Do you want your business to rank higher in search engines such as Google or Bing? Focussing on local SEO might be the golden ticket for you.
For example, “coffee places in Soho,” “marketing agencies in Stratford,” or “hardware stores near me.”
It’s also noteworthy to mention a study by Hubspot which found that 72% of people who do search for local businesses visit the outlet within five miles.
However, why is it so crucial to rank higher on any search engine? SEO Expert found out that 92% of people tend to purchase from businesses that are found on the first page of search.
Clearly, boosting your business’ local SEO is the critical need of the hour. However, what is local SEO, and how can one go about using it to enhance your online reputation and visibility?
Here is a detailed and actionable guide on a local SEO checklist which will help you understand what local SEO is and identify everything you need to start doing to boost your local SEO.
(Sidenote, please do contact us should you need local SEO services)
What is local SEO?
In the general sense of it, businesses utilise Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) to rank higher in a search engine for particular keywords in order to increase their visibility, keyword rankings and potential customers.
Similarly, when the same SEO is carried out to attract potential customers from relevant local searches in a specific geo location, the optimisation process is referred to as local SEO.
Now, many ask us “What is local SEO?” The answer to this isn’t just referring to the normal ‘list’ format we are used to in generic organic search results you get on any search engine.
I am referring to search features such as ‘local pack map’ listings, Google My Business, directions and the ‘people also ask’ section.
For example, have a look at the Google search engine result for “Italian restaurants in Soho.”
Now, the results mentioned in the upper box are called the “Google snack pack” results.
These are essentially local business listings that Google lists which are most relevant to your Google search.
If you click on “View all,” you will be able to find more local business listings relevant to your search.
However, all search results which are shown outside of the ‘snack pack’ box are still organic search results.
These are the regular search results of websites who are most likely working pretty hard to be visible for relevant searches.
When it comes to local SEO, the key is to ensure that your business ranks high in both these sections – Google snack pack results, Google My Business listings as well as regular organic results.
Aim to take up as much space on Google as possible.
Here’s how you can go about it.
Local SEO checklist
1. Claim and optimise your Google My Business listing
Many people neglect the power of an active Google My Business profile. Without a claimed and verified Google My Business, your site will not be able to establish a strong online presence in your target location.
Now, Google My Business is heavily integrated with other applications on your phone.
You must have noticed that when you search for “Petrol stations near me” on the Google Maps app to get directions to the nearest petrol station, you will find restaurants and other businesses marked on the map as well.
Thus, a claimed and optimised Google My Business listing will project your business on such related apps as well.
Your business gains more visibility on the web, and when customers search for items related to your business, your presence in those search results would be heavily amplified.
This is how a Google My Business page for a ceramics class on Princedale Road looks like.
It takes only about half an hour to claim your Google My Business listing since the information to be added on it is pretty straightforward.
Checking this simple task off your local SEO checklist will help you get more phone calls from potential customers, increased traffic on your website and even more store/outlet/office visits.
Apart from adding your business name, address and exact location, you will need to add a few more details to make your Google My Business listing optimised. Here are a few things to fill out:
- Business category (coffee shop, hardware store, marketing agency, and so on).
- Phone number and website URL.
- Photos related to your business or your office.
- Listing opening and closing hours.
Mentioning individual and additional services provided.
2.Make your business website mobile-friendly
Mobile devices contribute to 52% of global internet traffic. Nowadays, people search for things on their mobile devices more than they ever did before.
Now, search engines recognise if someone is searching on their mobile devices or from their laptops.
Accordingly, to provide the user with a better experience on their mobile devices, search engines tend to rank mobile-friendly websites higher than the ones that aren’t adapted to mobile devices.
Thus, if your business website isn’t mobile-friendly, you will not rank higher on mobile device searches even if you rank higher otherwise.
Moreover, search engines now even penalise business websites that aren’t adapted to mobile devices.
This can further drop your ranking and stop your business from gaining visibility in the local market.
Thus, make efforts to adapt your business website for a mobile view so that you can gain more visibility with the local customers.
