.com (Domain Authority = 75)
Brownbook.net (Domain Authority = 73)
Tupalo.com (Domain Authority = 72)
La Cartes (Domain Authority = 68)
16. Create social media accounts: Create Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter and Instagram accounts for your business. Post content regularly on these accounts and keep them active.
Analytics/Data: Setting Yourself Up for Local SEO Success
17. Setup Google Analytics: Add the Google Analytics code to measure website data. Data is key in understanding what your top pages are, where you are getting the most traffic from and so on.
18. Setup Google Search Console/ Bing Webmaster tool: Google Search Console is a free service offered by Google that helps you monitor, maintain, and troubleshoot your site's presence in Google Search results. Similar to Google Search Console, setup Bing Webmaster tool to measure your site’s presence on Bing.
19. Follow Schema.org: Want to know how user reviews show up in Google? Smart businesses structure their data through a standard set by Google and others.
Backlinks for Local SEO
20. Build quality backlinks: Backlinks (also known as “inbound links”, “incoming links” or “one-way links”) are links from one website to a page on another website. Google and other major search engines consider backlinks “votes” for a specific page. Pages with a high number of backlinks from authoritative or highly trafficked sources tend to have high organic search engine rankings.
21. Get competitor backlink info: See how many links your competitor is getting -- and from which sites. Use this information to get similar links for your site. Contact us at Bon Digital and we can help get you a back link analysis on your competitors.
Content for Local SEO
22. Create local targeted content: Content is king even in 2020. Create quality and useful content for your website keeping your audience and products/services in mind. Add keywords within the content that you are trying to rank for.
23. Limit duplicate content: A page is considered to have duplicate content if it contains very similar text to another page. Duplicate content can confuse a search engine since it is unclear on which page has more relevance to a given topic. Since there would be no purpose for a search engine to index the same page twice, it’s important to tell the search engine which page you want it to index if you see duplicate content. You can use a canonical tag here.
24. Avoid thin content: If a page does not have much content, it is hard for a search engine to properly assign a topic to it and may not bother indexing it. Make use of related content to show relevance and while using as many keywords as possible. The more robust, the better.
25. Get reviews: Ask for your clients to add reviews to your site. Try and make time to respond to reviews if possible, this helps build relationship with your customers.
Start with a free SEO audit of your site to see how you can improve your website performance. Then follow these guidelines to improve your local SEO rankings. Feel free to contact us if you have any questions or to schedule a free consultation.