Your 2017 Local SEO Checklist

The checklist for businesses who want to rank higher and get more customers from their SEO in 2017

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SEO changes constantly, but there are certain “must-haves” for local business owners. Start your 2017 off right with this local SEO checklist. You can use

1. Google My Business

The first step to claiming your business listing (if you haven’t) is Googling your own business.

Google My Business - SEO Checklist

Google Your Business To Find It

After you google your business, there will be a text box that says, “Claim This Business.” Click “Claim This Business” and follow the prompts to claim your business.

Why’s this a major factor? Let me ask you, don’t you think Google ranks their own websites highly? Well, Google My Business is run by Google. There are a couple more reasons you should claim your Google business listing:

  • You’ll be able to manage reviews people post about your business
  • Fixing any errors in your listing
  • You can verify your business with Google
  • You’re able to create a branded Google Plus business profile

2. Citations

Along with Google, there are tons of citation sites that search public listings and create listings for businesses. Part of local SEO best practice is claiming and managing all of them. Go to Moz Local and do a quick search for your business name. You’ll get information back with the top 30 citation sources for your business you can claim manually, or have Moz Local manage for you if you’re short on time.

Citations are one of the major tools when you’re looking to boost your local SEO ranking. Just make sure you make ALL the listings exactly the same. Google’s smart and can probably tell St. from street, but don’t throw different locations in the mix; do separate citation pages for each location you have.

3. Industry Links

In every industry, there are associations. In ours, there’s the American Marketing Association (AMA). You would know better than we would what they were. But, if you need help finding them, google “(Your Industry) industry associations.” You’ll be bound to find some.

Let us preface that by saying, most industry associations charge a fee to join. That’s just the cost of doing business. But, it’s not all bad, generally it comes with perks like:

  • Trade Magazines
  • Industry Specific Best Practices
  • Continuing Education

If there are association chapters in your area, that’s even better, You’ll get a chance to network with other business owners that have similar businesses to yours. Plus, it makes your links much more relevant, which is what Google loves.

4. Mobile Friendly

You use it for almost everything, so do your customers. Yup, we’re talking about your phone.

Mobile friendliness has been a huge deal for a couple years now. But now, it’s code red (serious). Back in November, Google announced they were experimenting with mobile first indexing (read here). There are still tons of small businesses that haven’t made their site mobile friendly, and it’s going to hurt their rankings; a lot.

Google is thinking of their customers and they’re trying to make the best product they possibly can.

5. Compressed Images

These days, everything is about speed. If your website isn’t fast (under 2-3 seconds to load), you won’t rank as high.

Why? It’s the same thought as being mobile friendly. If you’re out on your phone searching for a French restaurant in downtown Seattle, would you want to wait 10-15 seconds for a website to load; just to see what was on the menu? Our guess is, probably not. Google tracks if people return to their website and make the same search multiple times. To Google, if someone “bounces” off your website and comes back to search the same thing again, there must be a problem with that website; or it isn’t relevant for that search.

Images take longer to load than text does, making them slower to load. If your website is image heavy and isn’t a photography site, think about compressing your images. You can use a service like Kraken.io. You need to load all the images in Kraken, which is going to create a couple extra steps for your SEO. We use it because we like having control over the images.

If you’re strapped for time, there are lots of WordPress plug-ins that compress your images for you. We can’t recommend any because we don’t use any.

Compressing images mean making them smaller. Smaller files load a lot faster than larger ones. It’s the difference between downloading a picture and a video, which one generally is faster for you? Same thing with text versus pictures. If you have a photography site, there are lots of web builders dedicated to you that load quick and keep your images beautiful. Search around Google and find one, but test drive them first; the way the look and load for other photographers is the same they’d do for you.

6. SSL Certificate

Ahh, the might SSL. It’s been elusive to all the business owners I’ve talked to recently. No one seems to know what it is and how to get it.

All it does is make you website more secure, and it looks like this

Tharros SSL Certificate

Tharros SSL Certificate

Your website will be more secure, the internet will be a little safer and Google will be a little happier. How do you get it?

Unfortunately, we don’t have a very good answer. We have one because we’re customers of WP Engine, and they provide one for all their hosting clients. Give your hosting provider a call and they will be able to help you.

From experience, we know Cloud Flare offers them for free if you have an account. Before we transferred to WP Engine, we were trying to set it up, but it was tedious; and we’re an SEO company. Getting SSL certificates isn’t part of our expertise. Your host can definitely help you though.

7. Use A CDN

Last but not least, content delivery networks (CDNs).

If you’re creating content on a regular basis for your website, using a CDN would speed your posts up considerably. What does a CDN do? CDN stands for content delivery network. It takes the content from your website and delivers it to servers all over the world.

When you search something in Google, you access their servers. Which do you think is faster for Google, delivering fresh content that was delivered to their servers, or content they had to dig to find? If you guessed, “fresh content that was delivered to their servers,” you’re awesome; and right.

Using a CDN could speed up your content delivery by 300%, or more. If you’re fighting for milliseconds, that means a lot. A couple of the big CDN’s are:

Full transparency, we set up Amazon Cloud Front and had no clue if it was working. What can we say, we’re SEO experts, not IT experts. So, we hired someone to make sure was set up correctly. If you’re not a website expert, you might need to do the same thing.

Bonus – Use Grammarly

Every day, Google’s getting smarter and smarter. It’s starting to penalize websites with horrendous grammar.

Why? Because people don’t like reading things with horrible grammar – it turns them off. Grammar Gremlin’s are alive, and they’re real.

Grammarly is awesome. We’ll repeat that, “Grammarly is awesome!”

It’s free, comes with a downloadable program and a Google Chrome plug-in. Sometimes we write in Microsoft Word, and sometimes we write in WordPress. The downloaded program covers our word documents (just upload them into the program when you’re done), and the Chrome plug-in covers us when we’re writing in WordPress (or anywhere else on the internet). Trust us, we wouldn’t get through the day, typing as much as we do, error free without Grammarly.

It’s awesome.

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