A Step-by-Step Guide to Conduct a Local SEO Audit (The Right Way)
Local SEO is a fast evolving part of the online realm, and every business owner out there needs to learn to leverage it to earn more customers. If you’ve kept up with the recent updates from the Google I/O keynote address, you’ll see that local search is meant to empower every consumer to do much more from just a smartphone.
Google has raised the bar for a user’s search experience by making information in the search results more comprehensive and actionable. And by “actionable,” we mean that this information is fitted with call-to-actions [CTAs] that allow users to perform actions directly from mobile search results. Take a look at this business listing for example. Isn’t it something that makes search results a valuable resource for everyone?
Given how this trend is reshaping search as we know it, business owners need to make sure their online presence is equipped with local SEO. Once you run a local SEO audit on your business’ website ]online presence, you can offer a really good search experience to your potential customers.
So, when you’re conducting a local SEO audit, you’ll be determining the areas in your business’ online presence that needs local SEO optimization. But before we begin with the local SEO audit for your business, you need to ask yourself one important thing
Are you using the right keywords? Conduct a Keyword Research
Keyword research is an important part of your local SEO audit. It will help you determine the keywords that you want to be discovered for on the search engine results page (SERPs). You need to make sure that you find these keywords and use them wherever required. Example: your website’s title tag, your page content, meta descriptions, etc.
To begin your keyword research, you’ll need to have an idea of what your customers are looking for when they conduct online searches. You can do this by making a list of the possible keywords your potential customers are bound to search for with regard to your business. Make sure you look up the search volume for these terms, so you target the keywords that will fetch you more customers. You can use a tool like Google Keyword Planner to come up with keyword ideas along with their search volume.
For example, if you’re the owner of a pet store that also undertakes grooming and sells pet supplies, you’ll need to focus on keywords like “Pet Stores in [City Name]”, “Flea Collars for Cats” or “Pet Grooming Services”.
Once you run these keywords through Google Keyword Planner, you’ll receive data points like search volume, the estimated bid and the level of competition. Based on this information, you can pick the best-suited keyword to optimize your local SEO to its full potential.
Now, it is a matter of placing the keywords you found in right places to see how your local SEO is faring and make any necessary improvements. That brings us to the next point. Additionally, you also need to track the performance of the keywords you’re ranking for that, you can use tools like Authority Labs, SEO Profiler, or Unamo.
So, once you have your target keyword in place, you’re ready to begin your local SEO audit.
#1 – Are Your Title Tags Optimized Correctly?
“What is a title tag?”, you ask?
It’s quite self-explanatory: a title tag is a part of a website’s HTML code that helps search engine crawlers learn the title of a website or a webpage. Take a look at the image below; the Text underlined is what your average title tag looks like on the SERPs.
And this is where a title tag appears in a webpage’s source code.
Here’s how you frame a title tag:
- Make sure it has your target keyword (the one that you obtained from your keyword research audit).
- Make it click-worthy and enticing. Notice how Cracked.com has made a claim: “America’s Only Humor Site.”
- Your title tag needs to be relevant to your page content.
- Write a title tag that is within 60 characters.
- Make sure that it is unique – that is – it doesn’t appear on other webpages. If repeated, it will count as duplicate content to search engine crawlers, resulting in the dreaded Google penalties,
- Add your location to your title tag to maximize the chances of appearing on searches. For example, “Flowers for All Occasions – Big Bouquet | Brooklyn, NYC”
#2 – Are Your URLs SEO-friendly?
Making sure your web pages have structured and SEO-friendly URLs is a significant part of your local SEO audit. Imagine if Joe’s Landscaping Company has a beautiful website but a URL that read: www.joeslandscaping.com/xoxobbzxx/5318008/ok-tHen
Well, if it makes you cringe a little, you’re on the right track. Not only is it off-putting, but search engine crawlers are going to find them incomprehensive, and this in turn, will negatively affect your Local SEO.
Given the importance that SEO-friendly URLs hold, you need to make sure that it fits the bill for your local SEO.
