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127-Point Local SEO Checklist for 2020 (+ Downloadable Template)

This post was originally published on this site

Robbie headshot

Editor’s Note:

I’ve teamed up with my friend and local SEO expert Alex Ratynski, the Founder at Ratynski Digital. 

Alex Ratynski

Are you struggling to rank your local business in Google, Bing and other search engines?

You’re not alone.

Many business owners understand the importance of local SEO, but don’t know how to get started or struggle to see results. 

The end result: a lot of online traffic, leads and sales get left on the table. 

Today, over 46% of all Google searches are local, and 88% of searches for local businesses on a mobile device either call or visit the business within 24 hours. 

According to Google, local intent searches like “near me” are growing 150% faster than non-local searches.

If you’re serious about growing your local business, it’s essential to rank in both the local map pack and organic search results.

To help you do just that, I’ve put together a comprehensive local SEO checklist that covers everything from technical SEO and Google Maps optimization to review strategy and link building. 

I’ve included jump links to key sections of the checklist below:

Robbie headshot

Editor’s note:

To make this as actionable as possible, I went through every example and actionable item in the post and compiled a
127-point checklist in Google Sheets

Use the template to check every aspect of your local SEO strategy, identify gaps, and build actionable task lists for your team. 

Local SEO Checklist teaser

Ready to go? Sweet. Let’s get started! 

Disclosure: There are some affiliate links in this article. If you decide to purchase a tool through one of those affiliate links, I will receive a commission at no additional cost to you. Thanks for your support.


Why is SEO important for local businesses?

Today, local businesses need to have a clearly defined online marketing strategy in order to grow (or in many cases stay afloat).

One study found that 78% of location-based mobile searches result in a purchase made offline.

Think about that for a moment.

For most businesses, a large majority of customers begin their journey online, but complete their purchase offline at a physical location.

In addition, 92% of searchers will pick businesses on the first page of local search results. It isn’t enough to simply “have a website”, it also needs to rank high on the first page, and inside the map pack, to get found by potential customers:

Notice how this cosmetic dentist is ranking #1 in the maps section AND in the organic search results? You can bet your bottom dollar this results in a steady stream of new patients each month.

How do we achieve this?

Local search engine optimization (SEO).

Ok, now that we know why local search is critical for your business, it’s important to also understand what factors Google uses to rank websites in the Maps and organic search results.


Local Ranking Factors

Let’s be clear; Google doesn’t publicly share every single ranking factor, and certainly won’t share the exact weight or importance of each factor.

However, through hundreds of experiments, numerous studies, tests, and a deep understanding of how search works, we are able to gain powerful insights into the most important local seo factors.

Robbie and I decided to build this checklist off Moz’s study coupled with our many years of hands-on experience successfully ranking local clients.

Some of the most important local seo ranking factors include:

  • Google My Business optimization
  • Links 
  • Reviews 
  • On-Page Optimizations
  • Citations & Directories
  • Behavioral Signals
  • Personalization
  • Social Signals

This checklist will dive deep into each ranking factor, and show you step-by-step how to optimize your website for higher local search rankings.


Real-Life Results From This Checklist

Let’s take a look at some real local businesses that have seen traffic and revenue growth after working through the exact items covered in this checklist.

The Healthcare Industry

This checklist covers the exact steps I used to get quick results for this small local business in the healthcare industry:

Not only did we almost double organic traffic, but over 31,000 sessions for a business located in a relatively small town, was a bit of game changer for their lead flow.

The Carpet Cleaning Industry

The same checklist was used for this single location carpet cleaning business that saw nearly 200% growth in Google Maps visibility within one month:

The Dental Industry

This local dental office ranked high on the first page of Google and saw steady organic traffic growth:

While these traffic numbers are by no means meteoric, the relative growth shows how this process can have a sizable impact on even the smallest of local businesses.

Now:

Traffic is great, but what about the bottom line?

After implementing this checklist, another dentist client is receiving 80-90 new patient bookings each month. That’s nearly triple the industry benchmark!

This amounts to over $75,000 of additional revenue every single month.

Robbie headshot

Editor’s note: Our agency also used this checklist to help increase a non-profit’s car donations by 59% month-over-month:

Image:
Databox pulls metrics from multiple third party data sources into a single interactive dashboard, and is one the top-rated SEO reporting tools

Now:

The best part about this checklist?

It provides a repeatable process to consistently drive organic traffic and conversion growth for any local business.

Let’s dive in!


Comprehensive Local SEO Checklist (With Examples and Template)

Robbie headshot

Editor’s note:

Use the expanded 127-point checklist below to check every aspect of your local SEO strategy, identify gaps, and build actionable task lists for your team.

Local SEO Checklist teaser

This local SEO checklist is broken out into different focus areas below. The order may be slightly different to what you’ll see on other checklists.

We started with technical SEO because all your work will be for nothing if you have an issue with Google crawling or indexing your site.

We chose to focus on conversion rate optimization (CRO) next because all SEO and other marketing efforts will be wasted if the site or page isn’t optimized for conversions or isn’t mobile-friendly.

We then jump into the core local search initiatives such as GMB optimizations, review collection, citations, links and content.

You can use the links below to jump to a section of interest. 

Table Of Contents:

Technical SEO

Technical SEO issues can wreak havoc for local businesses. 

If your site is configured to tell Google NOT to index your content, it will never rank. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve come across a WordPress website that had this little box checked:

Begin by making sure Google can crawl and index your website efficiently. Otherwise all your time, money and effort spent trying to grow your online presence will be wasted.

1. Crawl the site to find accessibility/indexation issues

What is website indexing?

The process for crawling web content on the internet, analyzing its content and organizing it accordingly. Think of it as a giant library:

Why is website indexation important for local businesses?

If google is unable to crawl or index (the process of sorting content) your website, then you will not appear in Google search. This is simply because Google doesn’t know your web page exists.

How do I identify and fix site indexing issues?

You can begin this process by going to Google and entering the following search operator:

“Site:yourwebsite.com”

For example, if you go to Google and search “site:https://www.robbierichards.com” you will see Google has indexed 221 pages:

If the number listed is significantly higher or lower than the number of pages that your site actually has, you likely have some indexation or accessibility issues that need to be fixed.

For example:

If the number of pages in the index is a lot lower than the number of pages/posts published on your site, there are likely some accessibility issues at play where you may be inadvertently blocking crawlers from finding and indexing your content.

Using Screaming Frog, you can quickly see which pages are indexable:

Step 1:
Open Screaming Frog and click on the ‘configuration’ tab and then the ‘spider’ tab.

From there you can quickly check or uncheck specific resources you don’t want to crawl to speed up the process:

Step 2:

Next, add your website’s URL into the input bar at the top and hit “Start”.

