Comprehensive SEO Checklist
If you're here then you probably know that you can build your business using your website.
You probably also realize that you can—and need to—optimize your website in order to really make your website do its job.
Don't have time for a huge checklist? Here's the short version:
Use cornerstone content to generate traffic from various stages of the customer journey, and then have some conversion goal to make each piece of content do one thing for you.
What's this piece of content doing, for example? It's telling you True Marketing is run by some great folks, and you should send us a chat message to say hi.
If you need to generate more traffic to your site, we've got some easy one-off solutions. We're big fans of messaging, it's easy for you and for us.
1. Have A Plan
For a short time it may help to do anything to improve your rankings, but in the long run it is always better to have a plan, an SEO roadmap. This will look different depending on your business, your competition, and the entire context, but it is highly recommended to create a plan.
Dos and Don'ts
A successful SEO strategy needs to have priorities and order
If you do some things on this SEO checklist out of order, your efforts will probably backfire.
If you try to build backlinks before you have a website, that will obviously backfire on you.
What are you linking to?
If you try to build content before you do your keyword research, that will backfire too.
How do you know anyone is searching for what you are writing about?
There is nevertheless a lot of flexibility with this checklist.
Have goals in mind
Take time to write down some goals for your business.
What do you want to do in the next five years?
- Close up shop
- Sell the business
- Pass it on
- Hire a new full-time employee
- Grow slowly (2x revenue)
- Scale quickly (10x revenue)
- Go public
Having even a vague notion of what your business goals are will help you figure out how digital marketing and SEO can help you achieve these goals.
Figure out which long-term digital assets you will need
The basic order of operations
Put yourself in the searchers shoes.
Always remember that SEO is a form of marketing and your number one goal is to signal to searchers how and why you can actually solve their problems.
This is why so-called "black-hat" SEO strategies can’t be a long term strategy.
You cannot reach people if your only strategy is manipulating search engine algorithms.
Establish your internet presence.
Sooner or later, you will need to get a website.
Your website needs to have a clear brand message.
What is the most fundamental value you bring your customers?
What holds your website together? Website integrity can be achieved through design and copywriting.
A consistent colour palette
Your website needs a unique domain (I expand on each of these points below).
Your website needs to be fast.
Your website needs to be user-friendly.
Your website cannot scare off visitors—it needs to be straightforward and professional.
Your website needs to very clearly show visitors the next step, every step of the way.
Build your brand citations
Fix problems as they arise
Create immediate value for visitors
Follow the CPU (Create, Promote, and Update) pattern *turn this into a separate post* *source?*
The CPU method will save you time (as opposed to “regular blogging”), save you money (improving the effectiveness of your ad spend), and build your brand for the long haul.
Connect with the right audience
Build relevant backlinks
Leverage underpriced attention (Gary V)
Create an SEO roadmap
Why only running ads is a short-term plan
Connect with True Marketing on Messenger to get some chat feedback about your SEO plan or the next, easiest steps you can take right now to improve your site's SEO.
2. Get Organized
Without knowing where you keep everything you will quickly get lost in the pile of things to do. Pick one place where you will keep a localized record of what you're working on, when you did it, and what you need to focus on next. Hint: try to write this checklist as if someone else is going to use it (because you might not remember what you meant by 'do seo stuff' in 4 months!)
Make sure you can keep track of the SEO-checklist steps you’re working on in a localized place
When it comes to an SEO checklist, it's crucially important to keep track of what you have done (so you know what is working) and what you need to do.
When you run a business, it's rare that you have an hour to spare to work on your website. When that hour comes, you want to know where to look to find out exactly what you need to do next.
If you know what is next, you can get to work right away improving your SEO.
If you don't know what's next, you might start twiddling your thumbs or watching cat videos on YouTube.
What can you use to get organized?
Use a Google Doc to track SEO progress and tasks
At the very least, make a "digital marketing" Google Doc.
