Local SEO checklist: Find local customers

If you have a brick-and-mortar business location, then local SEO needs to be a big part of your optimization strategy. Prepping your website for local SEO helps customers in your area discover your business and find where your retail shop is at.

Set up Google My Business

Google My Business is an excellent free SEO tool for local businesses. You can set up your business listing in minutes. It helps customers find you across Google Search and Maps. Start by heading to the sign-up page. Then follow the prompts to create your listing.

You’ll need basic information about your business such as: Name, Category, Location, and Contact Details. Once finished, optimize your Google My Business Page to get found in search and connect with customers.See more about SEO.

List your store on major directories and platforms

You’ve probably heard to list your business on web directories at some point. While there are a ton of directories out there, few will make an impact on your rankings.

The top 10 directories you should consider are:

  1. Facebook
  2. Apple Maps
  3. Google My Business
  4. LinkedIn Company Directory
  5. Bing
  6. Yelp
  7. Better Business Bureau
  8. Foursquare
  9. Yellow Pages
  10. Angies List

Feel free to explore more web directory lists. You may find niche directories you feel are best for your business. Add your business listing accordingly.

Fill out your Contact Us page thoroughly

A lot of thought goes into creating your homepage and landing pages. For local businesses, your Contact Us page is important for building trust and attracting local customers. A contact form can provide shoppers with your name, address, and phone number. This is crucial for local SEO because Google values consistent, accurate information for searchers.

Consider city-specific landing pages

If you have physical locations in multiple cities, consider creating a unique landing page for each city. This makes it easier to rank for each market area without having to build a separate website for each place.

Be sure to create location-specific copy for each landing page. This tactic may take time and resources to create, especially if you have a lot of locations. Avoid publishing thin, unhelpful pages. Google may penalize your site.


What to do if you get stuck?

Search changes often, so stay informed with a reading list. There’s a lot more to learn about SEO, and it’s a discipline that sees many small, frequent changes as search technology moves forward. You can start by getting updates straight from Google by reading its Google Search Center Blog and Think With Google publications.

I always remind our merchants that customer experience comes first, and not every bit of advice from Google matches the SEO best practices that work today. However, as a general rule of thumb, Google’s guidelines can help you avoid the questionable practices that may get your site penalized. If you ever have doubts, revisit Google’s recommendations.

Giving searchers what they want

While the way people use search engines will continue to evolve, one thing that will remain consistent is why we bother to use search at all: in order to discover things we want or recall things we’ve seen.

With that in mind, the only timeless SEO strategy might simply be to provide searchers with what they’re looking for. Search engines, particularly Google, have in turn rewarded websites that keep this in mind. The vast majority of what we covered above—fast-loading websites, interesting content and copy, clear page and image descriptions—are things that make searchers’ lives easier.See more about SEO.

As you build your site, always keep in mind this connection between the user experience and search optimization. As search technology improves, these two things seem to march in lockstep, which means the easiest way to please a search engine is to please the people who use it.