Having a website and undertaking generic brand SEO efforts is one step to gaining new customers. You could be missing out on a whole raft of new customers without implementing any local SEO marketing. Ranking well within Google for local results can see a huge rank and acquisition boost. 

If you are yet to start local SEO marketing there are factors to consider to ensure your company ranks well. Running a business is hard enough, maintaining a SEO presence could be a full time role in itself, keeping your website up to date and maintaining rankings. Many local business’ can afford to pay for local listings and have a modest paid budget but for those who do not have a budget, there are tips and checklists to follow to get involved in some good rankings.

Word of mouth is still the most important way consumers find local businesses, but online searches are also near the top of the list, with 85 percent of consumers using the Internet to find businesses in their area.

Making errors when setting up your local SEO can have significant consequences. Avoid these common mistakes that make your website harder to find, target the wrong audience or hurt the overall user experience.

To help with the basics, we have the following essential local SEO checklist  

1 Keyword Research

The number one step in the whole local SEO process is outlining the correct keywords that your customers use to find you online.

For example, if you own a coffee shop on Clapham High Street, then Clapham Coffee Shop are all important phrases and keywords you need to include. Depending on the number of competition in your area and in the same field online, you need to think about expanding and supporting your keywords to give you the edge and rank higher.

Your main focus: Understand the language that your customers tend to use when they’re looking for a business like yours.

2 SEO Optimize your Site

The most valuable asset you possess in your restaurant or shop, but gaining exposure in 2016 and recent years is via digital avenues. Your most valuable traffic driver to your business is now your website. At a minimum your business website will need a reasonable amount of high quality content both for your audience and search engines.

Also, you may want to customize your meta title — however, be aware that this is currently what most platforms use as the title when your content is shared on social sites, so it needs to be enticing and relevant for real readers.

You can also update the meta description. This is usually what Google will publish on the search engine results page (SERP), so make it inviting and user-friendly as meta details are extremely useful for click through rates from Google and other search engines.

3 Google Listing My Business

Google My Business is a tool offered by the major search giant itself a service which can help you manage your online local presence. As a Google tool, this platform can help you get found across Google, whether people are searching for you within Google, Maps or Google Plus. To get started, simply register a local listing with the service and ensure you fill out all of the required information.

4 Other Listing Services

When listing your business on a host of local yellow page services, ensure that you have the correct name, address and phone number on your website and on the corresponding website you list on. The best practise when having a phone number is to make sure you have a local number rather than an 0800 or expensive alternative.

5 Genuine Reviews

Having genuine reviews of your business can be worth a lot of money to you. You should never add or solicit fake reviews of your business as these will come back to haunt you. 

To gain genuine reviews, ask your customer if they would be happy to. Firstly, pick a review avenue, from TrustPilot to Facebook or Yelp, advertise where customers can find your review channel to leave a review.