Treat this Doc as your checklist.
Use a checklist software tool to manage your project
If you’re going to be repeating this checklist,
Or if you need to do search-engine optimization for multiple websites, create a Freedcamp account to track your checklists (it’s free!)
If you need to manage multiple users and clients with different permissions or tasks, Freedcamp has a paid tier, or you can check out Basecamp (competitors much?).
Create a Site Silo Plan
Start thinking right now about your website’s “silo” structure
A silo structure keeps related content together in your website
A silo structure helps people find what they are looking for, and it helps search engines index your entire site too as the search engine spiders crawl from page to page to page.
What are the major categories of your site? These are your silos
- You may have a “Services” silo that keeps together all of your services
- You may then have a specific location page for each service
The URL structure of your website should follow a silo structure wherever it makes sense.
The precise structure you end up using will depend a lot on the goals you are trying to focus on, your industry, the number of services/locations you have, and the unique details of your business and audience.
Here are a few example silo structures:
- If you offer SEO services in Toronto, Hamilton, and Niagara, then you might have a URL structure as follows:
- Alternatively, you might structure your URLs with the locations first:
- Another way to go about this is to simply list your services in one place, and your locations in another:
Your site doesn’t need to have any particular kind of silo structure, but it can be extremely helpful for making sure search engines (and, more importantly, searchers) can find exactly what they’re looking for on your site.
Track your KPIs (Key Performance Indicators)
While tracking KPIs won’t directly influence your SEO performance, you won’t even know where to start unless you start tracking KPIs.
If your core goal at the moment is simply clicks to your website, you will need to follow this process:
Find out how many clicks have you been getting until now.
Make SEO-friendly changes from this checklist.
Track the impact.
Focus on what works.
Below I will talk about split testing. In split testing it is very important to only track ONE change at a time, but when you’re just getting started you can make as many changes as you like.
It’s like exercising:
When you’re just starting out, everything helps!
When you’re more advanced you need to be more strategic about how you implement changes to make sure you continue to see progress.
An amazing tool to help you track everything at a glance—and report to the people who need to know too, is Google Data Studio.
Best of all, it’s free!
*Check out my free Data Studio Template! [email opt-in with segmentation for local business owner, national business owner, vs. seo agency or freelancer]
Here’s an awesome tutorial in setting up a dashboard for yourself from scratch.
3. Major (Free) Tools
Google Search Console
Bing Webmaster Tools
- Sign up
- Verify ownership
- Use the dashboard
- Bing Webmaster Tools even has a free SEO analyzer which will diagnose SEO problems on your website for free!
Google Tag Manager
Yoast will help you manage your page and post meta descriptions and title tags—this makes it super easy to make sure your content looks great to searchers.
Yoast will also generate a dynamic sitemap for you!
A dynamic sitemap is a sitemap that will stay up to date as you add or remove content from your site. This is the way to go.
See below for other sitemap information
Yoast also sets up your robots.txt file for you (more about that below*).
If you aren’t using WordPress (and so can’t use the Yoast WordPress plugin), but you need a free robots.txt example to copy, use Yoast’s! They want you to!
And here is their nifty guide! https://yoast.com/ultimate-guide-robots-txt/
4. Keyword Research
Figure out your broadest, high traffic keywords
These are the keywords you will always be trying to rank for
You can easily view the search volume of any keyword by using a couple of free tools
This one can be a bit annoying to get to if you don’t have an ad account set up already.
What you want to do is click **
You can analyze your competitors’ keywords (either based on their URL or the keywords themselves) using SpyFu. *image
Identify long-tail keywords
Google search suggestions
Keywordtool.io paid gives you detailed info, but even the free version will give you suggestions
Wikipedia has lots of the keyword connections you need to discover long-tail keywords
Answer the public https://answerthepublic.com *image
Qualify your keywords
(these five techniques come from Gotch SEO’s guide to SEO content)
Nathan Gotch explains in his guide that qualifying keywords is one of the most important aspects of your keyword research.
