Local SEO Checklist for Small & Medium Businesses – Part 1

3 Steps You Can Take Today, to Enhance your Digital Platform.

Local SEO Checklist

Local SEO Checklist for Small & Medium Businesses

Do you want your business to rank on the first page of Google, Bing or other local search engine result pages? Do you want to bring more local customers to your business? If you answered yes to these questions, this article is for you.

Thanks for joining us in the 1st instalment of this 3-part series: Local SEO Checklist for Small & Medium Businesses. Jam-packed with useful tips and actionable steps you can take right now!

Today we are going to explain what Local SEO is and how it affects your business. We will also cover 3 different topics with actionable steps to help you build the digital foundation your business needs to thrive online. If you don’t already have a website for your business, check out our Web Design Agency Something Creative for fully customised, responsive websites at affordable prices.

So let’s get straight to the point. 

What is Local SEO? 

If you run a business you probably have your own website. And you have probably already heard of Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). This is the process of optimising your website to show up in the top spots of the search engine result pages (SERP’s) for your desired keywords.

Local SEO is the process of optimising the whole of your digital profile to appear in the local search results when people search for the products and services you offer in the area that your business operates. This means ensuring that your website, Google My Business listing, social media accounts and local citations are accurate and up to date.

Recently, search engines like Google have made a significant shift towards displaying local businesses to the searcher based on their location. For example, if you went to Google and searched for “best French restaurant near me”, you would be shown what is called the local map pack, with the top 3 suggestions from Google located in your vicinity.

Local Map Pack

What is the Local Map Pack? Good question.

It is a relatively new feature to Google’s search engine results page and you have probably come across it before. This new feature is designed to show the searcher businesses that are located near to them and offer the products or services they are looking for. What you will notice straight away is that it is located above the organic search results. And more importantly, you don’t necessarily need a website to show up in the local map pack. 

This is because the local map pack results contain Google My Business listings. Each listing contains all of the information Google has about that specific business including the business name, location, website, phone number etc. It is crucial that you claim your Google My Business listing and optimise it to ensure your business stands out among from the rest.

However, it’s not just your website and Google My Business listing that needs to be optimised, but the whole of your digital profile. 

The key to Local SEO is consistency. To give your business the best chance of showing up in the local map pack, your business information needs to be accurate and up-to-date across all of your profiles i.e. your website, social media profiles, local citations and Google My Business listing. 

‘If your business mainly serves local customers, you should be doing everything you can to show up in the Local Map Pack for your products and services.’

If you want to learn more about claiming and optimising your Google My Business listing, keep on reading!

Why is Local SEO Important? 

Having an accurate and consistent digital profile is a strong signal of trust to the search engines. One of the core ranking factors outlined in Google’s Quality Raters’ Guideline is E-A-T, which stands for Expertise, Authoritativeness and Trust. The basic concept is that you should look to establish your expertise and authority in your chosen field, and build trust from relevant and reputable sources within your community. 

Today we are going to show you 3 steps to take control of your digital profile.  

Topics Covered:
  1. Google Analytics
  2. Google Search Console
  3. Google My Business Listing

Remember, this article is for people who already have a website. If you need a website designed for your business, check out our Web Design Services.

You will also need to have a Google Account to use Google’s software used in this guide.

Google Analytics

Do you want to know who your website visitors are? Where they’re from? Which pages did they visit? How long they spent on each page? Google Analytics gives you the ability to see this data and so much more.

A powerful website analytics service provided through Google’s Marketing Platform Brand, Google Analytics is the ultimate tool to gain invaluable insights into your business. And best of all, it’s free of charge!

‘If you already have a website, you really should be using Google Analytics to learn who your visitors are and how they interact with your website.’ 

If your asking, how does Google Analytics work? We’ll quickly explain.

Using a small piece of Javascript tracking code, Google Analytics can extract data from the visitors to your website and the actions they take. An action may be classed as any interaction with the website including watching a video, clicking on a link or even purchasing a product. 

This data is then presented to you through the Analytics Dashboard, where you will find all the visitor data you could ask for, nicely broken down into categories and segments. 

Google Analytics

Once you have Analytics installed on your website, you will want to spend some time learning how to use it. There are some great free resources out there on YouTube and I’d suggest starting there to learn more about the Analytics platform.

Take control of your data by signing up to Google Analytics today. Please note, you will need to have a Google account to use this service. For a full guide on setting up Analytics, please check out this page to Get Started With Analytics.

Google Search Console

Do you want to know how Google views your website? What search terms your website is showing up for? Which pages bring in the most visitors? 

