Local SEO: A 17-Part Checklist for Small Businesses

Local SEO: A 17-Part Checklist for Small Businesses
  • Local SEO is vital for any small business that serves a specific geographical location or has a physical store. With a good local SEO strategy, prospective customers can find your business easily and fast on local search engine results.
  • Ensuring your site is mobile-friendly, developing quality content with carefully selected keywords and creating local business listings are just a few things to add to your local SEO strategy. 
  • Check out this 17-part local SEO checklist for small businesses to start increasing your site's visibility and outranking your competitors. 

Search engine optimisation (SEO) is as important for small business as it is for larger enterprises. Organic rankings in search engine results are the key to being seen online by the relevant audience at the right time – and there are specific actions small business owners and marketers can take to ensure their website is optimised to rank highly.

Small business owners often get the most benefit from local SEO.

What Is Local SEO?

Local SEO is a valuable strategy for small businesses in that it focuses on your local area – delivering your website visibility for local online searches that are relevant to your business and its offerings.

It involves optimising your website and creating valuable backlinks so that consumers in your suburb, city or local region can find you quickly and easily when they need you. It's also a powerful way for you to remain competitive in your local marketplace.

Why Do Small Businesses Need Local SEO?

More than 90% of online experiences arise from search engines (WebFX). If you operate or are building a small business, you can’t afford to ignore the importance of an effective local SEO campaign. Local SEO offers a variety of benefits, including:

  • Attract highly targeted, relevant traffic
  • Generate new leads
  • Build brand identity and awareness
  • Build your local profile and your business
  • Boost your conversion rate
  • Succeed and beat your competitors

So, how do you get started with local SEO?

A Local SEO Checklist for Small Businesses

Below is a 17-part local SEO checklist to help your site rank higher:

  1. Understand your customer
  2. Ensure your site is indexed by Google
  3. Submit your sitemap to Google Search Console 
  4. Make your site responsive 
  5. Make your site mobile-friendly 
  6. Develop quality textual content 
  7. Create image-based content 
  8. Create logical relevant links
  9. Include local signals on your site
  10. Remove broken links
  11. On-page optimisation
  12. Utilise Google My Business and Google Analytics 
  13. Analyse your online competitors 
  14. Create local business listings
  15. Include outbound links 
  16. Elicit reviews on Google
  17. Use social media for SEO

1. Understand Your Customer

From the outset, you need to understand your client base:

  • Who are they (age, gender, interests, socioeconomic status, location, stage of life, etc)?
  • What need do they have that you can fulfil?
  • How do they use the internet? What drives them?
  • Where are they located? 

These factors will not only inform your unique business offering, but also your content creation, keyword research, social media presence and more.

2. Ensure Your Site is Indexed by Google

If your site is not indexed by Google, it will not appear in search engine results. You can check on its indexing status by using the Google Search Console dashboard and performing a site search. 

3. Submit Your Sitemap to Google Search Console 

A sitemap is a record of your website’s pages. Google and other search engines use your sitemap to identify and understand your website (you should also submit it to Bing Webmaster).

4. Make Your Site Responsive

Ensuring your website is responsive will enhance the user experience, which Google tracks. Your site must perform well in terms of loading speed, functionality, navigation, and the sparing use of redirects.

5. Make Your Site Mobile-Friendly

As the vast majority of online searches and website visits are now conducted on a mobile device. Most consumers will not recommend a website that has a poor design and is not mobile-friendly. Your website must work seamlessly across both Android and iOS systems.

6. Develop Quality Textual Content (And Say NO to Duplicate Content!)

Every page on your site must have unique written content, including your home page and all landing pages. Your home page and target landing pages require at least 350 words of relevant, unique content incorporating your focus keywords mentioned once or twice (but no more than that as Google may think that keywords have been stuffed).

You should also incorporate an onsite blog for regular posts (at least once per month, but weekly is ideal). This positions you as an authority in your niche; creates dynamic content so that Google identifies your site as active; provides shareable content for your social media and email newsletters; informs, engages, and entertains your audience; and boosts your SEO results.

Do not use duplicate content! Duplicate content is extremely damaging to your website – regardless of whether it has been plagiarized from another site or is copy-pasted across your site. 

7. Create Image-Based Content

Create image-based content to enhance the user experience of your website and include ALT and title tags on every image or video on your site. Use only high quality, relevant image content and ensure you do not use unauthorised copyrighted material.

8. Create Logical Relevant Links 

Create logical and relevant links so that all of your internal pages quickly and easily link back to your home page for simple site navigation. Internal links are used in the anchor text on your site to direct readers to other related pages within your site.

9. Include Local Signals on Your Site 

Provide clear contact details and your physical address (not a PO Box) as well as location keywords to help Google rank your site for your location and surrounding areas.

10. Remove Broken Links

Inactive pages, broken internal links and irrelevant or broken outbound links will distract visitors and potentially harm your site. They will also hinder your SEO efforts. You should redirect or reinstate dead pages and remove broken or irrelevant outbound links.

11. On-Page Optimisation 

Research and set target keywords that your target audience are most likely to use when searching for you and what you offer. You need at least 8-10 keywords or keyword phrases ideally to rank your site and you need to include these on your home page and relevant landing pages.

Create and use meta titles, meta descriptions, and a single H1 tag incorporating your focus keywords. Titles can be up to 60 characters; descriptions up to 156 characters.

12. Utilise Google My Business and Google Analytics

Claim and verify your Google My Business listing and select the right categories to reflect your business. Use Google Analytics to track and measure the ROI of your SEO efforts.

13. Analyse Your Online Competitors

Consider their website structure and usability, what is ranking for them, the number of pages they are indexed for and the quality of their backlinks. 

14. Create Local Business Listings 

Local business listings are essential and need to be accurate and consistent. Include and ensure the name, address, phone number, website and email address for your business in local business listings and citations. If relevant, include your business hours. You should also seek links from other local websites to further improve your local rankings. Ahrefs is a great tool to use to help with this.

15. Include Outbound Links

Outbound links are hyperlinks you include in your onsite content to point your readers to other websites, such as blogs. You should only include backlinks from high quality, authoritative websites that are credible and relevant resources. Ensure all outbound links open in a new tab so that visitors are not directed away from your website.

16. Elicit Reviews on Google

Try to get as many reviews for your business from authentic clients and customers as possible. Provide them with a link or a QR code to a link so they can leave a review. Reviews must not all come from the same location or the same IP address – Google will immediately recognise these as unlikely to be genuine – so have reviewers use their own computer, laptop, tablet or phone to leave a review.

17. Use Social Media for SEO

Social media can be a very powerful tool to build your brand, engage your customers, generate leads, share your blog and other content, and curate other content to increase your follower numbers. But NEVER purchase followers or likes on social media – this is harmful to your brand, your business and your SEO efforts.

Determine which social platforms your target audience uses while also considering how well suited different platforms are to your brand – you do not need to have a presence across a lot of platforms; just one or two is effective if they are chosen well.

No matter whether you are a sole trader offering local plumbing, electrician, handyman or painting services, a local retailer or a restaurant, café, hair salon, or medical centre, you can reap enormous rewards by investing in and implementing an effective small business SEO strategy. The results of doing so speak for themselves. 

Rod Wills

Director at

Director at Web prosperity Pty - www.seocycle.com.au. We help businesses achieve organic growth and achieve their full online potential.