Step 3:

Once the crawl is complete, you can quickly sort your pages via the indexability tab to see which pages are indexable and which ones are not.

You can also check to see if you are blocking any pages from your robots.txt file.

Manually review the pages and make sure you’re not blocking any assets that should be in the index.

2. Set up analytics and analyze KPIs

What are analytics?

“Analytics” refers to all of the data and metrics about a website (eg: pageviews, organic traffic, number of sessions, conversions, time spent on site etc).

Google Analytics is a free tool provided by Google to track and monitor your website’s performance.

What are KPIs?
Key Performance Indicators. A measurable value that tracks how well a business is performing against its key objectives (eg: boost organic traffic, generate more leads, increase sales etc).

Why setup analytics & track metrics?
Tracking analytics and measuring KPIs is crucial to making informed decisions for your business, such as where to invest marketing dollars.

How to set up all the necessary analytics & track your KPIs:

Sign up for Google Analytics and connect it to your site using one of the various verification methods.

Step 1:

Head over to https://marketingplatform.google.com/about/analytics/ and click “Start for free”.

Step 2:
Go to the ‘Admin’ tab and select ‘create account’ and then enter all of your account details.

Step 3:
Continue the process by choosing what it is you want to measure. For most of you this will be “Web” rather than “App”.

Step 4:
Next, you will need to set up your property by naming your website in your GA account and adding your website URL, your industry category, as well as your time zone.

Step 5:
Now that your account is set up and ready to go, the last thing you need to do is to add your Google Analytics tracking code to the website. You can do this by adding the code into the <head> tag of every web page you want to track.

If you aren’t sure how to do this, you can also add this via Google Tag Manager or through a plugin if you are on WordPress.

Set up Google Search Console

Next you need to set up Google Search Console & verify each individual version of your website (http vs https & www vs non-www) and then also verify the site through the “domain” section.

Note: If you only set up the domain section without the other versions, you won’t have access to some of the older webmaster tools.

The verification process is very similar to Google Analytics.

And once you are finished, you will be able to easily measure performance in Google search over time.

When setting up and tracking your KPIs, always align your KPIs with overarching business goals. If the business is trying to increase revenue, then tracking overall sales, leads and conversions is a must.

If the business is focusing on brand awareness, perhaps organic sessions, session duration, or social shares are some of the more important KPIs.

3. Improve Page Speed

What is page speed?
The measurement of how fast your web content loads for the user.

Why improve your website speed?
Not only is page speed a ranking factor, but with more than half of all searches happening on a mobile device, your web page needs to load quickly.

Depending on the website, every additional second can result in a 7% loss in conversions.


How to improve your load time & site speed:

Start by measuring your current page speed. I recommend using a tool called GTmetrix.

Save the report and keep it on hand to track improvements. The best way to improve your website’s load time includes the following:

  • Upgrade your hosting
  • Utilize caching
  • Compress images & reduce file sizes
  • Compress CSS, HTML, and JavaScript files
  • Minify CSS, HTML, and JavaScript files
  • Use a CDN
Robbie headshot

Editor’s note: 
If you have a WordPress website, I highly recommend using the WP Rocket page speed optimization plugin. 

4. Build A Responsive Website

What is a responsive website?
A responsive website automatically adjusts the content to fit the size of the screen or device, no matter the size.

Why is a responsive site necessary?

After making a local search on a mobile device, 88% of all consumers will either call or visit a business within 24 hours. If your website isn’t mobile friendly then you will lose out on nearly 61% of those consumers.

Google has also made the switch to mobile-first indexing. This means that Google analyzes the mobile version of your website rather than the desktop version.

By prioritizing a mobile-first design, you will benefit customers and search engines.

Here’s just one client that saw drastic improvements almost immediately after switching to a responsive website:

How to build a responsive website:

The best way to ensure you have a responsive website that is custom built for your local area, is to work with someone who offers high-quality responsive website design.

That being said, not every business can afford a new website. If you choose to do it yourself, one of the best ways to get started (without needing to be super tech savvy) is to utilize a fast, conversion-focused WordPress theme builder like Thrive or at least a helpful visual page builder (I recommend Thrive Architect).

Not only can these help you build a fast responsive website, but they are a fantastic option for any local business just starting to build an online presence. 


CRO and Design

5. Mobile First CRO

Conversion rate optimization (CRO) is the process of improving the percentage of customers that take a desired action on your website. This may be anything from improving the number of form fills or phone calls to increasing direct online sales.

To properly improve the CRO process you must accurately understand how your customers use your website, which pages they visit and in what order. As well as identify possible reasons that your website may not be “converting” as many customers as desired.

CRO may include some of the following actions:

  • Adjusting your value proposition
  • Restructuring content layout
  • Adding clear call-to-actions
  • Including social proof
  • Adding videos to pages

Why is mobile CRO necessary?

You can get more leads, customers and revenue from the traffic you already have. If you are a plastic surgeon getting 1,500 visits to your page each month, and that page has a 3% conversion rate, then you will get roughly 45 new leads each month.

However, if you are able to double your conversion rate to 6%, then you will also double your overall number of leads without needing any additional traffic.

How to optimize your website for conversions:

One of the biggest mistakes I come across on websites involves the business phone number. If one of your primary goals is to get customers to call you, then you MUST be sure to display the phone number clearly and prominently.

Here’s a great example of an oral surgeon that does this well in their mobile menu (as well as a phone CTA in the mobile footer) vs a carpet cleaner whose phone number is extremely hard to find and isn’t clickable:

Pro tip: Make sure your phone number is clickable (click to call) via mobile devices.

Additional CRO Improvements include:

  • Use very specific CTAs like “request an appointment” or “get directions”
  • Add social proof – testimonials, client logos or awards/ certifications
  • Use only as many form fields as absolutely necessary
  • Use buttons when possible instead of linked text to make things easier to click on mobile
  • Improve readability by increasing font size
  • Include key information above the fold so users see it immediately after arriving to the page
  • Break up content into short concise paragraphs

For a comprehensive guide on CRO be sure to check out ConversionXL.

6. Optimize Local Landing Pages

What is a local landing page?
Local landing pages are unique web pages built for each store location.

Why is local landing page optimization necessary?
As with any other page, optimization is necessary to target the local market specific to that page’s location. These types of pages are especially important for brick and mortar stores with multiple locations.

How to optimize your landing pages:
There are numerous on-page SEO optimization techniques that can be applied, however, today we are going to focus on 9 important optimization steps. We will also use Affordable Dentures’ Boise location page as a great example.

1. Include the keyword in the page heading
As soon as your customer lands on the page they should immediately understand what the page is about and where the business is located. Google will also be able to better understand those two things and, as a result, be much more likely to rank the page.

2. Keep all your URLs clean
Your URL should also be clear and understandable. Include the keyword in your URL if possible, but don’t sacrifice user experience. Avoid including any special codes or characters in your URL.

