Local SEO is an essential aspect of digital marketing for businesses that rely on local customers. A professional local SEO audit can help businesses identify areas for improvement and optimize their online presence to attract more customers.
The practice of SEO involves analyzing keywords, content, and competitors across multiple aspects. Local SEO consists in performing specific tasks to establish a business’s relevance and authority in a particular geographic location.
To be considered as a potential answer for local consumers, it is necessary to demonstrate to search engines that your website has a high ranking.
What methods can be used to identify and prioritize optimizations that have the most potential to drive traffic to both your website and physical location?
What is Local Seo Audit?
A local SEO audit is a process of evaluating the online presence of a business in a particular geographic location with the aim of identifying strengths, weaknesses, and areas for improvement in terms of local search engine optimization (SEO). The audit typically involves analyzing the business’s website, Google My Business (GMB) profile, local listings, customer reviews, and other online assets to assess their relevance, accuracy, completeness, and consistency with local SEO best practices. The goal of a local SEO audit is to identify opportunities to improve the business’s visibility in local search results, attract more local customers, and increase its online reputation and credibility.
11-point Local SEO Audit Checklist
Here are ten simple steps to conduct a professional local SEO audit:
- Set up Google My Business
- Conduct Keyword Research
- Website Audit
- Google Business Profile
- Review Management
- Conduct a Citation Audit
- Local content
- Google Search Console Review
- Monitor Analytics
- Analyze Backlinks
- Analyze Local Competitors
Set up Google My Business
Google My Business is a tool that enables businesses to manage their online presence on Google’s search and maps. It is recommended to have a verified and up-to-date Google My Business listing for your business. Ensure that your business has a verified and updated Google My Business listing.
Conduct Keyword Research
Keyword research is crucial to local SEO. Identify the keywords that your target audience is searching for and incorporate them into your website content and Google My Business listing.
To begin a local SEO audit, it is recommended to analyze the search engine results pages for the specific keywords and phrases related to your business. This allows for an assessment of your standing in comparison to competitors and other websites.
This research can aid in identifying areas of established authority or momentum to build upon, as well as identifying which keywords are not worth investing time and effort into.
When implementing an SEO strategy, it is important to consider all keywords. Still, it is recommended to prioritize those that have a higher likelihood of ranking and generating traffic in the long run.
It may be beneficial to utilize a paid Google Ads approach for certain keywords in the short term while gradually establishing local organic authority.
Tools Aid SEO & Keywords
Various tools can assist with SEO and keyword research. These tools make it easier to gather search results for specific or thematic keyword categories, and to assess keyword value by analyzing metrics such as search volume or difficulty.
When selecting a tool, it is best to consider one that can analyze various search features. This will allow you to determine whether you or your competitors have obtained any search for real estate and create appropriate strategies.
For an impartial search experience, conduct your own searches manually in an Incognito Window in Google Chrome or Private Window in Safari to avoid any potential bias or personalization based on your Google login, location, or search history.
Automation tools utilize standardized processes, and businesses must diligently monitor the efficiency of their keywords and search terms during PPC campaigns.
There is a strong correlation between top-performing PPC keywords and their success in the realm of SEO. The combination of SEO and PPC can lead to better outcomes when used in conjunction.
Find Your Audience With More Search Terms
When conducting research, it is advisable to consider multiple search terms and phrases that your target audience may use to locate your products or services, rather than relying on a single keyword.
Effective keyword analysis and content creation should consider the searchers’ intent, which can differ based on their position in the purchasing process.
Potential customers may fall into different stages of the buying process, with some seeking informational queries such as “Where can I find a burger?” and others being more prepared to make a purchase, such as “Order burger near me.”
Examining keywords comprehensively can offer a more accurate assessment of your online influence and guide your efforts toward areas of greatest impact.
Ensure that your website has a clear and organized structure that makes it easy for search engines and users to navigate. Check for broken links, duplicate content, and page speed.
