In the competitive landscape of local businesses, standing out against larger corporations requires a robust local SEO strategy. As a seasoned professional working closely with local small business owners in the Baltimore area, I’ve curated a comprehensive checklist to enhance your local SEO rankings. Let’s delve into the essential steps that can make a significant difference in your online visibility locally:
1. Identify the Problems You Solve and Do Keyword Research
Understanding the unique challenges your customers face allows you to tailor your content and SEO strategy to address their specific needs. By identifying and solving these problems, you can create valuable content that resonates with your local audience.
Typically I do this by doing some sort of keyword research. As a business owner, it is important for you to know the exact words and phrases your audience uses to find businesses like you.
So for example, if you are a dentist in a small town, like Columbia, Maryland, you need to know that people are using the search term “dentist near me”, also “teeth whitening near me”, and other related terms to find your business.
By knowing your audience is using these terms you can now go back and create content that will answer these questions or start to provide services that solve their problems, if you don’t already offer these services.
So doing keyword research is really important before you start creating content or before you start creating a new website.
Below is an example of just basic keyword research, it is as simple as googling different terms, and using tools to find the search volume:
As you can see in the screenshot, I included different keywords for this client in the HVAC niche. I also Geo modified the keywords which means that I included the location (Charlotte, NC) in the keywords.
This increases the chances that when your customers are searching locally your website is more likely to show up. How cool is that?
2. Fix Technical SEO Issues On Your Website
Technical SEO is about ensuring that your website is technically sound by addressing issues such as page load times, mobile responsiveness, and broken links. A well-optimized website not only improves user experience but also boosts your search engine rankings.
There are has done numerous stats on how drastically a website can be affected by being too damn slow. The truth is people are impatient, and will not wait for your site to load, before abandoning your site and moving on to the next one. Which they will do without a second thought.
So I always tell business owners one quick win they can do to improve their website speed and thus your organic traffic is to compress the images you are using.
I know you like a lot of business owners love using big images, but they eat up your site speed. So just something as simple as compressing the images you are using to Webp or AVIF and reuploading them is more than enough to improve your website speed quickly – no pun intended.
3. Optimize and Refresh Your Pages
The next part of my Local SEO checklist is to refresh your pages. Regularly update and optimize your website content to reflect current trends and industry developments. Fresh and relevant content signals to search engines that your website is active and authoritative.
If you talk to any SEO expert they will tell you the Helpful Content Update by Google will go down as one of the most impactful updates in the history of search. Why? Because it completely tanked websites that suffered from thin content, poor user experience, and keyword stuffing.
The truth is Google doesn’t want to send traffic to your website, you have to earn it. So the best way to do this is to create content that addresses your audience’s pain points and then make sure that people are sharing and linking to your content.
4. Optimize Your Google Business Profile
Your Google Business Profile is a critical component of local SEO. Ensure that your profile is complete, accurate, and includes relevant keywords. Encourage satisfied customers to leave reviews, as positive feedback enhances your local credibility.
Gone are the days of keyword stuffing, now Google is cracking down on Google My Business profiles that are filled with irrelevant keywords. So if you are someone who likes to stuff keywords in your profiles, don’t be surprised if your account is suspended.
So now my best advice is to just be simple and honest, only choose categories that are relevant to your business, and don’t use your description to fill it up with keywords, instead, use it to share your brand story. Also, add photos and social media links.
If you don’t have one, visit our guide on how to setup a Google business profile from start to finish.
5. Study Competitors and Improve On Them
Conduct a thorough analysis of your local competitors. Identify their strengths and weaknesses, and use this information to refine your SEO strategy. Differentiate yourself by offering unique value to your audience.
The key thing in today’s modern-day SEO is to study your competitors but don’t copy them, instead use their ideas as inspiration to come up with your unique strategy.
No more overly trying to 10x it sometimes less word count is better. Also maybe it’s time to retire unnecessary stock images, they honestly just take up space, and Google doesn’t care about them.
When it comes to analyzing competitors use them as a guide for your strategy, study your audience, and find out what they are interested in, how they talk, and what they truly want.
As long as you stick to that, you honestly don’t need to worry about competing with others.
6. Manage Local Business Listings & Citations
Consistent business information across online directories and local citations is crucial for local SEO. Ensure that your business name, address, and phone number (NAP) details are accurate and consistent across all platforms.
You never want instances where you have incorrect info, this can negatively impact your local SEO, but also it confuses customers on where to find you, and how to reach you.
Time is money, and your potential customers think so too. So it is important to have accurate business information.