Create URLs like this:
example.com/locations/miami/

NOT this:

example.com/hotels/hotels-united-states/north.american$32hotels/hotels-in-florida/miami-hotels.html#!latest

3. Mention specific customer benefits for your service/product
This is where you want to actually market your business. Convince your customer why this location is worth their time or energy. Put yourself in your customer’s shoes and address their common pain points here.

Mention customer benefits like:

  • Affordable pricing
  • Same-day service
  • Free Quotes
  • Open 24 Hours

4. Include prominent call-to-action buttons
This is more of a CRO best practice, but every good landing page needs a CTA that inspires readers to take specific action. Be sure to feature your call-to-action both above-the-fold and at the bottom of the page if possible.

Be sure to use action-driven text as well. Things like:

  • Call Us Today
  • Book An Appointment
  • Get Directions
  • Buy Now

5. Discuss location specific information
In this section, you want to really highlight the specific locations important information. If your customers need to use an elevator to get to your office, mention this.

If you have a unique parking situation, this is your opportunity to make their life even easier. Or perhaps you have a local customer representative that remains at one location; you can feature that information here.

6. List the location’s unique features
Now this is a little bit different than location specific information. Instead of addressing possible issues or offering helpful information, you are going to list the unique benefits of this one specific location.

Do you have outdoor seating with umbrellas? Mention it. Do you offer free wifi? Feature that! Do you offer snacks or refreshments for your customers when they visit? You get the point. Highlight all of your business’ unique features in this section of the page. 

7. Include social proof via testimonials and reviews
This step is so important but is often skipped. With 88% of consumers trusting user reviews as much as a personal friend, social proof is one of the single largest improvements you can possibly make to your page.

8. Include an embedded Google map & NAP information
Help your customers to quickly discover where you are located and easily get directions. Also be sure to list your NAP info toward the top of the page (preferably with Schema markup)

9. Feature social media widgets (when applicable)
Not only offer another opportunity to connect your brand with your audience, but you just finished making this outstanding webpage. So don’t forget to make it easily shareable. This may not be necessary for all business types, so just think of your personal audience and ask yourself if it makes sense.


Google My Business

Robbie headshot

Editor’s note: Alex was nice enough to provide his personal GMB optimization checklist. You can access the Google Sheet here

Google My Business checklist

7. Setup Google My Business Page

A free platform provided by Google that allows you to feature your business and all your information in Google Maps.

Why set up a GMB profile?
Studies have found that the average business is found in over 1,000 GMB searches each month, with 84% of those coming from discovery searches.

A GMB profile allows you to easily connect with your customers across Google Search and Maps, and when properly setup & optimized, offers a TON of search visibility.

How to setup your GMB profile properly:
Setting up your Google My Business profile doesn’t need to be complicated. In fact, setting it up is quite simple. It involves the following steps:

After you visit the website, hit the blue “Manage Now” button to get started.

2. Enter the name of your business

Always be sure to follow Google’s guidelines for naming. This includes businesses with multiple locations. The business name should be consistent for all locations.

For example, “The Home Depot” rather than “The Home Depot of Baton Rouge”.

Check Google’s guidelines for the rare exceptions to this (like including multiple practitioner listings). If you do have a business with multiple practitioners at one location, you should have a listing specifically for the business and also individual listings for the practitioners.

 The individual practitioner listing’s title should just be their name, not the business name + their name.

For example, a dental practice called “SEO Family Dental” with two dentists who work at the office might look something this:

– SEO Family Dental
– Dr. Robbie Richards
– Dr. Alex Ratynski

3. Choose your business category

Choosing your correct business category will help Google understand your profile better, and provide the best results for customers who might be searching for you.

Keep in mind that it’s important to keep categories consistent. Although Google allows you to add multiple categories, it places the most weight on your primary category. So be sure that your primary category is the most accurate description of your business.

Also, be careful to avoid any GMB category dilution problems.

4. Select your location type

Depending on the type of business you have, you will need to answer this question differently. If you do not serve your customers at a physical location, you should select “No” in this case.

If you are a service area business, become familiar with your varying address options.

5. Are you a SAB (Service-Area-Business) or do you deliver?

If you are a SAB (such as a carpet cleaner, plumber, locksmith, or house cleaner) then you will want to select “yes” and then proceed to list the primary locations that you serve.

6. Select your service areas

This is where you will list the different locations that your business serves. Keep in mind that although Google uses this information to display your profile to customers, you will likely only rank in the city or location closest to your actual address.

Most businesses should always stay within a 20 mile radius when listing these areas.

7. Complete your business contact information

Use this section to share your business phone number and website. If you do not currently have a website, you can select that as an option or create a free website within Google My Business.

8. Select finish

Congrats! Open a cold one, because you’re all done with the GMB setup.

8. Fully Optimize Your GMB Profile

The process of optimizing your GMB is one of the most important steps for any business looking to rank in Google Maps.

Here are 9 of the most important steps for GMB optimization:

1. Verify your GMB Profile

This may seem simple, but you won’t be able to manage a GMB profile without verifying it first. If you are starting a new listing, this is done via a postcard with a code on it from Google sent via snail mail.

2. Maintain accurate business hours

It’s important to keep your business hours accurate for both your own sanity, and most importantly for the sanity of your customers. Nothing is more frustrating than driving all the way to a location, just to find out that it’s closed.

3. Add relevant sub-categories

As we mentioned above, it’s important to keep in mind that Google gives the most weight to a GMB’s primary category. That being said, it’s important to utilize subcategories to also highlight additional services or product offerings.

For example, take a look at this dental practice’s category setup:

4. Write the perfect business description

You have 750 characters to write a captivating, authentic business description that motivates potential customers to take action. Utilize as much space as you can and be sure to naturally include keywords throughout the content. Be sure to also include the location of your business within the content.

Here is an excellent example from The Metropolitan Museum of Art:

5. Add services/menus

If you sell specific services or products you can directly list them on Google My Business.

First go to the “info” section in the backend of Google My Business. From there, depending on your business category, you may see either services, products, or menu:

You can then list your various services under its respective category that you set before. You can also add a description and a price as well (if you so choose):

6. Add photos, logo, and videos

Photos help customers connect with your business. Adding photos (both by your customers and by the business) are also a ranking factor in Google Maps.

One recent study found that businesses with 100 images or more get 520% more calls than the average business, while those with just one image get 71% fewer.

7. Manage & respond to every google review (we will cover this later)

8. Use Google posts (we will cover this later)

9. Manage and respond to the Q&A section

Did you know you can feature a custom FAQ section in your GMB profile? Many businesses don’t even realize there is a section in Google My Business called “Questions & Answers”.

Not only is there a Q&A section, but depending on your business size, the Q&A section may be used quite a bit.

