X

If you’re running a business, it’s important to make sure that you’re doing everything possible to improve your ranking in local search results. After all, most people who are looking for a business like yours will start by doing a local search.

Google numbers show that Google Maps searches for “curbside pickup” grew 9,000% Y/Y, and searches containing “local” and “business” grew more than 80% Y/Y.

Moreover, Statista shows that 50% of all searches on Google are for local information and almost a third of consumers search for a local business online every day.

That is not something to overlook.

So, if you also want to be in the game, you should start your local SEO efforts with an audit that’ll help your business have a site structure and content plan targeting specific geographic locations.

If you want your site to survive the digital age, you need a local SEO audit.

What is Local SEO?

Before we start with the how-to part, let’s answer one question first. What is local SEO?

Local SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is the practice of optimizing a website so that it ranks higher for certain “geo-targeted” searches. The goal of Local SEO is to help people find your business when they are searching for products or services that you offer in their local area.

For instance, if someone searches for “plumber near me” or “restaurants in Chicago,” Google will show them a list of businesses that match those search terms. Local SEO is what helps your business show up in that list.

Here’s how Moz defines local SEO:

Local SEO is the process of making your business visible on Google when people in your local area are searching for the goods or services you offer.

To do that, you need to make sure your website contains all the right information that Google uses to determine how and where to rank businesses in a local search. That’s what we’ll be covering in this post.

Why is local SEO important?

The success of your business is dependent on your ability to connect and communicate with your audience. This is basically why you need local SEO. Local SEO helps you improve your business’s visibility on the internet to reach your target audience.

However, of course, ranking high on the first page of SERPs among all those big companies can be hard. If you have a local fast-food restaurant, it is impossible to rank for the keyword “fast-food” globally.

Local SEO gives you a chance to compete with global giants.

If you want people in your local area to find your business, Local SEO is essential. Here are a few statistics that show how important local search has become:

  • 93% of US consumers searched online for a local business (Source: BrightLocal)
  • 46% of all Google searches are seeking local information (Source: Go Globe)
  • 80% of location-based mobile searches result in purchases (Source: Search Engine Land)

As you can see, if you want people to find your business, you need to make sure your website is optimized for local search. Luckily, this is something that’s relatively easy to do.

But how?

How to Do Local SEO Audit?

This local SEO checklist outlines 11 things you should consider when it comes to optimizing a website to target local areas. By checking off the items in this local SEO checklist, you can increase your chances of getting found for relevant local searches.

Conduct Local Keyword Research

The first step in any SEO audit is keyword research. Keyword research is how you figure out which keywords to target in your SEO efforts.

To do local keyword research, start by brainstorming a list of relevant keywords that people might use to find businesses like yours in your local area.

For instance, if you own a restaurant in Chicago, some relevant keywords might be “restaurants in Chicago,” “Chicago restaurants,” and “best restaurants in Chicago.”

Once you have a list of potential keywords, it’s time to start using some tools to see how often people are actually searching for those keywords and how difficult it would be to rank for them.

Two great tools for local keyword research are Google Keyword Planner and Answer the Public.

With Google Keyword Planner, you can enter a list of potential keywords and see how often people are searching for them in your local area. You can also see how difficult it would be to rank for those keywords by looking at the “Competition” column.

Answer the Public is a great tool for generating even more ideas for relevant keywords. Just enter a seed keyword and it will generate a list of related questions that people are asking about that topic.

Page Optimization

There are a few different places on your website where you can include keywords to signal to Google what your website is about. These places are called “meta tags.”

The three most important meta tags for local SEO are the title tag, meta description, and header tags.

  • The title tag is the text that appears in the search results for your page. It should be close to 60 characters long and include your target keyword.
  • The meta description is the short description that appears under your title in the search results. It should be around 155 characters long and also include your target keyword.
  • Header tags are the headlines on your page (H1, H2, etc.). You should include your target keyword in at least one of your header tags.

But, of course, meta tags are not the only things you will optimize. In addition to meta tags, you also want to make sure that the actual content on your website is optimized for your target keywords. This means that you’ll create valuable content, you’ll add visuals and include your keywords in the body text of your pages.

But beware! Don’t engage in something called “keyword stuffing,” which is when you stuff so many keywords into your content that it becomes difficult to read. Not only will this turn off potential customers, but Google will also penalize you for it.

A good rule of thumb is to use your target keyword a few times throughout the content on each page of your website.

If you want even more help with on-page optimization, Check out this guide.

Website Audit

Once you’ve done your keyword research, it’s time to start auditing your website to see how well it’s currently optimized for those keywords.

