Local SEO checklist to improve online visibility

Building visibility in the right places is one of the biggest challenges in local SEO. Optimising for local search is one thing, but audiences use a growing variety of channels to find local businesses: search, social media, business directories and plenty more. In this article, we run through our local SEO checklist for building visibility in all the right places.

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7 fundamentals of local SEO

To maximise online visibility with local SEO, you’ll need to invest the bulk of your resources into seven key assets and channels:

  1. Website: Optimise your website and pages for local search and mobile experiences – including location pages, localised content, structured data, etc.
  2. Search: Build your presence for each location across all of the platforms your audience uses to find businesses like yours – search engines, social media, directory listings, etc. (plus any specialist, niche platforms like app stores, food delivery, travel apps, etc.).
  3. Google Business Profile: Maximise visibility in Search and Maps while helping customers choose your business from the competition.
  4. Off-site SEO: Build visibility on third-party applications, drive more traffic and increase your search rankings with local backlinks, citations and off-site content.
  5. Social media: Be discoverable on your audience’s favourite social platforms, engage with local customers and drive real business from social interactions.
  6. Customer reviews: Build your reputation and turn positive reviews into sales by reassuring new customers that you’re the perfect business for their needs.
  7. Conversion goals: Turn local visibility into real business by optimising your local search presence for conversion goals – store visits, phone calls, online orders, etc.

By concentrating on these key assets and channels, we can cover all of the local SEO essentials with a 10-point checklist.

Vertical Leap’s local SEO checklist

1. Website optimisation

First, you need to optimise your website for every target location in your local SEO strategy. At the very least, make sure you cover all of the following:

  • NAP – every location page should have accurate name, address and phone number (NAP) details.
  • Local pages – each business location requires its own dedicated location page.
  • Maps embed – add a Google Maps embed to each location page.
  • Location finder page – a navigational and structural page grouping multiple location pages together.
  • Localised content – create localised content for each business location.
  • Mobile-friendliness – local search is largely a mobile experience, so this is even more important.
  • Internal links – build internal links to each location page with optimised anchor text.
  • Structured data – add LocalBusiness structured data markup to your pages.
  • Conversions – support and optimise all conversion actions on your website (purchases, online bookings, phone calls, direction requests, etc.).

You need to build visibility across all of the platforms your audience is using to find businesses like yours and buy from them. Prioritise the channels that generate most revenue and optimise every step of your local SEO strategy for the conversion actions that generate revenue.

2. Local keyword research

Broadly speaking, local keywords fit into two categories: explicit local keywords and implicit local keywords.

  • Explicit local keywords: Specify the search location in the query – eg: “restaurant london”.
  • Implicit local keywords: Imply local intent without specifying a location in the query – eg: “restaurant,” “restaurant near me,” etc.
Explicit local keywords: Specify the search location in the query – eg: “restaurant london”.

Your local keyword research should identify all explicit and implicit keyword opportunities. Next, you’ll want to prioritise local keywords based on multiple factors: search volumes, search intent, keyword difficulty, etc. Repeat this process regularly to update your target keywords and identify new opportunities.

3. Title tags & meta descriptions

The rules for title tags and meta descriptions are the same for local SEO. The only difference is you want to specify the location for every relevant page. Create a template for local title tags and stick to it – eg: Keyword in Location | Brand Name.

This would give a used car dealership something like the following for their location pages:

<title>Reliable Used Cars in Manchester | Safe & Sound Motors</title>

It’s a similar story with meta descriptions: naturally include your brand name and the location as keywords in each description. Aim for 50-60 characters for page titles and up to 160 characters for meta descriptions.

4. Google Business Profile

Aside from your website, your Google Business Profile is the most important asset of your local SEO strategy. The info in your Business Profile significantly boosts visibility in local search and maps. Visibility aside, local customers also use the information in your profile to choose the right business for their needs.