Put simply, there is no point developing amazing content if nobody cares.
He recommends five ways to qualify your keywords:
Check search volume for your keywords
You can use lots of tools for this.
Keywords Everywhere will show you the search volume for every search you make in Google *image
It will also show you the search volume for suggested long-tail searches *image
UberSuggest is also extremely helpful for discovering search volume and trends *image
In fact, UberSuggest is probably the best seo tool out there because, for any shortcomings it may have when compared with some other tool, it is free! Neil Patel is killing it!
Another important question you should be asking is whether searches for your keyword are going up over time or down.
Google Trends is a great tool for discovering whether interest in a keyword has been rising or falling. *image
Look for user engagement
User engagement tells you that people are interested in and discussing your keyword.
Search forums like Reddit to see whether you keyword is related to ongoing (i.e. not just three years ago) discussions with replies, views, etc. *image
Communities such as Facebook groups in your niche
Quora is an excellent question-and-answer platform that makes it very easy to track user engagement
Look for social signals
Use BuzzSumo to check if a topic has social engagement. *image
This isn’t always relevant to a keyword—some topics are just not things anyone would share on social media, even if they are extremely helpful, high-traffic keywords.
Do other people link to this keyword?
There are a number of paid tools that allow you to assess whether other people link to content related to your keyword, but if you want to keep things free I’d suggest using BuzzSumo's free trial, or else Ubersuggest to tell you what you need to know.
5. On-Page SEO
Keyword in domain
There is a difference between a keyword domain and a branded domain.
A keyword domain is something like: http://bouncycastlerentalwinnipeg.com
The keywords are “bouncy castle rental” and “winnipeg.”
A branded domain is something like: https://scholtensbaltus.com
The brand is Scholtens-Baltus.
There is a bit of a catch to this one:
Google does not care if you have a keyword in your domain.
You do not receive any algorithmic benefit from the search engine spiders (by all appearances—though some will no doubt disagree!).
However, the argument could be made that searchers recognize these keywords.
Do you know what https://scholtensbaltus.com is?
By contrast, you can probably figure out the bouncy castle rental URL
You will click on a listing if you are looking for something and you recognize a particular listing as being relevant.
If you want an iPhone then you will probably know that https://www.apple.com is the site for you.
However, if you are looking for furniture refinishing in Niagara, will you automatically know that https://scholtensbaltus.com is what you are looking for?
As a compromise, I like to blend keywords and branding wherever possible.
“True Marketing” has a major keyword right in it
But not all major keywords can fit in your domain name, so after picking the right domain, you need to think about URL structure.
Keyword in URL
Short URLs (see this study).
Don’t use underscores in your URLs, but use hyphens instead.
Google treats hyphens as word breaks (source).
But underscores connect words, making them one.
Keyword at front of title
Use helpful descriptive expansions of your title: “top-x ways to...” “2019,” “guide,” “how-to,” “review,” “best,” “checklist”
Have lots of words, at least 1000 for major pages, and at least 350 for minor pages
To count words on your page, use Browseo http://www.browseo.net
Put your page’s target keywords in the first 150 words (just once, don’t overdo it!)
Put your page’s target keywords in your H1, H2, and H3 tags
Quantity vs. quality?
What you really want is relevance
You could blog constantly (and for many sites this makes sense)
Or you could have several very high quality pieces of content
Update this content regularly, rather than constantly posting new but lower-quality content
Make these “cornerstone” pieces your best content of all
This content needs to be “evergreen”—it needs to be something that will continue to provide value for the foreseeable future
You can use BuzzSumo to identify pages with a high evergreen score*image
Make sure your cornerstone content is 10x better than the top 3 results in Google
Make sure they answer every question a potential visitor might have
Make it easy for people to find what they need (e.g. use a table of contents)
Top 200 lists
Complete A-Z guide
Remember: you need to spend at least as much time promoting your content as you do creating it.
