A local search engine optimization (SEO) audit is a comprehensive analysis of how a web page ranks in local search engine results, and how its ranking can be optimized to perform better in driving more revenue and conversions. Based on the audit, local businesses can make adjustments to increase their online presence and attract more customers.

Google dominates the global search engine market share, owning 92.42%. 

StatCounter, 2022

The process of performing a local SEO audit can seem daunting, and with the plethora of SEO methodologies available online, it may seem a bit challenging for small businesses to even know where to start. We’ve compiled a list of 10 easy steps that you can take to perform a complete, successful local SEO audit, discover your website’s SEO strengths and weak points, increase brand awareness and improve conversion rates.

The SEO Audit Tools Needed

Before you can start performing the steps needed for the audit, first, you will need to have the required tools. First, you’ll need SEO software with a site crawl tool that will check overall website health, a keyword research tool and backlink profiling. Some popular examples are SEMrush and Ahrefs.

Next, you need access to Google Search Console and Google Analytics, in order to have access to keywords and organic click-through rates (CTR). Having access to metrics is crucial to measure the impact of your SEO efforts.

Lastly, using a local management tool, such as Yext or SEMrush, will help you streamline the process of checking and updating your business information, including the business name, phone number, address, or website, in some of the most important local directories available online. The final result of these optimizations will help you achieve NAP (name–address–phone number) consistency in local search, a positive ranking factor for the accuracy-focused Google search engine.

Companies need to take advantage of every opportunity SEO can offer them. Investing in efficient SEO campaigns is proven to be an effective long-term marketing strategy, and although businesses might find the technicalities involved in performing a local SEO audit intimidating, they can always choose to partner with a digital marketing agency for professional SEO services.

Step 1: Research Keywords

In order to have a strong local online presence, businesses need to make sure that they know what keywords their customers are typing into search engines. Different customers use different keywords, so companies need to make sure that their optimized keyword list is in line with what customers are searching for.

Title tags with a character count between 40 and 60 provide the best organic CTR.

Backlinko, 2022

Use the keyword research tool on either SEMrush or Ahrefs to identify the relevant keywords for your company and its corresponding market. You will need to optimize all website pages and content for all business and service-based relevant keywords, if you haven’t already done so.

Step 2: Find Local Link-Building Opportunities

A crucial step in performing a local SEO audit is finding internal and external link-building opportunities. Links represent a vital part of ranking organically in search engines, meaning that websites need to have relevant local backlinks organically placed inside their content.

High-quality editorial links will, naturally, rank better than obscure blog posts. You can use local directories to improve organic traffic, attach links to other local companies or organizations, or reach out to local online publications for guest posts or features. 

Step 3: Identify Duplicate Content

Anything that may confuse a search engine crawler can be a hindrance to your SEO efforts. Duplicate content refers to exact copies of content that can be found in multiple locations. When this happens, the crawler doesn’t know which copy is most relevant to the search query, resulting in potential penalties. Google algorithms are clever enough to know whether you’ve been duplicating content for nefarious reasons – because duplicating content also happens accidentally

The site audit tools on SEMrush or Ahrefs can identify duplicate pages. To avoid duplicate content generated by the website’s content management system (CMS), ensure that your website’s pages are canonical in the Google Search Console.

Step 4: Update Google Business Profile

When customers are searching for businesses or services, Google displays their information in a boxed layout, including the name, working hours, location and other information relevant to the customers’ query. Having a Google Business profile is essential for increasing visibility on Google Maps and in local organic search results.

On a Google Search Page, the top three organic search results account for 54.4% of total clicks.

Backlinko, 2022

Google algorithms focus on providing the best user experience for customers. Ensure that your Google Business profile is updated with relevant and accurate information – the more comprehensive the profile is, the greater the chance Google will list it as a reliable source in local search results.

Step 5: Study Customer Reviews

Your business’ Google Business profile also holds a key piece of information for ranking in local search results: customer reviews. Customer reviews play a big role in your local online presence because customers leave keyword-rich ratings. Local reviews impact your local search rankings, and can either boost or hamper your positioning.

Google automatically sends a notification whenever a rating has been posted, but it may sometimes be overlooked. During this step of your local SEO audit, make sure that you study all of your customer’s reviews and reply to all of them, and that you have everything updated on your Google Business profile.

Step 6: Verify Local Listings

Local listings confirm that your business is authentic and trustworthy within your area. Local listings include online mentions of the name of the business, contact information and website. All of these appear in local directories, as well as in blogs and on social media platforms, and increase website visibility in local search results.

You can check and manage your local listings with one of the SEO software tools we’ve mentioned. It is essential for businesses to manage local listings in order to control the spread of incorrect data or misinformation about them, which can harm traffic, ranking and conversions. 

Step 7: Improve Local Content

Content is the foundation for SEO work. Content length differs according to the page – for example, a 1k-word homepage website copy would be too much, and a 250-word blog post would be too little. When constructing your local content strategy, make sure you include researched keywords that focus on answering customer queries and publish pieces that assert your business as an authoritative entity within your area.

Having a blog can increase a company’s total indexed links by up to 97%.

Hubspot, 2022

Google Analytics will provide you with in-depth reports of what your customers are searching for. Use this to publish relevant local content and provide Google’s crawlers with valuable information that answers local customer searches. Ensure that your content is always EAT (Expert, Authoritative, Trustworthy).

Step 8: Inspect Metrics

Google Search Console and Google Analytics are both free tools that businesses can employ to monitor their website’s key performance indicators (KPIs) across all devices and platforms. Inspecting website metrics is an essential part of a local SEO audit – you identify strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.

Reviewing Analytics will provide you with comprehensive information on what content performs best, where your traffic comes from, your customer’s on-site behavior and their purchase journeys. 

Step 9: Check Page Speed 

Page speed is seen by search engine algorithms as a ranking factor. Customers who are searching will want to access the information as quickly as possible. Websites that load slowly will lose users and can lead to a significant loss in revenue and conversions.

If a website’s page loading times are too slow, it won’t be able to perform correctly for Google search algorithms. The fastest websites also have the most traffic and generate more leads. Check your site speed report on Google Analytics and optimize your website for maximum performance.

Step 10: Examine Competitors

The final step of the local SEO audit is examining the competition and how well they rank for your target keywords. SEMrush or Ahrefs have powerful business intelligence tools that provide you with insights into who your competitors are and how they are performing in local search results. 

As part of your competitor analysis, be sure to examine their Google Business Profile, social media pages and local listings to have a complete understanding of their strengths and weaknesses, and how you can adapt and tweak your SEO strategy to outperform them in local search results.

8/10 businesses employ paid SEO tools.

Databox, 2022

A local SEO audit provides all the information you need to optimize your website. Repeat each step of the audit every six months, to adapt and tweak whenever necessary. Google algorithms are constantly changing and updating, and staying informed regarding all the ins and outs of your website’s SEO is crucial to ensure long-term success.

SEO is a long-term strategy. The changes might take some time to take effect and generate results, but they will eventually bring the desired results.   

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By Margaret Blank

At the moment I am an expert-analyst in the field of search engine optimization, leading several projects and consulting on website optimization and promotion, I am actively involved in various thematic seminars and conferences.

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