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Local SEO Checklists & Search Ranking Factors in 2017

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If you run a local business, then you nail down your local SEO is must.

Effective SEO increases visibility of your brand and ensures better ranking in SERPs. Local SEO can also be understood as a series of concerted steps, and it is important that you tailor those local SEO steps to your online business model.

Going through SEO checklists and combining search-ranking factors in your SEO campaigns will provide you best opportunities to get seen whenever your customer searches for someone like you. It is important to make sure that your customers can find you in Google searches, and for that you need to customize Your Local SEO to your Business Type.

How to Customize Local SEO to your Business

  1. Determine your business model
  2. Match your model to Google’s Guideline
  3. Create your website Content Strategy

Regardless of business model, it is must for every local business website to be Indexable, responsive, error-free, well structured, search engine friendly and local SEO optimized. By using the below given checklists, you can enhance your chances to be seen in SERPs.

To dig into task and prioritize your Local SEO strategies, it is must to go through following Local SEO Checklists-[Image 1- Local SEO Checklists- source- askjoanne]

Local SEO Checklists

  • On Page

  1. Title Tags- The HTML title tags define name of a web page and they should be used for describing content of that page in concise and result-oriented manner. Title tag optimization is considered amongst the most powerful local SEO techniques, which is essential for both usability and SEO. There are title tag optimization techniques that you need to follow to ensure better ranking in SERPs.
  2. Clear URLs- It is important to use clean and SEO friendly URL to let your local SEO be effective. URLs are human-readable texts, designed to replace IP address’ numbers (computers use IP address to communicate with their servers). For SEO purposes, it is important to keep URLs relevant, accurate and compelling.
  3. Duplicate Content- To let your Local SEO work efficiently, you must check for duplicate content as duplicates sap listing strength. Getting your local content right is an important part of SEO efforts and it is inevitable that you are not going with copied thing or duplicate content. Never scrape content from other websites and create unique page for every possible city/keyword combination. 
  4. Logos & Images- Optimizing your logo and other images to complement your local SEO campaign is another important factor that lets your SEO be more search engine friendly. To make your images be search engine friendly, you need to use Alt tags to describe your images. Additionally, you need to use long descriptions, EXIF data, Anchor texts, Rich Snippets, etc.
  5. Non-WWW to WWW- Ensuring non-WWW to WWW redirect is well setup is one of the prerequisites of effective local SEO campaigns. By using a 301 redirect on “non-www” version of the URL, marketers can consolidate all of their links’ popularity to a single URL, which will help them increase their website’s chances of maintaining top rankings in SERPs.
  6. Webmasters- Setting up Google Webmaster Local SEO tools and ensuring that Google can crawl your site is another important factor that can optimize local SEO campaign for your website. Google Webmaster Local SEO Tools aid you to identify different issues with your site and additionally, they can even update you if your site has been infected with malware or not.
  7. Google Analytics- Installing Google Analytics snippets is essential to optimize Local SEO strategies. With the help of Google Analytics, you can get stronger results across all your sites, offline channels and apps. Google Analytics Solutions help you turn insights into action and help businesses improve engagement and click through.
  8. Indexable Menus- It is important to ensure that your navigation menu items are Indexable as this optimizes navigation menus, which offers site owners an advantage over competing sites. Optimization of Indexable menus requires minimal effort but it has high-gain potential to optimize local SEO campaigns. Choosing apt keyword phrasing and sub-directories within your navigation menu is important in ensuring higher page ranks for your site.
  9. A.P- Once you are done with Google Places’ listing and have optimized it to fullest, it is important to establish your N.A.P. (name, address, phone number profile). For effective local SEO, you need to ensure that NAP on your website matches Google Places. Marketers need to make sure that they have a consistent N.A.P. profile all across the web as this helps Google find you more recognizable. 
  10. City/Service Page- It is important that you add city/service page to your website as this helps your site have better and consistent recognition from Google that ultimately helps in better ranking in SERPs.
  11. Blog- You need to ensure that your website has a blog as blogs drive traffic to your website, and they help in converting traffic into leads. To establish your authority and ensure good back linking, blogs play really important role.
  12. Mobile Responsive- How your website appears on mobile is another important factor to ensure better ranking in Local SEO. For this, you can test your websites in Smartphone & tablet emulators.
  • Google+ Profile

  1. Google Profile- It is important that you have setup your Google+ Profile as Google is the top player in the search engine world. Google wants you to use its social network Google+ to expand your online presence. Having a Google+ presence will for sure boost your search engine rankings and optimize local SEO
  2. Google My Business Page Claim- This will help you show people you are open for business and by claiming your Google listing, you ensure better local authority that ultimately help in optimizing your local SEO campaigns. This helps you be on searches when prospects search for someone like you on Google.
  3. Merging of Google Local Profile with Google+ Page- You need to ensure that your Google Local profile is merged with the Google+ page for letting your local SEO be more result oriented. This lets your website be more Google friendly, and hence has better chances to come higher in the results of SERPs.
  4. Accurate Listing & Accurate Category- This is another important factor that you need to pay heed upon to let your Local SEO be resul-driven. You need to ensure that you are listed in the right category and your business name is accurately listed in different Google places. This lets you have better authority in local or organic searches.
  5. Logos & Cover Photo- To improve your SEO, you need to add your logo and cover photos. This will help your site be optimized for Google Carousel. Google Carousel includes row of images across the top of the Google SERP against a dark background and it presents better opportunities to appear at the top of the search results of Google.
  • Schema

