local seo checklist for 2021 and beyond
Superior Marketing | October 29, 2020
local seo checklist for 2021 and beyond
If you run a local business, the chances are that 2020 was not the best year for you. You probably produced lower than usual sales, if any, given the ongoing uncertainty around the globe. Well, you can't keep brooding over this fact, and you need to come up with a plan for the coming year.
One of the best ways to ensure you get back on your feet is by focusing on your businesses online presence; or SEO (Search Engine Optimization).
You want to ensure that you get potential clients from your immediate location, but how do you go about it?
Here, we've prepared an SEO checklist that you can use to ensure your businesses online presence is top-notch. So why don't you give it a look and see where you've been going wrong? Undoubtedly, this Local SEO checklist will help you put your house in order in preparation for 2021.
Location, Location, Location
Location is one of the biggest factors in determining your success with Local SEO. Google has submitted numerous reports to various resources indicating that proximity is one of the primary ranking factors.
How easy is it to access your business online? You must make sure that customers can easily find you. If your business is hard to come across on the internet, you will lose potential customers to competitors with a better online presence.
So, how do you make sure they can find you easily?
First, you need a unique business name, address, and phone number attached to your business. This is the first step to making sure you are visible online. Include a customer-facing address if it applies to your business. If you have a store front, list that as your business location. If you are operating out of your home, it is recommended to list that as your business location to ensure proximity is playing a role in customers finding you.
Ensure that you write your operating hours for all locations, so customers know when to get you. Leave your email or come up with a 'Contact Us' page, through which customers can reach you easily. I recommend using forms, forms and more forms.
ABC's of Business
What are the ABCs? Always Be Collecting. One of the most neglected aspects of marketing is building lists. If I were to interview 100 business owners, I would wager a guess that 90 out of those 100 do not have a list of customers; past and present. They do not have a list of prospects that inquired about a free offer at some point in time.
Nail Down Your NAP
The NAP simply refers to your Name, Address and Phone Number. The information must include the business name, numbers from different departments, numbers from different locations, and customer care. Your goal is to make the work easier for the customers. They have other options, and you need to convince them to do business with you.
You need to explain your location, especially if the scope of your business needs physical contact.
Provide clear images that can help them find your business location. Besides, the images should help them know exactly what you provide in your business. If you are selling any items, you must have clear images of the goods.
Additionally, you must provide relevant social media links. In this digital age, customers are more likely to reach out through social media than through the website. They can also follow you on social media platforms to stay updated on your business, making them become loyal customers.
Documents showing your achievement and verification will boost business significantly. If the business has ever won anything, provide a document to show that. Doing so will help boost customers' confidence in your business.
Come up with a disclaimer if your business has any. Also, an agreement is necessary to show what you agree to as a business and what you expect. After that, write a statement explaining your business goals.
How Good is Your Website?
You must ensure that your website is up to standard and loads fast without delays. The internet today is filled with various sources of information; some real, some not-so-much. If your website takes more than a few seconds to load, chances are other pages load extremely slow, making it difficult for the visitor to access your website; and you will lose potential customers.
Besides, it would help if you can provide them with value, help some their challenges, or share insights into why they should do business with you.
So, how do you ensure your website is top-notch and that it draws in potential customers?
Content is King
You need the right content. Visitors who visit your site should be able to learn everything they want from the content you provide. If there is something they wish to inquire about, it should be easy for them to find a way to communicate with you.
The first thing is to ensure your website has a home page. On the home page, have the business logo displayed, so that it is the first thing a visitor sees when they open your site.
Provide a way to navigate easily through the site. A search button can come in handy for site visitors who are looking for specific content.
You should state the business goals on the homepage and let there be a clear call to action. Make sure the header is transparent. Visitors should be able to tell what you offer within the first few seconds.
Photos are essential. In most cases, prospects and visitors are reading your blog content to gain some insights into their current challenge, and imagery helps break up the monotony of the never ending text. Ensure you provide pictures that offer all the information they need to know.
All the text content that you provide on your site should be easy to read. Your visitors should be able to skim through it and understand the vital information they need. Readability is a big deal, so strive to create bit sized, consumable chunks of content, utilize imagery or videos to convey the point, when possible.
Remember that the footer is just as important as the header. You can include social media links to other platforms on the footer so they can easily find you. To make communication easier, provide all the possible contact ways through which they can get to you. Include the telephone numbers to different departments, customer care contact, and contact details for other business locations.
You also need an FAQ page that covers all the questions you think your customers might ask.
Your website should also not lack a disclaimer page. It will help limit all the liabilities that may come from using your site. On the disclaimer page, talk about your right as the owner. Talk of areas where you are liable and let your audience know whatever is on your site is your opinion.
