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The Ultimate Local SEO Checklist for Businesses in 2024
Local SEO is crucial for businesses trying to rank locally and drive in-person sales and leads. With more and more searches having local intent, optimizing your web presence for local rankings can significantly grow your physical customer base.
This comprehensive local SEO checklist covers all the essential factors to optimize for local SEO in 2023. Whether you run a restaurant, retail store, professional service firm or other brick-and-mortar business, this guide will help improve your local SEO to boost foot traffic and sales.
Key Factors That Impact Local Search Rankings
Title tag & meta description – Include your city, neighborhood or other local area in your page title tags and meta descriptions. This tells Google the geographic scope of your business.
Prominent business info – Your full business name, exact address and phone number should be easy to find on your site. This helps establish your local relevance.
Location-optimized content – Create pages and blog posts targeting your local service areas and neighborhood names using relevant keywords.
Schema markup – Structured data like LocalBusiness schema further signals your business info to search engines.
Google My Business – A complete, optimized Google My Business listing helps you rank in map packs and drive direction requests.
Positive local reviews – Reviews on Google and other sites like Yelp demonstrate local customer satisfaction. Aim for at least 20-30.
Local citations – Get listed on 50+ local directories like Yellow Pages, Manta and niche sites related to your business. Match all data across listings for consistency.
Local link building – Earn high quality local links from neighborhood blogs, business partners, sponsors and event calendars to build authority.
Mobile optimization – A responsive, mobile-friendly website is essential for both local SEO and user experience on the go.
Site speed – Faster page load times improve local rankings and visitor engagement. Keep pages lean and optimize images.
Security – An SSL certificate to support HTTPS is required for ranking well today. It also builds trust with visitors.
Conduct Thorough Keyword Research
To rank for local search terms, first you need to identify relevant, high-traffic keywords to target. Here are proven tools and approaches:
Google Keyword Planner – Use geographic modifiers to find monthly search volumes for local keywords like “Thai restaurant Orange County”.
UberSuggest – Type in root keywords like “plumber” and location names to discover long-tail local keywords.
SEMrush – See keyword difficulties, traffic estimates and ranking opportunities for location-based keywords.
Moz Keyword Explorer – Analyze keyword competition levels and filter keywords by metro area using location modifiers.
Target a mix of these types of local keywords:
- Branded terms like “Your Business Name Austin”
- Product/service + city like “furniture store Seattle”
- Local intent keywords like “salon near me”
- Industry terms + neighborhood like “pediatrician Upper East Side”
Optimize On-Page Elements
With your keywords identified, it’s time to optimize your website for those location-based terms:
Craft Title Tags and Meta Descriptions with Location
Your page title tag is the most important element for search rankings. Include your location name at the beginning or end:
Best Pizza Chicago | Deep Dish, Thin Crust & More (GOOD)
Joe's Best Pizza in Chicago (ALSO GOOD)
For the meta description, mention the specific neighborhoods or regions you serve:
We serve the most delicious pizza across Chicagoland including Downtown, Evanston, Wicker Park and more. Dine-in or delivery!
Display Business Name, Address and Phone Number Prominently
Make your business name, exact address and phone number easy to find. List them on your Contact page, footer and Contact/Location schema markup.
Create Location-Optimized Content
Write long-form content targeting your local keywords like:
- Neighborhood pages – “Best brunch spots in Brooklyn”
- City guides – “Our favorite parks in Dallas”
- Service area pages – “Top orthodontists in the Greater Seattle Area
Implement Schema Markup for LocalBusiness
Add structured data like LocalBusiness schema to your GMB or homepage with your business name, address, images, operating hours and other details.
Build Local Links for Better Rankings
Link building is crucial for ranking well both locally and organically overall. Here are actionable strategies to earn authoritative local links:
Get listed on Google My Business, Apple Maps, Yelp, Yellow Pages, Manta and 50+ niche/industry directories related to your business.
Guest post on local blogs and partner with neighboring businesses to get placed on their Resources or Partners pages.
Get featured on local event calendars by sponsoring teams, venues, charities.
Encourage customer reviews on Google, Facebook and elsewhere. Respond to reviews publicly.
Publish local press releases on sites like PRWeb.com to build branded links.
Volunteer expertise on Quora and Reddit local subreddits relevant to your business.
Track and Monitor Key Local SEO Metrics
To gauge the success of your optimization efforts, be sure to monitor these key local SEO metrics:
- Local pack ranking for target keywords
- Organic keyword rankings in Google Search Console
- Percentage of overall traffic from local/geo keywords
- Phone calls, walk-ins and other conversions from website
- Google My Business metrics like views, clicks and actions
Use tools like Google Analytics, Google Search Console, Moz Local, CallRail and your GMB Insights to track this data.
