Beginner’s Guide For Local SEO Audit

Step by step local seo guide

People searching your business locally are those who want to get services from local businesses.

When these people are searching for any services in their locality, then you need to come up front in Google.

When you want to come up front on Google then you need to work on Local SEO for your business.

When it comes to Local SEO it is not the same as the mainstream SEO. The ranking factors used by local SEO are different too, which are not included in mainstream SEO.

As local buyers want to make purchases from local businesses, in the same way, the ranking factors for local SEO are different.

Most of the times Local Buyers are interested in phone numbers, google maps location so that they can reach that shop easily.

Before you set up for your local SEO you need to know where you are.

That means you need to audit your local SEO, onsite and off, and check that you’re not carrying penalties and the basics are working right.

That way, when you implement your SEO strategy you won’t be building a house on sand.

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Here are six steps to a solid local SEO audit so you can build a future strategy on a solid foundation.

1. Registering On Google My Business

Google My Business

Google My Business is the part of Google+ profile.

Google+ is not much in use for your business but it makes a lot of difference for your local searches by local buyers.

When local buyers are searching for your business then they are shown with your Google My Business profile.

Google+ profile, which in itself is a ticket to an empty room – Google+ doesn’t get much use.

But it makes a critical difference to local search results, so it’s well worth claiming and filling out.

Fill all the information like phone numbers, directions, opening hours so that when someone searches for your business they can see all the required details with the landing page result.

When local buyers search for your business they are also shown with Google Maps result, so that they can easily find your shop.

It also lets you include a few images and some customer reviews.

Google My Business is a vital component of any local SEO strategy.

But while it can do you a lot of good, you can shoot yourself in the foot with GMB too.

Get on top results when someone searches for your business by giving all the required details and verify your business with phone numbers.

See that you match your phone numbers on your GMB landing page.

Then, make sure your page is verified and your category association is accurate.

This should describe what your business is, not what it does – say ‘plumber,’ not ‘pipes repaired.’

Check whether your GMB page is verified and if it isn’t, verify it.

Finally, check with your Name, Address & Phone Number as they play a crucial role for local buyers to search for your business.

Now let us go to 2nd step,

2. Check With Your Website Audit

Name, Address & Phone Number count here too.

Google My Business Details

When someone searches for your business on Google, you need to have the same phone numbers and address on your website landing page too.

Both need to match so that they can list on top.

Do not just include an image file.

Google has a preferred structure for websites and it will penalize you if you don’t use it: each service you offer should have a specific page, and each page should offer links to relevant subpages.

Mets title tags should include all the business information like the business name with address and phone number.

You need to have the keywords and tags which you want to rank for.

The more location-specific elements like name, city or state, and phone number you use, the more likely you are to rank locally.

If you’re a WordPress user, Yoast’s SEO plugin will let you edit the meta description:

Yoast SEO Plugin

When you are checking up with title tags and meta tags make sure that they even include in lading pages as well.

Specifically, they need to include in the H1 tag, meta description, and URL structure. If possible even include in image Alt structure.

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Now let us go to the 3rd step,

3. Match Your Content Audit

When it comes to the website, the most important part is of content you generate and the outbound links you have given and the inbound links you have got.

If your site has less or spammy content, then Google will penalize by not showing you in any results.

If your content is thin and not with more than 1800 words, then Google Panda the search ranking algorithm update will consider you the spammy website.

I am not saying it for everyone, but having less content with just short paragraphs will not help people and so even Google is not interested to show it in SERP i.e. search results page.

Audit the content using Google Analytics to track traffic to each specific page and blog post.

Google Sitemaps

If a post has few or bad links pointing to it and doesn’t generate much traffic, consider killing it off.

It is better to have fewer posts which are more useful for the readers, rather having unuseful content.

Panda refreshes roll out every month or so, so you should get Panda penalties lifted in that timeframe.

Now let us go to the 4th step,

4. Increase Your Citation Rankings

The Internet has helped businesses in many different ways and standards. From understanding the customer's behavior to reaching out to the potential audience.

It is also providing the win-win platform for every business house.

In the same way, when businesses want to get found on search engines, there are many other plenty local internet directories where they can go and register their businesses.

In the standard SEO when high authority domain linking happens to our website it increases our rankings, in the same way when we match our NAPs to the local directories it increases our search results in Local SEO.

So while it’s important to be on as many local directories as possible so customers can find you, it also confers a significant search advantage.

Google says it uses relevance, location, and prominence to ascribe local search rank: prominence means citations.

But poorly executed citations will reduce your search results, so be careful while registering your self into local directories.

They need to be the same everywhere to get that search bump.

Citations come into 2 categories:

Structured: These are the local directories which give you the complete freedom to fill the forms with full details of your business like Justdial, Yelp etc.

They’re in a standardized format with instructions to assist you and you have a lot of control over the form in which the citation appears since you get to write it.

Unstructured: Local blogs which are not updated and always incomplete which will reduce your search results.

Unstructured citations are mentions in the local press, blogs and so on, and these are less valuable for search purposes because they’re often incomplete, or incorrect, or just displayed differently.

Justdial Free listing form

See that you match your NAPs with all the citations you fill with GMB so that your search results will be authentic and increase your Local SEO ranking for your business.

Now let us go to the 5th step,

5. Audit Your Links & Link Penalties From Google Analytics

When local businesses build their websites to attract local customers, they are the first ones who get targeted by spammy bloggers.

As they have less content with wrong link building strategies, they are always filled with spammy backlinks which are uncertified.

This is of particular relevance to local businesses because in many cases, local business websites – that should be well placed to rank locally and pull in real customers – are stumbling under the results of weak content and bad link building strategies.

Local business owners who aren't tech savvy, they become the income stream for those spammy bloggers, who post 100s of free blog posts which are identical enough with irrelevant subjects and poor linkbacks.

Owners think they’re getting a good deal – they get X blog posts a week, plus all these links.

Meanwhile, their traffic falls off a cliff.

If you're facing the same problem no worries you can solve it,

Use Google Search Console to identify the weakest links and say goodbye to them.

Choose ‘links to your site’ from the sidebar:

You'll see list of links,

Download them in .csv format.

Now open it in excel and then, you can see lot of spammy sites, which are irrelevant with untrusted links.

They even have an irrelevant link structure. So you need to unlink all these links to your site which will reduce your spam links.

Odds are most sites have some sucky links. But some local sites are carrying some truly egregious stuff – I’ve seen links to employment sites in China in a local electrician’s results, for instance.

Where you can, delete the offenders. Where you can’t, disavow them. Transfer the URLs to a .txt file – you can put them in a Google Doc and download them as a .txt file from the File menu. Then upload them with the Disavow tool:

Disavow links tool by Google

After this you will get .txt file, you need to upload it and Google will take care of unlinking them from your site.

The big issue here is Penguin penalties. If Panda is there to hunt weak content and bad sites, Penguin is there to hunt linkspam.

Sites whose link building strategies relied on blog spam, comment spam and low-quality volume links from totally irrelevant sources get stomped on by Penguin.

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Conclusion

An audit of local SEO for local business is so vital, to get found on local searches.

Even if you are right in every aspect of site building, you need to make sure that you are upfront in local SEO so that you rank higher in local search results.

People searching for local businesses will have to find you easily, so that you do not miss any business from local people.

If you have your Google My Business page up and running, super accurate NAPs (copy and paste. No kidding), citations, a clean link profile, local keyword data in your landing pages and decent content, you have a solid foundation for success.

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