Here’s a look at the Q&A section from Paramount Theater in Seattle:

Over 90 people have asked specific questions about this business.

One study found that over 25% of locations on GMB have received questions. With one out of every four businesses being asked questions, it’s vital to stay on top of your Q&A section.

Thankfully, Google makes it easy to respond to questions. Simply click on “questions” and then you can easily reply (as the business owner) directly via the popup form:

9. Publish Google Posts

What is a Google Post?
A feature in GMB that allows you to post information to your customers through your GMB profile:

Why utilize Google posts?
There are 2 main reasons to utilize Google posts:

  1. They help engage your customers & drive sales
  2. They send engagement signals to Google and improve local SEO

How to get started with Google posts:
There are a number of great Google posts guides on the internet, but thankfully using Google posts isn’t too difficult.

After logging into your GMB dashboard, take a look at the menu on the left-hand side:

Next you can choose your post type, upload your image or video, include your text copy and then finally hit publish!

Here is a real-life example of what that looks like from Local Canadian Company Whitespark:

It’s a piece of cake. Now you just need to get started!

10. Fight GMB Spam

What is Google Maps Spam?
Any kind of deceptive, manipulative, illegal, offensive, fraudulent or malicious data on Google Maps.

Why bother fighting GMB spam?
This is one of the most powerful ways to improve your website’s rankings in the map pack. Since Google Maps is inundated with various forms of GMB Spam, they don’t catch them all. However, they do want it removed.

So if you are currently ranking number 5 in the map pack with 2 spammy listings ranking above you, after you report the listings and get them removed, your new position is now #3!

On top of that, I often see big ranking changes after a spam fighting session. Meaning you may even move to position #1 or #2. 

How to get started fighting GMB Spam:
Fighting GMB Spam really breaks down into 2 simple steps:

  1. Identify spam
  2. Report/remove it

This not-so-secret tactic should be in the back pocket of every single local business. When I say “Google My Business Spam” I am referring to businesses that have any of the following:

  • Keyword or City name stuffing
  • Duplicate listings
  • Using a false or fake address, home address, or non-existent address
  • Fake Lead Generation Listings
  • Faked Reviews

Here is a perfect example of GMB spam that I found in about 3 seconds:

In order to remove this spam you can click on “suggest an edit” and then you will be presented with the option to either edit the business details or remove the place all together.

Then you simply select the option that makes the most sense based on the type of spam taking place. If all else fails, you can always use Google’s Redressal Complaint Form.

The same process can be used to remove duplicate GMB listings.

Unfortunately, Google isn’t perfect and there are thousands of inaccurate or duplicate business listings out there. You should never assume that your verified profile is the only one on the internet.

You can easily find duplicate business listings by simply searching your name, address & phone number in Google Search & Maps, or with a tool like BrightLocal.

Personally, I always work quickly to remove any duplicate listing for my clients so I couldn’t actually find an example with the report actually showing any. But here is where they would show up if there were any:

If you do find a duplicate business listing (for any business) then you should remove or report it following Google’s instructions.

Be sure to also check out this great video from Local SEO expert Joy Hawkins on dealing with GMB duplicates.


Online Reputation/ Reviews

11. Online Reputation Management

What is online reputation management?
The ongoing activity which aims to create, nurture and maintain your brand in good standing. 

Why is managing your online reputation important?

Just showing up in position #1 in Google maps is not enough to generate more leads. Statistically, the public will choose the business that has more positive reviews, over the one ranking in the first position.

Today, 97% of consumers read online local business reviews. And, most customers require an average of 40 online reviews before believing a business’s star rating is accurate.

How to properly manage your online reputation:
The online reputation of a local business is one of the most important and valuable things that a business owner can focus on.

If you are able to improve your reputation in general, this is better for every single aspect of a business. Remove SEO from the picture entirely and think of this as nothing but a human-to-human interaction.

When businesses do great work, people talk about it. When people talk about businesses, those businesses grow and get bigger.

It really is that simple.

Now, let’s bring SEO back into the picture. Your online reputation is being analyzed by more than just potential customers, it’s being analyzed and assessed by Google as well. Google assesses this in primarily 3 ways:

  • Links
  • Unlinked Brand Mentions
  • Reviews

We will discuss these in more depth later on, but for now let’s discuss 4 simple ways you can effectively manage your online reputation:

1. Track mentions of your brand, product, and company online (including social media)

Depending on the size of your company, your customers are likely discussing you online. It’s important to have a process in place that allows you to be a part of this discussion. There are a number of tools that allow you to track unlinked mentions online like Google Alerts, or SEMrush’ Brand Monitoring tool.

Its also important to monitor social media mentions. Let’s take a look at a great example of this. This local eyelash service company, O-Lashes shared an instagram post about a recent purchase made from another local jewelry store called Pine Jewelry Co.

After she posted, not only did numerous people jump in and share their excitement about the products, but Pine Jewelry Co was also quick to join in the conversation as well. This allowed their brand to immediately interact with their potential customers, and notify them about their recent website launch:

2. Regularly Audit & Respond to Reviews (Both Good & Bad)

Google itself confirmed that responding to your reviews can improve your local SEO efforts. In Google’s own words:

Not only are reviews important, but so is the business’s response to those reviews. Responding to reviews is important whether you like the review or not. However, the way you respond to your reviews can drastically impact future customer opinion.

When responding to negative reviews, try to remember AARP (not what you think):

  1.  A – Acknowledge the customer’s problem
  2. A – Apologize for the negative experience (even if it wasn’t your fault)
  3. R – Reimburse the customer
  4. P – Provide an explanation (only if necessary, as this may escalate the issue) 

Following the “AARP” method will carry your online reputation until the day it grows old. (See what I did there?)

3. Track & Remove Spammy Links

We are going to discuss link building later on, but an important piece of managing your online reputation in Google’s eyes is managing the quality of your link profile. If you are noticing a high volume of spammy links or links pointing to your website from any one of the three P industries (Pills, Poker and…) then it’s probably a good idea to disavow those.

However, if you are not experienced with the disavow tool, DO NOT TOUCH IT. So many people do more harm than good when it comes to disavows. So if in doubt, hire a professional.

4. Regularly Ask For/Build More Reviews

Studies have shown that 72% of customers won’t take action until they have read reviews first. 

Let’s dive right into how we can actually build more reviews.

12. Build More Reviews

If you don’t get in the habit of asking your customers for reviews, it will rarely happen. Plenty of loyal customers absolutely love certain brands and companies, but won’t think to leave a review online.