Local SEO Checklist Recap
Optimizing your website for local SEO is an ongoing process, but this checklist summarizes the most important factors:
✓ Keyword optimization for local intent terms
✓ Location-optimized on-page elements
✓ Complete + optimized Google My Business listing
✓ Local citations on 50+ relevant directories
✓ Positive local reviews and engagement
✓ Local link building activities
✓ Mobile-friendly, fast, and secure website
✓ Location-based schema markup
✓ Tracking of local SEO KPIs
Focus on these areas to boost your local visibility and bring in more foot traffic! For additional local SEO tips and strategies, check out these resources:
- Moz’s Local Search Ranking Factors
- Angie’s List Guide to Outstanding Local SEO
- Search Engine Journal’s Local SEO Guide Here is the continued article:
Optimize Your Google My Business Listing
Your Google My Business (GMB) listing is one of the most powerful local SEO tools at your disposal. Optimizing your GMB listing can help you rank in the map pack, driving calls, views, and direction requests.
Follow this checklist to optimize your GMB listing:
Complete profile – Fill out every section such as description, images, attributes, service areas.
Accurate data – Double check your business name, address and phone number match your website and citations.
Descriptive categories – Use all 20 categories to help Google understand your business type.
High-quality photos – Add exterior, interior, product/service, and staff photos. Update seasonally.
Compelling description – Briefly describe your business value proposition and focus keywords.
Attributes – Tailor attributes like menus, price range, and amenities to your business.
Products – Add your products/services so customers can find you when searching for them.
Longer hours – Expand your business hours if possible to show up for more searches.
Posts – Publish posts highlighting sales, events, offers and other updates.
Monitoring and improving your GMB listing regularly is crucial for consistent local visibility.
Build Local Links Through Citations and Directories
Citations are consistent NAP mentions (name, address, phone number) across key online directories related to your industry. The more quality local citations you have, the stronger your local SEO foundation will be.
Aim to be listed on these essential citation sources:
- Google My Business
- Apple Maps
- Bing Places
- Better Business Bureau
Plus niche/industry directories like:
- Avvo for lawyers
- ZocDoc for doctors
- Petfinder for pet services
- TripAdvisor for restaurants and hotels
And local/regional directories like:
- Local chamber of commerce
- Convention and visitor bureaus
- Local publications like neighborhood newspapers and magazines
- Local/regional business partnerships
Ensure your business name, address, phone number and other details exactly match across all citations. This establishes consistency for search engines.
Earn Positive Local Reviews
Reviews are social proof that build trust and authority for your local business. The more positive reviews you can accumulate, the better.
Enable reviews – Turn on reviews on Google, Facebook, Yelp and other relevant sites. Respond publicly to reviews.
Ask customers – Place review prompts on receipts, packaging, email receipts, and your website.
Incentivize – Offer discounts for leaving an honest review. Just disclose incentivization properly.
Rectify negatives – Address negative reviews professionally by apologizing and making it right when appropriate.
Monitor regularly – Check review sites frequently and respond to maintain an active online presence.
Aim for at least 30+ high-quality positive reviews reflecting satisfied customers. This lends credibility that can boost local rankings.
Track Your Local SEO Results
The final step is measuring your local SEO efforts against key metrics:
- Local pack ranking for target keywords
- Organic keyword rankings in Google Search Console
- Local organic traffic as a percentage of overall traffic
- Phone calls, emails, walk-ins from website
- Google My Business actions like calls, views, directions
Use tools like Google Analytics, Search Console, Chat Meter, Moz Local and your GMB Insights to track this data.
Set specific local SEO goals and monitor your progress against those goals month-over-month. This allows you to see what strategies are working and what areas need improvement.
Consistency is key with local SEO. Put in the work to execute this checklist, track your metrics diligently, and your website visibility will gradually improve in your target locations. Here is the continued section:
Leverage Local Schema Markup
Implementing schema markup is an important technical SEO factor for improving local rankings. Schema is code that structures your data to help search engines better understand your business.
These local schema markup types are particularly beneficial:
This highlights your business name, address, phone number, opening hours and other info. You can embed this on your contact page, footer or homepage.
"name": "Your Business Name",
"streetAddress": "123 Main St",
"openingHours": "Mo-Fr 08:00-20:00",
Show answers to common customer questions using FAQ schema markup.
Display testimonials or published online reviews using the Review snippet.
Use Article schema for blog posts and resources related to your local area and industry.
Structured data enhances how search engines parse your site. Test your pages through Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool. Correct any errors and re-test to validate your markup.
