Can your potential customers find you online?
If you own a physical location that needs to attract local customers, getting your local SEO updated should be top of mind. When a desktop or mobile searcher looks for you, guiding them to your doorstep rather than your competitors shouldn’t be such a difficult task. So, we’ve put together this local SEO checklist for 2016 to make sure that doesn’t happen.
But your local SEO specifics are dependent on your type of business model. So let’s go ahead and start with that.
Step 1: Choosing Your Company Type
You’ll most likely be in one of these six categories:
1. One Location Physical Business (customers come to you)
2. Multi-Location Physical Business (customers come to you)
3. One Location Service Physical Business (Staff arrive here and leave from here to serve customers)
4. Multi-Location Service Physical Business (Staff arrive here and leave from here to serve customers)
5. Multi-Office Campus or Practitioner Business (hospitals, schools, legal, financial, consulting, etc.)
Make sure to choose one before moving on.
Step 2: Getting your Google My Business Account Right
If you haven’t already set up your Google My Business account, do that immediately. That allows your business name, hours, phone number, and directions to show on Google. The type of account you create depends on your business model. This is the core to all local SEO efforts.
1. One Location Physical Businesses – Create a Google My Business listing with your address and all other information you have the ability to fill out. You want to cover as much as possible.
2. Multi-Location Physical Businesses – Create a Google My Business listing for each location with a different address make sure you have a unique phone number on each listing.
3. One Location Service Physical Business – Create a single Google My Business listing for your business and hide your address from appearing unless you have a specific reason not to. This can be done in your Google My Business dashboard.
4. Multi-Location Service Physical Business – Create a Google My Business listing for each location and make sure each one has a different address and phone number. It’s recommended that you hide your address from appearing in search unless you have a specific reason not to.
5. Multi-Office Campus or Practitioner Business – Create a Google My Business listing for the different locations and make sure you use a different phone number and location for each listing.
6. Home-Based – Create a single Google My Business listing and decide whether or not you want the public to know where your physical location is.
Step 3: Choosing Your Online Content Strategy
Using your business type to guide your online strategy doesn’t end with only Google My Business listings. You can apply this to your online content strategy as well.
1. One Location Physical Businesses – Make sure you have a page on your website dedicated to each different product or service.
2. Multi-Location Physical Businesses – Make sure you have a page on your website dedicated to each different product or service. Have a dedicated web page to each business location and keep your phone number, address, and name of that location at the top of all the sub-pages on that domain.
3. One Location Service Physical Business – Make sure you have a page on your website dedicated to each different product or service. Also put up a separate web page for the city or cities you operate in.
4. Multi-Location Service Physical Business – Make sure you have a page on your website dedicated to each product or service you offer as well as putting a page up for the each different city you operate in. Include your address, phone number, and name in these pages at the top of the page.
5. Multi-Office Campus or Practitioner Business – Make sure there is a page on your website dedicated to each different product or service you offer. You should also have a page for each different campus/partner of your practice’s brand. Keep your name, phone number, and address at the top of each page.
6. Home-Based – Have a page for each different product or service your company offers and dedicate a page to each different city you operate in.
And don’t forget, it doesn’t matter what category you fit into for the basics. You always need a good about us page, testimonials/reviews page, and a contact us page.
And from here on out, all business models and types can continue to the last step in the same manner.
Step 4: Perform an On-site Technical Checkup
- Make sure your website can be indexed on Google and is properly optimized.
- Check if your website is mobile friendly.
- Ensure that you have a page on your website that is dedicated for contact details including your name, address (can have a visual map), and phone number.
- Keep your phone number displayed in a visible position on your website to allow traffic to access it easily.
- Double-check to see if your cross-website phone number, address, and description is consistent.
Step 5: Expand your local-specific content
In addition to your over-arching content strategy, you’ll want to invest time into building a local-specific content strategy. The amount of time you should invest in this depends on your company’s need of local customers. The more local customers you need, the more effort you should put into this.
- Make sure you’re tagging your customer testimonials with addresses and using them in your city-specific landing pages. This makes pages more unique and helps to build trust.
- If a customer made a product or service testimonial, post that on the dedicated product or service web page. This builds trust and gets picked up by search engines.
- Ensure that you have an on-site content production outlet where fresh content can be indexed by Google to keep your website ranking in Google.
- If relevant, keep an updated calendar on your website for city and product specific occurrences like upcoming deals, promos, and events.
- Maximize event hosting and sponsorship by writing about them in your company blog and create content around local occurrences.
- Write about topics that are meant to address problems in specific geographic locations or in certain different demographic communities.
Step 6: Really look at Citations
Online citations are extremely important for local ranking and should most definitely be used if your strategy for success depends on local customers coming through your doors. Online citations are created through sites like Yellowpages.com. Here’s a few items to check off.
- Create citations for each different business address you have and track your name, phone number, and linked web page URL to make sure they are all consistent and updated throughout.
- After covering the big local citation platforms, you can also create citations on geographically relevant third-party platforms. For example, you have the “Better Business Bureau” general site and also the “Dallas Better Business Bureau” where you could create an additional citation.
- Watch out for duplicates! Having a duplicate citation can pull down your local rankings quite badly so make sure you go over every citation your business created in the past if there were any.
Step 7: Allow for Reviews to Be Generated
- Go through all the big platforms like Google My Business and Yelp to make sure your company profiles are completely filled out and consistent.
- Get listed on your company’s industry review platforms and well as your geographic review platforms.
- Make sure your website’s traffic has a way to go directly from your site to a review platform.
- Do no directly ask your customers to review your business, but rather, encourage them to do so by giving them the option to on your website and social platforms.
- Make sure you’re responding to both good and bad reviews. Besides bringing back lost customers and giving you valuable business insight, doing this can encourage those who are considering writing a review to do so because they know you will respond.
Local SEO is something you need to stay updated with to keep customers coming in, which is why it can sometimes be a costly endeavor. Check out the local SEO work we’ve done for our clients here!