Local SEO Checklist – A 10 Point Plan for New or Existing Websites (Part 1 of 2)
July 25, 2018 by Paul Ceppaglia
Can potential customers find your business online? If you are a local business (or you a marketing agency serving local businesses), local SEO can be a challenge. But fear not…our 10 point local SEO checklist will help you effectively optimize your business’s online presence.
What is Local SEO?
Search Engine Optimization (aka SEO) is a term which refers to the strategies and process of increasing the visibility of a web page in search engine result pages (SERPs). When done correctly and consistently, this process will result in the web page advancing toward the top of the search engine results, which in turn means the web page will receive more visitors.
Local SEO simply refers to the process of optimizing the online presence of a website or business that serves a local community, such as a doctor, lawyer, landscaping company, plumber, etc.
Challenges of Local SEO
Too often, local businesses lack the expertise and resources to successfully plan and implement a local SEO strategy. When a local business focuses on their strengths (i.e. providing quality products and services to their customers), word of mouth can boost their business. However, without a clearly defined SEO plan, businesses will be missing out on getting in front of potential customers.
A successful local SEO strategy includes both on-site and off-site strategies. This article will focus on on-site optimization strategies.
What is On-Site Optimization?
On-site optimization refers to the process of adjusting your website so that is more usable and findable to both human visitors and search engine spiders. By giving search engine spiders clear indicators of the intent of your site’s content, the search engines will be better equipped to display your web pages when a user searches for a phrase that is relevant to your company’s products or services.
On-site optimization can also include adjusting the website’s file structure and server configuration to improve speed, performance, and security.
The 10 Point Local SEO Checklist – Part 1
Now that you know what local SEO is, you might be wondering how you can optimize your business’s website. While a complete SEO marketing plan is beyond the scope of a single blog post, we have developed a 10 point checklist to help you get started.
Today we will present the first 5 items on the list. Next week we will present the second half of our list.
1. URL Structure
A web page’s URL is the first thing that visitors see when they hit the page (or see the result in the search engines), and it also is the first thing the search engine spider sees when it crawls your page. Therefore, it is extremely important to optimize your website’s URL structure. Some things to consider:
- Tied into overall site structure/hierarchy (see point #2 below)
- Keep URLs as brief as possible, while still being informative
- Use static URLs, rather than dynamic URLs (e.g. use https://domain.com/services/tree-trimming/ rather than https://domain.com/services.php?service=174)
- Be sure to include keywords or phrases that are relevant to the page’s contents
2. Navigation Optimization
Just as every successful road trip needs clear and accurate navigation, every website also needs clear navigation to provide a valuable experience to its visitors. By providing clear, intuitive navigation and site structure, you are not only helping your site’s human visitors, but you are also making it easier for search engine spiders to index your site.
- Make sure every important page or section of your website can be reached via the main navigation menu
- To prevent your navigation menu from getting too cluttered, it is a good idea to divide your website into sections or categories. Some common sections include:
- Products/services: this section contains…you guessed it…your company’s products and services.
- About your company: this section may contain information about your company history, the key members of your team, location information, a contact form, etc.
- Help/support: this section may contain an FAQ, knowledgebase, a support ticketing system, return policy, and more.
3. Title Tags
A web page’s title tag is a piece of HTML code that defines the page’s title to search engine spiders.
The title tag is a crucial part of every web page’s optimization process, so be sure you don’t neglect this simple tactic! Your title tags should:
- Reflect the page’s content.
- Include the main targeted keyword phrase at the beginning of the title tag
- Include an additional related keyword or phrase in the remainder of the tag, If possible (i.e. if you can do it while keeping the title tag succinct and readable).
- Entice the searcher to click on your page in the search engine results.
- Be simple, readable, and as concise as possible.
- Your meta titles should be unique across your website. Avoid using duplicate meta titles
4. Meta Descriptions
A meta description is another HTML tag, that describes the page’s contents in further detail than the title tag.
The meta description is another crucial element that a search engine spider uses when determining relevancy in search results. In addition, the meta description is usually displayed in the search results pages, so optimizing your meta descriptions can greatly increase both the visibility and click-through rate to your pages.
- Aim to keep your meta descriptions under 300 characters to avoid truncation in the search results
- Be sure to include relevant keyword phrases in your meta descriptions
- Your meta descriptions should be both descriptive and compelling. The description should not only summarize the contents of the page but also provide a compelling reason for the searcher to click through to your page. Think of the meta description as ad copy!
- Your meta descriptions should be unique across your website. Avoid using duplicate meta descriptions.
5. NAP Data
So far, every item on this list applies to all search engine optimization, whether the site is locally targeted or not.
Item #5 introduces the first factor specific to local SEO: NAP. NAP stands for Name, Address, Phone Number.
The importance of accurate, prominent NAP information on a local business website cannot be stressed enough. If you want Google to get a clear understanding of your business’s geographic location and the area that you serve, then you need to be sure to include NAP data.
- Make sure your NAP information is correct and consistent across your entire website.
- Be sure to include your NAP information on any pages that contain geographic related content, such as service areas, business locations, etc.
These first 5 items on our checklist should keep you plenty busy until next week, when we’ll publish the remainder of our list. In the meantime, get busy optimizing your website. Or, if you feel you need some assistance with your on-site optimization, you can contact the SEO experts at Posirank, who offer a range of on-site optimization services to businesses of all sizes.