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Missing out on the opportunities to increase your visibility online?
Even more, the chances to convert local traffic (web traffic) into conversions that speak revenue?
If yes, this might be your queue to perform a local SEO audit for your business. This Digital Danish Piece comes with a handy checklist on how to do a complete Local SEO Audit.
To begin with, local search is way more competitive than you give it the credit for and the same is the local SEO. For instance, when a user looks for an Italian restaurant near me, Google SERP serves him 3 local options. Besides these, the SERP also includes 10 organic results. On average, the user chooses one of the three options given and that’s it. He might not bother checking out the other options on the list.
If your business fails to secure a rank in the first SERP, you are losing quite a lot of everything that benefits your venture. At the end of the day, your only option is to secure a rank on the first SERP. Because if not, you are losing potential customers as well as conversions.
If you think, the SEO strategy you use is enough to optimize your business locally, you might be wrong. And might I mention, there is always some room for improvement? You could use a couple of changes to maximize the growth. And a good road to start with is to conduct a local SEO audit. Read on to know how to do a complete local SEO audit.
What is a Local SEO Audit?
If there’s anything that one must know about SEO, better known as Search Engine Optimization, it is that SEO is a multi-faceted technique. The technique prominently involves exercises that specialize in enhancing your ranking on the search engine result page. The most commonly used SEO techniques include- keyword analysis, quality content, website optimization, user engagement, etc. But there’s more to it!
Although pretty much the same as traditional SEO, Local SEO is a bit more specific concept of online optimization. Local SEO pertains to SEO strategies and practices that establish and enhance your business’ authority within the specified geographic region. As the trend goes, a significant fraction of your customers look up to you (and the other relevant businesses) online before walking in traditionally. Your rankings on the SERP shall determine if the customer will choose you over your competitors.
SEO Audit can be understood as the process of analyzing the effectiveness of your SEO strategy. As the name suggests, a local SEO audit oversees the technical infrastructure of your website. The purpose is to optimize online visibility, usability, and conversion. A business must perform an SEO audit regularly to keep a check on its performance growth. Read the following column to understand the importance of performing a local SEO audit.
Why is it important to perform an SEO (Local) Audit?
How often do you call for car servicing?
Or may I reframe the question another way around, why do you call for car servicing now and then. The obvious answer is to extend the longevity of the car. And of course, to ensure it runs at the best-operating costs while giving the optimum gas mileage.
Regularly scheduled car service would ensure your vehicle is in ideal condition for running. The same is the SEO Audit. Just as car servicing, SEO audit reviews and analyses multiple aspects that affect your website’s performance. SEO audit is a mandate to modify your current SEO strategy for maximum ROI. It ensures your SEO plan is to date. Failing to conduct a regular SEO audit would mean neglecting the long-term growth of your business (website). If you skip local SEO audits, you are losing a chance to optimize your website. This shall lead to your business losing website traffic as well as potential customers and conversions.
The following are the reasons that necessitate conducting an SEO audit.
- Algorithm Updates: The search engines roll out new algorithm updates once in a while. These updates are aimed to provide better search results. Conducting SEO audits regularly would mean you are keeping a check on these algorithm changes. It would also mean that you are updating your website accordingly.
- Webmaster Guidelines: The webmaster tools are a great help in maintaining online visibility. However, to keep up with the new changes, these are changing continually. Eventually, the need of the hour is to be compliant.
- Outdated Content: Nobody wants to visit and revisit a website offering outdated content. To increase user engagement on your website, you should provide not just relevant content but also fresh content. Besides publishing new content, you should also re-evaluate or remove the outdated content.
- Titles and Meta Data: Securing a rank in the SERP isn’t the only thing you need to earn visitors. You must also be mindful to create title tags and meta descriptions that are relevant to the contents on your webpage (and website). Wondering why?
Well, that is because title tags and meta descriptions are amongst the first things that users read before they decide to visit the website.
