Think of it this way: when you need to find a business in your area that specializes in old school video games like Space Invaders, where do you go to find it? You pull up your favorite search engine for a bit of research. This is where local SEO comes in handy.
Don’t believe it? Try this on for size: 50% of consumers who do a local business search on their phone visit the store within a day. And if you’re not using local SEO, you’re missing out on 100% of those customers.
Here, we’re breaking down the basics of local SEO and what you need to do to rock your local search listings in 2018.
What is Local SEO?
But first, the basics: what is local SEO?
SEO is all about making sure people can find you online and in real life. Local SEO takes those tools and applies it on a local level.
Essentially, local SEO involves using SEO best practices to target an audience in a specific geographic region. This will ensure that when customers search in your area, they’ll find your business above others.
While local SEO practices are related to global SEO, there is a difference. The name explains it pretty well — global SEO optimizes your site for searchers all over the web, while local SEO optimizes for searchers in your local area.
How to Do Local SEO
Because of this, your local business SEO looks a little different from your standard SEO.
To clarify: the gap between typical SEO and local SEO isn’t the difference between the sun and the moon. They are related practices. There’s a common misconception that they’re completely different animals.
The truth is, local SEO takes a lot of standard SEO practices and modifies them to emphasize local optimization. For example, both types of SEO use link building, but local SEO prioritizes local link building.
There are also a few tasks that fall more under the local SEO umbrella, like local landing page development and store locator SEO.
In general, don’t panic. These are all tasks you’ve done before.
Your Local SEO Checklist
With that in mind, let’s talk about your local SEO checklist.
There are a lot more tips and tricks you can use to improve your local listings. Here, we’ve listed all the essentials you should be doing no matter what.
Set Up Your Google My Business Listing
Before you pass Go and collect new visitors, set up your Google My Business listing.
Think of a business in your area and type their name into the search bar. See that little box to the side that has a photo, the business name, and all that handy information like their address, phone number, operating hours, and website?
That’s a Google My Business listing, and it should be part of any great Google SEO checklist because it’s one of the easiest ways to boost your local SEO game.
It’s free, and it’s easy.
To start, go to Google My Business with your NAP information (name, address, phone, etc.) in hand. Search for your business using your name and address.
If you see your business listed, you can review the information and claim the listing. If you’re new to Google My Business, follow these steps to register.
Choose Local Keywords
You know how to research keywords. But do you know how to research local keywords?
Relax. It’s easier than you think.
Basically, local keywords are related to a geographic location — like “dog groomer Tuscon” or “San Diego florist”.
If your business is already ranking for some local keywords, you can boost your rankings by optimizing for related keywords. So if you rank for “dog groomer Tuscon”, you can also look into keywords like “dog groomer in Tuscon,” “Tuscon dog groomer,” “pet groomer Tuscon,” etc.
Once you’ve chosen your local keywords, it’s time to use them for your onsite optimization.
If you’ve worked with regular SEO before, then you might know a few things about onsite optimization. Essentially, onsite optimization is the process of optimizing elements on a website in order to improve your search rankings.
So if you have your local keywords in mind, you need to seed them throughout your site.
Note: it doesn’t do you any good to optimize twelve different pages for the same keyword. Instead, choose which pages are suited to which keywords and use them wisely.
Location Specific Landing Pages
This one is a bit more work, but it ensures that your business will come out on top of the SERPs regardless of what location the user is searching for.
It’s also tricky, thanks to Google’s Doorway Pages algorithm. Click here for a guide on how to develop good location-specific landing pages without getting penalties from Google.
Don’t be afraid of the vocab terms. Schema markup isn’t as scary as it might sound.
Schema markup is code that you put on your website to aid web crawlers. It tells crawlers what the data on your site means, rather than just what the data says, which helps crawlers index you more efficiently (and thus rank higher).
Basically, it’s a snippet of HTML that shows details under your results.
It’s the difference between searching “bread recipes” and getting a result that says, “Delicious bread recipes including biscuits, pastries, loaves, and rolls. Find recipes for every occasion,” instead of a result that says, “Use bread recipes in a variety of ways including these recipes.”
Which one would you click on? The first, which is why you need schema markup.
To do schema markup, go to Google’s Structured Data Markup Helper and select the data you want to markup. Paste the URL of the page you wish to markup and highlight the elements that can be marked up on the page, like a title or author name.
Once you’re finished tagging, create the HTML, add schema markup to your webpage, and use the Markup Helper to see what your page looks like with the added markup.
Making Local Business SEO Work for You
Making sense of your local SEO is a fine art. Luckily, we know a thing or two about how to rock a local SEO checklist.