Conducting a Local SEO Audit
You likely already know that most potential new customers and leads to your business will first look online to find the local services they need or a problem they need solving, whether it be for a fitness instructor, a plumber, a landscaper, a party planner… basically anything!
In fact, the statistics are quite astonishing … 97% of people who needed to find a local business for their needs first initiated some sort of search online!
Over 85% of people who look up the location of a business do so by using Google Maps.
What Does This Mean?
There are loads of factors that go into search engine optimization (SEO), so it is quite challenging to figure out where to start. Business owners might face a couple of issues when dealing with this challenge.
Maybe you don’t know how to go about evaluating your web presence, or maybe you’re unsure about the relationship between local search and regular search.
Whatever hurdles are in your path, the first step toward improving your search rankings is to perform a local SEO audit. Here’s how to do it.
Step 1 – Contact Information
The primary goal of search engine marketing (SEM) for any local business is to generate more calls and more sales. Potential customers need to know how to contact you in order for your marketing campaign to be successful.
Make sure that all of your relevant contact info is accurately listed on your website. At a minimum this would be your business name, address, and phone number, commonly known as NAP. It is important to include your email address as well if you have one that customers can contact you at.
Not only does this information need to be present on your website, but it also needs to be clearly visible and should be listed in multiple places.
We suggest having a dedicated contact page, including the contact info in both the header and footer, and anywhere else you feel would be beneficial for your visitors.
It would also be wise to include links to any social media pages you might have next to your contact info. For example have a look at this footer on the website of a laundromat in Florida:
Step 2 – Keyword Analysis
Start your keyword analysis by checking your meta data. You want to have relevant keywords in your title, meta description, and H1 header tags. If you don’t know how to find your relevant keywords, check out Tip #1 here, which explains how to do keyword research.
There are also tools you can use to quickly analyze your meta data, such as Screaming Frog.
Next, see how your business is currently ranking in Google and other search engines. Type your business name and city into the search bar and check how well you’re ranked. Take note of your placement in both the local search and regular search results.
In this particular exercise, you want to be at the point where you’re ranked very well and are placed in that top 3 “local pack”.
After searching your specific business name + city, try searching some other relevant phrases that you found during your keyword research. Knowing which keywords your website is performing well for and which ones it is not is important for your success.
A tool that can help with this type of keyword analysis is SEMrush. Just type in your website URL, hit enter, and the results will show a table of relevant keywords with search volume, your ranking, and more.
Step 3 – Check for Duplicate Content
The main thing that search engines don’t like about duplicate content is spam. Sometimes your site will necessarily have duplicate content, your header and footer for example, and this is ok. However, you want to be sure that there isn’t so much duplicate content as to create a bad user experience.
You can run this check by going to SiteLiner.com. You can navigate through the summarized information using the menu in the top-left, or analyze each page individually by clicking on the respective row.
Step 4 – Website Speed and Responsiveness
Speed and responsiveness are crucial factors for your web performance.
It is well-documented that website speed is a factor in most search engine algorithms. In addition, a slow site will cause your customers to leave. Just one second of added page load time can cause sales to drop by 27%!
Check your website speed at gtmetrix.com. Your score should be above 80%.
Responsiveness refers to how well your website design translates to mobile devices. A website that is not mobile-ready will be unattractive to view on a phone, and might cause the user to need to zoom in and out, scroll around, or find elements appearing in the wrong places.
Nearly 60% of all searches are now done on mobile devices, and about 8 of 10 people will leave a site if it doesn’t display properly on their device.
Make sure your website displays properly on every device at responsivetool.com.
Step 5 – Your Account with Google My Business
Hopefully you’ve already created and verifies a Google My Business listing. If not, create one now at www.google.com/business/. You’ll then need to verify it which is usually done by mail.
Make sure that your information is filled out as completely as possible. Double check your business category to confirm you chose the best one possible.
Your business description should be thorough and detailed. Make it readable and compelling to people who come across your listing.
Adding a cover photo and logo can build trust with the viewer by giving them a glimpse into who you are. Notice below that one of the business doesn’t have a cover photo… what are the chances that you’d click on that one before the others?
Confirm that all relevant information is included in your profile and is accurate – the more information the better. Include all services, attributes, business hours, etc.
Step 6 – Check for Backlink Penalties
Search engines will penalize you if there are sketchy links to your website from untrustworthy sources.
Go to Moz Link Explorer to analyze your backlink profile. After entering your URL, the first thing you want to look at is your spam score. If it is 3 or over then there is a chance of being penalized by Google.
Next, look through the different anchors. You want the anchor phrases to be focused on your business or brand rather than keywords. If too many anchors are keyword rich then it could be cause for concern. For more information on this, check out this article from Yoast.
Step 7 – Citation Audit
Search engines want to bring their users to popular websites, and citations act as votes from other websites and reviewers. Review sites are great places to easily gain citations, and more quality citations will lead to better rankings in the local search.
Moz Local is a great tool that will give you a percentage score based on the number of claimed citations and the number of missing/incomplete/inaccurate listings. You can then use the tool to find out where you can improve.
Final Thoughts About Your Local SEO Audit
Search Engine Marketing is one of the most effective ways to get more customers and grow your business. If you’re unsure about how well you are performing online, working your way through the steps listed above will be an enlightening process.
We encourage you to browse through the rest of our website to learn how to optimize your web presence one you’ve learned which areas could use improvement. SEO can be a daunting task, so please reach out to us and we’d be glad to assist you.
While it can be beneficial to understand the process of performing a SEO audit, we also understand that your primary responsibility is running your business and serving your customers. That’s why we offer a FREE web performance audit report to our readers! Simply fill out the form below and we’ll send you a detailed, customized report ASAP!
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