smartphone search by local customer finding local business

What (Really) Goes into Local SEO that Works

One of the best marketing choices a local business can make is to invest time and effort in local search engine optimization (SEO). Local SEO is a powerful tool for businesses that want to get found online in searches by LOCAL users. These efforts generate website visits, e-mails, in-store visits, and phone calls.

The effort to get found online does provide value, both in online and in-store visits. Search Engine Watch reported that Google said that half of all local consumers head to the store after doing a local search online. Google also stated that more than half of smartphone users found a new company or product during a search on their smartphone. (Other local SEO statistics also prove the value of this online marketing tactic.)

However, don’t let the term “generate” make local SEO seem like a passive marketing effort. Companies can’t sit back and wait to be found online.

Local SEO is an active and comprehensive marketing effort that never ends. This online marketing effort is a combination of one-time and ongoing tasks. While that may sound contradictory, some local SEO services, such as building a website or claiming a listing on a review site, are a one-time effort. Other items on the local SEO checklist, such as publishing optimized content and asking for online reviews, need to happen on a consistent basis for best results.

A stellar local SEO effort is complete with every item checked off the local SEO checklist. Because online marketing is also continually evolving, businesses need to stay up-to-date on the latest SEO practices that get results (or consult with local SEO pros).

But what really goes into local SEO that works? What do all those technological terms mean?

The list of off-site and website tasks breaks the local SEO process down—giving businesses the short list of what needs to happen.

Off-Site Local SEO Checklist

  • Claim, verify, and optimize a Google My Business listing. (One-time)
  • Ask customers for company reviews, which are also an integral part of local SEO. (Ongoing)
  • Update online review sites and directories with the (exact) same name, address, and website URL. (One-time)
  • Update Google My Business listing with posts. (Ongoing)
  • Engage with customer comments and reviews on Google. (Ongoing)

Website Local SEO Checklist

  • Build a well-structured and fast website with optimized content. (One-time)
  • Follow Google best-practices for a website with https. (One-time)
  • Optimize website pages with relevant keywords, headlines, and topics relevant to the target audience. (One-time)
  • Make a website mobile-friendly (important for search engine optimizations and website visitors). (One-time)
  • For businesses with multiple locations, create a separate page for each location. (Be careful not to duplicate content, which can incur a penalty). (One-time)

Locally Optimized Website Content Checklist

  • Add local, focused content to the website regularly. (Ongoing)
  • Select topics and high-volume keywords relevant to the target audience. (Ongoing)
  • Optimize content with keywords (without keyword stuffing). (Ongoing)
  • Include keywords in headline, meta tags, and URL. (Ongoing)

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