After obtaining keyword data, a thorough website audit can be conducted to optimize the site for crawl ability, indexability, and visibility.
An audit usually entails an evaluation of a website’s organization, information, and general usability.
Site auditing tools can crawl a website and detect issues, providing a prioritized list of actions based on SEO best practices. The website audit and optimization process can be divided into various categories or sections.
- Page Optimization
- Internal Link Audit
- Mobile Audit
- Duplicate Content
- Schema Review
Web page optimization involves organizing pages around relevant keywords and enhancing user experience. Search engine crawlers analyze signals on the page to understand its content and potential solutions to user queries.
When crawlers evaluate a webpage, they analyze the entire content to determine the main topic. They pay special attention to Page Titles and Headings as the primary descriptors. To achieve optimal results, pages should be distinct and centered on specific keywords, with uniform usage of keyword variations in Titles, URLs, Headings, and meta descriptions.
Search engines like Google value pages with good structure and will use the necessary components to generate a search result.
The process of an audit involves identifying areas of concern:
- There are issues with title tags, including missing tags, tags that exceed the 60-character limit, and tags that are duplicated.
- Title tags and meta descriptions are essential elements of on-page SEO. Optimize them with relevant keywords and compelling descriptions that entice users to click.
- There appears to be an issue with missing or duplicated headings, specifically H1s.
- The meta descriptions may need to be revised if they are missing, too lengthy (should not exceed 160 characters), or duplicated.
During an audit, the issue of image alt text may be raised as a potential concern, depending on the type of local business.
It is recommended to use descriptive filenames and alt text for all images, especially those that are important for your business. This is particularly crucial when images appear in search results. It is important to carefully consider the images on your main ranking pages.
Internal Link Audit
A link audit can identify any outdated or broken links on a website, which could potentially negatively impact the user experience for visitors.
Search engines use links to analyze website flow and direct searchers to authoritative answers. An audit should identify crosslinking opportunities for prominent pages.
A link may be created between two pages on a website if they share relevant keywords, potentially benefiting both pages if the link logically directs users to more pertinent content or a suitable conversion point.
When considering external links, it’s important to keep in mind potential opportunities to link to trusted sources of information, such as relevant local organizations or events, particularly from the perspective of a local business.
Due to the increasing number of consumers using mobile devices to search for local services, it is crucial for local businesses to ensure a satisfactory mobile web experience.
To rank well on search engines, websites should load quickly, be easy to use, and have a good user experience.
Google provides free tools for mobile testing and monitoring, such as Page Experience and Mobile Usability, available in the Search Console.
Google Lighthouse offers an in-depth analysis of user experience and SEO, but a web developer may be needed to implement any recommended changes for local business owners.
To ensure the quality and authority of your website’s content, it’s important to inform Google of any pages that contain content not created by you. This can be achieved by adding a canonical tag to the HTML header of the page.
Failure to include proper canonical tags can negatively impact your website’s authority and local SEO ranking. Content with missing or incorrect canonical tags will be identified by most site auditing tools.
Google is placing more emphasis on featured snippets over regular organic search results to provide direct answers to user queries on its SERPs.
Certain criteria must be met by local businesses to be chosen for featured snippets.
- It is recommended to publish content that is both authoritative and relevant.
- Schema markup is a valuable tool for labeling different types of content, such as local business details, products, events, and common inquiries.
A thorough local SEO audit should involve pinpointing website content suitable for schema application.
GMB everywhere – GBP audit for local SEO
Google Business Profiles (GBPs) provide local businesses with an additional website and a significant online presence.
A precise and inclusive GBP is essential for achieving visibility in Google Maps and organic search outcomes.
During a Google Business Profile audit, it is important to assess the accuracy and completeness of all components within the profile:
- Products & Services
- Photos & Offers
- Informational Content
- Business information and location details
- Correct primary business category
- Hours of operation
- Correct pin location in Google Maps
- The categorization needs to be precise, whether it pertains to a physical location or a business providing services in a specific area.
