How To Do A Local SEO Audit

Local search results contain critical information that directs people to your location and additional details to contact and visit you. But how do you know if your local search engine optimization (SEO) efforts are effective? A local SEO audit reveals where your page stands in SEO rankings and how to further improve your site for increased conversions and revenue.

If you are a local business, one of the most important things you need to do is develop your local SEO. Local SEO is a little different from regular SEO and while the broad strokes are the same, the details will vary slightly.

How To Do A Local SEO Audit

This is why you need to perform a local SEO audit. You can take the pulse of your current position on the web while looking at what your direct competitors are doing. Performing an audit may seem scary, but it doesn't have to be. In fact, we're going to walk you through how to perform a local SEO audit in less than an hour.

Let's get started.

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What Is A Local SEO Audit?

Before you begin your guide to performing a local SEO audit, it's essential to explain what a local SEO audit means.

Local SEO solutions - which help more local searchers find and contact your business - don't happen by magic. It takes inspection and ongoing work to drive interested customers to your brick-and-mortar location. In the form of an audit, you can use a local SEO audit checklist to study the ins and outs of your site.

If your business depends on Google Maps listings, or if you want people to find your establishment with "near me" or a specific city, you need to dominate the local SEO game. 

How To Do A Local SEO Audit

An audit of your specific local SEO practices helps diagnose your site's strengths and weaknesses in attracting real people to your store, boutique, office, or outlet. With a local SEO audit tool and resources, you can examine your on-page and off-page SEO against region-specific keywords.  

How Do I Do A Local SEO Audit?

When people do a local SEO audit, they are sometimes overwhelmed by the number of things they feel like they need to do immediately. If the pages aren't optimized and the listings aren't perfect, your website is destined to sink to the depths of Google and never be seen again, right?

That's not true.

An audit is part of the process of giving you a complete local SEO strategy. From the results of the audit, you can define what needs to be done and the steps to take. Don't feel like you have to rush and fix everything immediately. Take the time to make these changes and improve your SEO rankings as much as possible.

So what are these steps?

9 Easy Steps To A Successful Local SEO Audit

While you want your actual store to be accessible to customers in your area, the Internet is a valuable asset in letting them know about your establishment. According to Google, over the past two years, mobile searches in the "near me" category with some alteration of "buy" have increased by more than 500%.

With the substantial increase in local shopping searches, it's worth investing in a local SEO audit for your business. Fortunately, you can perform a free local SEO audit by following these steps.

You can also use WebFX's SEO Checker tool to get quick results on your site's performance right away. Read on for instructions specific to your region to increase your business' visibility and growth.  

1. Manage Google Business Profile

How To Do A Local SEO Audit

Formerly Google My Business, Google Business Profile is an initial requirement for fully functional local SEO.

Google Business Profile places your business listing on regular search results pages and on Google Maps. If you don't already have a verified Google Business Profile account, your local SEO audit should start with creating an account.

If you do have an account, it's worth reviewing your account and listing to optimize them for search engine users.

Sift through all the information associated with your business to give an authentic representation of your services, products, location, hours, and additional information. Google uses relevance, distance, and prominence to evaluate listings, so evaluate how you can change your listing to promote good rankings.  

2. Examine Your Keyword Targeting

Keywords are a major component of SEO - even local SEO optimization. However, local SEO requires special keywords that relate to your area and target your desired region.

To perform an analysis of your localized keywords, you need to look at the keywords you are ranking for. Using tools such as Moz's Keyword Explorer, you can see for free which keywords are currently benefiting your campaign.  

How To Do A Local SEO Audit

Then you can go through your rankings and identify any location-based terms that help you stand out to nearby customers. For example, "Panera near me" is a highly ranked keyword for Panera, which is a testament to its good SEO score.

Organic keywords that attract visitors are important to strengthen your SEO campaign with a stronger local presence. Geo-modifying local keywords for SEO can skyrocket your visibility.

Geo-modified keywords are existing keywords enhanced with location-specific keywords. For example, you can add "Austin, TX" to "bagel shop" to modify it for the city. Browsing the top keywords of your close competitors can also be helpful to your SEO strategy.

In addition to the usual keyword placement in the title, your localized keywords should also appear in the meta tags. From the meta title tag to the meta description tag, make sure your keywords are inserted in every part of your page to meet Google's standards and attract users. 

3. Competitor Research

How To Do A Local SEO Audit

One of the most important steps in a local SEO audit is to check out what exactly your competitors are doing. How do you want to outrank them if you don't know their strategy?

You don't need to do extensive research on every competitor, but you do need to know who you're competing against, to begin with. If you're not sure, start by Googling the keywords you've found. From there, make a list of the top 5-10 competitors in your niche. This number may vary depending on factors such as location, local area, etc.

