Local SEO Checklist – A 10 Point Plan for New or Existing Websites (Part 2 of 2)
July 31, 2018 by Paul Ceppaglia
Today we present Part 2 of our Local SEO checklist, which will help you optimize your local business site to help improve your visibility in Google, increase your search engine rankings, and generate more visitors. Be sure to check out Part 1, where you can read about the importance of on-site SEO and where you will find the first 5 points of our 10 point checklist.
And now, with no further delay, let’s continue with our checklist!
6. Image Optimization
Images are incredibly important on a webpage. Images help convey the message delivered in the text, support a statement or data (e.g. a graph or chart), improve the readability of your content, and engage the reader and draw the eye down the page and further into the content.
High quality images can help your potential customers better visualize your products and services, thereby increasing your web page conversion rates (where a “conversion” equates to a visitor converting into a lead or customer).
In addition to all the benefits listed above, well-optimized images can also actually help your SEO. By optimizing your website’s images, you can give clues to Google (and other search engines) about the subject matter of your images:
- File Name: Before you upload an image file to your website, be sure that the file name contains your target keyword phrase.
- Title Text: Typically, the image title will display when a visitor’s mouse hovers over the image. The title text should include your target keyword phrase and be descriptive of the image.
- Img Alt Text: The image alt text provides alternate information to display in the event that an image cannot load, or if the visitor is using a screen reader. Once again, the img alt text should be descriptive and include the target keyword phrase.
- File Size: While it is very important to use high quality images on your website, you should also be sure to carefully manage the size of these images. The last thing you want to bog down your web page with huge images that take forever to load. Utilize an image editing application (such as Adobe Photoshop or JPEGmini) or even an online tool (such as https://compressjpeg.com/ ) to compress your images and reduce their file size.
7. Internal and External Contextual Links
You may have heard that it is good to include contextual links (i.e. links within the text of your content) within your web pages and blog posts, but do you know the reasoning behind this recommendation?
Internal links and external links are both very important aspects of on-page SEO, but they serve very different purposes.
Internal Links: An internal contextual link is a link within a post or page that takes the reader to another page on your own website. For example, in a sentence about your company, you might link to a page focused on a specific service as it is mentioned in the article.
Including relevant contextual to other pages on your site is a great way to distribute “authority” from one page to another, and lets Google know that the linked page is important.
In addition to the technical SEO benefits, internal linking improves the user experience on your website, and helps keep your visitors engaged, taking them deeper into your site to learn more about your company, and reducing your bounce rate.
External Links: When adding external contextual links, be sure to link to relevant, authoritative sites. By linking out to trusted, high-quality sites, you demonstrate to both your users and Google that you are concerned about user experience, providing external resources rather than trying to simply keep the visitor on your site.
Additionally, evidence suggests that linking out to high authority, relevant sites can actually improve your ranking at both the page and domain level.
8. XML Sitemap
An XML sitemap is a map of your website (obvious, huh?), which tells Google which pages are most important, and the path to get to those pages.
Adding an XML sitemap to your local business website benefits your site because it means Google will:
- crawl your site more efficiently
- learn which pages are most important
- learn how often to crawl your dynamic content, based on how you prioritize your content
Creating an XML sitemap is a pretty straightforward process. If your website is built on WordPress, there are several WordPress plugins available to help generate the XML sitemap. You could also use an online tool to generate your XML sitemap .
9. Mobile Friendliness
As we have discussed several times on this blog, having a site that delivers a great experience to mobile visitors is more important than ever. As a rule, mobile traffic now exceeds desktop traffic. So, ignoring your website’s mobile visitors is a HUGE mistake.
In fact, in March 2018 Google announced that they were rolling out mobile-first indexing.
This effectively means that Google places a higher priority on mobile-optimized web pages in their search results.
If your local business site is not yet mobile friendly, don’t panic. There are several ways you can approach the problem:
- Responsive design
- Accelerated Mobile Pages
- Dynamic Serving
To read more about each of these strategies, be sure to check out my blog post on mobile-first indexing.
10. Page Speed
Page speed refers to the page load time, or the time it takes to display the contents of a web page in full. In addition to page load time, another important metric when it comes to page speed is the “time to first byte”, which refers to how long it takes the browser to receive the first byte of data from a web server.
Why is page speed important? First, Google uses site speed (site speed is the page speed for a cross-section of pages on a website) as one of their ranking signals.
In addition, slower page load times mean that the search engine crawlers can crawl fewer pages within their allocated crawl budget, which can negatively affect your site’s overall indexing.
From a user experience, the faster a page loads, the better the overall experience. If a page takes too long to load (and “too long” can mean anything over 2 seconds!), a visitor is likely to hit the back button or close their browser. So, in terms of SEO, time is definitely of the essence!
To check your website’s page speed, be sure to use a tool like Google’s Page Speed Insights, which will analyze your pages, report speed metrics, and offer recommendations on how to optimize your page speed.
These 5 items conclude or local SEO checklist. We’ve given you much to consider, and many action items to implement. But rest assured, the fun doesn’t stop here! There are more on-site factors that you can address once you get through our checklist (structured data, for example). However, by diving into the items presented on our checklist and taking action, your website will be well on its way to increased visibility and traffic.
If you don’t feel up to the task yourself, PosiRank can assist with your on-site optimization. Contact PosiRank today to learn more about the wide range of on-site optimization services available.
Feature image courtesy sidesign.co