Victorious SEO Logo

2024 Local SEO Checklist To Conquer Local Searches

Ready to supercharge your local SEO efforts and drive more traffic to your website? Use our 2024 local SEO checklist to shape your strategy and improve your Google Business Profile optimization, local content creation, link building efforts, and location page rankings.

Jan 26, 2024

11 m read

When customers are ready to order flowers, make dinner reservations, or hire a contractor, they usually turn to Google to find a nearby and well-rated provider. If your business isn’t popping up in their local search results — no matter what your niche is — you’re missing out on a valuable audience segment that’s on the verge of converting.

In this article, I’ll explain how to ramp up your local SEO efforts to attract customers in your service area and drive traffic to your website or physical location. I’ve included a handy local SEO checklist for each tactic to help you craft a strategy that meets your customers’ needs and elevates your search visibility.

1. Set Up Google Search Console & Analytics

Before optimizing your site, you want to be sure to get a benchmark so you can measure whether your updates truly improve search performance. To do that, I recommend setting up Google Search Console and Google Analytics.

Google Search Console provides insight into how your website is performing in Google Search, which queries you’re showing up for, what pages people are visiting, and more. GSC also has helpful reports that let you monitor how much of your site Google has indexed, whether you have a manual action against your site, and if there are structured data issues that may impact how your pages appear in search results.

Google Analytics lets you measure traffic and users to your site and apps. While the recommendations in this local SEO checklist are concerned with improving your search visibility and driving more organic traffic to your web pages, it’s also useful to monitor traffic from other sources. Google Analytics shows you organic traffic from all search engines (not just Google), paid search traffic, referral traffic, social traffic, and more. Plus, you can link your Google Ads and Google Analytics accounts to get more data about your PPC campaign in the GA4 platform.

To get even more information in one place, link your GA and GSC.

GSC & Analytics Checklist:

  • Set up Google Search Console.
  • Set up Google Analytics 4.
  • Link GSC and GA4.
  • Address any manual actions in GSC.
  • Submit your XML sitemap via GSC.
  • Check that Google is indexing your website with the Page index report.
  • Look for structured data errors in GSC.
  • Familiarize yourself with important reports in Google Analytics.

2. Conduct Local Keyword Research

Local keywords are the search terms your customers are using to find businesses and services in a specific area. When you identify and incorporate these keywords into your website content, you’re helping Google to match your business to relevant queries.

When creating a local keyword strategy, it’s helpful to see what queries your pages are already ranking for.

Identify Keywords You’re Ranking For With GSC

If you’ve had Google Search Console running for a while, you can navigate to ‘Search Results,’ which is under ‘Performance.’

gsc menu

Scroll down until you see the table. When ‘Queries’ is selected, you’ll see the top terms and phrases searchers are using to find your pages.

queries gsc

If you want to see the top queries for a particular page, toggle to ‘Pages’ and click on the URL you’re interested in.

select page

This will refresh the report with new data specific to the page you clicked.

Click on ‘Queries’ to see search terms associated with your chosen page.

You can use this information to further optimize your current page and to identify instances of keyword cannibalization.

Find Geographically Relevant Search Terms

Not sure how to find additional geographically specific terms? One easy method is to use Google’s autosuggest feature.

Let’s say you’re a regional HVAC service provider in the Boston area. Head to Google and start typing in a possible keyword. I started with AC repair Boston.

local seo checklist search example

Google’s autosuggest will provide additional search terms that may also relate to your service. Unfortunately, you can’t copy them from this list — but if you click “Report inappropriate predictions,” you can.

copy list

Copy the phrases you want to research further and hit cancel.

Try this again with your other services or products to identify more potential local keywords.

Once you’ve done this a few times, you’ll probably find that some of the keywords are semantically related. In the example above, ‘AC repair Boston’ and ‘air conditioner repairs Boston MA’ would likely show similar results. This makes them a good candidate for a keyword theme — a group of related keywords with the same search intent that search engines view as synonymous.

Of course, an SEO agency with keyword research services can also help you pinpoint profitable local keywords to help you better optimize your site.

Local Keyword Research Checklist

  • Brainstorm keywords related to the products and services you offer. Be thorough — a residential painting service can target “house painting” as well as “wallpaper removal” and “fence painting,” for example.
  • Analyze the competition. You may discover keywords that you also want to compete for.
  • Use a keyword research tool to help you select keywords based on ranking difficulty, search volume, and your business goals.
  • Build on search terms that are currently bringing users to your site, and optimize content for semantic and long-tail keywords. If people are searching for “gluten-free bread,” you might also target “gluten-free sandwich bread” or “gluten-free bread recipe.”
  • Add modifiers as needed (“near me,” “in Chicago,” “best,” “where do I”).
  • Turn your seed keywords into keyword themes.
  • Map your keywords to relevant existing content.

3. Set Up & Optimize Your Google Business Profile

When you set up your Google Business Profile (GBP), Google gives you important online real estate in the search engine results pages (SERPs), including an interactive panel that provides an overview of your company. You also enjoy the opportunity to appear in Google Maps and the local 3-pack of highlighted businesses.

gbp example

Once you have the local keywords you want to target, you can use them to optimize your Google Business Profile.

