Comprehensive SEO Checklist 2021 (Updated) – Local SEO

If you’re seeking SEO checklist which can allow you to expand your website’s organic traffic and ranking on Google, then you’ve just discovered it.

We’ve assembled the ultimate checklist which you will need to drive SEO achievement in 2021, covering best practice points and activities you will need to learn about.

In the search engine optimization fundamentals to must-knows when assessing your off-page signs, use this as a reference point for making sure that your website is sticking to best-practice which you are not being held back by problems you have missed.

Listed below are the main categories I will cover in this series:

Local SEO Checklist

So far we have only focused on general SEO practices. However, if you are running a local business you should always leverage local SEO to get in touch with your clients.

As always, you want to make it as easy as possible for potential customers to find you. Hence, this section deals with the special requirements and optimization techniques in local SEO.

Claim a “My Business” Listing on Google

Google offers a special feature called “Google My Business” (GMB) and it’s highly recommended to claim your listing there. Why?

Because Google uses these listings for local search queries. Result pages for local search queries such as “Pharmacies near me” follow a completely different ranking national, global or general ones as they usually come with a different user intent. Let’s say someone googles “Pharmacies near me” in New York, it would not at all make sense to show them results from San Francisco. On top Google currently only shows the top results “near me” on the first page, often referred to as the 3-Map Pack or Local Pack.

So how do you get into these top 3 results? Well, you can’t simply target a search query like that with keywords so you will have to try and claim a spot in the local search results by listing your business!

How do you claim your GMB Listing on Google?

If you’re an established business, you probably already claimed your listing. If not, simply follow the Google wizard to apply – or check out this tutorial.

The process is very simple:

  1. Claim your listing
  2. Set-up your profile
  3. Get verified (either via phone, SMS or e-mail)

Claim a Yelp Listing

While Google is undoubtedly the most dominant player in the local space there are a bunch of other directories out there that can boost your local success. Your goal should be to be listed on as many trusted sites as possible. One of the most prevalent directories is Yelp, and once again, it’s really simple to claim your listing:

  1. Sign up for an account
  2. Set up your listing
  3. Get the listing verified

(Yelp will call the phone number you provided so make sure you are reachable)

Claim a “Bing Places for Business” Listing

Right after Google, the Microsoft-owned search engine “Bing” is one of the biggest players in the market. Bing is not only the default search engine in Microsoft’s Software

  • millions of people use it for their search queries on a daily basis. Hence, a Bing listing should be on your to-do list!

The process is pretty much the same as with Google: After you set up your listing, Google verifies you and you’re all set!

Once set up, optimize your Listings

Setting up your listings is the first step – but you’re not done just yet! Claiming them alone is not sufficient to show up in the map pack (remember, Google only shows the top three local results). You will have to optimize to stand a chance!

There are 3 factors Google takes into consideration when determining the local ranking:

  1. Relevance – according to Google, relevance measures how well a local listing matches the searcher intent. Tip: Make sure to include detailed information about your business to help Google understand and categorize it better.
  2. Distance – this one is rather self-explanatory and refers to how far each potential search result is from the searcher’s location.
  3. Prominence – Prominence refers to how well-known a business is. In order to determine the prominence of a business, the search engine also factors in:
    1. Information it finds on the web such as links, articles, and directories.
    2. Google’s review count and score: More reviews and positive ratings will likely improve a business’s local ranking
    3. Your overall position in web results

So, how do you optimize your listings? No worries, we got you covered: The next section consists of several tips specifically referring to the Google My Business profile. While the exact ranking factors might vary between search engines these tips will help you no matter the channel. Keep in mind that these tips mainly form a base of optimizing your listings: This guide will cover more advanced tips in the subsequent sections.

How do you optimize your “Google My Business” location?

  • Make sure you have a complete and accurate business information profile in place. This profile should include your business name, address, phone number, website, category, description, photos, working hours, FAQs and so on. Cover each aspect you can possibly think of!
  • Make sure you are listed in the right category. If you aren’t sure what category your business is in, simply look up your main service and see what category the top results are in.
  • Make sure to complement your profile with high-quality, highly descriptive pictures. Research has shown that a business with more images tends to rank higher in the map So make sure to upload at least:
  • 3 interior pics
  • 3 exterior pics
  • Pictures of your work, products or services
  • Pictures of your staff, ideally showing a typical work day setting
  • Google lets you add a 750-character description to your listing – make sure you use the full potential and include keywords related to your business.
  • Put together a FAQ section. The more content you have on your listing, the better it is for your ranking. This is also a great way of answering common questions of potential customers!
  • Make sure you claim the short URL for your listing. This is a way nicer link to post on social networks – for you and for everyone else.

Alright – now you have a good overview about the basics of any listing optimization. If you optimize your listings according to these tips, you most likely already beat around 80% of businesses GMBs.

