Local SEO Checklist for 2021 - How We Do Local SEO for Indian Businesses

Step #1. Setup your Google My Business Profile

Start executing your local SEO strategy by creating a Google My Business (GMB) account.

A well-optimized Google My Business profile can have a big impact on your local SEO. It helps Google understand where your business is located while also ranking well on Google on its own.
Map of local business
Enter your business name: If business is already listed on Google, you can claim it. Otherwise, you can create a new business listing.
List your categories: This will help you get discovered when someone is searching in that category - for example, if you run a pet cafe, Google will know to recommend it when someone searches for ‘pet cafe near me’. Also, Google will let you add
Add your business address: If you run a business where customers can walk in, such as a shop or a restaurant, you’d want your address to be visible. If your office isn't directly accessible to consumers (for example, if you're an accountant or a housekeeper), you can disguise your street address. Instead, Google will only show the area where you serve.
Add your business phone number: Make sure to provide your phone number so that customers can contact you quickly. If a consumer calls to ask a question and the number listed on Google Maps isn't working, they'll assume you're out of business, and you've just lost a customer.
Add your website: You can include a link to your local business's website in your GMB profile. By including a "Website" button in your listing, Google makes it easier for searchers to find it.
Pro Tip
Verifying local business will helps to improve local ranking in Google Searches

Step #2 GMB Profile Optimization

Fill out your GMB profile with any relevant information about your local business. This will help Google in fully understanding your organisation and informing potential customers about your services.

In addition, it’ll also make your page more likely to rank & stand out.
GMB optimization
Add your business hours: Make sure to add your exact working hours, both regular and holiday hours. If you end up changing your working hours, make sure to change them on GMB too.

List your business attributes: Additionally, add any attributes that apply to your business. Can customers pay by card? Attributes like this will help your customers figure out what they can expect from your business before visiting.
Additional attributes in GMB
Add products and services: Especially useful for service-based businesses, allowing you to inform your customers/clients about the services you offer.
Upload high quality photos: Good pictures will familiarize potential customers with your business before they visit. It is especially important to have pictures if you operate a business in the service industry, such as hotels, restaurants, and coffee shops. You should include:
            Picture of your store from outside: so it’s helps to find it from the street.
            Multiple photos from inside: so that customers may obtain a feel of the interior (this is especially important for cafes, hotels, restaurants, and clubs).
            Pictures of your products: If you’re a restaurant, your food is what sells your business.
Team photo: Including photos of your employees at work showcases the personal side of your business. This is especially important for professional services like marketing agency, accounting firms.
Pro Tip
Check out Google’s photo guideline for know more about what type of pictures to be included in your GMB
Write a description: Make sure to include local keywords related to your business to help customers discover it in searches. E.g. if you’re a hotel, you can include keywords like “affordable hotel in Mumbai” “best hotels near Marine Drive,” etc.
Give proper answer to customer's questions: Customers can leave questions for you to answer about your business, or you can add questions that you think are relevant to your customers and answer them instead. However, keep in mind that your customers may be able to answer these questions as well. So, keep track of the questions and make sure that all of the answers are correct.
Question & Answer in GMB
Keep up-to-dateMake sure your Google listing reflects any changes to your business, such as your name, phone number, or service offers. Even the smallest details, such as closing 30 minutes sooner, can have a negative impact on your business, reviews, reputation, and rankings if they aren't adjusted. Also, because anybody can recommend updates to your business listing (and Google may accept them), double-check your profile on a frequent basis to verify there are no mistakes.

Step #3. Publish posts on your GMB Profile 

Google My Business can also be used as a social media page for your company. Updates, promotions, offers, events, news, and brief educational articles can all be posted. These postings can help you rank higher in Google Search, and the most recent ones will appear when someone visits your Google Maps profile.
GMB posts
Updates: Temporarily closed for maintenance? Any changes in your business hours? Alert your customers by posting an update to your GMB profile.
What's new?: Inform about your new products at your business, such as new menu items at a restaurant, or new bicycle model in your bicycle store. Also post about new services you’re offering to keep customers up to date.
Exclusive offers: Attract new customers by running promotions such as a 20% discount, buy two get one free, or free shipping. Add a best title and the valid period for the offer. Google will add a “View offer” button.
Events: When you’re hosting a local event, you can gather an audience right from your GMB profile. Post image or video related to event that you are hosting for hype up visitors.
Post events in Google My Business

Step #4. Customer Review

Definitely customer review influences the ranking, better the review more likely to rank higher.

This doesn’t mean that you should try to hack the process though - don’t ask for reviews in return for discounts or coupons, and do not setup review station at your store. Google can penalise for this.