So here is a list of ideas to get more reviews for your local business:

  • Ask them in person
  • Routine customer follow ups via email, phone, or SMS text message
  • Incentivizing employees with internal contests
  • Flyers, desk-displays, business cards & coupons
  • Print review instructions on your receipts
  • Use third party tools tools & software to help build more reviews
  • Feature review CTAs (calls-to-action) on your website
  • Offer a review reward ($5 starbucks gift card)
  • Post on social media
  • Celebrate with those who DO leave a review, to encourage others to join in (herd mentality)
  • Offer special access, custom products, or some sort of elite status (only for reviewers)

Use any (or all) of these ideas to kick start any business’ online review campaign.

While building out your reviews, it’s important to remember the 5 key factors regarding your online reputation. It’s crucial to try to improve each factor.

  1. Quantity – How many reviews does your business have overall? How many reviews do you have in relation to your competition? 91% of customers read online reviews.

2. Quality – What kind of reviews are you getting? Are they positive? Your potential customers seriously evaluate your online reputation.

3. Velocity – How consistently do you get new reviews? Keep in mind this affects your customers trust in your brand. Reviews from years ago are not reliable on their own.

4. Diversity – Are you getting reviews from different sources? Think Yelp, Facebook, Yellow Page, and Angie’s list.

5. History – How would a customer evaluate your online reputation over time? Keep in mind that a few bad reviews won’t ruin any business as long as they are not the majority.

Robbie headshot

Editor’s note: My agency built an internal platform to automate the collection and distribution of reviews for local search clients:


Local SEO Keyword/ Content Strategy

13. Identify target keywords (and intent)

What is keyword intent?
Understanding the reason or intention behind a specific search query or keyword. What was the user actually trying to learn or find? Intent helps you understand where a person is in the buyer journey.

Why is identifying keyword intent important for local seo?
In order to rank effectively we must also understand the intent behind the keywords your website is targeting. It will dictate the content types and formats that you use to rank for a given keyword. 

How to identify keyword intent:

We’ll create a straightforward keyword strategy using the following steps:

  1. Use a tool like SEMrush to reverse-engineer your competitors keywords
  2. Use your key money-making services as your seed keywords
  3. Group and categorize all your keywords based on intent

Let’s dive into this step-by-step and see how this actually works.

Reverse-engineer your local competitors keywords

Head over to Google and type in your primary keyword. For this example I am going to go with a “personal injury lawyer in Phoenix”.

Your goal here is to take all of your main competitors (excluding large directories or non-niche competitors) and stick them into a spreadsheet:

Looking at your competitors websites, start to put together a list of their main services (and yours). This would look something like this:

Using these seed terms, you can use tools like SEMrush to do additional local keyword research to help prioritize which keywords to focus on for your “money pages”.

Next, you’re going to pop each of your competitors into the SEMrush “Organic Research” tool and then click on the “positions” tab:

Scroll down to the bottom and you are going to see every keyword that your competitor is ranking for in the top 100 organic search results. 

Hit “export” and download all the keyword data:

Repeat this process for all of your local competitors and filter out any duplicates. Once this is done, you will have a data set that looks like this:

Next, we need to categorize and group all of the keywords by search intent. Here is a quick example:

This can be a time consuming process, but there are a number of great ways to speed up the process. Most of which are taught in Robbie’s SEO course.

Robbie headshot

Editor’s Note: If you want to learn the exact keyword research processes I use to scale organic traffic for my clients, check out my premium training course, The SEO Playbook.

You’ll learn how to find, qualify, prioritize and map keyword data:

Keyword Research Playbook gif

Once you’ve grouped and categorized the keywords, the next step is to map them to your website.

14. Map keywords to site structure

What is site structure for local businesses?
How a local business organizes their website content.

Why does site structure matter for local SEO?
A well structured website is more efficiently crawled, and understood by Google. It also makes for a much better user experience for readers.

How to map keywords to site structure:
Group your content, pages, and URL structure into organized sections based on:

  • Location
  • Services/Products
  • Sub-services/sub-products

Now, there are a few things to keep in mind when we do this. The first thing is to figure out what kind of business you are in regards to site structure.

The majority of local businesses fall into one of the following three categories:

  • Single location, single service type
  • Single location, multi-service types
  • Multi-location, multi-service types

It’s important to note that there is also “Multi-location, single service”, but in regards to website structure, it would follow the pattern of “Multi-location, multi-service” without the sub-services which we will cover shortly.

Let’s break each of these down. 

Single Location – Single Service Type

To match the “Single Location – Single Service Type” model, we will pretend we are a cosmetic dentist. Since we only offer cosmetic dental services to one specific location, an exact match domain might give us anadvantage.

From here you are going to add all of the sub-services to your primary service of “cosmetic dentistry”.

Here’s an overly simplified version of that structure:

Single Location – Multiple Service types

Now we are going to pretend that we’re a more general dental practice offering a wide variety of services including cosmetic services, general dentistry, and restorative dentistry.

For this website structure, we want to create pages for each top-level dental service as well as unique pages for each and every sub-service out of those main services.

Here is what that looks like:

Multiple Locations – Multiple Services types

Now this last one is where things get a little more tricky. For this example, I want you to pretend that you operate a dental practice in multiple cities (let’s say Houston & Austin, TX). In each city you offer the same variety of services as the single location example above.

The reason it gets more tricky is because in order to suck all of the local SEO potential out of the website, we want to be able to target pages with keywords like “teeth whitening houston, TX” and “teeth whitening Austin, TX”.

Since we can’t effectively optimize for both locations, we need separate pages for each service, for each location.

This requires us to create a new website for each location, within the same website. We also would need to create a navigation menu that switches between cities, so that when a user clicks “Houston Location” link in the menu, the url changes to yourwebsite.com/houston.

Make sense?

Here’s what that looks like as a sitemap, looking only at the “houston” location.

This above sitemap would be replicated for each location, for example the Austin location service page would be: “/austin/services/” and so forth.

This requires you to re-write every single page to avoid duplicate content issues.

Here is a great example of a real website doing this:

This law practice has multiple locations. They also have multiple services, but checkout what happens when you click on one of their locations, and then one of their services.

And then when you click on car accidents the URL structure changes to this:

The same is true with each location:

This provides the opportunity to optimize one page for “car accident lawyer in Chicago” and another for “car accident lawyer in Phoenix”.

Structuring your website to align with your service offerings and your locations allows the greatest ranking opportunity. i.e. you group and optimize your content to target very specific location keywords.

15. Build out a question-based keyword strategy for the blog

What is a question-based KW strategy?
A strategy built specifically around question-based keywords asked by your target customer. 

Why are question-based KWs important?
This approach not only helps Google categorize and group your content together by relevant topics, but it also opens the door to reaching customers at different stages in the customer journey.

For example: How much does Botox cost? 

How to build a Keyword strategy for common questions:
Our goal for finding question-based keywords is not simply based on search volume. In fact, our primary goal with this approach is to strategically map out a potential customers journey to your product or service.

You can start this process by making a shortlist of big money-making services.

Once you have this list created, head on over to answer the public.

