Picture the scene: a pipe bursts in your basement, water is quickly gathering on the floor, and you have zero experience with plumbing. 

What do you do? You take to Google, probably. And rather than searching broadly for assistance, you’ll hone in on your local area:

“Emergency plumbers near me”

After all, you can’t afford to wait hours for help to arrive. You need quick action, and you need it to be local.

The same happens when you’re in a new town and you really need a coffee. Or you’re looking for an at-home language tutor to help take your Spanish from bueno to excelente.

And what search engine magic brings you together with the right business to fit your needs? Local SEO

What is local SEO?

Local SEO is similar to ‘regular’ SEO, in that it’s also a process of affecting the visibility of a website or a web page in a search engine's unpaid results. But local SEO focuses on signals such as local content, social profile pages, links, and citations to provide the most relevant local results to the searcher.

And proximity isn’t only a necessity when your basement is filling with water. There are many reasons for customers to filter their choices via location and, today, four out of five consumers use search to find local solutions.

In short: if you’re not paying attention to how your website and content could rank for local SEO, you could be missing out on a staggering 80% of potential customers searching for your products and services. 
The good news? Local SEO is actually pretty easy to achieve. In this handy local SEO optimisation checklist, we’ll cover the most important aspects of local SEO — and how you can apply them to drive local traffic to your business. 

1. Use your Google My Business listing

Never heard of Google My Business? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. Many small businesses are overlooking this simple, but super effective, local SEO tool.

If you’ve ever searched for a business online (and we know you have), then you’ve seen the unbelievably convenient Google Knowledge Center that pops up with information about a certain company — their business hours, phone number, address, website, etc. This information comes from their Google My Business listing. 

Setting up your GMB profile is really a no-brainer, as it’s totally free to use and can deliver a big pay-off. It allows you to promote your business proposition and website on Google Search and Google Maps. It even allows you to connect with potential customers in real-time over text.
From a local SEO perspective, this tool is incredible. If you own a bakery, for example, and a potential customer nearby searches something like ‘bakery near me’, Google will automatically include your bakery in their search results — it’s that simple!

2.Gather customer reviews

Here are a few important stats for you: 82% of people seek recommendations from friends and family before making a purchase, and 88% of consumers trust user reviews as much as personal recommendations. 

Put those stats together and you can see just how important it is to get reviews for your business. Reviews are both a ranking and a conversion factor for your business — if a potential customer can see positive word of mouth from other local customers, then they’ve got the social proof they’re after.

Really happy with the reviews you’ve received? Great job! Why not share them via your website and social media presence, too?

Pro tip: Make it as easy as possible for customers to review you. You can create a shareable Google review link, or embed an on-brand review widget into your website. That way, gathering and displaying reviews is as easy for them as it is for you.

3.Remember your keywords

Do you have a list of high performing keywords relevant to your business?

If not, it’s time you discovered the power of SEO keyword research (we’ve captured everything you need to know, in this guide right here — check it out).

If yes. Great! You can (and should) use them in your local site listings, as well as your Google My Business profile.

You can take it a step further, too.

Going back to our bakery example: long-tail keyphrases like “best bakery in Greenwich” or “fresh bread in Bexley” will help attract visitors from your local area. While “bakery in London” may be too broad a search term to rank for. 

That being said, don’t overdo it. Keyword stuffing — including more keywords and phrases than sounds natural — will get you heavily penalised by search engines.

4.Promote your location online

This may sound obvious, but make sure your business’s location is clearly listed on your website — preferably on the contact page and footer — as well as the website’s title tag, headings, body copy, and meta description.

You could also include the location of your business or branch in the URL where relevant — if you have several locations nationwide, for example.

5. Structure your data in a way that Google understands

When you first dip your toe in the ocean of SEO optimisation, it can seem like you’ll never stay afloat without knowing how to code.

But that simply isn’t true.

In reality, you only need to know why certain data structures work. And what tools you can use to help you get it right. 

“Schema markup” is code that you put on your website — or business page, event ad, etc. — to help the search engines return more informative results to your potential customers.

And schema markup generators, like this one from Technical SEO, make structuring websites and local business pages a piece of cake. Simply select the type of content you want to create, fill in the blanks, the generator creates the code on your behalf.

6. Keep updating! 

Changed your business hours? Moved address? These are all vital pieces of information to pass on to potential customers. 

You can think of local SEO as a series of important, on-going steps and best practices to follow, to get your business in front of the right local clientele. 

Chances are there are countless warm leads in your vicinity, each actively looking for a business like yours — so go find them!