If nobody knows about it, it won’t help anyone.
Check out backlink outreach below for some ideas on promotion.
And remember you can always pay for promotion too.
It’s called advertising.
You could also call it teamwork.
You cooperate with others in getting your content out there.
If it really solves problems, then people will thank you for promoting it, and you will thank yourself.
This isn’t the same as buying likes on instagram.
When you buy likes you probably aren’t helping or influencing anyone.
Chunk your content into 1- or 2-sentence paragraphs.
Use bullet points and numbered lists in your content.
Use a very readable sans-serif font (arial, lato, etc.)
If at all possible, use a custom-designed page for your cornerstone content.
A custom design (i.e. not just a typical blog post) signals you are taking this topic very seriously.
“A custom-designed page tells people: ‘This guide is legit!’.”
Use at least 1 image, no matter what
Embed related video content
Create and use awesome infographics—always backlink your sources!
Brian Dean outlines 15 different types of visual content https://backlinko.com/visualizations
Optimize image dimensions
Make sure you look up the image sizes!
Here’s a helpful chart: [*include a chart with all of the most common image dimensions you would need]
Optimize image file sizes
Smush for WordPress
Use Photoshop, or a free online tool
Optimize image file names
Optimize image alt tags
Use semantically related wordings
(free tool: https://lsigraph.com)
LSI is a method of indexing (Latent Semantic Indexing) where a document is represented as a vector averaging the vectors of each word in the document, and each word is represented as the average of all its contexts of occurrence. In short, words that typically appear in similar contexts/documents are treated as semantically related.*image
Linking out from your page
Link out to high-authority sites
These are very high authority sites like Google, .gov and .edu sites, and other highly reliable sources of information
This also includes less objective and reliable, but nevertheless highly referenced sources such as the New York Times or Wikipedia
half a dozen of these would be good
Cross reference all relevant pages on your site
Make sure “Cornerstone content” is always internally linked when relevant
Use keywords as anchor text
Make sure your internal links are not relative links
Relative links look like this “/seo-strategy” or “../true-marketing-seo”
Instead, use fully qualified links (thanks Bruce Clay!) that begin with “https://”.
6. Off-Page SEO
Track links and shares
Moz link explorer*image
Ahrefs free backlink checker https://ahrefs.com/backlink-checker *image
Pay attention to the page authority and domain authority of backlinks. More authority is better!
Page authority is the authority of a specific URL.
Domain authority is the authority of the domain name.
These are going to be related to some extent, but they are definitely not the same.
You can use the free tool at https://smallseotools.com/domain-authority-checker/ to check the page and domain authority of any URL.
*add photo from small seo tools
Do backlink outreach to try to get quality backlinks
If you want to get really high-quality backlinks, AND get traffic from those link sources, then you need to reach out to authority blogs in your niche.
One of the best tools for this is Pitchbox. Check out their intro video here:
Post on websites like medium, quora, etc.
Medium explains how to avoid duplicate content penalties and also gain a serious boost to your website’s SEO https://help.medium.com/hc/en-us/articles/217991468-SEO-and-duplicate-content
Do some competitor analysis and figure out where your competitors are getting links from (i.e. drop their domain into Ahrefs’s backlink checker) and see if you can guest post on some of the same websites they have
Find link roundups and share your content with them
A link roundup is a post where someone shares new developments in some niche
What are the top resources for SEO this week?
What are the top SEO checklists that are out there?
Offer to be a podcast guest on a podcast in your industry
Reach out to influencers
Mention or feature influencers in your industry in your content
Let them know you mentioned them
Get a backlink and/or social shares
Notify Google of other people’s links to your site
If new backlinks are not showing up in Google Search Console after a few days, you can ping Google with the URL of the page linking to your website.
Don’t overdo this, just a one-time ping is plenty.