Get your business listed on relevant general directories

As described above, general directories are a great way to put some foundational links in place. However, our tip is to be selective and only publish on directories that are relevant rather than wasting time trying to be listed on every single directory out there.

Make sure you understand what’s important here: When it comes to general directories you should not just try to be listed for the purpose of backlinking – see it as an opportunity to generate traffic and trust. Whenever you vet a directory ask yourself the following two questions:

  • Is the website trustworthy and reputable?
  • Is the website likely to be read by your target audience?

If the answer to both questions is yes it makes sense for you to list your business there. If not, it’s better to skip it as it likely causes more harm than good in the long run.

Target niche-specific directories

When it comes to directories it is always better to target niche-specific ones instead of general ones. Also, there’s more to it than just a backlink:

  • They are more relevant to your business
  • They are your tailored to your target customers and hence attract the right crowd
  • Your competitors are probably listed on the sites already – don’t fall behind
  • You can promote yourself on these sites
  • They serve as niche search engines

Get people to write reviews

Apart from the listings, Google also factors in how many reviews a page has and how positive these reviews are. On top these reviews will also boost trust among potential future customers and hence will increase website traffic and sales.

So if your listing lacks reviews, proactively reach out to previous customers and ask them to write one!

This is a great article with a more detailed guide on how to do this.

Reply to reviews

Google also encourages business owners to actively reply to reviews they got on local listings. If Google says do it, do it – and kill two birds with one stone by pleasing the algorithm AND developing a trusting relationship with your customer.

Also, at the end of the day, more content related to your posting means more potential to increase the spectrum of keywords related to your business. This in return further boosts the relevance of your listing.

Publish Google Posts

Google posts are a great – however, often overlooked feature of GMB. It is another lever which allows you to actively approach your target group.

Make sure to add site-wide NAP details

NAP stands for Name – Address – Phone Number. Google sees it as your “signature”, clearly identifying your local business. It is recommended to include your NAP details on every page of your site, usually in the header or in the footer.

Make sure you implement consistent NAP details across your website

As mentioned in the section before, NAP is basically your signature. Hence it needs to fulfill two criteria: Being unique and consistent.

Hence you should ensure that the Name, Address and Phone number are properly formatted and consistent across your website. While this sounds logical, mistakes happen quickly: Make sure to not use abbreviations on some pages and the full name somewhere else.

Make sure you have consistent NAP details on all listings & social networks

While it is not a big challenge to keep your NAP consistent across your website, it can be a lot harder to do so in all social networks and directories.

Sometimes, people forget to add the full address, state varying phone numbers or use a short version of your business name. This is one of the biggest and most common mistakes when it comes to local listings optimization.

However, looking at it from the other side – if you have a consistent NAP all across the web in place, this will quickly put you into the top 10% of local listings. Easy!

Have a content strategy in place that targets local topics

We have learned before that two of the top SEO ranking factors are relevance and authority. To make sure you have both of them in place it is highly recommended to have a content strategy for both your products and services as well as for your location in place.

Sounds abstract? Here is an example:

Let’s say you’re a wedding photographer in San Francisco. While the content strategy about your service would cover topics such as the right time of the day and poses, your content strategy referring to your location could include the best local picture spots or venues.

Consistently publishing content in a certain niche will increase your authority in this certain area, thus leading to a higher ranking in the search results. So what are you waiting for?

Claim brand mentions from local sites

As we have learned before, brand mentions pose a relatively easy way to score a backlink. This also applies for your local business! Especially if you have running your local business it is likely that your brand has been mentioned here and there. Find these mentionings and convert them into backlinks!

In case you have no or only a few mentionings you could also do some research about your competitors and figure out where they are featured. You could then approach the respective local publications and try to get a link to your own site a well.

Not only will this add to your authority – it will also increase people’s trust in your brand which is especially important on a local level.

Add a local business markup to your homepage

First of all, what is a schema markup?

A “schema markup”, also known as structured data or structured markup data is basically the language of search engines. The purpose behind schema is to provide support for a prevailing group of tags that can be used by search engines to better understand and ultimately represent the underlying data.

Before translating your page content into a schema markup, you first need to answer the following question “What is this site all about?”

What’s in it for you?

According to Google, schema markup can…

  • …help Google to better understand the content and purpose of your website
  • … increase the ranking of your site in search results
  • … help you gain more site traffic as the content is better formatted in search results (snippets, sitelinks, etc.)

This LOCAL experience SEO checklist can help your business get started with SEO.

That doesn’t mean it’s easy to implement on SEO checklist on a site. It requires time, dedication, and some background SEO knowledge. At Pacelab, our team can help you check-off every to-do on your checklist.

Request a free quote online today or call us at +919717778130 to start using SEO for your website!

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