#1 Local SEO Checklist: Best Tips for Effective Results + Best Free Local SEO Tools

Lauren Stark
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What is Local SEO?

Local SEO Checklist #1: Local SEO is a marketing strategy for making local businesses discoverable in search engines.

This marketing strategy focuses on different SEO factors such as on-page optimization, content, and link building to improve your website’s search engine ranking.

The goal of local SEO is to get websites to the front page of Google for relevant local searches. This allows businesses to target customers in their area who are searching for certain products, services, or solutions. Local SEO that is properly implemented can increase revenue, brand recognition, and customer base! 

How is Local SEO different from traditional SEO?

Both traditional and local SEO focus on improving your rankings in online search results so more people can find, contact, and purchase from your business.

Here’s the difference. While traditional SEO focuses on improving your site’s visibility on a national or global scale, local SEO allows you to capture local search territory to connect with searchers in your area.

SEO and local SEO use many of the same strategies. However, local SEO solutions employ specialized measures to help you connect with searchers in your area.

Why is Local SEO so Important?

Local SEO is extremely important because most people turn to the internet when searching for solutions to their problems. This means that traditional marketing efforts like flyers and paid ads are not enough to capture potential customers. In addition, local SEO can help businesses expand their customer base to travelers and expand their reach beyond just local clientele. 

Let’s say you are visiting Orlando, Florida and you want to get the best ice cream nearby. You would search ‘Best Ice Cream near me’ and Google would provide you with some options to choose from. If a business doesn’t have a strong Local SEO strategy their ice cream shop will not rank on this list, even if they do have the best ice cream in town! Businesses like this will miss out on many customers. However, when businesses optimize Local SEO they can begin to see explosive growth! 

To visualize the importance of Local SEO statistically, consider that 82% of the population is relying primarily on Google to determine where to eat, where to do their shopping, and who to hire when they need specific services! This means that a large number of people are ready to convert to new customers every time they search and you want your website to be the one they find.

More Local SEO Stats

Here are a few stats that prove how important local search continues to be for businesses:

  • 97 percent of consumers look online for local businesses throughout the year, with 12 percent looking for a local business online every day.
  • 78 percent of local searches on a mobile device end in purchases made in person.
  • 71 percent of people said they search for the location of a business in order to confirm its existence before going there for a first-time visit.
  • 60 percent of American adults conduct searches for local services or product information on tablets and smartphones.
  • 50 percent of people that performed a local search on mobile went to a physical store in less than two days.
  • 50 percent of searchers on their mobile phones who conduct local searches are looking for things like a local business address.
  • 34 percent of people who did a local search on a computer or tablet also went to the physical store within two days.
  • 1 in 3 searches on a smartphone were conducted just before arriving at a store.
  • 18 percent of local mobile searches lead to an online sale on the same day.

Local SEO Checklist!

Follow these easy actionable Local SEO tips and tricks to boost your discoverability and web presence. 

1) Create an Optimized “Google My Business” Page

One of the first steps to get your website to the first page of Google for local keywords is to claim your Google My Business page. This is an easy way to let Google know that you are a legitimate business and gives you a way to communicate that to users searching for your products/services. Make sure to write a relevant and thoughtful description of your business and to list the relevant categories that your business falls into. 

Make sure your listing is the most impactful for Local SEO by including the following: 

  • As many relevant pictures as possible.
  • Accurate NAP (name, address and phone number) 
  • Accurate hours of operations
  • As many genuine customer reviews as possible 
  • Professional and high-resolution cover and profile images.

This is an important first step to make sure that your business is easily searchable! 

Local SEO Checklist

2) Ensure that You Have a Consistent NAP

Having a consistent NAP (name, address, and phone number) across all of your different channels is a simple but essential factor for ranking highly in your area. 

Your NAP must be exactly the same on your Google My Business listing, your website, and your social media accounts in order to satisfy Google’s algorithm. It may seem like a minor detail to have different phone numbers on your Instagram and your Facebook, but these details have a huge effect on local search rankings. 

When your NAP is consistent across platforms it helps reinforce your legitimacy to search engines, and the more trustworthy your site is the easier it is to rank highly. So make sure to avoid penalties for inconsistent NAP by carefully checking this information everywhere that you have made it available.

3) Make Reviews Highly Visible 

Customer reviews are essential for successful Local SEO and for successful business operations overall because people want to know your business’s reputation before becoming a new customer. Reviews provide useful information to potential customers, they have a direct impact on search rankings and they provide a source of social proof. All of these factors can help make your business a customer’s choice over the competition! 