Google Business Profile Checklist and Best Practices:

  • Claim and verify your Google Business Profile.
  • Ensure your business name, address, phone number, and website URL are accurate. This is essential for building trust.
  • Include regular hours of operation and holiday hours.
    • If you have a location where someone can visit, only include the hours you are physically there. This is extremely important for user experience. If someone shows up at your location because you are “open 24 hours” and nobody is there, this could result in a bad review and the potential customer to change their mind about hiring you or using your service.
  • Write an engaging description of your business that includes your primary keyword.
  • Add high-quality professional images, such as interior and exterior shots, current and finished projects, your team and employees, and photos of menu items or products. Incorporate your branding into your photos by featuring your logo or company name. Google leverages machine learning and AI for image analysis, so provide them with content that can enhance your business and its visibility.
  • Upload videos and slideshows. Including videos in your GBP can enhance your business listing by providing potential customers with visual information about your products, services, or the ambiance of your business. Videos can help create a more engaging and informative profile, potentially attracting more attention and interest from users searching for businesses like yours.
  • Create regular Google posts about events, new products, and promotions to show your company is engaged and active online. Regularly upload “offer” posts for more direct conversion opportunities.
  • Respond promptly to reviews (more on this below).
  • Update your business category during different times of the year. If you work in HVAC, this can look like updating your business category to AC vs. heating in the summer.
  • Check your insights to see how well your profile is performing and where you can optimize to see better results.

4. Optimize Existing Pages

Most search engine optimization practices are the same whether you’re focused on regular SEO or local SEO. For example, when targeting keywords relevant to your community, you should follow standard on-page SEO tactics so search engines can accurately interpret and categorize web content.

Local On-Page SEO Checklist

  • Organize each page around a single primary keyword. This ensures your pages aren’t competing for the same terms, otherwise known as keyword cannibalization.
  • Incorporate the primary keyword into the title tag, meta description, URL slug, and section headers.
  • Use image alt text to provide context to search engines. Alt text is crucial for accessibility, SEO, and user experience. It provides descriptions for images, making content accessible to visually impaired users via screen readers.
  • Add internal links to improve navigation and help share link authority.
  • Implement schema markup to create a rich snippet in the SERPs, displaying your geographic location, ratings, and other key information.
  • Remove your walls of SEO text; this is SEO death. Am I being dramatic? Maybe…a little. But am I being serious? I would never lie to you. Break up your content with images, headings, bullet points, videos, etc. Make your page engaging; this is key! You don’t want to send people back to search results because they didn’t get what they needed from the content on your site. Go the extra mile — it’s worth it, and you can have a snack afterward. It’s like a reward.
  • Be transparent. Share specific information like your prices with your customers. (I can smell the mixed reviews before this is even published!) Nothing builds trust with your online audience like transparency. Sharing your costs or other details about your business with potential customers shows them you have nothing to hide from them.

5. Create New, Relevant Content

Search engines are pretty sophisticated, so you don’t have to pack your website with “near me” keywords. But you should put out signals to demonstrate relevance to a market and improve your chances of ranking.

Look for opportunities to create in-depth content relevant to your niche and the community you’re serving. The more geo-specific you are, the more context you’re providing to Google about your location. For example, an outdoor gear supplier could publish a blog series about the best local hikes. A nursery might highlight plants native to the area or the best places to admire cherry blossoms in town.

Local SEO Content Checklist

  • Provide maps and detailed directions to your location.
  • Create guides and “best of” posts relevant to your area.
  • Spotlight products you sell from local artisans.
  • List nearby vendors where people can find your products.
  • Tie content to community events. For example, a shop that sells running shoes may promote an upcoming marathon.
  • Write staff bios with local mentions, such as where they grew up or went to college.
  • Showcase completed projects as examples of your work and include local references if possible.
  • Request testimonials from satisfied customers and mention business names and neighborhoods when appropriate.
  • Create helpful, well-written, and engaging content.
  • Consider starting a YouTube channel where you can upload videos about tips, tricks, and things your customers may be looking for. This can be extremely valuable for lawyers, home service businesses, marketing and business professionals, and those in creative positions like do-it-yourselfers, graphic designers, or party planners. Tons of businesses can benefit from video marketing, leading people who otherwise wouldn’t know about you to your business and brand.

6. Focus on Acquiring Local Links

Search engines look around the web for signs that your business is credible in order to rank your website in the SERPs. Backlinks from local businesses, organizations, media outlets, and blogs help establish legitimacy, showing your site is trusted and relevant to the community.

Local Link Building Checklist

  • Explore opportunities to partner with businesses that have a similar target audience. A yoga studio and fitness apparel shop might cross-promote on social media or exchange website links.
  • Sponsor community events or donate to charities in exchange for a link.
  • Write a guest post on a blog or connect with influencers in the community.
  • Send press releases to the media and your college alumni department.
  • Encourage customers to vote for your business in the local media’s “Best of” awards.
  • Use an SEO tool to analyze competitor backlinks to zero in on other potential links.

