We're already through the first quarter of 2021, which presents a good opportunity to assess your current web presence and note areas for improvement. Use this handy local SEO checklist to help guide your efforts and stand out from your peers in your area of specialty.
Engagement and relationship-building are critical to any marketing effort, online or offline. Social media is a key part of this, and increasingly so is Google. GMB Posts offer many of the same functionalities as Facebook or Instagram, allowing you to post pictures, updates and announcements, offers and promotions, and more. Routinely publishing updates to your GMB listing with Posts demonstrates a commitment to actively engage and educate potential customers directly from Google SERPs. Absolutely do make the most of Google Posts.
Yes, GMB Posts share a lot of functionality with social media, but they do not make social media obsolete. Consider your social media profiles to be de facto landing pages — it's imperative you make a good impression. Inform, update, and (when appropriate) entertain. Appearances are important, so make the most of them. Doing so can help positively mold public opinion and coax traffic to your website. While social media profiles do not have as big a sway on local search rankings as GMB or your own website, they still deserve mention on our 2021 local SEO checklist.
During the initial shutdowns of the pandemic, local businesses everywhere devised creative and innovative solutions and workarounds to ensure customers could still receive their products safely and conveniently. Early on it was a novelty, but it has increasingly become an expectation. If you are a restaurant, link to online ordering or delivery options. If you offer personal services like haircuts or massages, you can allow people to book appointments right from your GMB listing. Not only is this a quick way to make a sale, it's nearly instantaneous.
YouTube is second only to Google in daily searches — and is incidentally owned by Google. Yet many local businesses underutilize it or do not use it. It follows, then, that YouTube can be hugely beneficial to your local SEO. These videos can serve both as engaging content on your website and be a source of traffic to your website. Give people a chance to see who you are and how you do things. That familiarity could be a boon to your business. Just remember to reference your location in the video description, at the end of the video, and in the "Video details" section of Youtube Studio.
It's a given that in order to rank for local SEO, you need to reference the location(s) you do business in. However, it's important to do so judiciously — packing content chock full of keyword phrases (location-based or no) is frowned upon by Google and can create a tacky or spammy user experience.
Look to sprinkle in location-based keywords:
Google is really zeroing in on website user experience (UX) this year, especially in relation to site speed and security. Read up on Google Core Web Vitals, and be sure your site is data-encrypted with an SSL certificate (https://). Safeguard against malignant scripts with a firewall and stray away from obnoxious pop-ups. Landing pages that are slow, clunky, difficult, or annoying to use will sabotage your other local SEO efforts. That's why UX is so very important.
Among the local SEO checklist items you should look into is performing a high-level technical SEO audit. Test page speed and scan for broken or misleading links, duplicate content, and missing metadata. Make sure your website can be indexed and crawled by confirming the existence of a robots.txt file (type /robots.txt after your website URL) and ensure it links to an XML site map.
The majority of local searches originate from a mobile device, and Google responded accordingly in 2019 by shifting to mobile-first indexing — in other words, it weighs the mobile version of your website more heavily than the desktop version when ranking. Prioritize a clean, streamlined design and navigation that keeps the most important information above the fold.
BONUS TIP: Your contact page is the perfect place to embed your Google Map coordinates. Users will be able to navigate to your business from their current location via their mobile device.
Get the most out of Google My Business and check a huge item off your 2021 local SEO checklist with ASAPmaps, which ensures your GMB profile is continuously fresh, up-to-date, and ready to impress.