So how can you get genuine customer reviews to start seeing those positive effects on your business? One way you can do this is by reaching out to your existing customer base on email or through social media and incentivizing them to leave a review with an offer like an in-store discount, online coupon, or points in your loyalty system. Make sure to make the review section of your website easy to use and to encourage customers to leave reviews on third-party sites like Yelp and Tripadvisor as well! 

4) Make Sure Your Website is Mobile Friendly

Websites need to be accessible from all web browsing devices to maximize their reach, but many businesses lack in this area. Over 40% of small companies do not have a website that is fully optimized for mobile viewing! Meanwhile, Google says 61% of users are unlikely to return to a mobile site they had trouble accessing, and 40% visit a competitor’s site instead. Average smartphone conversion rates are up 64% compared to the average desktop conversion rates.

It is absolutely essential to successful Local SEO to have a functional mobile-friendly website so that you can capitalize on all potential customers!

5)  Create Excellent and Relevant Local Content

Content is a gateway to your website and content marketing is very important for good SEO. If you create content that is relevant, useful, entertaining, or educational it provides value to users and makes them more likely to share that content and to remember your brand. This creates a positive feedback loop of increased traffic and increased conversion. In order to create excellent content conduct research on what your target customers are interested in and then relating those interests to your business and to local trends.

One great way to share content is through Guest Posting! Guest Posting allows you to share your content on other trustworthy websites, and this brings referral traffic and creates backlinks, both of which are great for increasing local SEO.

More Ideas for Local SEO Content

  • City-Specific Landing Page/ State or Regional Landing Page: If you are a business with multiple locations, the best way to build local SEO for each location is to have a dedicated landing page for each location, based on the city or state. You can even include a locator on your homepage to make finding the right local landing page super easy for users.
  • FAQ Pages: FAQ pages are really amazing for creating local SEO content because it allows your business to be the main voice for questions related to your industry that are in your area. This is even more important these days with the increase in voice search questions as a way for people to search online.
  • Local Discounts In today’s smart shopper age, everyone is always on the lookout for a good deal. Give your customers what they want by personalizing specials to local residents. Hotels are known for this. Take the Trade Winds Resort in St. Petersburg, Florida. They offer a 13 percent discount for Florida residents. By offering a location-specific discount, you’re appealing to your local audience. You’re making them feel special. It’s an intense race to the top of the local SERPs and a local discount can really make an impact on your local engagement.
  • Host Local Events People are always looking for unique and fun things to do near them, and a great way to appeal to your local audience is to host events! You can advertise them on social networks like Facebook and also create dedicated event pages on your website. These events can drive a lot of organic traffic to your website and boost your SEO. Whether it is a free yoga class or a beer tasting, fun events at your local physical location are amazing for generating online and in-person traffic to your business.
  • Blog Content: Blog content is where the magic happens. If you’re a local business looking to compete in the local SERPs having an active blog will help improve rankings. Not sure what to write? Here are a few ideas to get you started: New Location Announcement, New Store Pricing Kanopy, Product Announcements, Interviews & Testimonials, ‘Best of’ Guides

6) Eliminate Any Duplicate Listings

If there is one thing that Google hates more than anything else, it is duplicate listings. It worsens user experience and wastes Google’s resources which can lead to hefty search engine penalties. Fortunately, this is a very easy problem to address, you just need to use a free search analysis tool like Moz Local to identify if there are any duplicate pages and if there is contact google right away and ask them to be deleted. This will help you avoid penalties and make it more pleasant for users to search for your business. 

Best Free Local SEO Tools

In addition to our local SEO checklist, their are a lot of very helpful free tools that can help you dominate in your local SEO strategy. We’ve compiled a great list of these free local SEO tools so that you can use them in conjunction with our checklist for the ultimate local SEO strategy.

Here’s our list of the best free SEO tools:

 1. Unamo SEO’s Multiregional Tracking

While the entire SEO platform isn’t free, this free add-on feature lets you track keywords in multiple locations from the same campaign.

You can check the success of a keyword in multiple locations and then adjust your SEO strategy as needed! This is a great tool for comparing keyword success across different

2. 51Blocks Local Search Toolbox

This toolkit from 51Blocks does multiple Local SEO factor checks at the same time, which makes is great for auditing your local SEO status. The tool is very useful for checking in on major factors that affect your performance in Google Local and other directories.

3. GetListed.org

GetListed.org does a scan of your business on the top 12 directories in your industry and then provides a detailed report of where you are listed as well and whether the listing information is accurate and matches your website.