For this example, let’s pretend that we are a landscaping business and one of our key services is building retaining walls.

Enter “retaining walls” into Answer The Public and hit “get questions”. Once we do that, we are going to get a visualization that looks something like this:

Then you want to click on the ‘data’ tab:

And you will finally see a list of questions related to your topic:

From here we are going to grab all the questions that your business can effectively answer to help potential customers find or purchase your service/product.

You can also get a number of great questions suggested by Google by searching the head term and looking at the “People Also Ask” section:

Each time you click on one of the questions, three more are generated beneath it. This gives you a large variety of questions around your product/service that are actually being searched.

So here is what my short list looks like:

Once you have this information, pop on over to SEMrush, or whatever keyword research tool you prefer. Many tools also have the option to do keyword research in the form of questions.

For example, when in SEMrush (affiliate) you can quickly use the “Keyword Magic Tool” to create a list and see data on all of your question-based keywords:

Next, sort the keywords by search volume, and prioritize them according to ranking difficulty and potential business value. ​

The benefit of this type of content is three-fold:

  1. Answering questions with content will help potential customers discover your service or product.
  2. Question-based content is extremely linkable, and becomes a great resource for link building efforts.
  3. These kinds of articles paired with great internal linking increases Google’s confidence in ranking your website based on contextual authority on the topic. 

16. Barnacle SEO

What is barnacle SEO?
Attaching oneself to a large, fixed object and collecting the (SEO) benefits as the currents bring it.

For more information, Rand Fishkin created this really great breakdown on barnacle SEO.

Why should you consider barnacle seo for local businesses?
Barnacle SEO is a fantastic approach because it allows you to gain benefits from the organic rankings of OTHER really high authority websites. 

How to get started with barnacle SEO:
As you perform competitor research, you will no doubt come across a number of sites that are far too large or authoritative for you to compete with. That doesn’t mean you have to lose all that search traffic.

Let’s look at 3 ways a local business can do this:

  1. Attach yourself to large directories

If you search for “chiropractor in Albuquerque” guess what 3 of the 4 top organic results are:

That’s right, large directories. So to take advantage of this, local businesses can do two things that allow them to rank on these large directories.

  • Optimize their profile for organic ranking within the directory
  • Pay for a sponsored listing

For most directories, ranking comes down to having up-to-date profile information, plenty of great photos, and regular 5 star reviews.

Another possible approach is to simply pay for visibility on the directory. Sticking with our example above, here is what that looks like for Chiropractors in Albuquerque:

2. Guest posting on authoritative websites

To utilize guest posting, look at the content in your niche that you want to rank for, but is out of reach. Then identify authoritative websites in your space that have the power of actually ranking that content.

The goal here is to offer to write a guest post on the topic for their audience, and hopefully take a fraction of their audience back to your website.

For example, here is a local dentist in Beaverton Oregon who wrote a guest post on the American Dental Association’s website. She even got a link back to her website!

Here is a great resource for guest posting: 20 Rules For Guest Blogging.


3. Boosting community awareness through events

Although this may not normally be a part of “Local SEO”, it most certainly has secondary effects that impact your SEO.

Local community events are by far one of the most powerful tools in a local business’s tool belt. If your community has events where your target audience is going to be, why wouldn’t you want to be a part of that? Your customers are already going to be at these events, so these are perfect opportunities to promote your brand.

Additionally, being a part of these events offers numerous SEO benefits such as:

  • Links back to the website
  • Press coverage
  • Brand searches and mentions

To help you get started, here are a few ideas to boost your brand’s community awareness:

Pay for sponsorships for local events or charities

Here is a great example of a local fishing derby in western washington state that is able to offer prizes thanks to their (heavily promoted) local sponsors.

Run events or contests with other businesses in your area

A perfect example of this was the “eastside community crawl” hosted by these local businesses:

Who joined together in a community contest that offered their customers a chance to win a $300 shopping spree! Not only did this create some buzz in the community, it also resulted in some links as well.

Handout pamphlets with insider ‘secrets’ like great parking spots or the best food in town

Many cities have major events at least once a year that bring in large amounts of people from out of town. This is the perfect opportunity to both expose your brand AND help people.

Donate money, supplies or products to a local event or cause

For example, checkout this pizza place that donated pizzas to help a food pantry and soup kitchen with a great cause.

With just a few minutes and even the most basic knowledge of your community, you can quickly come up with numerous ways to expose your brand to your target audience.


On-Page SEO Factors

17. On-Page Optimizations

What is involved in “on-page optimizations”?
On-site SEO may include some of the following optimizations:

  • URLs
  • Title Tags
  • Meta Descriptions
  • Content Improvements
  • Image Optimization
  • Internal Linking
  • UX Improvements

Essentially, any changes or improvements that you make to the website itself with the goal of improving search traffic and conversions.

I won’t be able to cover on-page SEO in nearly as much depth as Robbie’s guide.

Instead, I will cover each major aspect of on-page SEO for local businesses, sharing one best practice and one pro tip.

Optimize Your URLs
Best practice: Keep URLs short, succinct and keyword-rich.

Rather than: ratynskidigtal.com/05-11-20/best-local-seo-blog/best-seo-blog-articles-about-local-businesses

Try something like:
ratynskidigital.com/blog/local-business-seo

Pro-tip: Review your URL before publishing to see if it describes to both Google and the reader what the content is about.

Title Tags

Best practice: Always include your focus keyword and location in your title tag. Also include any unique benefits if room allows (Ex: Free delivery, Online Quotes, Open 24/7, etc…)

So a good title tag might be something like this one from Crystal Carpet Care:

Pro-tip: Front-load your keywords as they have more weight.

Meta Descriptions

Best practice: Use meta descriptions to expand upon your benefits & features, as well as quickly explain what the content will be about. Use this space to convince the searcher to click.

Pro-tip: Meta descriptions are not a direct ranking factor so don’t get caught up stuffing your keywords in there. Use them when appropriate, but focus inspiring searchers to take action.

When keywords are included, they will be bolded which can help increase SERP click-through rates.

Content Optimization

Best practice: Cover your focus topic comprehensively. Work hard to actually have the best content on the page’s topic.

So, if you are optimizing the content of your ‘tree removal’ service page, take time to analyze competitor pages, jot down what they all have in common and what each of them lack. Then add content that blows all of them out of the water.

Pro-tip: Be sure to drop your keyword within the first 100 words or so.

Image Optimization

Best practice: Include your keyword in your image title, include alt text, keep your image file size to a minimum.

Pro-tip: Add image structure data.

Internal Linking

Best practice: Link to important pages. Use keyword-rich anchor text. Also vary the anchor text (while keeping your keyword) pointing to the same pages throughout your site.

Google’s advice on internal link anchor text:

Pro-tip: Use contextual links from pages about one topic to other pages on the same topic to help Google understand and group your content together.