Optimize Your Website’s Technical Factors
The technical health of your website also influences local search visibility. Ensure your site meets these criteria:
Mobile-friendly – A responsive design is needed for the majority of local searches on smartphones.
Fast load times – Page speed greatly affects local SEO. Compress images, minify CSS/JS, and optimize code.
SSL certified – HTTPS URLs with SSL boost local rank. It also provides security for users.
No crawl errors – Fix any issues flagged in Google Search Console for maximum indexing.
Mobile-friendly – A responsive design is needed given local searches on smartphones.
Refresh content – Add fresh, original content regularly to give search engines new pages to index.
Investing in your website’s technical foundations strengthens its ability to rank locally.
Frequently Asked Local SEO Questions
Here are answers to some common local SEO questions businesses have:
How long does local SEO take to show results?
It can take 2-6 months to begin seeing measurable local SEO results. Be patient and focus on consistently executing the checklist.
Should I hire a local SEO company?
An experienced local SEO company can help kickstart your optimization efforts through an initial campaign. However, ongoing effort in-house is still required after.
What are the best local SEO strategies for multi-location businesses?
Multi-location brands need unique, optimized website content for each location. Your overall domain authority should also be built up through national-level link building and optimization best practices.
How much does local SEO cost?
The investment for local SEO depends on if you do it in-house or hire an agency. Monthly costs typically range from \$750 – \$2500+ for professional services. In-house costs mainly involve staffing and tool subscriptions.
How is local SEO different from organic SEO?
Gaining visibility on local search results is key for driving in-person sales and calls for service area businesses. This extensive local SEO checklist outlines every tactic and best practice needed to improve your local rankings.
While it takes consistency over months to see results, strategically optimizing your on-page content, technical site factors, local citations, Google My Business listing, and online reputation will ultimately deliver higher local authority and visibility.
Which local SEO factors do you plan to focus on first for your business? Let me know if you have any other local search optimization questions! Here is the final section of the article:
Sample Local SEO Audit Checklist
To summarize all the key elements covered in this guide, here is a downloadable local SEO audit checklist you can use to evaluate your website’s current optimization status.
- [ ] Location included in page titles and meta descriptions
- [ ] Business name, address and phone number easy to find
- [ ] Service area pages optimized for local keywords
- [ ] Prominent calls-to-action to contact or visit location
- [ ] LocalBusiness and other schema markup implemented
- [ ] Website is mobile-friendly and responsive
- [ ] Fast page load speeds under 3 seconds
- [ ] SSL installed for HTTPS URL
- [ ] No major crawl errors or site indexing issues
- [ ] Blog covering topics for local audience
- [ ] Neighborhood and city guides created
- [ ] Local sponsorships and partnerships pursued
Google My Business
- [ ] Complete GMB profile with images, attributes, etc
- [ ] Categories, service areas, attributes optimized
- [ ] Posts published regularly to engage users
- [ ] Tracking calls, views, directions and other metrics
Local Link Building
- [ ] Positive local reviews on GMB, Yelp, Facebook
- [ ] Local directory citations built out
- [ ] Guest posts/partnerships with local sites
- [ ] Local PPC ads setup and optimized
Analytics & Tracking
- [ ] Local organic traffic tracked in Search Console
- [ ] Calls, store visits, contact form submissions tracked
- [ ] GMB actions like calls and driving directions tracked
- [ ] Rank tracking for local pack and organic keywords
This covers all the crucial areas of focus for effective local SEO. Conduct an audit of your own website to identify strengths as well as gaps needing improvement. Then create a prioritized plan to execute based on the guidelines provided throughout this guide.
With consistent effort over time, your local SEO results will continue improving. Best of luck ranking your business locally this year! Here is an example conclusion to wrap up the blog post:
Achieving strong local search visibility is critical for service area businesses looking to drive phone calls, walk-ins, and local conversions.
This comprehensive local SEO checklist covers all the essential factors you need to optimize for improved local rankings.
To recap, you should:
- Conduct keyword research to identify location-optimized keywords to target
- Optimize on-page elements like business info, titles, and content
- Build local links through directories, citations and partnerships
- Cultivate positive local reviews and engagement
- Create and optimize a Google My Business listing
- Implement schema markup for your business
- Track local SEO KPIs in analytics
Improving your local SEO is an ongoing process. But by methodically executing these checklist items over time, your website visibility will gradually improve on Google and other search engines.
The payoff of higher local authority is well worth the investment for service area businesses dependent on local search traffic. Use this guide as your local SEO blueprint this year!
I hope this thorough local SEO checklist gives you a clear path to boosting your local search rankings.