Local SEO has always been underappreciated – but that is changing fast.
If you run a local business or your clients are local businesses, you can no longer afford to treat local SEO as an afterthought. Local SEO is all about concentrating at one focal point – letting local customers find you without breaking a sweat.
This is precisely what makes local SEO important. While many local businesses get this point, it’s still tough to convince them that their website – even though performing well on every organic SEO metric – has glaring local SEO holes that may just sink the ship one day. And when you have many new clients to look after and onboard, it’s nearly impossible to offer in-depth local SEO audits to all of them.
In this guide, we will discuss how you can get around this problem using our bespoke mini local SEO audit strategy.
Before we get started, let’s take a quick look at why local businesses need local SEO audits.
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Local SEO helps bring in a steady stream of highly-interested and intent-driven local visitors. Think about this – would you ever look up “roofing contractors in Manchester”, if you didn’t really want to find and hire a roofing contractor in Manchester?
In other words, local SEO has the power to directly impact the sales. It, then, shouldn’t come as a surprise that local SEO often yields quick and positive results for local businesses. And to get there, a local SEO audit is incredibly useful.
Even a quick, mini local SEO audit can reveal serious problems that can hamper the local search presence of your or your client’s website. If you want to perform an in-depth SEO audit of your or your client’s website, you can request a free proposal here.
A complete local SEO audit of a website is still the best way to locate every minute local SEO problem. But if you are short on time or are trying to audit multiple websites, a mini local SEO audit is the best way to get started.
After working with numerous local SEO audit tools and services, one thing was clear – the only way to obtain the best results in a matter of minutes is to develop a custom strategy that can be easily adapted on an as-needed basis. Once you are familiar with all the steps we are about to discuss, you can perform quick local SEO audits in 4 minutes or less. You should, however, be familiar with the basics of local SEO before following this guide. The HQ SEO blog is a good starting point to learn all about the technicalities of SEO. To know more about how we – at HQ SEO – help businesses with 360-degree, comprehensive SEO services, click here.
Regardless of the specifics of the website, every local SEO audit should start with the assessment of the home page.
Most websites have similar local SEO problems, and they all can be found right at the home page. Once you are done with the home page, you can quickly browse through other important pages such as Services and Contact Us.
Title tags are simple HTML tags that tell search engine crawlers what the page is about. Since we are talking about the home page, it must have a title tag that
An ideal title tag should have the following format:
Alternatively, you can manually check the home page for a title tag by looking at the source code of the page. The keyboard shortcuts for this action are:
A well-optimised home page should contain appropriate heading tags. You can check all the heading tags by taking a quick look at the HTML source code (see the point above).
While you are going through the HTML source code, check whether the on-page images are formatted properly. Every image must have an appropriate alt text that preferably also contains the name of the business.
The very first visit to the home page should tell you all about the NAP (name, address and phone number) details of the business. This is, as far as local SEO goes, non-negotiable.
The home page text (content) should be informative, non-repetitive and easy to browse through. It should also contain links to other relevant pages. Since this is a quick audit, you don’t actually have to read the content – just skim through it to give yourself an idea.
If you have enough time on your hands, you can also perform an on-page analysis of other important pages. This entirely depends on the nature of the business and the website. For example, if you are performing a mini local SEO audit of a business that also sells online, an audit of the product and category pages can reveal more critical errors.
This is where local SEO overlaps with organic/general SEO.
The inbound link profile is one of the most important ranking factors. Assessing the link profile of a domain involves studying the standard metrics such as the number of backlinks, the number of referring domains, any existing penalties and the overall domain authority.
Almost every major SEO tool lets you do this. We recommend using Ahrefs and Moz (you may need to buy a premium subscription to access important details). If you need help with building the perfect link profile for your business, you can request a fully customised and free SEO proposal here.
The best local SEO practices dictate that a business must have consistent citations across the board.
A local business citation is the curation of important business details – including the NAP details – hosted on an external website. Most business citations, as a rule of thumb, are only search-indexed and do not provide backlinks to the business website.
The pedantic nature of NAP attributes means that, to get the SEO benefits and avoid SERP conflicts, the NAP details must be consistent everywhere.
Whether it’s structured or unstructured, a citation is – in a way – the identity of the business. When you perform a citation check on a website, you need to look for answers to three major questions:
There are multiple ways to perform citation checks. You can use the Moz Local Search Tool to check the citation consistency and the HOTH Business Finder Tool to check the overall citation profile. The above image show how the Moz Local Search Tool can be used to identify potential citation conflicts.
As far as local businesses are concerned, this is the holy grail of ‘being found online’.
The Google My Business (GMB) listing allows businesses to submit and verify their information (primarily the NAP details) so that people can find the business in Search and Maps.
There are no reliable tools to find or check bulk GMB listings. The easiest way around this is to perform a manual check (preferably in Maps, if the business has a physical address). By looking up the business name in Maps, you can instantly see if the listing is created, claimed and verified.
What You Should Look For
While analysing any GMB listing, be sure to look for the common red flags that can point to bad local SEO:
The very point of performing a free local SEO audit is to paint a fairly accurate picture of errors, discrepancies and loopholes.
Once you go through these four steps a few times over, you can definitely train yourself to perform this audit on the fly.
When you have dozens of leads to close and hundreds of websites to audit, every minute you save translates into more clients on board.
If you want to go an extra mile for a particularly important client, we recommend following a couple of additional checks.
Depending on the nature of the business, it’s likely to be listed on a variety of third-party review websites such as Better Business Bureau, Yelp, Foursquare, TripAdvisor and Glassdoor.
Checking the presence of the business on such websites can tell you where the business stands in terms of reach, potential and quality.
If the business doesn’t have any social media presence, it, in itself, is a local SEO crime.
The most important thing to check for in this context is the Facebook Page of the business.
Since this is a mini local SEO audit, you don’t really need to look beyond Facebook.
To make things easier for those who want to put the approach discussed in this post into practice, we have compiled a free mini local SEO audit checklist. You can download this handy checklist by clicking on the image above, or by visiting this link.
It wasn’t too long ago that businesses were happy as long as their websites showed up in Google search results.
The very idea of SEO has undergone massive changes in the last few years, and we don’t expect it to stop evolving.
A local business trying to reach new people, increase footfall, generate more leads and register more sales simply cannot afford to lose the plot. Keeping up with the ever-changing local SEO landscape is, in that sense, more important than ever.
At HQ SEO, we take pride in developing and customising effective, efficient and affordable SEO solutions for businesses. Our services have helped businesses across industries and continents achieve consistently positive results. To learn more about how we do this, get in touch with us. You can also request a free proposal below.