- Appointment links
A comprehensive profile increases the chances of being recognized as a dependable source and receiving suitable recognition in the search outcomes.
With the appropriate authorization, it is feasible to access and modify your information directly from the search results for your GBP.
Reviews are a significant element of a GBP. Customers of local businesses have the chance to write reviews that appear on the GBP. These reviews are becoming more common and play a major part in determining visibility in the local map pack.
Google provides notifications to business owners upon the submission of reviews, and they are recommended to respond promptly to both positive and negative feedback.
As part of a comprehensive audit, it is advisable to review all customer reviews to identify any overlooked issues and recurring themes related to customer service and satisfaction.
When conducting a thorough audit, it is important to take inventory of any reviews left on these services, as they may appear in search results and be found by search engines and modern consumers.
One effective way to locate feedback for lesser-known establishments is by searching for “reviews of ‘your business name’.”
Business owners have access to multiple software platforms for requesting and managing reviews on websites such as GBP and other review sites.
Online reviews are critical for local SEO. Check your business’s online reviews on Google My Business, Yelp, and other review sites. Respond to both positive and negative reviews promptly.
Conduct a Citation Audit
To maintain consistency, it’s important to ensure that your business’s name, address, and phone number (NAP) are the same across all online directories and platforms where it is mentioned.
Local business listings and citations serve as evidence to search engines of a business’s presence and dependability within a particular geographical area.
Being listed in trustworthy directories, review sites, business directories (like the Chamber of Commerce), or local partner sites holds importance.
The approach for auditing a company’s listings and citations varies based on the size and scope of the business and may involve either automated or manual methods.
Utilizing business listings and citation management tools allows for the identification, tracking, and modification of primary citations, including Name, Address, Phone Number (NAP), and relevant business information found in larger listings such as website addresses and business descriptions.
To locate your listings, search your business name if you manage a limited number of locations and have the time. To identify any missed listing and citation chances, search the first 3-4 pages of results for the researched keywords.
Directories and listing sites that rank high in search engine results for specific keywords are considered to be of high value.
Resolving duplicate listings is crucial to prevent customers and search engines from being confused by outdated or inaccurate information.
Local Content Audit
It has been observed that individuals conduct searches in varying ways and have distinct information needs depending on their stage in the purchasing process.
A comprehensive local online presence should have targeted content for every stage of the customer journey to improve visibility and awareness.
A content audit can help ensure that your content covers all the journey buckets that your audience may encounter during their search experience. This way, you increase your chances of being discovered.
Information about products and services can be shared through social media, external channels, or on a company’s website to inform consumers during the early stages of their decision-making process.
This content aims to answer common questions about the topic, including why, how, and what type.
It is geared towards consumers who are actively seeking to purchase a product or service and are in the process of evaluating different vendors or purchase locations. This category of content may consist of evaluations, endorsements, or comparative analyses.
Navigational content is important to ensure that when people search for your brand name or a related term on Google, they are directed to a page that confirms your status as a leader in your industry.
It is recommended to include a clear call to action on this page, assuming that the visitor has a specific intention in mind.
It is targeted towards consumers who have expressed a significant interest in purchasing.
For local businesses to be effective online, it is recommended to have offers, coupons, discounts, and clear purchasing options on their websites and social media pages. In businesses in 2022, creating quality content involves exploring and testing content formats beyond traditional text and images that their audience will find engaging, enjoyable, and shareable.
Video content shared on various platforms such as YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, etc. is easily consumable and tends to be more engaging. It is important to note that social networks have a search function, and any content shared should include relevant keywords and hashtags to increase its visibility.
Google Search Console Review
Google Search Console provides a variety of helpful tools and features at no charge, which encompasses tracking keyword and content performance metrics, indexing capabilities, validating schema/rich results, monitoring mobile/desktop experience, and detecting security/manual actions.