Also just take the time to build out as many as you can, listing management tools are great for this, but you really can just get started with any of the following:
- Google My Business
- Bing Places
- Apple Maps
Do your research and also find local directories in your area that you can build listings on. Doing this will not only help your brand get out there but improve your referral traffic as well.
7. Get Links From Websites In Your Local Area
Build relationships with local businesses and organizations to acquire quality backlinks. Local links add credibility to your website and improve your chances of appearing in local search results.
Working with other businesses is always a great idea. when you speak to them you can gain insights about possible new services or ideas that you can provide.
Also, you can improve your referral traffic because oftentimes local business owners who work together are always willing to share the love and provide each other with leads if they’re not able to fulfill the service themselves
Networking is power, so something as simple as getting on LinkedIn reaching out to business owners, and then asking them for a link is more than enough to get started.
8. Add Schema Markup
Implementing schema markup on your website helps search engines better understand your content. This can enhance your visibility in search results and improve the chances of appearing in rich snippets. Below I included an example of schema markup:
Local business schema is hands down one of the most important schemas you should add to your website because it directly affects your ability to have your Google business profile show up in the map section results.
But there are also other schemas that you can implement on your site like:
- Review schema
- FAQ Schema
- How-To Schema
- Events Schema
- Organization Schema
Adding schema can be a bit abstract and seem complicated so for this I usually tell SMBs to defer to a professional to ensure that they are doing it right. Because if they don’t they run the risk of Google ignoring it together.
This won’t penalize your site per say, but you also don’t want to waste time doing something that may be hopeless because it was done wrong.
9. Increase Your Reviews
Positive reviews play a crucial role in local SEO. Encourage satisfied customers to leave reviews on platforms like Google, Yelp, and other relevant review sites. Responding to reviews, both positive and negative, shows your engagement with the local community.
Social Proof Marketing is all about studying products and services that already provide value, reengineering them big and better, selling them, asking for testimonials, and reviews, doing case studies, sharing expertise and knowledge, and more.
Doing this ensures that you have a ready-made audience and that you are working with a product that can immediately add value and be of interest to a lot of people.
A lot of people think that getting reviews is hard or like rocket science, but it comes down to just asking for reviews.
10. Get On Social Media Like YouTube
Utilize social media platforms, including video-centric ones like YouTube, to engage with your local audience. Share relevant content, promotions, and behind-the-scenes glimpses to build a loyal community around your brand.
One strategy I always use is cross-promoting, so I often create one video for Instagram reels and then share it on TikTok, YouTube Shorts, Snapchat, etc.
This is a great time-saving measure. Also, I straight up tell people on my social platforms to Google me, this sends positive authority and trust signals to Google, which I have a strong hunch that referral traffic, or just organic brand searches, is becoming just as important if not more important than backlinks.
11. Add Pay-Per-Click With SEO To Snowball Results
Combine paid advertising (Pay-per-click) with your SEO efforts to maximize visibility and drive targeted traffic. This integrated approach can yield faster and more sustainable results.
The great thing about doing SEO is that you are finding out what words and phrases your audience is naturally using. So once you know this, it is nothing to then set up a Google ads campaign targeting each of these phrases.
By doing PPC with SEO you get a double whammy effect by having your company show up twice in the Google Listings.
12. Share SEO Content In Emails
Leverage your email list to share valuable SEO-optimized content. Keep your audience informed about your products, services, and local initiatives through regular newsletters and updates.
I always tell business owners to repurpose their SEO blog posts into an email campaign. This is a great way to get shares, direct traffic to your site, and in turn increase rankings.
13. Turn Content Into Ebooks and Guides
Repurpose your high-performing content into ebooks and guides. This not only adds value for your audience but also establishes your business as an authoritative source in your local industry.
You can then use these ebooks and guides as lead magnets to encourage visitors to your site to give you their email addresses and other information.
Also creating these types of resources and then sharing them on book publishing websites (make sure it isn’t copyrighted), like Amazon KDP, or Barnes and Nobles, can help you create some income from selling ebooks, while also gain more backlinks to your website, and referral traffic.
14. Use SEO To Build Lasting Partnerships
Forge partnerships with other local businesses and organizations. Collaborative efforts can lead to shared audiences, backlinks, and increased visibility, contributing to long-term success in your local market.
Partnerships are something that is key to Bounce Rank’s success by partnering we can clear more ground, to get more clients, and also build up our authority and social proof better.
By following this Local Small Business Owner SEO Checklist, you can empower your business with a strong local SEO foundation, ensuring better visibility and competitiveness in your local market. My best advice for you is to go back through the checklist and make sure that you are following these things, this will ensure that you remain light-years ahead of the competition.
You can also use the email form below or email us at [email protected] to get SEO services.
You can download the checklist here.