  1. Check Schema- It is important to test your website for existing schema. You need to understand the concept and method of schema markup, as this helps you boost ranking of your website in SERPs (search engine result pages).
  2. Generate & Implement Schema- To optimize your local SEO, you need to generate local and business schemas for your website. You also need to add business details in Schema, as it is important to implement your schema in SEO friendly manner.
  • Important Directories
  1. Bing- For improved Local SEO, you need to create & claim listing on Bing as it helps you use categorized listing of links from around the web and optimize your Local SEO campaigns.
  2. ExpressUpdate & Yelp- You may also create & claim listing on ExpressUpdate & Yelp directories as they are considered as one of the finest local SEO tools that help you build your profile, get found on online and grow your business by letting your customers find you.[Image2- SEO Checklists & Ranking Factors- internationalbusinessbest]
  • Citation

  1. Top Citation Sites- You should submit your website to top citation sites as it is important to the success of your Local SEO business. Citations can be understood as the mentions of your business name and address on other WebPages. You need to find your competitors’ citations and related resources to channelize your SEO campaigns more effectively.
  2. Fix Listings & let Citation be Niche Specific- You have to fix NAP (name, address, phone number profile) for wrong citations and you need to submit your site to niche specific sites to ensure effective Local SEO. You should also submit your site to Hyperlocal Directories as this is must for optimizing local SEO. If your citations are old and defunct, you should modify them.
  • Reviews

  1. Respond to Negative Reviews & Generate Positive Reviews- Responding to negative reviews helps you ensure effective branding of your online business as it highlights that you care for your customers, and improves your chances of having better recognition. You should also ask your regular customers to leave a review about your product and services as this helps in convincing new customers and increasing conversions.
  2. Make Easy to Review- It is important that you make your site and its social profiles easy for customers to review them as this influences customers to review about your products and services that helps in establishing better online recognition for your online business.
  • Conversions

  1. Call to Action- Call to Action is one of the most important Local SEO ranking tools and you have to ensure that call to take action of your site is shown noticeably, as it not just aids your customers gone to your important and noticeable pages, additionally refreshes Google about the same and channelizes conversions.
  2. Phone No & Testimonials- you need to make sure that your Phone Number is Prominently Displayed, and additionally displaying testimonials will also help you optimize your local SEO campaigns.
  • Social Media

  1. Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Foursquare, etc. – You need to create A Twitter Profile, Facebook Page, LinkedIn profile, Foursquare page, etc. to help your local SEO campaign get more target-oriented optimization. Effective use of Social Media is one of the best local SEO tips that optimize your search marketing in productive manner.

Once you are done with your SEO checklists, you need to pay due heed upon local search ranking factors, and to know about the top search ranking factors, lets delve into the lists of some search ranking factors given below-

Local Search Ranking Factors[Image3- Search Ranking Factors- Source-neilpatel]

1.) Localized Organic Search Ranking Factor

  1. Domain Authority of Website & Quality/Authority of Inbound Links to Domain
  2. City, State in GMB Landing Page Title & Click-Through Rate from Search Results
  3. Topical (Product/Service) Keyword Relevance of Domain Content & Diversity of Inbound Links to Domain
  4. Geographic (City/Neighborhood) Keyword Relevance of Domain Content & Physical Address in City of Search
  5. Quality/Authority of Structured Citations and descriptions of City, State in Most/All Website Title Tags
  6. Consistency of Structured Citations & Quality/Authority of Inbound Links to GMB Landing Page URL
  7. Product/Service Keyword in GMB Landing Page Title & Product/Service Keywords in Anchor Text of Inbound Links to Domain
  8. Proximity of Address to the Point of Search (Searcher-Business Distance) & Quantity of Inbound Links to Domain
  9. Quantity of Inbound Links to Domain from Locally-Relevant Domains & use of Geographic Keywords in Domain
  10. Location Keywords in Anchor Text of Inbound Links to Domain & Page Authority of GMB Landing Page URL
  11. City, State in GMB Landing Page H1/H2 Tags & HTML NAP Matching GMB Location NAP
  12. Quantity of Inbound Links to Domain from Industry-Relevant Domains & Product / Service Keyword in Domain
  13. NAP in hCard / Schema.org on GMB Landing Page URL & Quality/Authority of Unstructured Citations (Newspaper Articles, Blog Posts)
  14. Quantity of Inbound Links to GMB Landing Page URL from Locally-Relevant Domains & Quantity of Citations from Locally-Relevant Domains
  15. Business Title in Anchor Text of Inbound Links to Domain & Volume of Searches for Business Name

