Ronak Kothari is the founder of RONKOT, a full-service digital marketing agency.
Local search engine optimization (SEO) is all about boosting your local search visibility (specifically on Google) for a target audience located in a particular geographic area.
If you serve customers locally — as a brick-and-mortar business or as a service provider — you must focus on improving your local search presence so more potential customers can find and reach you.
Here are a few concrete numbers that highlight why investing in local SEO is worth your time:
- 83% of U.S. shoppers who visited a store in the last week say they used online search before going into a store.
- Mobile searches for “store open near me” (such as, “grocery store open near me” and “auto parts store open near me”) have grown by over 250% from 2017 to 2019.
- “Where to buy” + “near me” mobile queries have grown by over 200% from 2017 to 2019 (such as “where to buy flowers near me”, and similar phrases like “where to eat near me”, etc.).
Below is a complete visual checklist you can keep handy to nail your local SEO game in 2021 and beyond.
So what is Local SEO, exactly?
It is a search engine optimization (SEO) strategy that helps your business be more visible in local search results on Google. If you have a local business — like a shop, cafe, or agency — then local SEO is the practice of optimizing your website to rank high for certain search queries performed by a local audience so they can easily find you online and off.
Why Invest in Local SEO
Done right, local SEO gets you to rank at the top of Google for geo-specific relevant keywords, attracting high-intent traffic and footfalls to your business.
Here are some stats proving local SEO benefits for your business.
- 46% of all searches on Google include local intent.
- 76% of people who search on their smartphones for something nearby visit a business within a day, and 28% of those searches for something nearby result in a purchase.
- 24.4% of all clicks go to the first result of local business searches.
- 62% of consumers will disregard a business if they can’t find them online.
- 88% of potential customers look for online reviews before choosing local services.
- 54% of smartphone users search for business hours.
- 53% of smartphone users search for directions to a local store.
- 29% of people search for local businesses at least once a week.
So, no matter if you’re a service provider or a product retailer, these numbers should be more than enough to convince you as a local business owner to invest in a local SEO strategy.
To help you create and execute a solid strategy, we developed a comprehensive local SEO checklist 2021 you can use to ensure every aspect of your online presence is optimized for top local search rankings.
A Simple, Segregated Checklist to Tick Off
Google My Business Checklist
- Create/Claim and verify your Google My Business (GMB) listing.
- Select your business categories wisely.
- Enter accurate and complete information (name, address, hours, phone number) in your GMB profile.
- Enter a geographical radius your business serves.
- Include relevant keywords your audience searches for in your business description.
- Add your business’s and products’ photos and videos to your GMB profile.
- Keep your GMB profile up-to-date.
- Create and share content (updates, offers, events, etc.) frequently using Google Posts.
On-Page Optimization Checklist
- Ensure optimal page load speeds with Google PageSpeed Insights.
- Structure your website for intuitive navigation.
- Optimize title tags and meta descriptions for keywords and conciseness.
- Compass images and add descriptive alt texts.
- Have a clean and simple URL structure.
- Publish fresh, keyword-optimized, and valuable content regularly.
- Keep content conversational, scannable, and use long-tail keywords to rank for voice search.
- Include strategic internal links in your content and product pages.
- Use structured data schema markup to display product reviews, ratings, cost, availability, etc.
- Have a Contact Us page featuring the NAP and Google Map of your business location.
- Set up 301 redirects for outdated content and product pages.
- Check and remove duplicate content, broken links, and accessibility issues.
- Create and submit an XML sitemap to Google via the Search Console.
Backlinks and Referrals Checklist
- Build quality backlinks from websites with high domain authority.
- Publish localized content — such as “best of” listicles — created around geo-targeted keywords and try to acquire links to it from local publishers in your niche.
- Contribute content to authoritative local websites and link back to your website on location-specific anchor text.
- Connect with local influencers for high-intent referral traffic.
- Partner up with complementary businesses for co-promotion campaigns.
- Try to get local online coverage on local news sites.
- Focus on quality of backlinks over quantity.
Social Media and Reviews Checklist
- Identify social media channels (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc.) where your customers hang out the most.
- Build a strong presence by frequently posting authentic content on these channels.
- List your business on platforms like Yelp, Yellow Pages, Tripadvisor, Trustpilot, etc.
- Solicit honest reviews, testimonials, star ratings, and feedback from customers for your local GMB listing and business listing directories like Yelp.
- Ensure all your local citations are consistent and up-to-date.
- Engage with your audience on social media, encourage and promote user-generated content.
- Showcase the top reviews on social media and your website.
- Add links to your social media channels and directory listings on your website.
- Stay on top of your business mentions across the social web by using a brand monitoring tool.
- Answer questions, respond to reviews, and be courteous in all social communication.
Mobile Usability Checklist
- Use Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test to achieve an optimal mobile experience.
- Ensure phone numbers are clickable via mobile.
- Prioritize all content formatting and navigation with mobile users in mind.
And that completes our comprehensive local SEO audit checklist.
Wish to learn more about local SEO? Check out our blog post on local SEO strategies that further elaborates on optimizing your GMB profile and the local 3-pack, getting your social media and content marketing game right, and nailing some other on-site technical SEO aspects.
Or, if you’d like for a professional agency with a track record of local SEO success to take care of everything, check out our SEO services page and get in touch with us!