As a local business or company seeking to establish a strong local presence, search engine optimization (SEO) is crucial to your business’s success in your target local market. Your audience is actively looking for the exact type of products and/or services that you provide, and they are doing it via a search engine. Do you want to miss out on those valuable local searches that could be bringing customers right to your website or right through your doors? Ummmm…didn’t think so! Below are 20 essentials for a great local SEO strategy.
1. Optimize Your Google My Business Listing
One of the most common mistakes that businesses desiring a strong local presence make is to overlook the immense value of a verified, strong Google My Business listing. It takes you, or let’s face it an intern, less than 30 minutes to accomplish and will reap your business and your company a wealth of incoming website traffic, phone calls, store visits, etc.
Google My Business (GMB) is the lifeblood that feeds the search engine results your target audience is looking for. It is even further amplified as a local business looking to reach local customers. Google My Business is also heavily integrated throughout a variety of applications and features that many people utilize on their mobile devices or web browsers.
Social media is now a proven tool for businesses to achieve concrete results and achieve tangible goals. Not to mention that social media also generates a wealth of SEO-friendly backlinks to your website that will only double-down on your search rankings.
3. Reach Out for Reviews
When is the last time that you made a major purchase without doing a preliminary search on a product or service? When conducting that search, how much value do you place on customer reviews that are literally posted on a company website or even a second-party website like Amazon by a complete and total stranger?
It’s true that your prospective target audience is actively perusing the internet to learn more about your company, products, services, or experiences before opening their wallets or making a commitment. Take advantage of this by reaching out to satisfied customers, or all customers, for their reviews. You can either direct them to a specific website via a link, utilize an in-email platform to rate their experience or have them respond directly.
4. Use SEO-Friendly URLS
Many people overlook the URLs themselves when considering their search engine optimization strategy. This can be a major mistake that can penalize that website in terms of organic search rankings it could be receiving. Search engines appreciate and reward clean, well-written URLs that relate very closely to the topic that the content of the page they are covering.
For example, www.yourwebsite.com/1234/567/find_info will definitely not get any benefits in the eyes and rankings of search engines compared to a URL that describes exactly what that website is about. It can also be flagged by Google as a “spammy link,” leading to a potential penalty that will hurt your site’s search rankings.
5. Don’t Forget SEO Titles and Descriptions
Many times small or mid-sized companies forget about the “backend” search engine optimization, also called technical SEO. One major element that is still in style as 2020 rolls in is the inclusion of meta titles and descriptions. Most website platforms have a tab dedicated to this that is relatively easy to use. Simply put, it is well worth it to take the time to write in your page titles and meta descriptions that are written to appear to both search engines and the reader.
6. Pay Attention to Backend SEO as Well as Frontend SEO
Rarely, the leadership within a business doesn’t have a basic understanding of the importance of search engine optimization in today’s world. However, they may not be aware of the importance placed on the optimization of backend elements of their website and how much they contribute to gaining higher search rankings.
These backend SEO elements are also called technical search engine optimization elements. Make sure you’ve not just paid attention to having excellent content on your website, but make sure you’ve done the “nitty-gritty” SEO. This includes things like making sure you have a proper sitemap and that you’ve submitted it to Google. It also includes making sure all your pages are indexed on an ongoing basis.
Backlinks, also called inbound links, are a very important part of any SEO strategy. These are the type of links that search engines place the highest level of importance on when they are looking at link elements as part of their ranking results. The number of websites with different domains that have some content that is linking people back to your website, the more relevance that top search engines give you in their ranking process. Who doesn’t want to be more relevant to Google?
Additionally, a higher volume of backlinks leads to a higher volume of referral traffic, generating more potential leads on your website. It’s a win, win!
Outbound links are simply links included within your website’s content, blog, etc. that directs readers to a different website/domain. Search engines give your website a higher authority ranking and more credibility when you include high-quality outbound links within your own content. It shows that your website is credible enough to source other pages and that you “play nice” with these high-quality websites that are likely within your industry. Don’t forget that when you include an outbound link on your website, you should only link to credible websites that likely have a high domain authority themselves.
Internal linking, also referred to as interlinking, is simply including links within content or on specific areas of pages that will take page visitors to other pages on your website. These internal links help your SEO results by creating a better site experience and customer journey for your website visitors, making your site look better to search engines and rank more positively.
15. Don’t Forget Schema
Schema, or structured data markup, is still relevant to local SEO, especially for businesses with physical locations. You should put some real work into polishing schemas if you own or operate a local business. In layman’s terms, this is an addition to the code of a particular script on a page of your website that is designed for search eng
16. Leverage the Power of Google Maps
Include a Google map of your business’s location(s) directly within your Contact Us or About page to flash the green light for search engines to recognize you as a local business with a physical location.
17. Yes, NAHP Is Still Relevant
In the age of the mobile phone, many companies don’t think much about their NAHP: name, address, hours, phone number. However, people are still looking for these items and will actively click them from your website to transfer to the app on their phone or tablet that closely matches what they are trying to accomplish.
18. Know Your Keywords and Key Phrases, But Don’t Over-do It
As a local business, you need to be very cognizant about the keywords and key phrases you wish to rank for in relevant searches. These should be naturally weaved into your content.
Don’t forget that today’s search engines are more than equipped to recognize when content is utilizing “keyword stuffing.” This is when the author or content creator simply stuffs a desirable keyword or key phrase into the content over and over again believing that will achieve higher search rankings. The opposite is true. Most major search engines will actually penalize your website for the act of “keyword stuffing.”
19. Be In the Know About Your Site’s
It is important to remember that local SEO and local search rankings are much different than general SEO and ranking results. Modern major search engines, like Google, have optimized their search results based on the physical location you are searching from. This means that as a local business, you need to be highly aware of how search results for target keywords and key phrases may vary from location to location.
20. Never Forget About Mobile
Finally, don’t forget or disregard the importance of your website’s mobile optimization when it comes to your search engine optimization considerations. Sites that aren’t optimized for mobile view on cell phones or tablets are now tangibly penalized in search rankings. It is now a proven fact that if a user is searching from a mobile device or their tablet, search results provided by top search engines will rank websites that are optimized for a mobile view to rank higher.
Search engines are no fools. They know when you are on a mobile device and want to provide you with the best mobile experience possible, meaning they are less likely to prioritize non-mobile websites, hence, better SEO.
Utilizing these 20 key elements and strategies will help your company’s website build a strong SEO strategy that will actively bring in business and achieve your company’s goals. Think of it like having someone working for you all the time, day and night, without you having to pay them. That’s what great search rankings can do for your business.
Thanks for reading "The 20 Point Local SEO Checklist For Ranking Better Locally In 2020", by the Linchpin Team in Chicago, Raleigh, and Wake Forest.