3. Stay active on your website as well as Google My Business
Just like any other SEO strategy, you cannot set some things in motion for local SEO and expect them to continually do wonders for your business.
You need to continuously work on local SEO and ensure that a search engine identifies you as an active business.
The first part of doing so is to stay active on Google My Business.
Customers tend to leave reviews on Google regarding your business.
These reviews could be about anything – your service, customer support, product packaging, website, and so on.
Make it a point to actively respond to all such reviews. The reviews section looks something like this.
Negative reviews here can deter other customers from reaching out to your business.
Resolve any such concerns mentioned and ensure that you reply to the customer letting them know that the issue has been resolved.
Consider doing this for not just Google My Business but other review websites as well.
Your Google My Business account also enables you to create Google Posts.
This is a micro-blogging feature that helps you post important content for lead generation.
Google Posts don’t just help you stay active on the search engine but also boosts conversions.
A study by Moz found out that regular Google Posts activity helps increase your “Google snack pack” ranking.
4. Shift your focus to local citations or NAP
One of the most important factors that help businesses rank higher in local search results is NAP or Name, Address, Phone.
Consistent information about your business all over the web enables search engines to further establish your online presence.
This form of consistency is a mark of verification, enabling search engines to trust your business.
If your local citations aren’t consistent, your Google My Business rankings take a dip and prevent you from ranking higher.
Thus, as part of your local SEO checklist, focusing on these local citations is a very important step.
Your local citations can either be structured or unstructured. You can choose to list your NAP in any of the two formats.
However, the key is to ensure the consistency of your choice all across the web.
Structured citations have information in a more visually pleasing manner. You can often find such structured NAPs on a company’s Facebook page.
On the other hand, unstructured citations are loosely formatted, and information can be put in any order you prefer.
If your business has already been making use of local citations, you might want to conduct a local SEO audit and check if the citations are consistent all over the web.
For example, suppose you are using a structured citation listing on your website as:
The Amazing Company
49-50 Amazing Road,
Notting Hill, UK.
Phone: 0111 222 3333
However, your Facebook page lists your NAP as:
The Amazing Company
49-50 Amazing Road,
Notting Hill, United Kingdom.
Phone: +44 (0111) 2233322
This is a drastic inconsistency and will be flagged by the search engines. Conduct a local SEO audit for all such inconsistencies and make all your local citations consistent.
5. Update your URLs for SEO
A crucial part of your local SEO audit includes paying stark attention to your URLs. Consider the URL shown below for a hypothetical business website.
Not only does this URL not look clean, but a search engine cannot also understand what exactly is the content on this URL.
Since it does not describe exactly what the business page is about, search engines consider this as spam and tend to rank them significantly lower.
Plus, if the search engine flags such a URL, your search rankings will take an even drastic hit.
The idea here is to use SEO-friendly URLs. Have a look at this example:
This URL clearly mentions what the webpage is about – local SEO services provided in the UK.
A search engine would be able to pick up on this clean and well-written URL and boost this website’s local SEO.
Thus, it will rank higher in the search results of people searching for related services.
Ignoring or overlooking your website’s URLs can be a big mistake that brings numerous penalties with it.
Thus, when conducting a local SEO audit, ensure that you clean out all your URLs and use one that closely relates to the content mentioned on that particular webpage.
6.Identify and regularly update all relevant keywords
No local SEO guide is complete without a keywords research section.
As a business, you must be aware of as many services you can provide your customers.
For example, consider that you run a plumbing services company in Soho called “Awesome Plumbers.”
Now, if customers know about your services, they will directly search for phrases such as:
- Awesome Plumbers address
- Awesome Plumbers phone number
- What time does Awesome Plumbers close?
- How far is Awesome Plumbers?
- Awesome Plumbers near me
Now, this information can easily be pulled by search engines from your Google My Business listing and displayed to users.
However, it’s not always the case that your complete local demographic knows of your services by name. This is where local SEO comes into play.