Mos Diner Google Business Profile

Maps pack

The Maps pack helps customers find you in Google Maps, either by using the app itself or clicking through from a results page. Your Maps listing supports a variety of conversion goals and actions, too: website visits, phone calls, online bookings, reservations, direction requests, etc.

Google search best restaurants london

Optimise your Business Profile and Maps listing to maximise visibility and valuable actions: phone calls, bookings, store visits, etc.

Further reading:

5. Citation management

A local citation is any online reference to your business that includes your basic contact info: business name, address and phone number (NAP). Citations are an important signal for local SEO. Search engines want to see your business details listed across multiple sources. This helps them verify that you’re a legitimate business. The trick is that you need your citations to use the exact same business info, especially your NAP details.

Use the same NAP format for all location pages – eg: don’t use country codes on some pages, but not others. Then, make sure all online citations match the details on your location pages, including your Business Profile, social accounts/pages, directory listings, etc.

Further reading:

6. Local link building

Link building is equally important for local SEO as any search marketing strategy. The difference is, you want high-quality links from local sources pointing towards your local pages.

Some of the best sources of local links include:

  • Other local businesses
  • Local news publishers
  • Local councils and authorities
  • Universities and local educational facilities
  • Local charities and organisations
  • Tourism websites
  • Local directory listings
  • Local bloggers

The best strategy for building links from quality local sources is to engage with the local community. Run or sponsor events, partner with local businesses, raise funds for charities and be a newsworthy name in the local area. Give local organisations a reason to write about you and link to your website.

7. Local business structured data

Local business (LocalBusiness) structured data helps Google display local businesses on results pages in the most relevant and compelling way. For example, it can show your opening hours, review scores, etc. in a business listing or place you in a carousel or Knowledge Panel.

Google search for black taxi london

8. Customer reviews & social proof

75% of consumers “always” or “regularly” read online reviews when searching for local businesses, according to the latest insights from BrightLocal. Local searches have relatively high purchase intents and short decision-making processes. As a result, customers want to choose local businesses quickly, and with confidence.

You don’t need perfect review scores, either. In fact, a high volume of positive reviews with an average rating of 3.8 stars or higher is apparently the sweet spot.

Brightlocal survey about customer reviews


In addition to customer reviews, place social signals on your website and other assets. Embed your review scores on location pages and add any awards, accreditations or other signs that show customers you’re the real deal.

Further reading

9. Social media

Social media plays a much bigger role in local search than many companies realise. For example, recent insights reveal a growing number of people are using TikTok and Instagram to find local places to eat.

Google is still the biggest platform for local search but social media is constantly playing a bigger role. Social is also the ideal environment to engage with local audiences through posts, business pages, comments, etc. Use your social channels to create citations, promote your business, engage with local audiences, capture reviews and drive in-store visits.

10. Local SEO reporting

Local SEO reporting is challenging because your search presence is spread across many different channels: search, maps, social, directory listings, etc.

Google Business Profile local SEO reporting

However, you need a reporting system capable of tracking performance across every channel and attributing local visibility to revenue and other business goals. With the right reporting system in place, you can gain far more than base-level SEO insights, too.

In fact, we use our own search reporting system to deliver high-level business insights for our customers. For example, we used local search analysis for a nationwide brand to help them identify the two most profitable locations in the country to open new branches.

Further reading:

Is your local SEO strategy missing something?

If you’re not getting the results you need from search marketing, our team is ready to help. Call us on 023 9283 0281 or send us your details and we’ll get back to you.

Sally Newman profile picture
Sally Newman

An accomplished digital marketer with over six years’ experience in local SEO and content for SEO, with a proven track record of hitting KPIs. As a proactive and enthusiastic member of the team, Sally brings a fresh energy to her work that sees her manage her accounts with both logical and lateral thinking, garnering great results for her customers across a range of industries. As well as talking at local events about all things SEO, you can also find Sally travelling the world, trying new foods and enjoying time with her dog, Pedro.

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