To do a website audit, the first thing you need to do is create a list of all the pages on your website. You can do this by looking at your website’s sitemap or just crawling through your website and making a list of all the different pages.

With your focused keyword data in hand, it’s time to start checking your pages to ensure they are optimized for maximum crawlability, indexability, and visibility.

Generally, an audit is designed to analyze the structure, meta tags, content, and site experience.

Here, there are many site auditing tools you can use such as Semrush or Ahrefs. They can crawl a website to identify issues and give advice on actions to take based on your needs.

Schema Markup

Schema markup is code that you can add to your website to help search engines understand your content better.

Your content depends on what type of business is this and how can you use the content as a lead generation magnet.

One type of schema markup that’s especially useful for local businesses is called “LocalBusiness” schema.

Adding LocalBusiness schema to your website tells search engines like Google exactly what kind of business you have, where it’s located, and how people can contact you.

NAP Consistency

Another important factor for local SEO is what’s called “NAP consistency.”

NAP stands for “Name, Address, and Phone number.” It’s basically your business’s contact information.

For your local SEO efforts to be successful, it’s important that your NAP information is consistent across the web. That means that if your business name is “James Smith Plumbing,” you shouldn’t list it as “James Smith Plumbers” on any other websites.

Consistency is especially important when it comes to your business name and address. If your NAP information isn’t consistent, Google may not be able to understand where your business is located and how to rank it in local search results.

Google Business Profile

The first step in increasing visibility in Google Maps is creating and optimizing your Google Business Profile (GBP).

Don’t you remember if you already verify your account? Don’t worry. Just search your business name on Google or Google Maps. If you don’t have an account, create one for free.

  • Add data to your profile. Start with basics such as business name, category, address, phone number, web address, and hours.
  • Add some photos. Show your store or office from inside and outside. For example, if you have a restaurant, add some photos of food and drinks. If you have a dentist’s office, you can show some technological devices you use. Profiles with photos get 35% more clicks.
  • Ensure your business details are complete and up-to-date.
  • Be consistent with name and address
  • Add your local phone number
  • Keep your hours updated
  • Write a detailed business description that captures your target keyword
  • Categorize your business

Google Business Profile provides a signal to Google of your business’s existence. So, having a GBP account with up-to-date information is the first and the most important step.

Competitor Analysis

Sometimes businesses do not rank high on local searches no matter how hard they try because they are up against fierce competitors. Don’t worry if this is the situation, this doesn’t mean you can’t beat your competitors on local searches.

Conduct a competitive analysis. This is one of the fundamentals of all marketing efforts including local SEO audits. Find your primary competitors.
3-5 of your primary competitors from the local snack pack will be enough to do a local SEO audit.

With the competitors you identified, check out each one’s GMB relevance, domain authority, keywords they rank for, and the backlinks they have.

I’ve already mentioned the importance of all these elements. In this way, you can find out the things they do differently than you or the opportunities that are not discovered by your competitors yet.

You should also check your competitors’ reviews, ratings and visuals on their GMB profiles. Furthermore, you can find out if they engage in GMB spam.

To know more about your competitor, the better. Knowing all this information will give you a hint about how the market is doing, how your competitors gain strength and how you can outrank them.

Citations

A citation is simply a mention of your business name and contact information on another website. Citations help search engines like Google verify that your business exists and is located where you say it is.

Well, the more citations you have, the better.

There are a few different ways to get citations for your business. The easiest way is to submit your business information to online directories like Yelp, Foursquare, and Yahoo Local.

Another way to get citations is by asking other local businesses to mention your company on their websites. For example, if you have a good relationship with a local hardware store, you could ask them to add your business information to their “local resources” page.

Local Link Building

Link building is one of the most important SEO strategies for increasing your visibility in Google Maps. When you include links to your website from other websites, you are sending a signal to Google that your site is credible and trustworthy.

There are a few ways to build local links:

Listings and Directories: Add your business to as many listings and directories as possible. Make sure you include NAP (name, address, phone number) information on all listings.

Citations: A citation is simply an mention of your business name and contact information on another website. It doesn’t have to be a link. Include NAP information on as many citations as possible.

  • Guest Posts: You can write guest posts on other blogs in your industry. Include a link back to your website in the author bio section.
  • Infographics: Create an infographic and include a link back to your site when you share it on other websites.
  • Local Partnerships: Find businesses in your area that are not in direct competition with you and offer to do something together such as co-sponsoring an event or writing a blog post. For example, if you’re a florist, you can partner with a local wedding planner.
  • Press Releases: Write press releases about your business and send them to local media outlets. You can also submit them to online press release sites.

Make sure all links pointing to your website are high-quality and relevant. The best way to get high-quality links is to create great content that people will want to share.

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