The site also tells you which category you’re listed under as well as whether you have media present on your listings. Additionally, GetListed also tells you of any errors it finds on the listings it scans. Since directories can have an amazing impact on local SEO this is a great tool to make sure your listings are accurate.

4. Synup Listings Scan

The Synup software is another useful tool that deals with local directories. This tool scans your business listing on over 100 local directories as well as different review sites to show you how you are presented on those sites.

The listings section of the tool shows you a snapshot of how you’re listed across the web. Additionally, you can scroll down to each listing to see exactly how you appear on each website. The “Reviews” section of the tool shows you reviews from across the web about your business.

5. Free Review Monitoring

FreeReviewMonitoring.com is a great service that allows you to monitor your reviews on all the major review sites for free on a daily basis. It also sends you an email every day with new reviews that they found on the web.

An awesome hack for competitive analysis is to also set up the tool to monitor your competitors’ reviews. This can give you insights into what strengths and weaknesses your local competitors have and what pain points you can solve better to stay ahead of local competition.

6. Grade.us

The free version of the Grade.us tool creates a simple review page that you can use to request reviews from your clients.

Getting more reviews is an integral part of Local SEO and this tool comes in very handy for that!

7. BrightLocal’s Search Results Checker

This popular tool replicates local search results at a city or zip code level. Using this tool can help you see how you rank in local seo without including specific local search terms and recreate the experience of a user. Thus this is a great tool to identifying top competitors and get familiar with the search landscape in your target area.

8. Notify

Similar to Free Review Monitor, notify lets you know when your business is mentioned on social media. Whenever your business gets mentioned on Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Linkedin, Reddit, and a variety of other platforms, Notify uses Slack or HipChat to send you an alert. By being aware of important conversations taking place about your brand, and participating in them, your business can achieve an excellent status of responsiveness. In addition, it can help you capitalize on interest in your business and refer traffic to your website, which will help with local SEO.

9. Negative Review Removal

 Negative Review Removal was created to enable users to check the legitimacy of online reviews. To use this tool you simply copy and paste any review into the free tool and then you will receive a score generated by the tool’s algorithm, telling you how likely it is that the review will qualify for removal. The tool uses NLP data and AI/ML frameworks such as NLTK and BERT to identify illegitimate content. This tool will help you clean up your online presence if you have fake negative reviews and will help you to not waste time trying to remove legitimate reviews.

10. Postamatic

Postmatic allows you to easily create and publish Google My Business (GMB) Posts, and Q&As through the GMB API. This is perfect if you’re managing multiple locations and struggling to keep all their GMBs updated. Since, GMB is an essential part of local SEO, this tool is super valuable, since it is great for optimizing and keeping track of your GMB pages.

11. Zipsprout

Search for local sponsorship opportunities at scale with Zipsprout. You can automate city or topic-specific searches and then let Zipsprout’s matchmakers take care of the outreach. This tool also allows you to favorite locations, which will save you time. It is also perfect for local businesses that do not have the team size or time to send hundreds of outreach emails, but that also want to be active in local community events.

12. Microdata Generator

Schema markups are very helpful for SEO and local SEO because they help Google understand the purpose of your web pages by adding structured data coding. This tool helps you generate Schema code with ease using Google’s preferred Schema markup; JSON-LD. To use this tool you simply fill in the table and Microdata Generator will build the code for you to copy and paste on your website.

13. Siteliner

Siteliner is another great site audit tool that highlights local SEO issues. You can identify key issues that affect your business’ website and rankings. The free service allows up to 250-page searches per month, identifying duplicate content, broken links, and page power. You simply add the URL for the page you want to check and Siteliner does all the hard work for you. This will help you have the best on-page SEO and in turn the best local SEO possible.

14. Whitespark Local Citation Finder

The Whitespark Local Citation Finder is one of the most full-fledged local listing management tools that you can invest in. In addition to basic local listing management, the tool finds where you should list your business to improve local SEO rankings.

15. Moz Local

Moz Local is a basic local listing management tool that allows users to manage local listings as well as claim and verify listing submissions. The tool also works with data aggregators to help push listings, making sure that your business is visible. Additionally, the tool will scan through your citations and notify you of any errors that it finds, which could be hurting your local SEO.

Take Aways:

Local SEO is a competitive field, but for most businesses, there are still plenty of areas where they can improve.

The checklist and free tools above will help you increase your local SEO ranking and more importantly help your customers find you!

Overall, focusing on Local SEO is a great way to grow your business and increase your success and it can be achieved in simple and easy steps. If you want to see amazing results then make sure to implement the Local SEO tips discussed in this article!

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Lauren Stark
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