📍Local SEO Checklist for 2021 - How We Do Local SEO

💻 Step #1. Setup your Google My Business Profile 💻

Start executing your local SEO strategy by creating a Google My Business (GMB) account.

A well-made GMB profile can have a significant impact on your local SEO. It helps Google understand where you operate your business, and at the same time, it can rank well on Google on it’s own.
Google My Business listing optimized for local SEO

Pro Tip

Verifying your business location in GMB can improve your local ranking on Google Search and Google Maps.

💎 Step #2. Optimize Your GMB Profile 💎

Add any additional information about your local business to your GMB profile. This will help Google fully understand what your business is about and will inform potential customers about your services.

In addition, it’ll also make your page more likely to rank & stand out.

Here’s what a good-looking GMB profile looks like:
Optimized GMB listing - Local SEO checklist
Optimized GMB profile

Attributes in GMB listing optimized for Local SEO

Pro Tip

Not sure what type of pictures to include in your GMB profile? Check out Google’s photo guidelines!

From the business description in a GMB listing optimized for SEO
Questions and answers in a Google My Business listing optimized for local SEO

📝 Step #3. Publish posts on your GMB Profile 📝

Google My Business can act as a social media profile for your business, too. You can post updates, promotions, offers, events, news, and short informative articles. These posts can positively impact your ranking on Google Search, and the most recent posts will show up when someone opens your profile on Google Maps. Here are some ideas:

🤳 Step #4. Encourage Customer Reviews 🤳

Yep - customer reviews DO influence rankings. The better your reviews, the more likely to rank higher on Google.
Reviews in GMB listing

This doesn’t mean that you should try to hack the process though - don’t ask for reviews in return for discounts or coupons, and don’t set up a review station at your location. Google can (and will) penalize you for this!

Instead, you can try doing the following:

📃 Step #5. Build Citations in Local Directories 📃

Citations are any mentions of your NAP (name, email, and phone information) found in business directories, websites, and social media (such as Yellow Pages, Foursquare, Yelp, Facebook, and Instagram). They further help Google validate the address you’ve listed in  your GMB profile.

Citations in Yellow Pages Directory for Local SEO optimization
Citations can have a strong impact on your Google rankings. And because they often include a link to your website, citations can also act as backlinks (more on backlinks below). Here’s what you need to do to build citations the right way:

Pro Tip

Keep your NAP information consistent across the internet. Always use the same exact structure and spelling when citing your business information. This will make it less confusing both for Google and your potential customers.

🖥️ Step #6. Use Social Media 🖥️

While social media doesn’t directly influence your search ranking, it boosts your online presence. You should create profiles on numerous social media sites and actively maintain them. These profiles can also act as (very) credible NAP citations, since popular social media sites have high domain authority.

As a local business, you should at least have a social profile on the following sites:


✍️ Step #7. Research Local Keywords ✍️

Now, let’s talk about local SEO for your website. The first step here is to do your local SEO keyword research.

The keyword research here, though, is a bit different than with global SEO, as you mainly want to rank on service keywords VS other types. To make this a bit clearer, let’s assume you’re an accounting firm based in NYC.

You’d want to rank for keywords like: [service type] + [location], like “accounting firm NYC” as opposed to educational keywords like “how to do accounting.”
Google Search suggestions when searching for the term 'accounting new york'

Here’s how you can do keyword research for local SEO:


⌨️ Step #8. On-page SEO Optimization ⌨️

Once you’re done collecting your keywords, it’s time to optimize your website according to SEO best practices:

Local SEO Checklist - Webpage optimized for local SEO

📲 Step #9. Create Landing Pages 📲

In order to rank on Google, your website should have the following pages:
Local SEO Checklist - Webpage optimized for local SEO

🔗 Step #10. Build (Local) Backlinks 🔗

Getting other websites to link to yours signals to Google that your website is a credible source, and hence, Google ranks your pages better. Here’s some tips on how to build backlinks for local SEO:

📱 Step #11. Make Sure Your Page is Fast & Mobile Friendly 📱

How well-made your website is has a very significant impact on your SEO.

On one hand, Google does mobile-first indexing. So, if your website doesn’t run on Mobile, your rankings will seriously be harmed. Use Google’s own tool to check whether your website is mobile friendly.

At the same time, speed is also a factor. If your website takes 30 seconds to load, most people will just bounce off and go to your competition instead.

So - here are some tips on how to fix both issues:

Did none of that make any sense to you? We can help speed up your website for you! Get in touch here.
Local SEO Checklist - Mobile Webpage optimized for local SEO

📰 Bonus - Use Local Ads to Drive Traffic ASAP 📰

Want to start driving traffic before SEO kicks in? Use local ads.From our personal experience, 90% of local businesses can make good profits from running local ads. Here’s how you can do this:

Local Ads in Google Maps

🙋 Local SEO FAQ 🙋

#1. What is the difference between SEO and local SEO?

The main difference between organic SEO and local SEO strategies is their goal. SEO aims to rank your website on keywords on a national or international level, while local SEO focuses on ranking your business in the local area that you’re operating.

With local SEO, you’d target keywords like “accounting firm Palo Alto,” “tax accountant Palo Alto”, etc.

With global SEO, on the other hand, you target less location-specific keywords like “what’s an income statement,” “accounting system,” etc.

#2. Should you include your location in your business name?

No, it’s not necessary to include your location in your business name for SEO purposes.

If your local business is already named “New York Plumbing”, that’s completely fine. But if it’s called “Joe’s Plumbing”, you shouldn’t list your name as “Joe’s Plumbing in New York” in business profiles, just to rank for local keywords.

Instead, there are many other places to mention your location across your website or your GMB listing.

#3. How many local citations do you need for better local SEO?

While there isn’t an exact number of citations you must have to rank higher, you should aim to build at least about 80-100 citations. Another tip is to build citations in local directories relevant to your category.

#4. How can you do local SEO without a physical address?

For service businesses that don’t have a physical location that customers visit, you should display your area of service. If you’re a photographer working only in Manhattan, you can use it as your address. Or, if you do photography in the entire city, you can list New York City as your area of service.

In addition, in your Google My Business listing, Google allows you to hide your full address (which is likely your home address), and only show your area of service to the public.

#5. How long does it take to do local SEO?

Generally, it can take from a few months, up to a year to see results from your local SEO strategy depending on the level of competition.

If no one in your location focuses on local SEO, you can start ranking in months if you know what you’re doing.

On the other hand, if you want to rank for something super complicated like “health insurance NYC,” it will take a very long time and a very hefty budget.

Need help with your SEO?

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Noel Ceta - co-founder of Apollo Digital