Instead, following are the best ideas to achieve reviews

Kindly remind your customers to leave reviews: When interacting with customers at your location, ask them if they enjoyed your service, and if so, let them know that you’d really appreciate a Google review.
Short URL for reviewCreate a link or even QR code (place it around your location) that makes customer's task easy.
Offer amazing customer service: This goes without saying, but having excellent customer service is the best way to get reviews.
Message customers to leave review(via email or SMS): Send text messages or emails to your customers once they visit your store, or show them in-app notifications if you have a mobile app. For example, if you have an app for a fitness club, you may set it up so that fitness-club-goers are prompted to submit a review when they leave.
Quick responses to review: Customers like it when the owner of the firm responds to their feedback. A simple thank you note can go a long way toward showing your concern for your customers. Yes, both positive and negative reviews should be responded to.
Reviewing in Google My Business

Step #5. Citations In Local Directories

Citations are any mentions of your NAP (name, email, and phone information) found in business directories, websites, and social media (such as Yellow Pages, Foursquare, Yelp, Facebook, and Instagram). They further help Google validate the address you’ve listed in your GMB profile.
Business listing for citation
Citations can have a strong impact on Google Ranking. And because they often include a link to your website. Here’s what you need to do to build citations the right way:

Perform citation audit: to see if there’s any duplicate, outdated, or incorrect citations. Moz has a useful tool called Moz Local, which you can use to perform an audit. You can also check out big aggregator sites where most smaller local directories get their citations from. Once you have a list of sites where you already have a citation, you can start building more.
Build manual citation: there are so many local directories that you can manually submit you business information. Here is the best list to start with. 
Keep citation updated: every important changes that making on your business. 
Pro Tip
Keep your NAP information consistent across the internet. Always use the same exact structure and spelling when citing your business information. This will make it less confusing both for Google and your potential customers.

Step #6. Utilize Social Media

While social media does not have a direct impact on your search ranking, it does help to increase your online visibility. Create and maintain profiles on a variety of social media platforms. Due to the popularity of social media platforms, these profiles can also serve as (very) credible NAP citations.

You business at least should have profile in following social platforms:

      Facebook 

   Instagram

   LinkedIn 

   Twitter


Step #7. Local Keyword Research

Let's move on to local SEO for your website. The first step is to do keyword research for local SEO.

However, keyword research differs from that of global SEO because you primarily aim to rank for service keywords rather than other categories. 

You’d want to rank for keywords like: [service type] + [location], like “SEO agency in Bangalore” as opposed to educational keywords like “how to do SEO”.
Google search for local business
Follow are the best methods to do keyword research for local SEO:

Find best keywords: Start by focusing on common keywords that you'd like to rank for. If you're a cafe in Bangalore, for example, you'd want to rank for terms like "cafes in Bangalore," "cafe for couples in Bangalore," and "pet friendly cafe in Bangalore" Then, using Ahrefs, identify new keywords that are related to these.
Competitor analysis: use to Semrush find out which keywords your local competitors are ranking for and add new ones to your list.
Don't focus on global keywordsIt's tempting to try to rank for general keywords such as "best SEO agency" or "SEO agency" Don't bother attempting to rank for global keywords; they're much more difficult to rank for. To be honest, they're also useless for a local business: 99.99 percent of people searching for "SEO agency" aren't looking for a Bangalore SEO agency.

Step #8. On-page SEO

Once you’re done collecting your keywords, it’s time to optimize your website according to SEO best practices:

 Title tag: inlude the main keyword in the title HTML tag of the page.
Meta description: create a short yet attractive meta description for every pages of website, that also includes main keyword
H2 headings: mention the main keyword and variations of it in H2 headings.
Alt attributes for images:  include main keywords in alt attributes of some of images (should be relevant)

Short URL: use short URL slug on pages - for example, if you’re a graphic designer, you can use URL slugs like "business.com/graphic-designer/" instead "business.com/best-graphic-designer-in-mumbai/".
Proper internal linking between  pagesWherever possible, the most of your web pages should link to one other. When search engines crawl your site, this helps them find all of your pages. Google won't be able to notice certain of your pages if there aren't any links to them. Interlinking also aids in ranking, as pages with higher value are ranked higher. When other pages link to a page, it adds value to it.
internal linking between pages
Use schema mark-upSchema is a type of structured data markup code that you may apply to various sections of your website to tell search engines what they are. Your name, address, phone number, working hours, ratings, and reviews can all be tagged. Google will have an easier time finding your information and displaying it in rich snippets. Google has an excellent Structure Data Mark-up Helper tool for simplify the process