Go to PingFarm and enter the URLs you want to ping to Google
Remember, you want Google to crawl and index the pages that link to you.
While this may not be necessary most of the time, it also cannot hurt to do it once, and could help raise your site’s domain authority sooner.
Make a page on your site that is on the sitemap but cannot be navigated to, where you list all the links
Create as many brand citations as you can
What are brand citations?
Interlink your citations
Optimize your YouTube channel and videos
Create a short video using your phone or screen capture with a slideshow presentation
Here are some ideas:
Explain the benefits and (some) mechanics (but focus on benefits) of a complex product you offer
Give a personal introduction to yourself and your business
Give a short tutorial on how to set up something related to your business
Answer some frequently asked questions (hint: you can make a separate video for each question and update these in the future)
Optimize your YouTube video’s description
Add relevant keywords
Add a link to your website
Get these key citations next after you get your google citations
I included some additional citations that are mostly relevant for local optimization for brick-and-mortar businesses below in the Local SEO section.
Google My Business (more about this below)
Facebook business page
Amazon for business (If you're
located in the US)
LinkedIn Company Page
NAP (Name, Address, and Phone Number)
Make sure your NAP information is consistent across all of your citations.
Web 2.0 blogs (Black Hat)
What is a Web 2.0 site? It’s a free website you can set up through many services such as WordPress, Angelfire, and Blogger.
I've included this section in the checklist so that you are aware of an understand what these websites look like. I made a couple of these Web 2.0 dummy blogs for you to look at, but this was for the purposes of illustration.
I would not recommend you rely on black hat strategies such as private blog networks, as they are in no sense a long-term strategy, and do not adequately contribute to building your long-term digital assets.
WordPress (check out my example here: https://truemarketingseo.wordpress.com/seo-for-local-businesses/)
Angelfire (check out my example here: http://truemarketing.angelfire.com/)
(Blogger—noted above under Google citations)
7. Technical SEO
Use HTTPS (not HTTP)
HTTPS is a Google ranking signal
What is HTTPS?
HTTP means hypertext transfer protocol.
Google identifies this as a ranking factor
Chrome will even say your webpage is not secure
Create a sitemap.xml
If you are using Yoast then you can do this simply by running Yoast’s configuration wizard.
If you aren’t using WordPress (and thus cannot use Yoast) you can use Screamingfrog’s XML sitemap generator.
Make sure your sitemap uses fully qualified URLs (see above *add on-page nav link*)
Configure your robots.txt
Your robots.txt file is a plain text file that tells search engines what to index (or record in their databases) and what to ignore.
Check out True Marketing’s robots.txt here
If you have private content for special promotions or anything else you don’t want people to find on Google, you can say so in this file.
Yoast will also set up your robots.txt file for you.
In general, you will want to make sure you make your site as search-engine-spider-friendly as possible, so only disallow things that are useless for searchers to land on, don’t have content, or are private content.
Of course, when you put private content in your robots.txt file, you make it possible for anybody and everybody to find the links to your private content!
It’s like having a secret box that says “TOP-SECRET!”
Who can resist that?
Ping new content
This basically tells search engines to go crawl your new content so it gets recorded in the search results as soon as possible.
Optimize your website for loading speed
Use Google’s pagespeed insights *image
Optimize image file size (see above)
Make your web page mobile friendly
Google focuses on mobile friendliness, and you should too
Check your mobile friendliness Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test*image
Use a responsive website design
Use padding (so nothing rolls over the side of the phone)
Use very short paragraphs (for easier reading on mobile screens)
Fix crawl errors
A crawl error is*
A 404 error comes up for a visitor when they try to visit a page that does not exist on your site.
Using Google Search Console you can find 404 errors as they come up.
Redirect known 404s to the most relevant page, or else to your homepage.
While you’re at it, create a custom 404 page for 404s you don’t know about
A custom 404 page can display your brand, links to other parts of your site, and anything else you want.
This will help you retain customers even when a link is broken or a page is missing.