You can quickly find internal linking opportunities like this, by using the following search operator in Google:

Site:domain.com + “keyword”

Let’s pretend that you are a tree removal company called Alex’s Tree Company, writing an article about how to deal with sick trees. You know you have written plenty of content similar to this topic and want to link to it.

Here is how you can use Google to quickly find that content:

This will find any page on your website, using the exact words “sick trees“. You can repeat this same process for any topic. If you want even broader results, try removing quotation marks.

UX Improvements

Best practices:

  • Choose an easy to read font and font-size
  • Write for the average person’s reading level
  • Use 2-3 sentence paragraphs
  • Use subheadings and bullets for easy scanning
  • Use responsive design
  • Make CTAs easy to find 

18. Local business structured data

What is structured data?

Structured data is a standardized format to mark up information about a web page. It helps search engines like Google & Bing to better understand what the web page is about.

Why should local businesses take advantage of schema markup?
Additionally, schema markup allows you to have rich results which stand out in search and increase traffic to your website.

How to add local business schema markup:
There are a number of great tools for generating local business schema markup, but my personal favorite is Merkle’s.

It’s as simple as finding the correct schema type, (for this example that’s local business schema) and then filling out all the correct fields.

Once you have filled out all the information, you can quickly test your markup by clicking the ‘G’ and that will take you to Google’ Structured Data Testing Tool.

This will then tell you if you have any errors or warnings you need to know about:

You can have an SEO or a developer add this to your website, or if your site is built on WordPress, you can use the free Schema plugin.


Citations and Directories

19. Develop a clean citation Profile (NAP+W)

What is a “citation”?
A ‘citation’ is a reference or mention of your business’s name, address and phone number (NAP).

Citations work as the foundation of local SEO. These days, directories will by no means be the ‘key’ to ranking your website. However, they do work as the baseline of both your backlink profile, as well as Google’s confidence about your NAP information.

Additionally, since some local businesses only have basic citations, strengthening one’s citation profile may give you a competitive advantage.

Today, there are numerous tools available that allow you to place all of your business information in one place, and these tools will create new citations, or correct existing citations on numerous directories.

A few examples of these tools include:

To submit a new location to Yext, it’s as easy as logging into your account and selecting “add a new location”

From here, you will be guided to a form where you will enter all of your business information.

And once published, you will be able to manage a variety of business information all in one place.

This information is then fed to over 100 popular directories and listings.

Additionally, you can also use BrightLocal’s “Citation Tracker” to manage the accuracy of key citations online: 

For those who don’t have the budget for such tools, another option is to handle these directories manually.

The first step requires you to create a list of common directories & data aggregators:

I personally recommend handling your data aggregators first. If you have these taken care of, you’ll save yourself quite some time down the road as they will pass information out to numerous other individual directories.

Next, go through each of these directories and check for current business listings, or any duplicate business information.

Here is how this process might work for Yellowpages:

First, search your phone number in the directory:

If you find a citation with incorrect information, or a duplicate, keep track of it and remove it later. To be sure there is no duplicate information on these directories, you will want to search for listings using all of the following:

  • Your business name
  • Your business phone number
  • Your website
  • Your address

Once you are confident there are no duplicate listings, start the process of creating a correct citation.

The process for creating citations for each directory varies, as well as the process for removing duplicates or correcting inaccurate information.

20. Power up your citations with tiered links

What are “tiered links” to citations?
This is the process of linking to your citations so they get indexed in Google, and pass more authority onto your site.

Why bother adding them?
Google doesn’t index every citation on the internet. If your business is mentioned on a directory profile that is NOT indexed, then Google won’t consider it when evaluating your website.

Since Google crawls websites through links, if you link to your citations you may be able to get them indexed faster.

How to build out tiered citations:

Links.

Google has built their entire ecosystem off of links, it’s how they both discover and index web pages. By building links (often lower quality ones) to citations, we help them get indexed faster, and pass more value to your site.

Bonus tip:

Another way to expedite this process is by linking from your website to important citations.

Some businesses create pages like “other places to find us online” and list these citations as well as other helpful information about their business. 

Just remember to add that new page to your sitemap.

21. Internal link profile

What are internal links?
Links between the pages of your own website.

Why are internal links important?
Google uses internal links to crawl your site and understand which posts/pages are the most important. 

Internal links can do three things:

  1. Pass link authority from page to page
  2. Direct visitors to key pages
  3. Encourage visitors to act or convert

How to optimize your internal link profile:
It’s important to keep in mind that internal links don’t add any link authority to your overall website. Rather, internal links help to spread that link equity or ‘juice’ across other key pages to help them rank.

Google uses internal links to discover new pages on your website, as well as understand the contextual relationship between pages.

So, if you have a web page about dog food and you link it to another page about home decorating, you may be doing yourself a bit of a disservice.

Remember how we grouped our keywords together based on product/service type, and then we built out a question-based keyword strategy for each of your key services?

Internal links is where we will be able to bring those two worlds together. This is called a topic cluster.

Here is Ahrefs’ visualization:

In the example, cities and countries are grouped together. This makes logical sense.

So what does that look like on an actual local business’ website?

Here’s an example:

This cosmetic dentist wrote an article dispelling common myths about teeth whitening and linked to their service page on teeth whitening.

Here is another example from a Houston eminent domain attorney that has written numerous blog posts on topics related to just compensation, pipeline easements, and government property seizures, and linked back up to their Houston eminent domain services page.

Since most service pages will never get a natural link, internal linking allows you to take your informational pages that may actually be getting backlinks from other websites, and sharing some of that authority with your key product/service pages.

Which brings us to our very last checklist item: local backlinks.


Local Link Building

What are local backlinks?
When an external website links back to your website.

Why are local backlinks important?
Google uses links as the backbone for search. Most SEOs would agree that links are one of the top 3 most important ranking factors for any website.

And studies continue to show that website’s with more links rank better.

How to build local backlinks:
Here are 12 ways to build backlinks for your local business:

  1. Good old fashion outreach

This is the process of finding relevant and authoritative websites in your niche, creating a linkable resource, page or asset, and then reaching out to those websites and asking them for a link.

You can also find numerous backlinking opportunities by analyzing your competitor’s backlinks.

For example, we will pretend to be a plastic surgeon in the Oakland area. To get started, simply enter your competitor’s URL into the Ahrefs Site Explorer.

After hitting search, go to the “Referring Domains” tab.

You should now see something like this:

At a glance you can quickly assess all of your competitors’ backlinks and decide if there are any opportunities for you to capitalize on (replicate).

2. Contest Nomination Links

There are numerous “best of..” competitions (Ex: Seattle Met’s Top dentists) in most cities around the United States, and even if you don’t win the nomination in itself, it is usually enough to land you a backlink.

