Maintaining a website for your local business requires time, and the more you put into it, the better results you’ll see.
Yet, even if you’ve already incorporated an SEO strategy to ensure you reach targeted audiences, how do you know what you’ve put in place is working?
Since practically everything is done online today, it only makes sense that you need to set a schedule to check your SEO efforts. It’s not a “set it and let it ride” scenario.
You have to take the reins, stay involved, and accept that steps need to be taken to ensure success. One way to achieve this is to regularly schedule a quality local SEO audit.
Keep reading to learn all about it.
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What is a Local SEO Audit?
A local SEO Audit is a specialized assessment of your online presence and how your website is currently ranking on search engine results pages (SERPs).
It will clue you into the strengths and weaknesses of your website and where to make adjustments.
You’ll also gain information on specific areas and steps you can take to increase your chances of showing up higher in those rankings, reaching a bigger audience, and increasing sales.
In simple terms, you can consider it a survey or checklist to methodically work through to ensure your site is working for you.
Why Should You Conduct a Local SEO Audit?
Local SEO focuses on establishing relevance and authority within a particular, defined geographic area.
For this, you’ll first need to prove to Google that you are the best solution or answer to a local consumer’s query in order to rank high enough to have a chance.
One way to help you achieve this is to conduct periodic local SEO audits.
A quality local SEO audit means you don’t waste time on efforts that can’t help and instead narrows your focus to beneficial actions.
You can find out how your website is currently performing, where any issues are emerging, and the best opportunities to work on.
If you notice website traffic has fallen off or you have dropped in search engine rankings, the audit can also assist you in finding out the reasons for this and point you in the right direction.
How to Perform Your Quality Local SEO Audit
Every business is unique. Still, there are specific factors in common that can be reviewed during a quality SEO audit. Here are eight of those to get you started.
1. Examine your Google Business profile
Your Google Business profile is crucial to your search engine rankings.
First, confirm you have claimed and verified your profile account.
Next, determine if it is accurate and comprehensive, as these are crucial to establishing your visibility in search results and placement on Google Maps.
A complete and accurate profile listing has a higher chance of you appearing as a reliable and trustworthy local resource, traits recognized by Google.
Check your profile and determine if the following information is accurate and comprehensive:
- Business Name
- Business address and phone number
- Business hours of operation
- Primary business category
- List of products or services
- Overall informational content
Make sure everything entered represents your business and what you offer. Also, check for any reviews that have gone unanswered and respond.
2. Explore Google Penalties
Assessed penalties by Google can go unnoticed but can dramatically affect your SEO results.
One way you might see this is a drop in local search engine rankings. The most common penalty causes include:
- Unnatural linking structures from or to your website
- Mysterious mobile redirects
- Overly thin website content
- User-generated spam
One way to find out about any assessed penalties is to check your Google Search Console for notifications.
These notifications will provide more information about the cause for the penalty and help you determine what to do to correct the issue.
You can also seek out a Manual Actions Report from the Console to identify any penalties. If you find one, make corrections, then submit a reconsideration request to the search engine.
3. Check your keyword targeting
Keywords are central to everything you do on your website when it comes to content.
Local SEO is specialized, however, and you’ll need to make sure you are using the particular keywords that target your location.
More specifically, begin by analyzing which of your overall keywords are ranking. You can accomplish this by using one of the online tools available today, such as Moz.
Next, look for keywords that are location-based, alerting customers that you are nearby. These may include such simple terms as “dentist near me.”
If you find you aren’t targeting any or enough local keywords, try adding more, such as geo-modified ones like “dentist in Boston” or “Memphis Real Estate Lawyer.”
4. Search for duplicate pages
Duplicate content on your website can directly impact your ranking in local searches and not in a good way.
Google is adamant in its warning about using duplicate content, which it sees as deceptive. The search engine places priority with original content that provides something valuable to a searcher.
Auditing your website for duplicate content, then, is essential if you want to rank higher and reach local audiences.
Go through each page on your site, and ensure you have unique content on each one. Also, check Google Business to be sure you don’t have duplicate listings.
5. Test your landing pages and make sure they’re crawlable
Pay close attention to your website landing pages.
Check to see that the NAP (Name-Address-Phone) information on each page is correct and matches what’s on your Google Business profile. By doing so, you ensure it is crawlable for positive results.
Include high-quality, unique content on your landing pages. If you’re unsure about the uniqueness of that content, test it by copying a section and using it to conduct a Google search.
Analyze what comes up in the results. Is your website ranking high for this cluster of words, or do other sites jump ahead of you in the rankings?
Make sure most of the content on the landing page is unique, and include your location (city and state) somewhere on the page.
Also, test to see if your landing page continues to be indexed. If you haven’t touched it in a while, copy the page URL and do a Google search on it.
If it doesn’t come up, you’ll need to find out why, including the potential of Google penalties or a problem with the site architecture.
6. Inspect backlinks
Backlinks on your website are an essential component of your SEO strategy and can create authority for you.
However, you want those backlinks to come from reputable and relevant sources. Less reputable or non-relevant sites can negatively impact your SEO.
Some may be spam-related, others may be a deceiving practice of certain websites. Either way, search engines will notice and can limit the trustworthiness of your site.
Make it a priority, then, to inspect toxic backlinks at least once or twice a year. You can utilize the help of available backlink tools, many of which are free.
One place to begin is to go to your Google Search Console and find its link monitoring service.
Take a look at each one that you find, and also look at the anchor text for the backlink. Is it useful and helpful to a reader, or does it seem random or unnatural?
7. Pay attention to engagement metrics
It’s one thing to have high website traffic; it’s completely another to have high engagement with your content.
The level of engagement with your website and with your social media accounts is a far better indicator for search engine algorithms.
The higher it is, the higher quality your local business will be viewed by search engines.
During your local SEO audit, pay attention to the various engagement metrics available to help you discern what is and isn’t happening.
You can find paid online tools to help with this, but the best place to start is with Google Analytics. Beneficial metrics include:
To check on social media engagement, most platforms offer their own analysis feature to help you stay on top of this important SEO factor.
8. Review ratings and feedback
Ratings and feedback from visitors and customers can play a big role in your SEO results, so it only makes sense to review them during your local audit.
Both of these can build trust and drive more traffic to your website.
To review your ratings, identify online review sites where your business is listed, such as Yelp.
Examine each one to see where you are in terms of a star rating. What is the average star rating for your business?
Next, review the feedback, also referred to as reviews, and determine the following:
- Is the feedback more positive or negative?
- Is there a pattern in the reviews that can point you to a change that needs to be made?
- Are there any common elements, such as recurring reviews, that point to a negative feature? (e.g., messy shelves, poor packaging, or slow check-outs)
- Do you respond to comments and reviews?
If you aren’t already responding to feedback, start now.
By doing so, you create an image of being responsive and actively engaging with reviewers. Search engines like Google will notice, and this can be a beneficial factor in ranking higher.
You may also need to start encouraging customers to leave reviews on different sites. There are many ways to do this, such as offering a special incentive to those that do.
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Local businesses today require special practices when it comes to reaching their audience and positioning themselves higher up in local search engine rankings.
Conducting a quality local SEO audit at least once or twice per year can make all the difference, helping you identify what is working and what needs refining or replacing.
Make it a part of your practice, create a checklist to follow, and watch as you move up in those search result rankings.
Ready to learn more ways to reach wider audiences with your local SEO strategy? Listen in on our recorded jam session today!