2.) General Ranking Factors

  1. Quantity of Citations from Industry-Relevant Domains & Load time of GMB Landing Page URL
  2. Location Keywords in Anchor Text of Inbound Links to GMB Landing Page URL & Proper GMB Category Associations
  3. Product/Service Keyword in GMB Landing Page H1/H2 Tags & Proximity of Address to Centroid
  4. Diversity of Inbound Links to GMB Landing Page URL & Velocity of New Inbound Links to Domain
  5. Product/Service Keywords in Anchor Text of Inbound Links to GMB Landing Page URL & City, State in Most/All GMB Landing Page H1/H2 Tags
  6. Quantity of Inbound Links to GMB Landing Page URL & Individually Owner-verified GMB Location
  7. Quantity of Structured Citations (IYPs, Data Aggregators) & Age of GMB Location
  8. Diversity of third-party sites on which reviews are present & High Numerical Ratings by Authority Reviewers (e.g. Yelp Elite, Google Local Guides, etc)
  9. Velocity of Searches for Business Name & Bulk Owner-verified GMB Location
  10. High Numerical Ratings of Business by Google Users

 3.) Negative Search Ranking Factors

  1. Incorrect business category and listing detected at false business address
  2. Mis-match NAP / Tracking Phone Numbers Across Data Ecosystem
  3. Presence of malware on site and reports of Violations on your GMB location
  4. Mis-match NAP / Tracking Phone Number on GMB Landing Page, Mis-match Address on GMB Landing Page and Presence of Multiple GMB locations with Same Phone Number
  5. Absence of Crawlable NAP on Website and presence of address that includes suite number similar to UPS Mail Store or other false addresses
  6. Association of GMB account with other suppressed listings and incorrectly-placed map marker in GMB
  7. Presence of Multiple GMB locations with Same/Similar Business Title and Address
  8. Keyword stuffing in business name, absence of Crawlable NAP on GMB Landing Page and keyword-Stuffing in Title Tag of GMB Landing Page
  9. Listing 800 Number as Only Phone Number in GMB, and Low Numerical Ratings of GMB location by Google User
  10. Low Numerical Ratings of GMB location by Google User, Choosing to Hide GMB Address and presence of Multiple Crawlable NAP on GMB Landing Page
  11. Low Numerical Ratings of GMB location by Third-Party Users
  12. Mis-Matched or Private WHOIS Information
  13. Negative sentiment in Google Review, or negative sentiment in Third-Party Reviews
  14. Choosing Service Area for Business in GMB (as opposed to in-location visits
  15. Multi-lingual GMB listings for the same place

4.) Difference Making Local SEO Search Ranking Factors to have edge over competitors

  1. Consistency of Structured Citations and Domain Authority of Website
  2. Quality/Authority of Inbound Links to Domain and Quality/Authority of Structured Citations
  3. Proper GMB Category Associations and Physical Address in City of Search
  4. Quantity of Native Google Reviews (w/text) and Quality/Authority of Inbound Links to GMB Landing Page URL
  5. Click-Through Rate from Search Results and Quality/Authority of Unstructured Citations (Newspaper Articles, Blog Posts)
  6. City, State in GMB Landing Page Title and HTML NAP Matching GMB Location NAP
  7. Quantity of Citations from Industry-Relevant Domains and Diversity of Inbound Links to Domain
  8. Quantity of Citations from Locally-Relevant Domains and Proximity of Address to the Point of Search (Searcher-Business Distance)
  9. Geographic (City/Neighborhood) Keyword Relevance of Domain Content and Quantity of Structured Citations (IYPs, Data Aggregators)
  10. Quantity of Inbound Links to Domain, Product/Service Keyword in GMB Landing Page Title, Location Keywords in Anchor Text of Inbound Links to Domain and Topical (Product/Service) Keyword Relevance of Domain Content

Conclusion 

To channelize your local SEO campaigns in an optimized fashion, it is prerequisite that you check for the over-said Google ranking factors SEO checklist and related local SEO strategies, and guarantee all Local Search Ranking Factors 2017 are all around set, and in place.

I have tried to cover one of the most comprehensive lists of best SEO ranking factors in this post, their proper inclusion will for sure help you optimize your Local SEO strategies, ensure conversion and reap great ROI.

Share your doubts, queries and suggestions about Local SEO with Digital Vidya in comments.

Strategic Planning, Analyzing Markets, Identifying Opportunities and Targeted Brand Campaigns are my forte. As a Search Marketing & Advertising Expert, I share my expertize through Digital Marketing Blogs that not only help professionals dig deep into Search Engines but also guide them learn best practices of Digital Marketing & Search Advertising in a nutshell. My experiences also include different yet related marketing tools like Media Planning, Public Relations and Digital Marketing & Vendor management of which you can enjoy the perks via my blogs.
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