- Broken Links: It is of utmost importance that your website (and the webpages) does not have any broken links or error messages. An SEO audit shall bring to attention these errors and dead links. You can now redirect them.
How to do a Complete Local SEO Audit?
Initially, performing a local SEO audit might seem intimidating, especially if you are new to it. But that shouldn’t stop you or affect your audit. Because there’s no other way to drive your business towards growth. However, doing things in an organized manner can ease your struggle. Here’s how to do a complete local SEO audit easily.
- Your Why
You might expect me to suggest that you get your webmaster tools ready and prepared to start the local SEO audit. But no, the first step into conducting a local SEO audit is to know why you are performing it. The obvious answer to a majority is to expose the errors and flaws within their SEO strategy. And I dare not contradict the same. Because a local SEO audit is nothing but a thorough analysis of your local SEO strategy. It paves the way into modifying and improving the current SEO tactic with a clear mindset of better results.
An SEO audit unveils the problems and penalties imposed on your website. Chances are, you are already under a search engine penalty and you are not aware of it. An unknown penalty can easily undermine all your efforts of growth unless the needed action is taken.
The three factors that lay the foundation of local search rankings include:
- Proximity: It refers to how closely you cater to the users’ search intent.
- Prominence: Prominence in SERP ranking indicates how prominent or recognized your brand/business is. In digital marketing, prominence synonymizes backlinks, citations, mentions in third-party articles, and reviews.
- Relevance: You must be mindful to create content that is relevant to the terms being searched. If not, there’s no way you can earn a top rank in the SERP.
- Local SEO Audit
Once you know your reason for performing the local SEO audit and have content that serves the clients just right, your next step is to start the actual SEO audit. You must know that performing an SEO audit involves three aspects of your SEO strategy/plan-
- On-Page SEO
- Off-Page SEO
- Technical SEO
Here, you shall find the flaws that prohibit your website from ranking high.
Accordingly, you can adjust your strategy. We shall discuss how to do a complete local SEO audit in the sections penned below.
The Local SEO Audit Checklist Involves
Here I present a comprehensive local SEO checklist on how to do a complete local SEO audit. As you read, you shall discover multiple factors that affect your search engine optimization strategy. Also, shall you learn to use these at your resort and improve your local search ranking?
First things first!
The best place to start your local SEO audit is the KWs acronym for keywords. When I say keywords, I mean Keywords as well as the relevant phrases. Keywords can help you determine where you stand in the competition. Upon auditing, you learn about the keywords for which you have a strong momentum online. There will be certain KWs that wouldn’t be as effective. So, you must stop wasting your time and efforts on them.
The best tactic is to focus on keywords and phrases that offer good chances to rank high and drive traffic. Until you are efficient enough to build a local organic authority, the focus of keywords that drive results in short-term spans.
You can use any of the prominent keyword search tools to automate the process. Also, use these tools to assign the value of keywords (e.g., KWs frequency). You can resort to manual searches as well. Once the keyword analysis is completed, create your content accordingly. While paying attention to the keyword volume, do not forget to cater to the search intent of the users.
The next step in your local SEO audit is to conduct a full-fledged technical website audit. The purpose is to optimize your website for maximum online crawlability, indexability, and visibility. Usually, a website audit involves analyzing the technical structure of the website, content quality, engagement, and overall website experience.
There are several webmaster tools available at your resort to auditing the website while pinpointing the issues and actions needed to be taken. To understand the concept of website auditing and optimization, you can break the same into the following parts.
- Page optimization: Page optimization is also known as web page optimization. It ensures that all the pages across your website are well-structured. They should have content that serves its purpose well (drives website traffic) and provides a positive user experience.
The web crawlers analyze the webpage to determine what questions it can answer. The crawlers primarily focus on page titles, headings, and meta descriptions to analyze the same. Because the webpages, in general, are keyword-focused, it is recommended to maintain the KWs variation throughout the page, let alone Titles, URLs, headings, and meta descriptions.