- Structure your URLs by working with the website folders. For example: www.yourwebsite.com/resources/blog/name-of-article
- Use static URLs instead of dynamic URLs as they help you improve rankings.
- Add language marker to your URLs.
- For example, English: www.yourwebsite.com/en/blog and Spanish: www.yourwebsite.com/es/blog. You can find language markers for different languages here.
In addition to improving local SEO, structured URLs help build your site’s hierarchy and domain, that is, you are more likely to build better domain authority.
#3 – Is Your Online Presence Equipped with your Location Data?
Building online citations is purely intended to help your business appear on online searches. Not only does it add to the number of online citations for your business, but it also validates your business information for search engines.
So, here’s how you go about creating more online citations for your business.
- Gather your business’ location information such as your business’ name, address and phone number (NAP).
- Create a location page for your business’ website.
- Build online listings for your website.
A location page is a sub-category in your business’ website that’ll help search engine crawlers find location information that needs to be accurate and consistent with all other location data that you have over the web. It is also best to add a link to your business’ location on Google Maps to your website. Here’s an example of what a location page looks like.
This is an example of a location page on Fulton Beer’s website.
Capitalizing on business listings is a great way to increase the number of online citations your business has, and by extension, your local SEO. You will have to add your business’ location information and other relevant data (business category, phone number, website, etc) to several listings sites like Yelp, Google, Yellow Pages, Google My Business, etc. Once you do so, you’re bound to increase your online citations and appear on searches.
You can create business listings manually – that is, by adding your business information to one site after another and monitoring your business activity. This method is a start, but its not an effective, long term solution. You can consider automating listings management for your business by using a tool like Synup.
#4 – Are Your Images Optimized with SEO?
Images break the monotony of textual content and help your website’s visitors comprehend your content better. But that’s not the end of it! Not only do they add to the appeal of website content, but they also contribute to SEO. Once your images are optimized with SEO, they help you rank better on searches and help search engine crawlers understand your website content better and better.
Here’s how you optimize your website’s images for SEO:
- Add alt tags to all your website’s images. An alt tag basically adds value to your images by adding a description to the website’s code. This description appears when the image doesn’t render on a webpage for some reason. It also contributes as an SEO element as it helps search engine crawlers make more sense of the image and its relation to the content on a certain webpage.
- Make sure that your image has a relevant file name.
- Use web fonts when you add text in images. You can read more about it here.
- The resolution of your images cannot swing from one extreme to another, that is – they cannot be too low in resolution or too high. They have to of a reasonable resolution so that they don’t hinder loading speed.
#5- Does Your Business Have a Social Media Presence?
Adding your business to relevant social media sites is a great way for your business to build its brand awareness, reach a large number of people and build your local SEO. This includes creating social media pages for your business on sites like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, etc. Your social media profiles can appear in the SERPs when someone searches for your business.
Furthermore, the reviews and ratings that your business listings garner on your social media sites will also reflect on the knowledge panel that appears in searches.
Additionally, you’ll also find that people search for images online, several images on Pinterest populate the image results.
Add your business to all social media handles like Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, and Instagram. Not only will it help you promote your business to a very large audience base, but it will help you enhance your local SEO.
#6 – Is Your Business Managing Its Reviews?
Review management is a great way to improve your local SEO. The better your business reviews, the more likely is your business to appear on local search results.
Take a look at the search results that appear when you look for “best hotels in san francisco.” The hotels with a higher star rating – with more positive reviews – appear higher on searches. This can give your business the push it needs to increase its online presence and in turn, build its customers.
Make sure that your business is generating, monitoring and responding to reviews. You can read more about building reviews and why they matter here.
So, there you have it!
You’ve done a basic local SEO audit to your business’ local online presence, you’ll know where the areas that are doing well for you and the areas that need work. If you want to make sure that your business’ online presence is completely up to the mark, you can use this printable local SEO checklist. Once you have your local SEO setup, you can be sure that your business will build a strong online presence that can help your customers find your business information online.
Suzana Joel is a content marketer/writer at Synup who is currently scaling the Local SEO summit. When she’s AFK (away-from-keyboard), she’s sipping on some masala chai and reading a good book.