Here’s a great list of searches to help you find these opportunities:

  • “Nominate a business”+”STATE NAME”
  • “City Name”+”Nominate a business”
  • “best YOUR INDUSTRY”+”nominate”+”city”
  • “AGE under AGE”+”GEO MODIFIER” (Example: “30 under 30″+”New York”)
  • “best of YOUR TOWN”+”nominate” 

3. Hosting community events

Hosting community events is not only a great way to connect with your local community, but it also opens the door for press and news articles surrounding the event.

For example, I help organize a local SEO & Beers Meetup in Seattle to expose my brand to the community and meet other talented SEOs.

If you’re an SEO in the Pacific Northwest, come check us out. 

4. Purchase a sponsorship to a local event or organization

Depending on the event, purchasing a sponsorship usually means a large amount of brand exposure to a very targeted audience. Not only is this an effective marketing technique, but it usually results in a spot on the website for the event’s top sponsors:

5. Create a helpful local resource that can be promoted

Every city has a variety of unique things to do. No matter what size your city is, there’s always an opportunity to put together a local guide.

This could feature upcoming events like concerts or parades, or perhaps it could crowdsource some of the best food in town. Once you’ve created a great guide, you should reach out to the hosting organizations for the events in your guide & ask for a link to the resource.

For example, this Boise real estate agent created a local holiday guide that made for a great resource to share with the community. 

And the results?

A steady stream of links coming in year after year.

The best part?

They are able to refresh this piece of content every year, relaunch it, and continue the positive momentum.

6. Obtain manufacturer/supplier links

Businesses who primarily use a specific wholesaler or manufacturer always have the opportunity to utilize existing relationships to build backlinks.

For example:

You could write a guest post on the manufacturer’s website answering common questions about the product.

Additionally, you could offer a written or video testimonial that they can feature on the website. Just be sure to ask for a link pointing to your website in return.

Here is an example of a local nail bar that shared a positive testimonial on their accountant’s behalf and got a link in the process. 

7. Take advantage of biz dev links

The best thing about local business owners is that they usually know many other community business owners. If this is the case for you, be sure to utilize your relationships to write symbiotic web content as well as links connecting to your website.

For example, an oral surgeon may create a page listing general practice dentists who they regularly work with. 

8. Crowdsource local influencers

Almost every city has some sort of town celebrity. These people help shape and influence the community. Leverage the influence of these people.

For example:

You could write a piece of content that features influencer opinion on a pressing community issue.

Once the piece has been published, reach out and request that each influencer shares and/or links to the content. You can even leverage their small town reputation to get coverage in local news sites.

9. Write a local guest post

Guest posts are a fantastic opportunity for you or a member of your team to write content around a topic of expertise, and use the authority of a larger or more established website to rank the content.

To find guest post opportunities, try using some of the following searches:

  • “guest post” + keyword or industry
  • keyword or industry + “guest blogger”
  • “writers needed” + keyword or industry
  • “blog for us” + keyword or industry
  • “write for us” + keyword or industry

Pro Tip: Don’t limit your searches to only Google. Social media sites like Twitter also offer a variety of people searching for guest writers.

10. Share local Internships or scholarships

Internship & scholarship link building has become wildly overused in recent years, so take this idea with a grain of salt. That being said, creating a page showcasing your internships or scholarships is a great opportunity to get some high authority links from local universities.

All you need to do is reach out to schools about your opportunity and ask if they would be willing to share a link with students and post it on the website for others to see.

To find potential local universities and colleges that list scholarships online, try using the following searches:

  • inurl:.edu + “outside scholarships”
  • inurl:.edu + “scholarship opportunities” 
  • “City name” + University + “scholarship opportunities”
  • “City name” + College + “scholarship opportunities”
  • “College internships” + “city name”
  • “College internships” + “State name”
Robbie headshot

Editor’s note: Link from the scholarship page to your local landing page or GMB page. This will ensure more of the “link juice” is passed onto those important “money” pages.

11. Use Local Interviews

Let’s say that you email your local mayor, town official, fire chief, or well-known community influencer and request to interview them on a topic important to the community (even better if it relates to your business).

This winery interviewed their town mayor, turned it into a video and published it on their website. 

This provides the perfect opportunity to write up the interview, and then reach out to numerous press and news channels regarding the important piece.

12. Run a special contest

Running a unique contest for your customers or audience is a fantastic way to build backlinks and pick up news coverage.

For example, imagine a local home improvement store.

You decide to run a contest for the community called “Worst Home Decorating Competition” where members from the community share photos of homes with the worst decor. The winner (or loser?) might win $500 to redecorate their home.

Not only is it a fun way to engage customers, but it’s a fantastic opportunity to build backlinks. Not to mention great social engagement.

Pro tip: Don’t make the mistake of only running the competition on social media. Remember the importance of backlinks, so add the entry form to a page on your website or write up a blog post about the contest and promote it to local media sources.


[Bonus] Launch Local Ads

What are local ads?
Local ads are advertisements targeting specific locations in order to capture more traffic, leads or sales. This is usually done through Google or facebook ads.

What are local service ads?
Unlike PPC, with local service ads you become “Google Guaranteed”, and pay per lead that is sent to you.

Why are local ads important for businesses in almost every industry?
Local ads allow you to:

  • Increase foot traffic
  • Generate leads
  • Introduce new products or services
  • Highlight product enhancements
  • Get more website traffic
  • Improve brand awareness
  • Drive online sales
  • Boost thought leadership
  • Convert “window shoppers” into buyers

There are two kinds of local ad models. The first one is the PPC (Pay-Per-Click) model, and the second is PPL (Pay-Per-Lead).

PPC is the most common type of local ad usually purchased through Google Ads.

Those results look something like this:

These results are often at the top and bottom of your standard search result and offer your business a great opportunity to capture additional website traffic for the keywords you may not be currently ranking for.

These types of ads also show up in Google Maps:

Pay-per-lead Google ads, called “Local Service Ads” look a little bit different:

Rather than pay-per-click, you only pay (albeit a much higher amount) when Google sends you an actual lead.

Local service ads are unique because Google guarantees the service.

So, if something happens Google will refund the customer for the job. Since this puts Google on the line, you can be sure they thoroughly vet the businesses that use local service ads.

To apply for local service ads you nad your employees must pass a background check, and prove that you have all the proper licensing and insurance.

Currently local service ads are only available to a select number of industries, but they are slowly rolling this out to more and more.


Ready to Start Working Through This Local SEO Checklist?

There you have it!

Follow this local SEO checklist from start to finish and you’ll have a strong chance of ranking your business high in both Google Maps and the organic search results. 

The result: more qualified traffic, leads and revenue. 

The post 127-Point Local SEO Checklist for 2020 (+ Downloadable Template) appeared first on Robbie Richards.

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