You need to optimise your content and website in accordance with all keywords that are relevant for your business.
The key here is to brainstorm your “Services in Location.” For example:
- Plumbers in Soho
- Plumbers near Soho
- Plumbing in Soho
- Drain cleaner in Soho
- Emergency drain cleaner in Soho
- Emergency plumber in Soho
- Affordable plumber in Soho
- Reliable drain cleaner in Soho
- Affordable plumbing services in Soho
- Reliable plumbers in Soho
- Good plumbers in Soho
These are just a few ideas for keywords that you might want to look into. Pick out the keywords that are unique to your business and avoid keyword stuffing.
If you incoherently stuff all these keywords to rank higher, the search engine will flag your business and drop your ranking.
It’s also a good idea to regularly update these keywords.
You might find that you have been trying to rank higher in local SEO by using the keyword “Plumbers near Soho,” but haven’t gotten any good results.
Either a lot of plumbing services could be using this keyword to rank higher, or people just aren’t searching for this particular keyword.
This is where you conduct a local SEO audit and change your direction. Try optimising for different variants of the same keyword, such as “Reliable drain cleaner in Soho” or “Good plumbers in Soho.”
7.Boost your on-page SEO
A crucial part of the local SEO checklist is to focus on and boost your website’s on-page SEO.
We’ve already discussed a part of this in point 4, “Update your URLs for SEO.”
However, that’s only a small part of boosting your on-page SEO. The crucial items on this mini-local SEO checklist include:
- Keywords in URL
- Keywords in H1
- Keywords in the title tag
- Keywords in meta-description
Other than making your webpage URL short and sweet, you must also include a keyword in it.
The same keyword should also go in plenty of H1 headings on the webpage and the title tags.
Search engines consider such keywords placing positive and boost your ranking in search results.
When it comes to URLs, you might also want to look into including the location of your services in case you operate in different areas.
For example, if you are a coffee shop chain in the UK, you might want to build separate web pages that cater to separate demographics.
Your individual URLs would then look something like,
However, do take note that creating multiple landing pages for the same location is highly discouraged.
Search engines detect such instances as duplicate content and tend to lower your ranking drastically.
You will also need to put considerable effort in preparing an attractive meta-description that has at least one occurrence of your chosen keyword.
Search engines use meta-descriptions as a contributing factor to decide how high a website URL should rank.
If you are using a particular keyword in your title tag, ensure that the same keyword is included in the meta-description as well.
For example, if you are a cafe “Wow Burgers” that claims to sell the “Best burgers in Edinburgh” and wish to rank for the same keyword phrase, your title tag should look something like:
“Dine-in at Wow Burgers – The Best Burgers in Edinburgh.”
And your meta-description should look something like:
“Juicy patties, warm toasty buns and the yummiest dressings – enjoy the delectable taste of the Best Burgers in Edinburgh at Wow Burgers today!”
8.Make your link building game strong
Search engines consider link signals a very important factor when deciding upon a website’s local SEO rank.
The last item on your local SEO guide includes making your link building game for local sites super strong.
The key idea here is to provide your customers not just services and products but value.
Doing so gives you the perfect opportunity to boost link building.
Consider that you are a coffee shop (London X Coffee) that does not sell bagels in Soho, and your main target audience is in Soho or the neighbouring areas like Mayfair or Marylebone.
To create targeted content, you could prepare an article along the lines of “Best bagels in the city to pair your London X Coffee with.”
In this article, you can add backlinks to all bagel shops in and around Soho that would go well with your coffee.
You could also consider an article such as “Affordable coffee machines to brew coffee at home” or “How to prepare blueberry muffins with just five ingredients” and link out to all items that you list in this article.
This comprehensive and detailed local SEO checklist can seem a lot to take in at first.
However, focusing on local SEO and taking smart steps to boost it can help you gain more traffic, get more conversions and establish a solid brand image in your local demographic.
Once you get down to your local SEO audit and approach the process systematically, boosting your business’ local SEO can become a cakewalk.