12 Point Local SEO Checklist for 2017 & Beyond [Infographic]

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Local SEO has never been as important as it is in the current times. While location based SEO was always something that was a part of the optimization exercise, the kind of special focus and attention that it has generated in recent times has led to special efforts being directed towards leveraging it for maximum gains. In this article we discuss, how in the context of local SEO, better visibility and online presence can be achieved by businesses. Some tips and guidelines are being offered on how to implement processes and strategies to get the most out of location based results.

Thanks to the attention it has been getting form Google in the last year, local SEO has seen come to the forefront in a big way . In the past it was more of a domain that was restrictively being explored by smaller and medium sized businesses. That trend is changing fast.

Seven quick tips for Local SEO Success [Infographic]

Local SEO has grown exponentially in relevance and importance even in this past given year and there are two big reasons for that. One is the fact that more and more searches are being conducted on mobile devices now and in that context, location is a big factor. The second is the fact that Google itself has been giving a lot of importance to organic local results even for desktop searches.

So, the big question is- how does a business leverage this trend? What are the steps that can be taken in order to gain visibility and maximize online presence? Below we’ve compiled 12 point local SEO checklist that is beneficial in 2017 and beyond.

Here are a few things that can be done:

 

1. Google+ Listings – One of the easiest steps that can be, in fact need to be taken, is to have a Google+ local listing, which increasingly is no longer an option. Having a Google+ Local listing will tremendously boost your online search visibility and is exactly what Google uses for map driven local search results.

 

Experts Insights

“40% of all mobile searches coming to Google are local in nature at this point, which continues to trend upward. As such, the search giant also announced that “physical location” or the proximity of a local business to a user’s location will become a targeting variable when serving ads to mobile users.”

– mobilemarketingwatch.com

“The beauty of Google Places is that it is essentially democratic and designed to give the true local business owner the edge over larger corporations who may have a local outlet or presence but are not locally based.”

– Googleplacesoptimization.org

“Consumers can also seek out businesses by searching within Google+ itself. A local search on Google’s social network will return only Google+ Local pages, so your page doesn’t have to compete with traditional websites and ads that appear in a regular Web search.”

– Brett Nuckles, Businessnewsdaily.com

2. NAP [Name, Address, & Phone] /Business Directories Promotion – One of the most significant steps that need to be taken for greater visibility is to make sure that your contact details i.e. NAP information is correct and very specific, both, onsite and as well as externally at other places like business directories etc on the web [Learn here about- Techmagnate’s Local Business Listings services].  The idea is to establish a clear and strong relationship between the business and the location they would like to target.

Experts Insights

“Search engines typically pull information from business listing sites – Yelp, TripAdvisor®, and others — and display them under your website address for local search results.”

– godaddy.com

“Thanks to the rising popularity and usefulness of smartphones, people are increasingly interested in finding businesses that offer what they want nearby.”

– wix.com

The searches conducted for local businesses tend to be more specific. When a person is searching on mobile, they query that they put in is more location specific and keeping that in mind mobile searches have to be more comprehensive in their optimization. It is imperative that a clear and working phone number accompanies your search result so that a user is able to reach out to you immediately.

3. Positive Reviews and Feedback – Reviews and feedback go a long way in establishing the credibility and visibility of your business online. In fact entering a review for your business is a feature that a number of online directories are offering nowadays. Search engines are fond of reviews and use them for additional weight when ranking your site.

Experts Insights

“The fact is, many free online business directories might be displaying your business reviews today without you even knowing it, and often, the information is inaccurate. Your customers might already be writing reviews about your business on these local review websites and potential customers are reading them. You need to find, claim and verify your business information on these directories.”

– in.godaddy.com

“Assuming you’ve taken advantage of Google+ Local to increase your local search visibility, positive reviews will help turn that visibility into new business. Positive reviews are powerful drivers for converting clicks into customers.”

–Jay Taylor, searchenginewatch.com

“Google makes it easy for users to find similar businesses nearby, so positive reviews on your Google+ Local page can help your brand stand out. The higher customers rate your business, the more clicks your page is likely to receive. You can’t control what every customer thinks, but you can encourage satisfied customers to log on and leave a star rating or review. You can also take the time to leave a polite, professional response to negative reviews.”

–Brett Nuckles, businessnewsdaily.com

4. Add State/City Name in Meta Tags – This part is pretty self-explanatory, but deems repetition. Remember to use local keywords as part of the content and Meta tags on your site. Trust us, it’s common sense.

Experts Insights

“Local SEO is a series of signposts that allow the robots to understand where you are in the world and what you’re providing. It allows them to better rank your site according to the search terms the user enters.”

– Dashburst.com–Chris Simmance

5. Address Schema/Markup on Footer – Mentioning your location in the text of your site or even possibly adding your address to the footer and tagging it with the relevant schema/ mark-up will help.
Know more – 12 Latest Semantic Markup Tips For 2017: An SEO Checklist

Experts Insights

“Markup and microformats are becoming extremely important to local rankings. Schema.org was created last year to create a common language between major search engines Google, Bing and Yahoo that identifies types of content given to search engines via websites. We are just on the cusp of the possibilities with schema, but the reality is, if you don’t start now, you’re going to be behind.”

