9 Tips for Local Business SEO by 1st on the ListIf you are thinking about SEO for your website and you are a small business then our Local SEO Marketing Checklist is for you. Each item in the checklist is crucial to your online success both in terms of being found in the Search Engines and in providing your visitors and customers what they expect on your website.

1. Are there words on your website for Search Engines to read?

With Search Engines the old saying “a picture is worth a thousand words” is not true. Search Engines needs words to understand what you website is about and to know when to direct searchers to your website and to what page(s) will be most appropriate. Have you fallen victim to the “All brains, no beauty” scenario with impressive graphics but no words?

How to see what Google sees on your website

  1. Type your URL into the Google search bar.
  2. Click on the arrow beside the URL and choose “Cached”
  3. At the top of the screen click “Text Only Version”

How to see what Google ses

If you find big white gaps in how Google sees and reads your website then an SEO internet marketing plan will develop content (text) to:

  • Talk about all of  your products and services
  • Tell what addresses and cities your business is located in or what cities it services
  • Showcase your employees and accomplishments
  • Convincingly explain why visitors should choose you rather than your competitor(s)
  • Add image alt tags to pictures to help Search Engines better understand

Adding useful text like this is a major component of “SEO for local businesses” that you hear about. The more text you provide the more information search engines can read and add merit to your business for being the authority on your products or services in your area. This in turn means Google will be more inclined to show your website to its visitors, more often.

2. Can your visitors use your website on their mobile device?

As a business owner you now have to worry about your website on desktops, tablets and mobile devices. Consider all the different ways people browse the internet to find information about your business:

  • The desktop searcher checking your store hours at the office during lunch.
  • The tablet searcher doing comparison shopping from their couch at home in the evening.,
  • The mobile searcher doing an on-the-go lookup for your store directions.

Your website needs to load, display and function properly for all of these devices. You especially need to consider the small screen size and “finger” navigation involved with using a mobile phone.

How to check if a website is mobile optimized

You can always use your own mobile phone to look at your website. Do a simple search for your business name, click through the results to your website and try to navigate a few pages on your website.

We also recommend the PageSpeed Insights by Google Developers that is designed to help you check how fast your website pages are on all devices. Simply type in your URL and see your score for mobile and desktop devices. You can also see how your website will look on a mobile device.

A mobile friendly website (left) resizes to fix the screen and a non-mobile friendly website on the right does not resize or reduce extra navigation menus.

A mobile friendly website (left) resizes to fix the screen and a non-mobile friendly website on the right does not resize or reduce extra navigation menus.

Without mobile optimization your visitors can’t see what you are offering and will likely leave the site frustrated. Furthermore, Google and other Search Engines recognize this frustration and demote non-mobile friendly websites from Search Results pages.

3. Does your website have all the critical information visitors need?

There are several key components to any website that help your visitors learn about you and also help the Search Engines understand who you are:

  • Phone Number. This needs to be in the top right corner of each page so a visitor can call without thinking twice.
  • Address. This should be in the footer across all pages of the website to help the Search Engines better understand your location.
  • Consistent and clear navigation. This helps visitors and Search Engines crawl your website, understand its structure and reach the pages needed.
  • Call to Action. Placedon each page to help your visitors make smarter decisions and to motivate them to do something after looking at your page, whether it is downloading a form, sending an email or printing a coupon.
  • About Us Page. Tells your visitors more about your company and what makes your different.
  • Contact Us Page. A central page to put all your contact information including phone number, address, hours of business, driving directions, email address and a quick contact form.
  • Reviews, Badges and Awards. Visitors need to see that you are trustworthy and will deliver on what you promise. Customer testimonials, badges of your industry involvement (BBB, local Chamber of Commerce, etc) plus announcements of recent recognition can help instill trust.
  • Privacy/ Legal Page.

Take a couple minutes to look through your website for these features. Many of these items are ‘quick fixes’ for giving your local business listings a boost.

4. Do you have unique Title Tags and Meta Descriptions on all your pages?

Titles and descriptions can be added into the backend code of each website page to give the Search Engines a general idea of what the page is about. Most of the time these titles and descriptions are shown in actual Search Results. When written properly your title and description can improve the chance of a searcher clicking on your website!

Check your title tags and meta descriptions

In Google search type “Site:yourwebsite.com” to see several Titles and Descriptions of your top website pages.

Writing good title tags for SEO

Each title and description should include:

    • Your brand name
    • Targeted keyword (if the page is about Golden Retrievers then “Golden Retrievers” needs to be in the title)
    • Phone number in at least the description
    • Area of service
    • Call to action – “free evaluation”, “call today”, etc.

Furthermore each and every title or description needs to be unique.

Writing good title tags for SEO Example

5. Are your URLs SEO Friendly?

An “SEO friendly” URL is easy for visitors to read and helps Search Engines understand the page and structure of your website. When shown in Search Results, a friendly URL can also improve Click-Through-Rates.

Non-friendly: www.website.com/?p=189
Friendly: www.website.com/toronto-plumbing-services

Do your websites URLs have characters and numbers? If you need to “rename” your URLs we highly suggest having your website developer or an SEO company help implement proper page redirects so that the Search Engines know that “Unfriendly URL 1” is now “Friendly URL 1” and so you don’t end up with two duplicate pages.

6. Are you guilty of plagiarism?

All of your website content needs to be different on each page and unique from any other website including Wikipedia. Search Engines will give credit to the first website page it discovers with new content. If you copy this content (even phrases or short sentences) the Search Engines will not give you credit.

To check if your website content is unique you can use Copyscape tool and enter in several URLs.

  • If you find duplicated content across several pages on your website it’s time to rewrite your content so that it reads 100% unique.
  • If you find duplicated content on other websites that you originally wrote then contact the website owner to remove the content.
  • If you find your own website has copied content that belongs to other websites it is time to rewrite as well.

7.  How fast do your website pages load?

People are impatient. If your website takes more than a couple seconds to load your visitors will likely hit the back button. Google recognizes this and has taken a stance against slow websites: if your website takes more than 3 seconds to load your rankings are likely taking a hit.

You can install the Yslow extension in your Chrome browser to check the page speed and cause for speed issues here.

8.  Are you recognized on 3rd Party Local Business Listings?

Today the Search Engines use third party directories such as Google Plus, Yelp, Yellowpages as well as industry specific directories to gather information about your company, phone number and location. These listings help support your main website and can also drive traffic to your website.

To see what type of 3rd Party Local Listings you have type any combination of the following items into Google search:

  • Your brand
  • Your phone number
  • Your postal code/ zip code
  • Old address or phone numbers

You need to have consistent business information listed across several directory sites. Claiming listings is usually free and takes just 5 minutes to enter your information and a short description.

9.  Does your website work across all internet browsers?

Check how your website functions on Chrome, Firefox, Safari and Internet Explorer:

  • Do all images display properly?
  • Does the search tool work?
  • Does the formatting look the same?
  • Does the page size properly?

You can check the current breakdown of browser usage here.

What’s the next step?

What is your website missing? Follow the advice in this checklist and gather the group of people required to make the needed changes to your website. By using our method to evaluate your website from a high level perspective will help you move forward.

We know it can be a lot of information to take in, that’s why we’re here to help. To discuss your website with one of our friendly staff please call 1-888-262-6687.

You can also use our FREE WEBSITE ASSESSMENT tool to continue evaluating your website.