Local SEO Checklist – Get Better Rankings : Local SEO Checklist
One of the most important factors when setting up a new website or improving on your existing one is to ensure it is optimised for search engines – Google, Bing, Yahoo etc. This way you can sit back, relax and be sure customers are seeing your website in search engine results. Does all this happen automatically when your website is set up? unfortunately not – would be nice though! Completing a Local SEO Checklistis a good way to start off on the right foot.
The goal is to try and make page one on search engine results (cough, cough Google) for your given keyword, service or business type. There are many factors in the equation that contribute towards this aim, here are some of the main ones:
- Super optimised web pages completed using SEO best practise methods
- Lots of customer reviews
- Lots of Backlinks to your website
- Fresh content once a week or fortnight
Sounds simple right? Well it’s actually not that difficult if you take some time to complete a few steps. In this post I am going to list a few steps you can take to help boost your search engine results and rankings – let’s get started with the first job on the Local SEO Checklist.
1. Set up Local Listings
This one is super easy and a good place to start. Claim your local listing with Google My Business and Bing Places for Business. You will need accounts for each of these, so go ahead and set these up also. When claiming your business listing it important to make sure you complete all the relevant information, such as business type, contact details, opening hours and add relevant photos also where possible.
Try to make all of your listings stand out, a little bit of effort with this step can really pay off.
2. Get some Reviews
Don’t be too shy to ask your customers to leave some lovely reviews for you on your Local Listings. Always provide customers with the details for your Google listing as this is one you really want to focus on. These reviews will help enhance your business reputation with Google and assist in improving your search engine results and rankings in your Local area.
Please don’t try to be smarter than Google and ask your friend or Auntie to provide a review as this behaviour is frowned upon and this can harm your rankings – so basically don’t do that.
You can also integrate your Google Reviews into your website and provide a link for customers to leave a review on your business listing. These reviews are fantastic adverts for your business and services, along with helping improve your search engine results and rankings. All good.
3. Create Service Specific Pages for your Website
Some people say less is more… not the case here. If your business provides multiple services ensure you have a separate page created for each service and link this in your main menu and pages where appropriate. Having more pages and content for your services provides a wider net for search engines and customers to discover you.
Many of the top ranking websites adopt this method. Even if you already have a website that doesn’t do this it can be fixed and re-indexed with search engines quickly.
4. SEO Optimise your Website Pages – Search Engine Optimisation
Now you have created your pages we need to take care of some on-page SEO (Search Engine Optimisation). This is vital to ensure your website performs well on search engines and rankings. There are quite a few factors to take into account when optimising your pages, I am going to point out some of the main ones to take note of:
- Page URL – Make sure your page URL contains your keyword or service where possible, this is a very underused tactic and can reap rewards when done correctly.
- Page Titles – Similar to the URL, ensure your page titles are relevant to the page and contain your keyword or service name. Google will display around 69 characters for titles in search results, so try and fit in as much as possible. Find a good balance between readability and SEO. Take a look at your page title in search results to see if it is being truncated and if that’s the case shorten.
- Page Headings – Page headings are used as both a styling element and as an SEO element. Headings tell search engines what level of importance a section on your website page is. You want to use a main heading containing your keyword or service name for your main summary section and then use or headings for other sections where required.
- Content Length – Ideally you should try to have at least 500 words of focused content on your page. In reality this is not always possible, if you can – great.
- Image Optimisation – Make sure your image alt tags uses keywords related to the page or service. When you hover over the image you should see the alt tag text and so do search engines. Images can also be optimised and reduced in for size for web using software or plugins. There are many programs that will do this for you, especially if your website is WordPress based.
5. NAP Citations
NAP stands for Name, Address and Phone Number. When Google finds your details on relevant websites such as local directories it sends them a strong signal. There are many NAP Citation website in the UK where you can add your details – Yell, Free Index, 192, Scoot, Thompson Local and so on. A quick Google would probably provide a nice handy list for you.
If you’re a larger business you would probably employ a company to do this for you, as many agencies offer this service – for a small fee of course.
6. Fast and Furious Secure
How fast your website loads and performs is a critical factor on the Local SEO Checklist for performing and ranking with search engines. There are lots of ways you can speed up your website, choosing a good fast host is probably top of the list. There are lots of options these days and many packages available, personally I have always used Siteground for WordPress hosting as they’re awesome.
You can check your website speed and performance using a number of online tools. Google Pagespeed is a good place to start and the results will advise you of any recommended changes. GTmetrix is another fantastic online tool that will advise on any changes that can improve your page speed.
If you host your own website on an Apache or NGINX server you can install Google Pagespeed directly and this does all the hard work for you – handy that! This is for the more advanced user though.
When it comes to security you should now be using secure HTTPS hosting. This requires an SSL Certificate and your hosting company should be able to provide this option for you. HTTPS websites are now showing better rankings than traditional non-HTTPS websites. This vital if your website has e-Commerce options for customers. It’s best practise to seek out some help from an expert if you’re unsure about SSL.
7. Responsive Website
Today more people access the web using mobile device or tablet than they do a traditional desktop or laptop. If your website was built a few years ago it’s likely that it doesn’t display correctly or even work on a mobile or tablet. Making sure your website is responsive on any deviceis another critical factor for ensuring exposure for your business. Most WordPress designs are now fully responsive along with the more expensive options of having a new bespoke design by a web designer.
You can check how responsive your website is using online tools such as Google’s Mobile Friendly Test page. Or you can check yourself of course.
8. Get some Backlinks
Backlinks are where other websites link back to you. The more Backlinks you can get from high authority websites the better. Reach out to your suppliers or clients and ask them to put a link to your website on theirs, you can help them out and return the favour! Social Media accounts are also a great way to start building your Backlinks, so make sure you get some set up for your business.
9. Fresh Content
That’s right, fresh content or blogs are vital for boosting your website up the search engine rankings. There’s lots of reasons for creating blog posts on your specialised subject and this is going to really set you apart from your competition. Blogs are fairly easy to set up within your website especially if you’re a WordPress user. Think about the services you provide and the questions your customers might have about them.