A thorough local SEO audit should involve an examination and assessment of this information to recognize and address the advantages, disadvantages, possibilities, and challenges highlighted in each section.
Website owners and managers should be attentive to issues concerning page crawling/indexing and manual actions taken due to questionable practices, as these can negatively impact search engine visibility.
Google Search Console provides notifications for various issues, including performance updates. However, conducting an audit can help to ensure that all issues have been identified.
Set up Google Analytics to monitor your website’s traffic, user behavior, and conversions. Use this data to identify areas for improvement and track your progress.
Website tracking tools, such as Google Analytics, provide valuable data for audits to confirm high-performing content, traffic sources, audience demographics, and purchasing routes.
Analytics data is important for conducting a content audit. When reviewing your website’s analytics, it may be helpful to consider the following questions:
- Is there a correlation between the pages visit the most and their ranking in search engines?
- Which are my top entry pages from organic search?
- Can you identify which pages or content are not achieving the desired level of organic traffic or engagement?
- Can you provide information on the purchasing process on my site, including opportunities for optimization or streamlining?
- What are the top referring domains and is there potential to use these sites for additional backlinks?
Utilize a web analytics tool, such as Google Analytics, to obtain information necessary for focusing and prioritizing content and keyword optimization efforts.
It is important to examine your backlinks to confirm that they originate from reliable sources and are pertinent to your enterprise.
Backlinks, also known as inbound links, refer to links directed toward your website pages from external third-party websites, much like citations. The significance of links in establishing a website’s authority cannot be overlooked, as they provide credibility, especially when originating from pertinent and reliable sources.
When it comes to SEO, it’s crucial to take into account the potential negative effects of backlinks from non-relevant or non-reputable sites.
Various backlink tools are accessible, either free or paid, like Google Search Console’s link monitoring service, which can aid in auditing.
During an audit of linking domains, it is crucial to promptly recognize any that are unfamiliar or lack credibility or relevance to your local business. It may be necessary to request the removal of a link based on its source, type, and linked content.
A backlink audit can have two benefits: it can help identify potentially valuable sources of backlinks and improve visibility and ranking through link building.
Local businesses can benefit from reputable local sources of links, as they can help validate their location. Various sources can be explored to find potential backlinks:
- Utilize both free and paid backlink research tools like Ahrefs, Semrush, or Majestic to identify any domains where your primary competition has acquired backlinks that you have not.
- When searching for your primary keywords, non-competitive websites that appear in the organic search results can be valuable sources for potential backlinks. Some examples include directories for listing, blogs or articles for commenting on, and publications for submitting articles.
- By analyzing referral sources in Google Analytics, domains where links already exist can be identified, which may provide opportunities for acquiring additional links.
Analyze Local Competitors
Analyze your local competitors’ online presence and identify areas where you can improve. Check their website structure, keywords, backlinks, and online reviews.
To conduct a thorough local SEO audit, it is necessary to analyze and evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of your competitors.
It is recommended to confirm which competitors appear in the search results when entering target keywords, even if you already have a general understanding of your competition. The listed businesses and domains are competitors worth studying to gain valuable insights.
According to a recent Google algorithm update, results related to a business’s immediate proximity are receiving greater emphasis. As a result, it is important to pay close attention to the high-ranking competitors in your closest vicinity.
In order to improve your website’s ranking, it may be helpful to analyze the strategies used by competitors who are currently ranking higher than you.
To surpass your competitors, it’s recommended to enhance the overall experience both online and offline by creating relevant, high-quality content that addresses the inquiries of shared customers.
Based on the results of your local SEO audit, develop a comprehensive local SEO strategy that includes on-page optimization, link building, citation management, review management, and content marketing.
Conducting a professional local SEO audit is a crucial step in optimizing your business’s online presence for local customers. By following these ten simple steps, businesses can identify areas for improvement and develop a comprehensive local SEO strategy that drives traffic, leads, and sales.