Other crawl errors
Sometimes 302 redirects should be 301 redirects
Do not create duplicate content if it can be avoided (sometimes there are legitimate reasons for duplicating content around the web)
Change any duplicate meta descriptions
Change duplicate title tags
Set canonical tags
Canonical redirects (e.g. www vs non-www)
Canonical content tags to avoid duplicate content
Use Screamingfrog to identify duplicate content issues.
You will have to download their free tool.
Watch this video demonstrating how to use their tool to identify duplicate content.
Set your meta descriptions and title tags to the optimum length
Title tags should be 50-60 characters.
Meta descriptions should be 150-160 characters.
But don’t push it!
Some letters are wider than others, and so your title may still get cut off if it takes up too much space.
Fix broken links
Internal and outbound links that are broken are a major issue for SEO.
They are like a dead end.
Nobody likes a dead end, unless there’s a cabin on the lake there—in which case it’s not a dead end.
To identify broken links, use Dr. Link Check’s freemium tool https://www.drlinkcheck.com *image
Use schema markup
What is schema?
What are the various types of schema to be aware of?
Google’s structured data testing tool *image
Optimize for click-through rate
Dominate your branded searches
Ruan Marinho has an awesome video describing how he shot to number one for a highly competitive keyword
Branded searches are key.
Here’s how you can implement this strategy:
Instead of directly linking to your page when you guest post or go on a podcast, tell people to search for “your keyword” + “your brand name”
Watch out—this could backfire if someone else gets the top spot for your search phrase
This is not super likely, but it is very possible
For example, there are many companies with some variant of the name “True Marketing”
If it doesn’t backfire, you will get an insane boost in your rankings
One of the easiest wins you need to jump on is ranking for your branded search terms.
The first thing I did with my new website was try to rank for "true marketing seo"—and it happened within a matter of weeks based 100% on on-page SEO.
Fulfill search intent
For your most important keyword for a page, figure out what the search intent behind that keyword is.
Search intent is whatever problem a searcher is trying to solve when they look up that keyword
Are they looking for a tutorial?
Are they looking for information?
Are they looking for a tool?
Are they looking for a business that offers a service?
If you don’t meet their search intent properly they will not click on your page.
Some common types of intent are:
Navigational intent: searchers are trying to get to a brand’s website.
Informational intent: searchers are trying to answer a question with information.
Investigational intent: searchers are trying to explore their options for solving a problem they understand.
Transactional intent: searchers are ready to take action and looking for the best value or deal.
Read more about search intent here.
Reverse engineer highly optimized ads
Basically type in your target keywords and see what the top ads are doing for those keywords
These ads are probably meticulously split-tested for best results
You can reverse engineer those results for your own organic listing
Brian Dean explains this amazing method of optimizing your click-through rate in this video https://youtu.be/L_6zAGJ-JO4
Write good copy4
This point is something of a no-brainer, but it can be extremely challenging, which is why great copywriters charge hundreds or even thousands of dollars an hour for their services
As Neville from Kopywriting Kourse teaches so well:
People don’t care about you; they care about them.
If you focus your copy on the value someone will get, you will get more clicks
Use power words
Power words connect with people’s emotions
Emotions are everything in marketing
Don’t be manipulative and dishonest (that’s not TRUE marketing, after all)
Just figure out how the real value you’re bringing makes your customers feel
Make sure your website stays up3
One of the biggest reasons your website will go down is also probably completely out of your control: your hosting service
Low downtime is a hallmark of good hosting
It will likely cost more up front, but you will gain in clicks
*here insert a quiz asking whether someone cares more about speed or cost - affordable vs. blazing fast speed; reliable hosting is a non-negotiable, since if people can't get to your site at all there is not much point in making it in the first place
Get low-cost but quite reliable hosting here www.bluehost.com/track/truemarketing <a href="https://www.bluehost.com/track/truemarketing/seo-checklist" target="_blank"> <img border="0" src="https://bluehost-cdn.com/media/partner/images/truemarketing/620x203/620x203BW.png"> </a>
8. UX (User eXperience)
Keep UX as a top priority
This will help people solve the problems that led them to your site
You will drive better quality traffic, because people will link to your page when they find it helpful, and they will
Google has announced that, by default, all websites will first be indexed by Google’s smartphone bot. Mobile-First Indexing by default for new domains
This means the mobile representation of your web page is the first thing Google will look at
If your page is not mobile-friendly, you will immediately be in trouble in terms of your Google ranking
Remove useless pages
Pages that are not driving good quality traffic cannot help your websites rankings.