– Carrie Hill, searchenginewatch.com

6. Publish Original, Informative In Depth Content – So clearly, the content bit is not going away. Content isn’t an intangible, amorphous cloud that’s quickly finding a place in jargon. It’s a means for you to provide real solutions and value for your audience, and is equally pertinent for your local SEO efforts as it is for your other SEO and Digital Marketing activity.

After the Hummingbird update, meaningful content is fast becoming a more consistent and weighted factor for local SEO. Remember to answer the Who, How, What, Where, When and Whyaspects in all of your writing. Also, add links to your internal pages for more detailed information.

Experts Insights

“Hummingbird should better focus on the meaning behind the words; it may better understand the actual location of your home, if you’ve shared that with Google. It might understand that ‘place’ means you want a brick-and-mortar store. It might get that ‘iPhone 5s’ is a particular type of electronic device carried by certain stores. Knowing all these meanings may help Google go beyond just finding pages with matching words. In particular, Google said that Hummingbird is paying more attention to each word in a query, ensuring that the whole query — the whole sentence or conversation or meaning — is taken into account, rather than particular words.”

So, clearly, it’s back to the basics, folks. Clarity in communication and great writing skills will help you get much further ahead than most of your technical skills combined.

7. Sponsor Local Events – Isolation never helps, and for business, it only spells disaster! Consider sponsoring or being an active participant of local events in your community. Why take the pain? Well, it has a twofold benefit to it.

The prime being the strong network that you create for your business and of course the secure links that your business obtains from the local businesses, the press and media therein, that comes complementary. Oh yes it does entail investment of resources (time, manpower and money) but it pays off eventually!

Get more in-depth promotion strategy in SEO – Post Penguin 2.1 Local SEO Strategies For Small Businesses [Infographic]

Experts Insights

“If you’re a bootstrapped startup that can’t front the cash to get your logo in the sponsor column of an event, consider trading your services for that sponsorship instead. For instance, at Killer Infographics we traded our design services for a permanent sponsorship link AND free tickets to the Snoho Brewfest.”

–Amy Balliett, searchenginepeople.com

8. Local Image Promotion – A great source for links and citations can be social media sites that lend weightage to images and photographs, for instance, Facebook, Pinterest, Flickr and perhaps even Instagram. These sites carry a healthy amount of influence with regards to rankings (think ubiquity) and offer an opportunity for brands to gain an edge over their competitors.

Get more tips for Images Promotion and optimize your images for better local SERP ranks.

Experts Insights

“If you geocode your images in some way, it gives Google and other search engines high confidence that the content should be associated with a particular place.”

–Chris Silver Smith, searchengineland.com

9. Promotional YouTube Videos – Businesses generally invest in an informative video that makes people aware of their evolution and services. A think-out-of-the-box idea would be if you could publish a series of videos that would show the kind of work you do and how you do it. Ensure you highlight the unique practices you adopt to make your services score better. The benefit? While the gains may not be tangible at the onset, it would help showcase your business’ expertise and may land you many prospective leads that would willingly pay you to get the work done.

Get more tips for video and why to start video marketing for better local SERP ranks.

Experts Insights

“A recent Hitwise report indicates that usage of Google Maps increased significantly as a result of more visibility from Universal Search. Another long-running, high-performing vertical at Google is Image Search—until the acquisition of YouTube, Image Search was Google’s second most-visited property. So, leveraging a combination of optimizations for both local search and image search could provide some beneficial synergies.”

–Chris Silver Smith, searchengineland.com

10. A webpage for each store location – Businesses could have multiple store locations within a city or in different cities. Google’s Matt Cutts suggests separate web pages (URLs) or a single page with links to the different store locations be created for many or few outlets respectively. A separate URL for different store locations will help consumers find store specific information with ease. Additionally Google’s crawler can index the pages separately too.
Get more tips to promote multiple stores for better local SERP ranks.

Experts Insights

“This is the advice I’ve tried so hard to give franchises I work with, but they frequently will not listen. The “find a location” tools do not allow for static page creation. So I wrote software to grab the data and build HTML pages – big, big improvement especially in local placement.”

–Scott Clark, buzzmaven.com

11. Connect social pages to enhance SERP rankings – Though Google has denied the effect of popularity on Facebook and Twitter in SERP rankings, it still works well. If you have a high Facebook and Twitter following, and if you get them integrated on your website, your SERP rankings are bound to progress. Off late, proactively involving on Google+ especially, can highly improve search rankings.

Experts Insights

“Google+ is almost an open invitation by Google to determine what should be given priority in search results”

–Sarvesh Bagla, CEO, Techmagnate

“If your tweet content that gets a decent amount of RTs, aka “good content” that in turn can generate links back to your site from other sites that post the tweets.”

–Andrew Shotland, LocalSEOGuide.com

12. Keyhole Markup Language (KML) – Feature your business locations on Google and Bing Maps by using the KML file format. As a rich data source it not only points to your operation units but also add value and credibility to your brand image.

Get step by step tutorial for KML implementation and submission in Google Webmasters Tool.

Businesses don’t become global overnight. It has to begin from the smaller community to the larger (global) community. Local SEO is important if you want to ground your roots firmly. Its only when people around you know you well, that the information gets disseminated further.

Experts Insights

“Google will use the information from the KML (and the Local Business Center) to mix and match this with all the other information they already scraped from the net and your KML with location information in it is now an authenticated source”

 

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