Posted by MiriamEllis
[Estimated read time: 13 minutes]
Is your brand visible to potential customers? If you're a local business and you haven't nailed down your local SEO, you're missing the opportunity to be seen when that customer searches on desktop or on mobile.
But local SEO isn't some mysterious entity. It's a series of concerted steps. And we can help you tailor those local SEO efforts to your business model. Simply find your business type on the following illustration and follow the steps that are specific to your needs.
Local SEO for all business types
But wait! You aren't done yet. There are some local SEO steps that work for businesses of all kinds. Use the checklist below to make sure you're ticking all the boxes to get seen in the SERPs. To jump ahead to a section, use these links:
- Technical website criteria
- Getting local content right
- Duplicate listing cleanup
- Earning reviews
- Social media for local business
- Out there in the real world
If you're a paper and pen type (or just want to save your checklist for later), download your very own copy of the Local SEO Checklist here:
Everything that applies to traditional SEO also applies to local SEO.
Regardless of business model, every local business website needs to be indexable, error-free, multi-device-compliant, well-structured, and properly optimized. See the complete technical checklist.
In addition to the above, local website optimization requires that you:
Content is an important part of any SEO effort, so make sure you're not tripping yourself up with thin or duplicate content. Here's a list of common content mistakes followed by a checklist of ways to increase the local SEO impact of your content.
Content mistakes to avoid
- Don't scrape content from other websites, even from the websites of manufacturers or authorities, unless you are publishing an attributed quote within your own, unique content.
- If you offer the same services or products in multiple cities, think carefully about attempting to create a unique page for every possible city/keyword combination. Only embark on this plan if you know you have sufficient resources of time, money, and talent to create truly high-quality pages for each combination. Avoid publishing thin or useless pages. If you know you don't have the resources, it's better to go with just a strong page for each city and a strong page for each service, rather than creating lots of thin or duplicate city/keyword combo pages.
- Think long and hard before deciding to take a multi-website approach, even if your company offers multiple services or has multiple offices. Numerous experts agree that it is almost always better to build a single, powerhouse website that promotes your brand and all of its services and branches rather than dividing up time, funding and talent between multiple websites. For more on this, see this community discussion.
Ways to create unique, user-, and search-friendly content
Citations are complete or partial references to your name, address, phone number or website (NAP+W) anywhere on the web. Learn more.
Automated or manual citation building: your choice
Building manual citations
You can choose to build all citations manually, keeping track of their existence, status, and progress in a spreadsheet. The main benefit of this path is more direct control over your listings; the main drawback is the considerable amount of time manual creation and management involves, including time involved to update all citations if a business re-brands or moves. If you'd like to try manual management, these resources will acquaint you with top citations you will want to build:
- Where to get citations
- The best citation sources by US city
- The best local citations by category
- Top 100 international citation sites
- Finding where your customers are
Automated citation building
You can choose to pay for either manual or automated citation building instead of doing the work yourself. The main benefit of this path is a savings in time and ease of making updates across multiple citations at once if a business moves or re-brands; the main drawback is that not all services are of equal quality and some may cause problems rather than resolving them.
With most citation services you will have somewhat less direct control over your local business listings, but if the product is good, this is not normally a major problem. The main thing is to be sure that any service you consider is building important citations rather than selling fluff and that there are not known problems being alleged regarding the way the service is sold or managed.
If you are considering purchasing a citation building service, read this comparison guide.
Even if you do pay to have citations built for you, in some cases, you may want to augment this by building some citations manually on specific niche sites that aren't offered in agency packages.
Duplicates sap your listing strength so detecting and resolving them is key. Use these tools and tips to get those duplicates cleaned up:
Given their power as a ranking and conversion factor, reviews are must-haves for every local business. Follow these steps to earn reviews:
Avoid wasting effort and money by identifying the right social platforms for your business's clientele. Maximize the return on your investment:
All online local efforts are but a reflection of offline realities and goals. Be sure you're getting it right where it counts most by remembering:
There are many theories about "effective frequency" — the number of times a person needs to be exposed to advertising before making a response to it. Some say the golden number is seven, but not everyone agrees.
What you can feel confident about is that all of the above steps represent efforts you are making to put your brand out there for the consideration of your potential customers, and the golden opportunity for local businesses is that their competition is limited by specific geography.
You don't have to compete against the whole world, but rather be a consistent, reliable resource for your own neighbors. Be in the right places at the right times, pair that with great service, and your local business has every chance of succeeding.
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