Warn your visitors about potential threats that may occur relating to your site and your business. You can add the terms and conditions of working with you or using the information on the website.
Technical Aspects of SEO
Now that the website's content is in check, you need to get into the technical details. For your business to do well, your website should rank among the best and be easy to find for customers in your location.
Usable and strong internal linking is necessary for Google to find you. These links will help navigate through your site and will guide visitors to find content on your website.
Your website should be mobile friendly and should load fast. Nowadays, people use their mobile phones for everything. If your site is not mobile-friendly, you will have fewer site visitors.
Start by making your website responsive so that it displays pages according to the device in use. This will help the visitors access the content on your website easily, and also, they will not be limited to any information.
Make the information that people look for, such as location and working hours, easy to find. Do not frustrate your visitors, trying to fish information on a small screen.
You can also try blocking ads and pop-ups. It's very frustrating when you try to read something from your phone, and ads keep showing up every few seconds. Also, ensure that your site's buttons are big enough so mobile phone users can easily click on them.
Additionally, ensure the loading speed of your site is fast enough. Research has shown that the attention span of people keeps reducing each day. If your site takes ages to load, the visitors will switch to doing something else.
Security is Crucial
Ensure you secure your HTTPS URLs so that all the data between the server and the browser is safe. The HTTPS will help secure your site from any hacker. It's impossible to guarantee 100%, but it's always good to make sure you have done your best.
Should you make any changes to your site, use proper HTTP redirects so that visitors can still find you. If possible, try to avoid redirects.
With modern technology, it's so easy for people to duplicate your content and claim it. To ensure this doesn't happen, make sure you use the Proper URL canonicalization to protect your content.
Finally, your meta description should be unique and contain enough information to make it easy to find your content.
For your local business to thrive, you must ensure that you maintain a positive reputation.
How do you do this?
Begin by having a program that actively seeks out reviews from current and former customers. Provide a platform where the visitors can give comments on your services. Make sure you respond to all the reviews and do it fast. It would help if you interacted with them to create a relationship. Google Reviews is a great place, utilize the link and share it with customers via email or messenger tools.
Make sure you resolve any complaints before a customer leaves a review on your site. A bad review will affect your business, so you must act fast before getting to that point.
Find a way to turn the negative reviews to positive reviews. Potential clients will be keen on negative reviews more than the positive ones. The way you handle the negative reviews will determine how customers respond to your business. Even if it is a compensation plan, come up with a plan to turn the negative reviews to your favor.
You can use sentiment analysis to get to know when there is an emerging issue so you can solve it on time.
Make sure you follow all the GMB guidelines to avoid suspension as it is bad for business. Always be updated on the new google bugs and new algorithm updates.
Check your organic Google traffic from time to time to know how you are doing in terms of visitors. That way, you can tell if something new you have done is working or is making you lose traffic. You can also tell if google has penalized you through checking the organic traffic.
Publications & Public Relations
How do you put your business out there and make sure you maintain good PR?
Start by having alliances with other businesses. This will expose you to customers belonging to the other business and give you good PR. Take part in relatable contests. When you win, it will provide you with credibility, and customers will gain confidence in your business.
Hold press conferences and social media campaigns. That way, people will get to see your business and learn a few things. You can also look for ways to sponsor local events or programs as it will get your business out there. People love to work with businesses that give back to society. You can try doing so by donating to a local event.
Hosting events is also a good move for your PR. On those events, you can have activities that will break the local news. That way, you will get more traffic.
Understand Your Market
Make sure you know who your target market is. It will be easier for you to develop a strategic location that will be most convenient for your target market. You can use software to make sure you get it right.
Are you using the right keyword to get to the target market? Depending on your business's competition, you have to choose the right keywords.
Get to know why other businesses are doing better than you. Analyze all their strategies to come up with a tactic that will help you succeed.
Customer Support And Interactions
Make sure you engage with visitors and answer all the questions they have. Do that on Facebook and other social media platforms, as well.
In case of an issue, make sure you solve it as fast as possible to make sure it doesn't pull your traffic down. You can even post your problems for volunteers to help you.
If you want your business to thrive, you must look for ways to increase your online visibility. Doing so will help put your business out there and drive more organic traffic to your site. SEO is not always easy, but with the right guidelines, you should be well on your way to becoming a guru.
Getting your business to rank in the local search metrics may be challenging, especially if there are other rival businesses. Luckily for you, this local SEO checklist covers just about anything you need to do to outshine your competition. So, why don't you try out the suggestions and watch your business bloom in 2021?