I have heard many small business owners question if SEO is still relevant for local businesses. The definition of small business varies from industry to industry, but typically a small business is defined as an entity having fewer than 100 employees and less than $25 Million dollars in annual revenue. Many say that gaining placement in local search has become too complicated and expensive for small businesses. Yet, studies show that 4 out of 5 consumers use local search to find goods and services in their area. In this post, you will find a checklist of local SEO ranking factors, and then I will give you a list of resources to use to evaluate your own SEO efforts.
Local SEO Checklist:
1. Optimize for Google My Business.
Google My business is Google’s way to help your business give information not only to consumers but to Google. This is how you establish your business as a resource to local consumers in the eyes of Google.
To optimize your Google My Business account, you’ll want to verify a Google My Business page, use frequent Google Posts, encourage online reviews, and respond promptly to reviews both good and bad. Responses should be authentic, list the location of your business, and if possible, offer a resolution of a customer complaint.
2. Internal Links
Linking within your website assists website visitors, and Google bots, in finding all sources of information on a particular subject (keyword) in your site. This enhances your site navigation and UX (User Experience) by allowing website visitors to find all of the information on a subject within your site.
3. Optimize content, URL, title tags, headers and meta descriptions
For all content on your site, both website pages, and blog posts, you need to optimize the content for search engines by placing your desired keywords not only in the content but also in the URL, title, header and meta description. This is key to gaining rankings and avoiding confusion as to what keywords content is designed to address.
4. Create unique and valuable local content.
Google is now using BERT which means website content can be written with users in mind, and not just for text to code ratio and keyword density. For local seo, be certain to write for a local audience and use case studies that reflect local concerns, challenges and positive outcomes.
5. Mobile UX and load speed are key.
Mobile First Indexing has made the performance of the mobile version of a local website one of the keys to success. Be sure that it is easy to click to call your business, find the location, and get a concise and clear picture of why a consumer should do business with you. Consumers want mobile info quickly and efficiently and the site should load quickly. To check mobile load speed, go here
6. NAP (Name, Address, Phone Number)
Your name, address and phone number need to be listed in HTML , not an image, (to be accessible to google bots) and need to be consistent with all of your local links and my business listings. Discrepancies like misspellings, abbreviations, lack of suite number or wrong phone number can cause Google to be confused about your validity as a local business, and that will negatively impact your local SERP (search engine results page) rankings..
These tools will give you an accurate picture of your current SEO standing either at a low cost or free of charge.
We use this tool extensively for everything from on page site scans to seo tips to link evaluation to position tracking. Solid and frequently updated, this tool is hard to beat.
This tool crawls websites’ links, images, CSS, script and apps from an SEO perspective.
We use this tool frequently. Ahrefs features a comprehensive keyword research tool as well as extremely accurate position tracking and backlink checking.
This tool is specifically designed for local SEO. This tool allows for great competitor analysis as well as reports on local reviews.
If you have a brick and mortar store or are a local service business, you are facing stiff online competition from national or regional competitors. To remain relevant, you have to emphasize your local roots, ties to the community, and make sure that all that find you online are aware of your local reputation and ability to fulfill their needs. Your business has the advantage of face to face interaction, the ability to see and touch products before purchasing, and the reassurance that if a problem arises you will be there to resolve it.
Local SEO gives you the opportunity to educate your target customer base on all of these advantages of “going local”.
Eric Van Cleave is the CEO and Digital Marketing Director for TIV Branding
TIV Branding is a boutique branding firm in Sonoma County, California. We specialize in building brands by using traditional, social and digital channels in unison. If you would like to discuss a project or find out more about how we do what we do, please email us at info@TIVbranding.com.