Local SEO Checklist For 2020 – How To Rank Better Locally in 10 Actionable Steps

I get asked time and time again by small business owners, how do I get ranked in my area on Google? It is a valid question as there is not one thing that will get you ranking, it is a range of ranking factors. I this post I am going to take you through a checklist of actionable points you can take and implement today to boost your local rankings.


Why Is Local SEO Important?


Before we get started, I wanted to show you why local SEO can be so important and powerful for your business & it’s growth.

At an event a couple of years ago, Google announced that 46% of searches have local intent!

Search that includes ‘near me’ continues to rise.


Growth of local search SEO 


This shows it is more vital than ever for your local business to be as visible on google as possible.

1.    Create & Optimise Your Google My Business Listing.


You have probably seen me mention this in a few of my articles already, I cannot stress enough how important this is. It is a free tool by Google. You essentially add information about your local business, so you are easier to find on the local pack and from a brand search.


 Michael Ryan SEO Google My Business



For example, Google ‘Michael Ryan SEO’ you will see my GMB information on the right. It is important to include information such as opening hours, any products or special offers & your address if you serve people are your business address. You can also ask users to leave a review here to build your profile for prospects.


2.      Make Sure Your NAP Is consistent.


NAP stands for Name Address & Phone number. You need to make sure this is consistent across the internet, so you don’t confuse your customers & Google. You want to make sure this information is aligned across the following


  • Your website
  • Social Profiles
  • Local Directories
  • Google My Business page


3.      Use Google Maps on your Website.


If you are a business who wants customers to come to their business premises in some way or another, then it is wise to have your Google maps location on your website.


It is very easy to add, you can either collab with your developer or most CMS will have a simple widget to get this added.


It is best to include this on your contact us or about me page. It also helps Google understand you are a local business with a physical address, which will help with search.


4.      Localise your Title tags & Meta Descriptions. 


A lot of local business owners I speak to have an amazing website, but they do not tell Google what’s on their pages. Without this, you will not rank.


Title tags, H1’s & your URL structure are vital in Google ranking you on the SERPS.


More importantly, it gives you the opportunity to drive home the fact you reside in a local area. For example, you might own a bakery in London.


Your homepage title might be ‘Traditional London Bakery | My Bakery’


Most CMS platforms such as WordPress, Shopify & Wix will have options for you to change this.


5.      Use Schema Mark Up.


Schema/ Structured Data Mark Up is still super important for ranking locally. Local Schema is essentially a piece of code that wraps around your local information to help search engines understand is & visualise it for users.


You can either work with your developer to get this implemented, or again your CMS platform will most likely have a plugin.


If you have an eCommerce website you can also use product schema on your products. This will help search engines visualise information about your products such a price, availability & Images.


6.      Get Citations Through Relevant Directories.


A citation is any online mention of the name, address, and phone number for a local business.


Citations can occur on local business directories, on websites and apps, and on social platforms.


Citations will help Internet users to discover local businesses and can also impact local search engine rankings.


7.      Acquire Relevant Links – Locally if possible.


Although you can still generate great ranking without links, you will not maximise your organic visibility without generating relevant links.


If you are predominantly focused on local search, then look to acquire local links.


There is a range of ways you can do this, directories, networking, and events.


If you need some more info on how to do this, read this article search engine watch covered about Greg Gifford’s Brighton SEO talk


8.      Leverage your location in your content.


Some of you might have a few different locations you are looking to target. If you do not have a physical address there then you won’t be able to create a Google My Business Page, so what you want to do is create a location page on your website.


Here you want to leverage all the content you have around this area. For example, testimonials from clients within this area or images of work you have carried out here.


It is also important to internally link to your services page from here.


9.      Remember to ask for a review


You would be surprised at the level of research people will do before making an investment or purchasing a product. According to a bright local report, 82% of people will read reviews before purchasing from a local business.


Do not be scared to ask for a review if you believe you have added value to your client. If you sell products, ask for internal reviews and ask the ones that are great to then review on Google also.


Some companies offer an incentive such as a discount code for this.


10. Think Mobile


One of the most important areas of SEO has been ensuring your mobile site is fully optimised for SEO. Google changed to mobile indexing first so your mobile site will have as much effect on your rankings as your desktop site.


It is becoming an important ranking factor as Googles algorithm matures.


Not only this, mobile users now outweigh desktop users. Their share of search has increased from 16% in 2013 to 53% in 2020 due to the rise of smartphones.



If you follow these 10 tips, you will be well on you are to ensuring you generate further local enquiries through organic search. To get a head start, try my free SEO audit tool that will give you further areas you can work on.