You should look at things like:

- Their GMB profile
- Rankings for the KWs you've selected
- Local listings
- Number and presence of comments
- Basic social media presence.

Most of this information can be pulled from a quick Google search. It's best to put them into a spreadsheet to get the full picture.

4. Discover Harmful Duplicate Content

How To Do A Local SEO Audit

While every site has duplicate content - such as terms and conditions or printer-only versions of a page - some types of duplicate content hurt your SEO and prevent your page from appearing in local searches.

Google specifically warns against misleading matching copies but offers several options for necessary duplicate content.

If you have multiple versions of a page with different URLs, canonicalization tells Google which page you want to be crawled and seen first. This means that you are telling the search engine the primary URL of a page, which reduces the chances of duplicate content appearing.

Checking your local SEO is crucial for search rankings, but it's also helpful to look for duplicates in Google My Business. Giving a listing more weight means Google sees you as a viable result. By eliminating duplicates, you also avoid incorrect addresses, phone numbers, and details.

Outdated information can often be merged on Google My Business to avoid losing reviews or decreasing the authority of your original listing.  

5. Control Backlinks

How To Do A Local SEO Audit

Good backlinking continues to play an important role in SEO, and in local SEO optimization, descriptive phrases for your area can help or hurt depending on how you use them.

Rogue links and spam backlinks can decrease the trustworthiness of your page in the eyes of search engines, so look for the nature of the links to your pages.

Unnatural anchor text in backlinks can alert Google to questionable behavior, so examine the anchor phrases that link back to your page. Make sure the majority of them are appropriate and useful, so you can feel confident in your local SEO rankings.

As part of your local SEO audit, backlink analysis keeps you aware of potential penalties. It allows you to take action if you're concerned about spam-heavy links, and to quickly use the Nofollow attribute to signal your disapproval to Google. 

6. Check Citations and Mentions For Your Local SEO Audit

How To Do A Local SEO Audit

In addition to link popularity, citations and mentions - when other sites talk about your brand without necessarily linking - help shape your local SEO. Citations reference your name, address, and phone number (nicknamed NAP), which is helpful for users if they need to call you or stop by your store.

High-quality local citations can fill in the gaps regarding your authority and reach for search engines, and during your local SEO audit, you should track your citations and mentions to understand the level of return you are getting for the physical establishment.

Consistency in the NAP is essential because old phone numbers or address changes can be problematic for customers. Google and other search engines value user satisfaction, so pay attention to NAP variations during your local SEO audit.  

7. Analyze Social Media Platforms

Your social media influence and reach can inflate your local SEO as search engine algorithms tend to include social elements. Inspect the search engine results page to see if your social profiles appear in the organic rankings.

How To Do A Local SEO Audit

Additionally, Google's knowledge graph contains social media profiles, which can improve the user experience when users can navigate to and from your active profiles. 

8. Review Your Reviews

How To Do A Local SEO Audit

One of the most important aspects of running a business is getting online reviews. More than 90% of Americans say they trust online reviews, so a small number of reviews with only one star can cause your business to fail.

Do you have a lot of reviews? If not, what can you do to get more? Do you respond to reviews?

Responding to reviews is a way to show Google that you are an active business that continues to participate and pay attention to your customers. In fact, it's a sneaky and important ranking factor. For your reviews, make a plan on how to get more reviews and how best to respond to customers who are not satisfied.  

9. Start Your SEO Strategy

How To Do A Local SEO Audit

Now that you've done the local SEO audit, it's time to start developing your SEO strategy. You've done the groundwork and now it's time to start taking concrete steps. To get to the next part, it's important to remember a few things.

The first thing to remember is that patience is key. SEO is a long game and it will probably take months before you start to see yourself climb the SEO rankings.

The second, which goes hand in hand with the first, is to not get caught up in the daily rankings. We often see people frustrated because they search for their service and city and don't see it climb. Be conscientious and smart, and celebrate the small steps. 

Conclusion

Performing a local SEO audit may seem like an overwhelming task, but it doesn't have to be. You can complete all these steps in just under an hour. Remember, this is just an audit and not a list of things you need to do immediately. Good SEO takes time and even if you want to see results right away, a complete audit is the first step to climbing the rankings and seeing more results. 

FAQs About Local SEO Audit

Are SEO audits worth it?

SEO audits can help you identify opportunities to improve your website's performance, better understand your competitors' marketing strategies, and ultimately make your business more money. Even if you think your website is perfectly healthy, you may be surprised by what an SEO audit can reveal. 

Why do I need an SEO audit?

An SEO audit provides an overview of your website, identifying areas that need to be improved so that you can rank higher in organic search results. Search engines change their algorithms regularly. Therefore, it's helpful to review your website and determine the impact of these changes on your business.  

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