In fact, they could hurt your rankings!
Quality over quantity every time
Make your cornerstone content absolutely amazing
You won’t have to worry about “regular blogging,” the idea of which makes most of us cringe
Figure out your pages with the highest bounce rate and kill them
Reduce bounce rate
When someone immediately clicks away from your website, that’s called ‘bouncing’
A high bounce rate tells Google your site is not fulfilling users’ search intent
Reduce your bounce rate by picking your best-performing pages and making them even better
One important improvement is to keep your content “above the fold”
This means users do not need to scroll to start viewing your content
Use split tests.
A split test is also known as an A/B test.
Essentially you change one variable in your SEO game, give it a couple weeks, and then go with whichever variation worked better.
It’s a great tool for isolating variables in a complicated overall strategy.
One really great place to start is with your headlines.
Look up “headline copywriting” to get some tips.
Run a split test.
See which one results in higher click through rates and/or lower bounce rates.
It can be very tricky to run split tests without a tool created to make it easy.
I like Thrive Optimize.
It’s not free, but it’s so easy and it comes with my Thrive membership.
Thrive Optimize allows you to run split tests on your landing pages, but the best part is that after the elapsed time frame it automatically goes with the variation that worked the best.
There are definitely other options out there. I just haven't actually tested them, since I tried Thrive Themes and never looked back.
You can look through an entire list of other plugins here.
If you want to split test your headlines, check out PickFu.
9. Local SEO
Local SEO is SEO for a brick-and-mortar business.
Local SEO aims to put your business on the map—literally—and it has a few aspects that aren’t as important for other kinds of businesses, but will make or break a local business’s SEO and rankings.
Google My Business
This is an absolute must. If you do nothing else on this entire SEO checklist, create your Google My Business listing and fill it out completely.
You can also leverage the free Google My Business site that Google provides, either as your primary site (although in the long run it is important to have a site you have complete control over) or to get a branded nofollow link.
See my example free site here: true-marketing-digital-marketing.business.site
As a side note, there has been some dispute as to whether nofollow links are useless for SEO.
Since they are nofollow links, however, they can almost certainly build brand trust for your website.
If your website only or exclusively has do-follow links, your backlink profile will appear unnatural (unless you have a very low number of links overall, in which case it probably doesn’t matter as much).
Check out further discussion here.
Optimize your GMB listing
Choose the right button setting for SEO Purposes
Include the most relevant keyword in your headline
Add an LSI keyword to the description
Optimize your summary
Leverage the summary header for one or two more LSI keywords
Create compelling copy in the summary body
Include links to your site and essential brand citations in the summary
Local Business Citations
Your local Chamber of Commerce
This is usually pretty expensive, compared to most of the free items/tools on this checklist, but it gets you a useful high-authority backlink so it may be well worth it in the long run.
The BBB (Better Business Bureau)
Again, this is not free, but you can put the BBB logo on your website and it is a huge trust signal for consumers.
Research local, industry specific citations
Check your local news and media outlets for any business directories they may have
Reviews are absolutely critical to your business, especially on a search engine.
If you are a local business owner, you want to leverage the power of reviews and social proof to help your business listing's rankings.
When users look up your services they are looking for a local business that has a track record of solving the problem that they currently have.