7. Build Local Citations

Citations are online references to your business typically included in a directory, resource page, or article. These listings feature your business name, address, and phone number — known in SEO terms as your NAP — and should be a must-do item on your local SEO checklist.

Citations help search engines cross-reference the accuracy of your NAP. These online mentions also increase your digital footprint and get your brand in front of customers through various channels. Look for opportunities to create local citations in general and industry-specific directories to reach a broader audience.

Local Citations Checklist

  • Add your business to general directories such as YellowPages.com and the Better Business Bureau.
  • Reach out to organizations that promote local businesses, including chambers of commerce, small business associations, and tourism websites. These may focus on a region, city, or neighborhood.
  • List your business on relevant review sites such as Yelp, TripAdvisor, Foursquare, Zagat, and Angi.
  • Look for high-quality directories in your niche. There are resource sites for home renovation, interior design, law, and counseling, for example.
  • Set up profiles on relevant social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Include contact information and links to your website.
  • Ensure published information is consistent across listings. Your business name, phone number, and address should exactly match the details published in your Google Business Profile and on your website. Avoid publishing your address in different formats, such as “West Second Street” and “W. 2nd St.”
  • Provide complete information about your business. Some directories let you add a description, specify areas of specialty, or include business hours. The more information you provide, the more trust signals you send.

8. Request & Respond to Reviews

Google is more likely to highlight prominent (i.e., well-rated) businesses, so encourage customers to submit reviews to boost your digital presence. Positive reviews serve as endorsements and show that many people frequent your business. Make sure to also respond to Google reviews to show you value your customers and prioritize their satisfaction.

Customer Review Checklist

  • Invite customers to submit reviews via an email link or on your website.
  • Reply in a timely manner to every customer that provides a rating. Be friendly and professional in your responses.
  • When customers leave a negative review, respond respectfully. Responding to negative reviews is almost more important than positive reviews. People will be looking at negative reviews to get a wider scope of a business, and responding to negative reviews/taking accountability is huge. Ask customers to contact you directly to resolve issues.
  • Use feedback to improve your customer service.

9. Create Location Pages

One of the factors Google considers when serving up local search results is how far away a business is from the user (proximity). If you have more than one physical location or service multiple areas, ensure each one has a separate online presence. This can increase your chances of showing up in Google Search or Maps when someone nearby is seeking out your services or products.

Location Pages Checklist

  • Create a single page on your website with the address and phone number of each of your locations. Make sure the NAP is crawlable and not embedded in an image.
  • Create separate landing pages for each of your locations with descriptive URLS (example.com/city/neighborhood). Optimize title tags and meta descriptions for each location. Link from the main location index page to each individual location page.
  • Customize unique information for each landing page. These can include images, maps, directions, parking information, operating hours, and other helpful details. Naturally incorporate local references and landmarks. For example, you can mention that your office in the financial district is located near a subway station or that your downtown boutique is your flagship with the largest selection of products.
  • Create separate Google Business Profiles for each location. This enables you to provide unique updates and customer reviews. For optimal results, link from your profile to a location-specific web page.

10. Monitor Local SEO Performance

Once you put your SEO strategies into action, monitor performance and track your progress toward your goals. You’ll likely need to adjust your approach based on audience response, algorithm changes, and competitor strategies.

Local SEO Performance Checklist

  • Set performance goals and choose metrics to judge success, such as keyword performance, traffic, or conversions.
  • Decide which local SEO tools you’ll use to track performance and note benchmarks at the start of your campaign. Since most businesses want to rank well in Google, platforms such as Google Analytics and Google Search Console offer comprehensive tracking data.
  • Collect and analyze data on a regular basis. Explore reasons for fluctuations in performance using your checklist for local SEO as a guide. Draw on successes to inform future strategies — for example, if one location landing page is getting significantly higher traffic, consider how to replicate this on other location pages.
  • Use Google Business Insights to see how well your Google Business Profile is performing. This tool delivers useful nuggets of information, such as the search terms customers are using to find your business profile and how they interact with it once they land on it. You can track profile views, the number of reviews, and clicks on website links and calls to action.

Partner With a Local SEO Expert

As you cross items off your local SEO checklist, you should see incremental improvements in your online visibility. If you’d like an experienced local SEO agency to guide you through the process or take the task of local SEO off your plate, consider partnering with Victorious. Our experts can quickly and efficiently build out your Google Business Profile, zero in on target keywords, create a content plan, and generate local links and citations. Reach out to us for a free consultation and find out how we can put your business just a click away from customers in Google’s local search results.

In This Article

Recommended Reading

7 m read
Blog

Requesting reviews can seem awkward, but positive feedback is critical for encouraging potential customers to choose your business. Follow our tips when asking for a Google review, and boost your online reputation today!

7 m read
Blog

Concerned about your Google Maps business listing? Want to appear higher in local search results? Google Maps SEO can increase your visibility and help you connect with more local customers.

7 m read
Blog

Location pages can make it easier for potential customers to find your storefronts or services. Follow these best practices to improve your local search visibility and connect with more consumers nearby.