The website audit of your local SEO audit shall bring to attention the missing title tags, headings, and meta descriptions.
- Website Speed
It is of utmost essential for a business to have a website that loads instantly. It may come as a surprise but your website speed is one of the many factors to determine if the user will stay or leave the webpage. Thus, it is a vital step to your local SEO audit.
Use the Google Page Speed Insight Tools to perform an instant audit of your website on mobile and desktops. The website speed test will highlight if theirs is a need to improve the page speed.
- Internal Link Audit
With time, several links within your website become stale or dead. Reasons could vary between deletion, moving, or outdated content. The internal link audit will assist you in identifying the potential misdirected and broken links.
Yet another perk of conducting the internal link audit involves the identification of opportunities to crosslink web pages.
- Schema Review
To answer the questions (search queries) directly, Google introduced the featured snippets. Recently, these featured snippets have been overriding the traditional search results. For a local business to feature in featured snippets, it must publish high-quality content. The business must also use the structured markup to tag content such as business details and FAQs.
- Mobile Audit
Today, for an online business to succeed, device-friendliness is one of the musts. You must update your website to provide a positive mobile web experience. The same can be done via fast site speed, easy navigation, and seamless user experience.
To make things easy on your part, you can use free mobile-testing tools offered by Google Search Console.
- Duplicate Content
Original, fresh, and high-quality content is the key!
You must create and publish nothing besides the original content on your website. Also, if you are to ever come across the contents/web pages that aren’t created by you, let Google know.
Just add the canonical tag to the HTML header of the webpage. Failing to do so can affect your rankings on the SERP. It may also hurt your brand authority.
- Google Business Profile
Abbreviated as GBP, Google Business Profile offers an effectively visible point to showcase the presence of local businesses. For a local business to establish visibility and authority in local search results and Google Maps, it is important to create a profile on GBP.
GBP audit revolves around the accuracy and completeness of Google Business Profile because just the creation of a GBP profile isn’t enough. Your Google Business Profile must include the following information.
- Business Information
- Location Details
- Primary Business Category
- Hours of Operations/Working Hours
- Pin location on Google Maps
- Categorization (physical location/service area business)
- Appointment Links
- Informational Content
- Contact Details
A local business with an accurate and complete Google Business Profile is viewed as a reliable stop. If there comes a need, you can always access and edit your business information.
- Review Management
When given the opportunity, the local business customers are always willing to write reviews. Might I specify, these reviews are published on GBP. Your potential target group of customers can check these reviews and decide to choose (or not choose) you accordingly.
Once a customer writes and submits a review, Google notifies you. You are to respond to the reviews (both positive and negative reviews) immediately. Conducting a review audit will ensure that you haven’t fallen back anywhere. The audit will also help you identify issues concerning customer services and satisfaction.
Hit the search engine with “Your Business Name’ reviews” to discover the reviews about your business on other websites.
- Local Business Listings and Citations
The citations and local business listings confirm that it is a local business with reputable authority in the given geographic area. This provides search engines with a way to recognize your brand authority and index you accordingly.
Therefore, you must ensure listing your local business in prominent business directories, local directories, review sites, and local partner sites. You can perform the local SEO audit for the local business listings and citations in automated as well as the manual method. While listing your business for local directories and citations, give all the pertinent details about your business including NAP(E).
P.S.: NAP(E) refers to the name, address, phone number, and email address.
The local business listings and citation audit also involve finding and resolving any duplicate listings or inaccurate details.
- Local Content
There’s this specific buying journey that a user undergoes while buying any product or service -awareness, consideration, decision. Depending upon which stage the customer is in, he will need different information about you.
With a well-structured local web presence, you provide your customers with content tailored to their needs. And that is because you want to be found by your potential customer throughout his buying journey. For instance:
- The informational content to educate and induce awareness about your products and services.