Author: Michael Ryan is a Freelance SEO Consultant based in Essex.




backlink audit

The Ultimate Backlink Audit Check List

A backlink audit is essential if you are to looking to ensure your SEO campaign is both effective and safe. Gone are the days of comment linking, paying for links & hidden links, these tactics will most likely get your site penalised in the long run.


This is one of the main reasons I advise those who are looking to gain visibility not to invest in super cheap SEO services. This is the exact tactics they will use. I am going to take you through how to complete a backlink audit and what changes you can make to add value to your overall website health.


The majority of businesses might not even have a backlink strategy and a lot of companies I know don’t even know about the negative links pointing to their site and the potential damage it can do to their business. I would advise all business owners who rely on their website to generate revenue, make sure you do this or invest in an SEO who will review this for you.


What is a backlink audit?


Before jumping into what you need to do, we need to understand why a backlink audit is needed. A link audit is essentially looking at your current backlink profile and evaluating the following.


  1. How good are these links for your website?
  2. Is this link natural?
  3. Is the link relevant to your brand?
  4. Is the content relevant?
  5. Is the source an authoritative website?


Link audit can take a very long time as the best way to achieve the best results is manually looking at each link. If you have got a site with thousands of links, this would take several hours. So, I’ll take you through some of the tools I use to complete a backlink audit.


Step 1: Finding Your Backlinks


The first step is finding your backlinks. Google Search Console is a great tool for this, and it’s free. Every webmaster should have this set up.


Search console 1


On the left-hand side, you will see the links section.


In the link section you see information around both internal links & external links as well as an insight into the most common anchor text for your links.


Search console will also give you a view of what websites link to you the most.


search console 2


Step 2: Analyse your backlinks


Once you can visualise your backlink and where they are coming from, you can start to analyse them against the criteria I mentioned at the beginning of the article.


Again there are a few we can do this.


  1. Check them manually


In most cases this is not going to be viable. The time it would take you to check all links manually would be far too long. However, if you have only had your site running a short amount of time with a limited amount of links. This might be ok for you. It is definitely the best way of checking a link as relevance can be hard for a tool to understand.


  1. Use a backlink audit tool


There are a few different tools you can use for this, they vary in the language they use but essentially you want a view of the following


  • Amount of backlinks
  • Number of referring domains
  • Quality of site (Domain authority/citation flow)


3.    Best tools for backlink audits


There are 2 tools that I think give the best overview in your backlink profile, both also have great features for those looking for opportunities to build links.




Majestic is a tool that specliases in backlinks rather than being an all-in-one SEO tool. You’re not going to find any info or tools on keyword research or search volume ext. It’s essentially a huge link index. You crawl a site using the search bar, and you see specifics on the domains backlink profile.



Majestic 001


Once you enter your domain, this instance you’re going to want to view links across your domain like below.


majestic seo 3


You could crawl a specific URL in which you want to view backlinks for but we’re focusing on the whole site’s backlink profile here.


Majestic 4


The crawl will initially provide you with the following information.


  • Number of external backlinks


This is the total number of backlinks you have coming for all domains.


  • Referring domains


This looks at the exact number of domains that link to you, rather than the total number of links. For example, you could have 50 referring domain but those 50 domain links to you 2000 times, so the number of external backlinks would be 2000. I would advise keeping this as close to a 1:1 ratio as you can as in most cases it is natural to only links once rather than constantly getting links from the same source.


  • Referring IP


Amount of referring IP addresses are linking to you – again you want these to mostly be unique, rather than from the same IP address.


  • Referring Subnet


This is short for referring C-subnet – basically are the websites you are getting links from in the same network? Again, we don’t want this to be the case.


My site is new so the amount of data is quite low.


Majestic 6


The next step is to utilise the backlinks tab. This will help you drill down the links that don’t look as natural. Here you should be looking at:


  • The source of the link – is it a website that is relevant to what you do as a business.
  • The content on the page linking to you – again, is it relevant to you as a business?
  • Trust flow & citation flow – the higher the better, however, newer sites may have a lower score here but still be super relevant.
  • Anchor text & target link – is the page linking the most relevant page on your website with natural anchor text?

SEM Rush Backlink Audit


SEM Rush does the manual checking for you by giving a toxic score against links you have pointing to your domain. This is extremely handy if you have a large backlink profile as it can essentially act as a filter enabling you to review the links that come up as toxic.


SEM Rush 1


Some after manually checking might be ok to keep but it definitely speeds up the process.