Google Search Console can help you to measure the traffic and performance of your website, highlight and fix website issues and maximise your website’s visibility. 

‘This is an important tool for your business if you want to gain a better understanding of how Google is processing your website data and serving it up in the SERP’s.’

Similarly to Google Analytics, Google Search Console will need to be integrated with your website and verified to work. Once you have the search console verified, you will begin to see data populate in your dashboard after a few days.

Google Search Console

This data is broken down into tabs which you can explore such as the Performance tab. This allows you to see how many clicks your website has received, how many impressions your website received, your click-through rate and an average of your keyword ranking positions. This information can also be viewed for specific keywords, landing pages, devices, locations and search appearance (rich snippets).

The other key features included with Google Search Console are the Index section, which enables you to submit a sitemap to Google, and check which pages have been indexed or excluded from the search results. There is also the Links tab which allows you to explore the backlinks Google has found for your website, broken down by pages, referring domains and anchor text.

Further to this, the search console will tell you if your website has any mobile-usability issues. It will also alert you to any security issues your website may have, as well as any manual penalties you have been given by Google which will affect the performance of your website in the search results.

Gain insight into your websites traffic and performance with Google Search Console by signing up today. Please note, you may need a basic knowledge of domains and DNS management to get the Google Search Console verified on your website. If you need help with getting the search console setup, here’s Hub Spot’s Ultimate Guide to Google Search Console.

Google My Business Listing

Does your business serve local customers?  Do you want to drive more customers to your business? Do you want to keep the world updated about your latest offers?

If you answered yes to these questions, then you need to claim your Google My Business listing today! 

Google My Business is Google’s free Business Profile designed to make it easier for your customers to find you. This is done by showing potential customers your business when they are searching for your products and services in your area.

‘Google My Business is a great tool for ensuring your business stands out to your potential customers.’

If you haven’t already claimed your Google My Business profile, we’ll explain how to do it. The first place to start is to see if a Google My Business listing already exists for your business. 

It is possible that Google has already created a basic profile for your business based on the information it already has. Alternatively, if you have taken over an existing business, the listing may already be claimed and you will need to request ownership of the listing from the previous owner. 

To see if a listing already exists for your business, go to Google and search for your business name. There may be lots of other businesses with the same name as yours, so you may want to search for your business name + the city your business is located in. If a listing exists, you will see it appear on the right-hand side of the search results.

Google My Business listing

If your business listing appears and has already been claimed, you can follow Google’s guide to request ownership of your business listing. If you cannot find your listing on Google, here is Google’s full guide on adding your business listing.

If your listing does appear and hasn’t been claimed, you will see a link that says “Own this business?”. You can click this link and claim your listing using your Google account. Once you have claimed your listing, you can request a code to be sent in the post to verify your business. 

When your business has been verified, your listing will start appearing in the search results with your full business profile. 

It is important to fill out your profile with as much information as possible. Remember, the information you enter here should match the information on your website, social media profiles and local citations. 

Google enables you to add photos of your business, list the products and services that you offer and so much more. It also allows you to engage with your potential customers by posting content and the ability to receive and respond to questions from anyone who wants to know more about your business. 

Now you will want to make sure that you give an amazing experience to every customer, as they can add a review to your business profile which is visible to everyone that views your listing. Reviews are vital to driving new customers to your business and keep them coming back.

Google makes it extra easy to gain reviews from your customers, by providing you with a shareable link that sends people to your Google My Business listing. You should be sending this link to all of your customers to try and gain a steady flow of new reviews. You also have the ability to respond to reviews, meaning you can thank your happy customers and address any negative reviews.

A negative review is an opportunity for you to engage with someone who is unhappy with your service or product and turn that experience into a positive one. If potential customers see that you actively try to rectify any negative reviews in a friendly and professional manner, this can build trust and the reputation of your brand.

So there you have it! The first instalment of Something Creative UK’s Local SEO Checklist for Local Businesses.

Hopefully, you now have a better understanding of what exactly Local SEO is and some steps you can follow to enhance your digital profile. Look out for the 2nd instalment of our Local SEO Checklist, where we give you some more tips and steps you can take to further enhance your digital profile.

If you get stuck with any of this, send us an email at info@somethingcreativeuk.co.uk and we’ll do our best to help you out. If you would like to learn more about our business, visit our website www.somethingcreativeuk.co.uk. To learn more about the author, visit his LinkedIn profile at  https://www.linkedin.com/in/josh-butler-a80515160/ .

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