- Transactional content is for the users who know what they want to purchase. However, they are yet to decide where to go.
- The navigational content comes into action when the user chooses you over your competition.
- The commercial content caters to the users who are in the decision phase of their buying journey.
To direct your customers towards buying, you must share offers, coupons, and discount details on your social media profiles as well as local business websites. Offer your customers nothing besides quality content.
- Google Search Console
Google Search Console is your ultimate pal in performing a complete local SEO audit. Wondering why?
Well, that is because Google Search Console is an efficient and handy web service offered by Google. It aids webmasters in auditing their websites to optimize the same.
This platform shall assist you in performing a complete automated SEO audit. Rest assured, you will be able to identify the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities as well as threats in your website. By threats, I mean search engine penalties.
The Search console not just audits your website, it sends a notification for serious issues. Also, it notifies you of the regular performance updates.
Backlinks work just as well as the citations. The only difference being backlinks direct the users to your webpage from third-party websites. They establish the brand authority of your website (business). However, they are beneficial only if they come from reputable sources.
Backlinks from non-relevant or non-reputable sources can hinder your growth potential. At times, these links can be created without your knowledge. And this is when backlinks auditing becomes necessary. There are several paid and free tools available that assist in auditing backlinks.
- Competitor Analysis (Audit Competitor’s local SEO)
Isn’t a successful business ultimately about outrunning your competition?
Of course, it is. Therefore, any SEO audit is incomplete without competitor analysis. You need to identify the strengths and weaknesses of your competitors just as much as your own. Chances are, you already know who your rival is. However, it is always recommended to confirm the same via local SEO auditing. To devise the best effective plan, you must know who appears at the top of the search results pages for your targeted keywords.
The ones appearing above you in the SERPs are your true competition. You need to learn from them to override them. You need to analyze your competitors via local SEO audit to learn what they may be doing to secure high organic ranks. Follow the same steps on how to do a complete local SEO audit on your competitor’s website.
- Site Engagement
Ever wondered, what happens when a user (or potential customer) discovers you on the search engine result page?
Let me tell you!
He visits your website. Here your aim should be to engage him in your business. The factors like click-through rate, dwell time, bounce rate and conversions make up the site (website engagement). You might find this surprising but the website engagement speaks a lot about the business and its services.
And ranking high on the SERP is never enough until your business has good site engagement. The thumb rule is, ‘more site engagement means more conversion’.
Consider Google Analytics to examine your customer’s website engagement metrics.
- Google Penalties
Google Penalties are a sort of punishment imposed by Google on the websites that conflict with the marketing practices and algorithm of Google. Getting a Google penalty can be a bummer to your business. It can undermine the months of hard work you have invested in your website.
Every month millions of websites are imposed with Google penalties. And only a small fraction of them submit a reconsideration request. The reconsideration request is a way to fix the issue and let Google know about the same. Once the search engine analyzes your correction, it shall lift the penalty.
A very common indicator of getting a Google Penalty is the drop in website traffic and SERP rankings. But that isn’t always the case. Sometimes, you need to manually locate the same. You can log in to your Google Webmaster Tools and check for notifications manually.
- Ongoing Strategy
Having performed the local SEO audit for the aforesaid buckets, you have come more than the way. Now the last step is to acknowledge the flaws of your ongoing SEO strategy. Take time to analyze the crack in your website and devise an SEO strategy with a clear picture to resolve the issues.
Once you have formulated the right tactic, do not procrastinate on the task at hand. Pull your socks up and start implementing the same for best results.
After completing the local SEO audit of your website, you will be left with an extensive list of tasks to be completed. This list shall include immediate actions to be taken besides the changes to be done to optimize your business locally. Start with the easy tasks like action plant to cater to the Keywords and content quality. Thereafter you can consult the new SEO tactic with your digital marketer.
Do not forget to review the local SEO audit items regularly once between 6-12 months.