SEM Rush Toxic Score


Another great feature that SEM Rush has is the fact you can link it with your Google search console account as per below. It’s relatively easy to sync and you just need to give them permission by adding their email as a user. This will help them generate further data needed for SEM rush to effectively audit your site.


SEM RUSH search console


4.      Fix & Plan Ahead


The last step is to fix any issues you see & plan ahead by creating a plan of how you’re going to add value to your back-link profile.


You should be looking at fixing dead links or links that do not go to the correct URL. Don’t be scared to email the webmaster and ask them to change the anchor or the URL the links pointing to.


Disavow links that are not natural and could be causing harm to your site.


In terms of planning ahead, look at your competitor's backlink profile for inspiration on where there are getting their links and how.




I hope this was an easy enough guide to follow. Completing a backlink audit can be a daunting task and might be at the bottom of your list, however, it’s vital to ensure your backlink profile is natural as it can undo good work you’ve already done.


Author: Michael Ryan SEO limited is an SEO agency in Essex that role focus is to boost ROI for his clients.

How Digital PR can supercharge your SEO efforts in 2020


In the world of SEO, we're so often busy talking about the new buzzword within the industry, whether it's domain authority, ROAS or link juice. Over the past couple of years, one that really caught my attention was digital PR. Essentially using PR as a means to create effective content marketing campaigns that get natural & authoritative links. Or creating insightful and inspiring content in turn, resulting in links. However, you like it I guess.

In this post, I?m going to show you how I used digital PR to supercharge a client SEO efforts & also provide a guide to how best to do this yourself.

1. Why?


Firstly, you need to understand why you're doing this? What are you're goals?? PR provides several beneficial results, so it?s important you layout your KPI?s for this campaign so you?re able to track the success of the campaign. They could be any of the following and more.

  • Backlinks

  • Data (e.g for email marketing)

  • Traffic

  • Brand Awareness

  • Increased Social Following

  • Reputation management

  • Leads


What we did? we decided our main KPI was generating natural links to the homepage of our site to increase authority across the site. As an FYI, this was for a travel company specialising in travel to Florida.

2. Idea Generation


All successful digital PR campaigns start with a brainstorming session. Within these sessions there are no wrong idea's, this is the part where you should let all your creativity flow. Make sure you remember why you're doing this and what your KPI?s are. You should be creating ideas around maximising success against this metric. Here are some great tips on brainstorming.


What we did? After many a spider diagram, we decided to go with a campaign which we named the 'Theme park tester'. The idea was simple, we wanted to recruit someone who could spend 3 weeks travelling around the various theme parks in Orlando creating insightful content for our customers. This was a genuine role we had planned but considering the employee would be tasked with testing rides & trying all the snacks Orlando has to offer, we believed it had legs.

3. Ideas & How To Track


After creating a job spec & a specific page for potential candidates to apply, we saw the following results.

  • 339 pieces of coverage

  • 316 of these pieces were linked

  • Of those, 51 are unique followed links

  • 9 No follow linked pieces

  • The average domain authority across those placements was 67

  • 59766 applications for the role

  • We even got TV coverage in US News: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QM1kjyPvfsk


Aside from links, we wanted to understand what other value we got from the campaign, so I decided to keep a report in changes to the following.

  • Domain Authority : This increased from 42 to 53.


  • Citation Flow & Trust Flow ? CG increased by 31% & trust flow 17%.


  • Overall Site Links: The campaign helped us increase overall site links by 78%.


  • Organic Visibility?


Below shows how the above has affected our visibility across all the keywords that we track, from the campaign go-live date we?ve seen a 42.24% increase in visibility.


  • Keyword Changes


Below was the movement of our highest volume keywords that we track.



The below graph also shows the impact on impressions & clicks form our largest volume keyword (Source: Search Console)



Social Following


We also saw some great increases across our social following within this time period.

Twitter / Facebook / Instagram?

Data Gathered


We?ve gathered over 35,000 email addresses from the campaign.


Brand Awareness


We had 14,359 users come through a brand term on the 10th of Jan!


When carrying out a campaign such as this, it?s vital to track absolutely everything you can to understand the full effect a PR campaign can have, especially one which aligns with your SEO strategy.

4. Final Note


My last tip to maximise your SEO strategy through Digital PR, has nothing to do with PR.


Make sure your on-site strategy is nailed, and that you have completed a thorough website audit beforehand. This is vital is to ensure the links that you generate have the biggest impact they possibly can to your keyword visibility.


I offer a free SEO audit, take advantage of this if you're looking to maximise your results this year.


Please let me know any questions you have in the comments below.