Step #9. Landing Pages

Presence of following pages will help to rank better in Google  
 Services landing page: this is where the keyword research in step #7 comes in - you want to create a service page for each keyword you discovered. So to get back to the “cafe in Bangalore” example, you could make pages for: /pet-cafe-bangalore/, /couple-cafe-bangalore/, and so on.
Additionally, every service page should have a contact capture. This can be a simple “Contact Us” button, or a small contact form. If potential clients that land on your website can’t easily contact you.
link to contact page
Location landing pages: Each location you operate in should have its own landing page on your website. If you run an education consultancy firm with offices in Mumbai, Bangalore, and Kochi, you'd make a separate page for each location: /education-consultancy-mumbai/, /education-consultancy-bangalore/, and so on.
About pageYou're here to introduce your company to someone who may be unfamiliar with it. Include information about your company, such as your objective, areas of expertise, and notable accomplishments, to establish credibility. Showcase your employees, of course. However, for a professional service organisation (e.g., a SEO agency), a well-written "About Us" page is more important than for a regular local store (e.g. restaurant).
Contact page: It's essential to include a page where potential clients may discover how to contact you. Make sure to provide your phone number, email address, or a contact form so that anyone may contact you. Additionally, include a link to your contact page on your location and service pages so that anyone who visits them can simply contact you.

Step #10. Link building (Local Backlinks)

Getting other websites to link to yours tells Google that your website is a reliable source, and Google will give your pages a higher ranking as a result. Here are a few pointers on how to get backlinks for local SEO

Find prospects from competitors: Use SEMrush to find websites that link to your competitors. Reach out to them and ask for them to link to you too.
Backlink from other local sourcescollaborate with guest posts or request links from them For example, if you're a restaurant in Mumbai City, you can contact 1) food bloggers in the city or 2) activity reviewer blogs to discuss possible collaborations.
Guest post on popular websites: link to your website. E.g. local news website, firms in similar niches, etc.Additionally, every service page should have a contact capture. This can be a simple “Contact Us” button, or a small contact form. If potential clients that land on your website can’t easily contact you.

Step #11. Fast And Mobile Friendly Pages

Google does mobile first indexing . So, if your website doesn’t run on Mobile, rankings will seriously be harmed. Google have their own tool to check mobile friendliness. 

Similarly, speed is a factor. If your website takes more than 20 seconds to load, most visitors will abandon it and go to your competitors.

Here are some tip to fix both issue:

Compress imagesSmaller images load faster, especially on mobile devices. If your site is built on WordPress, you can compress your photos with the ShortPixel plugin. You may also have your photos “lazy load,” which means they will only load when the user scrolls down the page.
Compress HTML, CSS, and JS files: use Gzip so they can load faster
Remove unused code: browsers will take longer to load your website if it contains unneeded code. Remove any CSS and JS files that are no longer in use.
Optimize CSS delivery: instead of using inline CSS code (that is, code that is directly in your HTML code), mix it with an external stylesheet. Instead of including CSS code in your HTML code every time you wish to utilise it, you can reuse it from your external file.
Did none of that make any sense to you? We can help speed up your website for you! Get in touch here
Google mobile friendliness test

Local SEO FAQ

#1. What is difference between SEO and Local SEO?

The goal of SEO and local SEO techniques differs significantly. Local SEO focuses on ranking your business in the local area where you operate, whereas national or international SEO seeks to rank your website on keywords on a national or international level.

With local SEO, you’d target keywords like “SEO agency in Mangalore,” “cafe in bangalore”, etc.
With global SEO, on the other hand, you target less location-specific keywords like “what’s local SEO,” “link building,” etc.
#2. How Do You Force Google to Display Business Results?

One of the most frustrating aspects of local SEO is the fact that Google does not always show business profile pages in the search results. So another FAQ is how do you force Google to show the map results instead of just listing webpages in the results?

Unfortunately, the answer is you can’t…

If you search a relevant keyword and Google is not listing the map with business profile pages, then there is no way to force Google to show your business page. Instead, you’ll need to optimize a page on your website using regular website SEO tactics.

For this reason, it’s important to always double-check the Google results page for your relevant search phrases before launching a local SEO campaign. If Google is not ranking Google My Business profile pages, then local SEO is not the best approach.

#3. What Types of Businesses Can Use Local SEO?
It should be obvious that local SEO is ineffective for 100% e-commerce businesses. Customers cannot visit the store because it does not have a physical location.

Consider how inconvenient it would be to see e-commerce shops featured while looking for a local coffee shop. You're looking for a place to get a cup of coffee, not an internet business where you can get coffee beans.

Local SEO is a good potential for every business that interacts in person with customers, clients, or patients, according to the basic rule of thumb. It's not a good fit if you never meet in person.

#4. How Do You Compete In Cities and Towns Outside Of Your Physical Location?
The location of your office or business is a significant factor in the ranking algorithm for local SEO. Consider this from the perspective of the person who is seeing.

When I'm looking for coffee on Mangalore, seeing businesses that are pretty far away doesn't help me. Google understands this, which is why the searcher's location vs. the business's real location is a major element in local SEO.

That means you'll rank higher in Google when potential customers search for your business near your location. The further distant a prospect searches, the less likely you are to appear on the first page of results.

It's not impossible to rank in cities other than your own (for example, you can create pages on your website for your target regions), but you should be aware that local SEO is a losing struggle. If all other factors are equal, the firm that is closest to the individual searching will most likely win.

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