If you had a magic wand you could wave over your website what would you wish for?
I bet you’d want to be number one in Google wouldn’t you? Well we’ve put together a great SEO checklist that will grant you your wish by helping you improve your rankings in the search results.
Free SEO Checklist – Get Better Local Results
You see, if you operate in a local area and you serve a local customer base then getting a high ranking is neither complex, time consuming or expensive.
It’s actually pretty straightforward.
“Oh yeah Tony – we’ve heard that one before” I can hear you saying.
But take a moment to consider the findings of some research we’ve done on hundreds of local UK businesses.
We analysed them and boiled down the critical success factors to just four main areas:
- Well optimized pages set up according to SEO Best Practice
- Plenty of reviews (especially Google reviews)
- Plenty of content
- More backlinks
Believe me, the bar is not set very high.
I’m going to explain the 10 steps that you need to follow to become the top ranking business in your area and help you get a steady stream leads, day in, day out. Forever!
Sound like a plan?
Great, here they are.
1. Set Up Local Listings (Level: Super Easy)
First things first.
Make sure you fill in all the details. Include keywords that people are likely to search on (e.g. Industry & Location, i.e. Glazier Maidenhead).
This stuff is easy and takes a few minutes to do the basics and maybe a couple of hours tops to really make your listing stand out.
2. Ask For Reviews (Level: Super Easy)
OK, you’ve got your Local Listings set up, great.
Now you need to start getting reviews – particularly with Google.
Remember that research I mentioned above? Well, we looked at over 540 UK local B2B websites – businesses like Accountants, Commercial Cleaners, Printers, that type of thing – and one of the clear factors that set the top 3 ranking websites was Google Reviews.
But guess what? They didn’t have loads and loads of reviews.
On the contrary the average was just over 1 review for top site and less than half for low ranking sites. Now please remember these are ‘averages’ which explains how we calculated half a review.
Here’s a management summary of our B2B research that explains it all in plain English.
The bottom line though is that most local businesses are not very good at getting reviews.
And that’s good news for you because we’ve prepared a detailed guide on getting more reviews for your business.
A couple of points on this before we move on. First – don’t go crazy getting 500 reviews in a week. Spread it out or it looks suspicious.
Next, just get in the habit of asking for reviews and train your staff. The best time to ask is when you’ve got a happy client in front of you.
Finally, never, ever use fake reviews or pay people to give false reviews. But you wouldn’t do that now, would you?
3. NAP Citations (Level: Super Easy)
Don’t let the strange sounding name put you off, NAP Citations are vital for local businesses but they’re also surprisingly easy to get.
NAP stands for Name, Address and Phone number and when Google finds these on relevant websites like trusted local directories this sends strong signals to them.
Citations can be backlinks to your website or just text mentions.
Often you can earn these links yourself but there are also services where you can get it all done for you.
Here’s some great UK NAP Citations to get you started.
4. Authority & Industry Directories (Level: Easy)
Whatever type of business you run there will be some kind of industry directory that offers a specialised listing for businesses in that sector.
Or more often than not there are specific trade bodies or business associations. You just need to run a search to see which ones you can get listed in.
5. Create Service Specific Pages (Level: Medium)
Again referring back to our B2B research, one area where top ranking sites stood out was the number of pages on their sites. Top ranking site had double the amount of pages basically.
One easy way to achieve this is to create service specific pages. What we mean is that instead of having a single ‘Services’ page that just lists what you do, create a separate page for EVERY service you offer.
This way you are spreading your net wider for Google and giving them more content and more pages to index.
6. Optimize ALL Pages (Level: Medium)
On the back of creating more pages you need to make sure that you optimize EVERY page. Again, this stood out like a sore thumb in our research – websites that got the SEO basics right were the winners.
That means including your keywords (especially industry and location) in the metatags (Accountant Maidstone) and using all of the space provided (around 65 characters for the Page Title).
Include headings too. These are like the headings you use when you write a document in Word or Google Docs. The most important one is the H1 Heading and again it should include your keywords (e.g Accounting Services For Businesses in Maidstone and Medway).
Also make your pages longer – aim for a minimum of 500 words but don’t hold back – if you can do 1,000 then great, go for it.
Can’t think of 500 words? Just think of frequently asked questions people ask you and include these. Check your outbox and your hard drive or think of conversations with prospective clients – if it’s not on your computer it’s up in your head.
7. Get Quick Win Backlinks (Level: Medium)
Backlinks are where other websites link to you. If you’re not familiar with them then think of them as a vote in a popularity contest.
Hopefully you can see from NAP Citations above that these are not that difficult for local businesses.
But you want to get as broad and varied a set of backlinks as you can. You can start with your social media accounts like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.
Also try to get links from local websites like your suppliers. Write a list of suppliers you use and drop them a thank you email with a testimonial tailored to them. Make it genuine and describe how they help you. Offer it to them and say you are happy for them to feature on your website. Not everyone will put them up but some will.
8. Speed Up and Secure Your Website (Level: Medium)
If you want to speed up your site you should just switch to super fast SSD Hosting. It uses Solid State Drives (SSD) instead of traditional spinning hard disks and they operate at hundreds of times faster speeds.
When it comes to security you should consider switching to secure HTTPS hosting. This requires an SSL Certificate. When you make the switch to HTTPS there are several steps you need to go through so you may need to get some help from a developer.
9. Mobile Friendly Website (Level: Medium)
Another Google ranking factor is mobile friendliness. Nowadays more people access the web via a mobile device than they do via a traditional desktop or laptop.
Google know this and that’s why they launched Mobilegeddon in April 2015. Basically they announced that they would be favouring mobile friendly sites in their mobile rankings. But over time expect that having a non mobile friendly site is like not having a website.
If you’re on a tight budget then you might want to look at setting up a side by side mobile version of your website using a mobile website builder.
Even better long term is to switch to a fully Responsive website. Responsive Web Design (RWD) is a technique which allows a website to appear perfectly regardless of the device being used to view it.
You can either get one built from the ground up to your exact specification (expensive option) or you could use a ready made Responsive Theme for WordPress (low to medium). WordPress is also a great option for blogging as we’re about to see so you could kill two birds with one stone here.
10. Blog Consistently (Level: Medium)
There are loads of reasons for having a company blog but ultimately great content is going to be what separates you from your competitors in the long term.
Don’t be put off by thinking it’s complex. Blogging is pretty straightforward. All you need to do is to create content consistently around your expertise.
You’ll need to set up a blog like WordPress on your website but that’s really easy using a one click install software. WordPress is also free which is brilliant and there are loads of extra features (Plugins) that you can use.
If you’re not sure what to write about in your blog just put yourself in your customer’s’ shoes – what are the questions they are asking? These are the topics you can write about. Show your expertise and just answer questions that’s all you need to do.
Someone needs to be an authority in your industry – why not you?
The businesses that get the top spot in Google aren’t magic. They just do the right things and do them well.
Just focus on the basics like optimizing all of your pages, getting reviews, building backlinks, creating great content and keeping your website fast, secure and mobile friendly.
I hope you found this SEO checklist useful.
Thanks for reading and leave your questions below to keep the conversation going.