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Run This Local SEO Audit To Assess Your Strategy

Most SEO audits focus on technical SEO issues, which are crucial for ensuring search engines can crawl and index your website. But a local SEO audit can be just as valuable for brick-and-mortar businesses and service businesses that need to target specific areas. Here’s how to run one.

Jun 4, 2024

7 m read

If your local SEO strategy is doing its job, your business should appear prominently in search results when consumers are looking for nearby providers. This is where the magic happens — local customers discover your business, read reviews, get directions to your storefront, and even convert online.

Without the right tactics, though, your business can be overshadowed by competitors. That’s why I recommend a local SEO audit to find and fix shortcomings in your strategy. I’ve put together a step-by-step guide to running an audit, helping you maximize search visibility and drive customers to your website and physical locations. Please note that you will want to conduct local SEO audits at regular intervals due to how often search algorithms change.

What Is a Local SEO Audit?

An SEO local audit reviews your strategies for ranking in location-based queries. Local SEO differs from traditional SEO and requires a distinct approach. You need to make sure Google understands where you’re situated and the relevance of your business so you can pop up when someone’s looking for “San Francisco hotel,” “yoga in Beacon Hill,” or “hardware store near me.”

Ideally, you used our local SEO checklist when implementing your tactics. The audit is a follow-up to make sure key components are in place, such as your Google Business Profile (GBP), location pages, keywords, and online mentions. This one doesn’t include technical SEO concerns, so be sure to check out our primary SEO audit for those recommendations.

Benefits of Local SEO Audits

An audit helps you strengthen your local SEO strategy and improve your chances of standing out in Google’s local 3-Pack, Maps, and organic search results. Your audience will find your business more easily, and the strong, consistent online presence you’re building will give them more confidence to choose your business.

Some common issues that an audit can identify include:

  • Variations in your name, address, and phone number across the internet. Consistency is important as Google cross-references information to confirm your location.
  • Lack of information in your Google Business Profile. The more details you provide and the more actively engaged you are on your listing, the easier it is for search engines to match your business to relevant searches or to engage users.
  • Too few reviews (or outdated reviews) of your company. Recent, positive reviews help to confirm that your business is active and supported by customers.
  • Lack of online citations. Search engines look for your listing in online directories to confirm the credibility and location of your business.
  • Problems distinguishing between multiple locations. If you have more than one location, each one requires a separate online presence.

How To Perform a Local SEO Audit

As you work through this audit, you’ll develop a list of concrete actions to improve your online visibility. Work through each item, tackling major issues first.

1. Assess Your Keywords

Review your target keywords and tailor them to the area your business serves if needed. You should still focus on your core products and services but include phrases people use when looking for local providers. Incorporate the names of cities, neighborhoods, communities, districts, counties, landmarks, or variations of these based on what a resident or visitor might typically search.

For example, businesses in Washington, D.C. might add “DC,” “District of Columbia,” “Georgetown,” or “National Mall” to their keywords. Don’t cram your website with location terms but do choose ones that make sense for your audience and use them naturally. Learn more about local keyword research here.

I also suggest mixing in long-tail keywords based on what your customers value. Modifiers such as “affordable,” “best,” “fast,” and “24-hour” may help you more precisely satisfy a user’s needs.

To assess your keywords, check:

  • Each keyword theme is only associated with one page.
  • The page matches the keyword’s search intent.
  • The page is properly optimized and naturally features variations of the keyword that share search intent.
  • How well you’re ranking for business critical keywords.

Also, use Google Search Console to investigate the queries people are using to find your website. Do those terms align with the keywords you’re targeting?

2. Revisit Your Google Business Profile

With your local keywords in hand, you can review your Google Business Profile to make sure it’s properly optimized.

If you have more than one location, you should have a GBP for each of your storefronts so that the one in closest proximity will appear in a user’s search results.

As you optimize your Google Business Profile, ensure it’s as dynamic as possible. Note if you need to:

3. Ensure Consistent NAP

Your name, address, and phone number (NAP) must be uniform across platforms before your business can appear in specific geographic searches.

Choose the NAP for each location and make sure it’s consistent on your:

  • Google Business Profile.
  • Website.
  • Location pages.
  • Social media pages.
  • Online citations and directories.

This is critical as search engines compare information found online to confirm your business is legitimate and located where you say it is. If you use a 1-800 number on your GBP and a different number on Yelp, you’re casting doubt on the authenticity of your information.

4. Examine Your Location Pages

Each of your brick-and-mortar sites needs a dedicated location page on your website. This helps Google surface the right web page for local queries. Location pages can also improve conversions — the more relevant and useful the content is to searchers, the more likely they’ll visit your location or call for more information.

Audit each location page for:

  • Local keywords. Ensure the keyword appears in key places such as the page title, meta description, header, body content, and image alt-text.
  • Accurate information. Make sure your addresses are all formatted similarly and in the same style as the one on your Google Business Profile.
  • Unique content. Yes, it’s easier to duplicate copy and just change the NAP for each location, but I caution against taking shortcuts. Take the time to enhance each landing page to help it stand out. You might add staff bios, highlight unique features or services, and add location-specific testimonials.
  • Original photos. Add high-quality photos to improve user experience and entice users to visit. Consider using interior and exterior shots, photos of team members, and product images.
  • Structured data. Implement LocalBusiness schema markup to help Google better understand the page content.

5. Monitor Reviews

According to research from BrightLocal, 75% of consumers always or regularly read reviews when browsing for local businesses. Reviews build trust and credibility among your audience, demonstrating that your business is reputable. They’re also critical for local SEO, signaling to Google that your business is prominent or well-known. In Google’s own words, “More reviews and positive ratings can improve your business’s local ranking.”

Keep a pulse on what your audience is saying about your business by monitoring reviews on relevant sites, such as Google, Apple Maps, Yelp, TripAdvisor, Angi, and social platforms. During your audit, check that you have recent contributions from your customers. You may need to be proactive and regularly invite them to share their opinions so that your collection of testimonials grows.

And, whether you’re basking in the glow of five-star reviews or encountering disgruntled customers, take time to reply. BrightLocal also found that nearly nine out of 10 consumers say they’d use a business that makes an effort to respond to all of its reviews. Less than half would use a business that doesn’t respond to any reviews.

6. Evaluate Local Citations

Local citations, which are mentions of your brand on other websites, help you build a strong presence on the internet. Search engines view citations as a sign of your company’s credibility, which can in turn translate to better rankings.

Place citations on reputable directories in your niche and community, including:

  • Search engine directories such as Bing Places and Apple Connect.
  • General business directories like Yelp, SuperPages, Yellow Pages, and Foursquare.
  • Industry directories and professional association websites.
  • Local websites, including chambers of commerce and community business associations.
    Audit your citations to ensure your NAP is consistent and all information is correct. Remove old or duplicate listings to avoid confusion. You should also look for opportunities to expand your mentions on reputable sources.

6. Make Sure You Don’t Have Duplicate Pages

So far, I’ve focused on local SEO strategies to help your business demonstrate its proximity to the user. However, even if you’re concentrating on local searches, traditional SEO practices still apply. Google crawls and indexes your entire website, applying algorithms to consider its overall quality and relevance.

Because Google values web pages with original, helpful content, review your site to reduce duplication. Google filters pages with identical or similar content out of the search index, impacting your visibility.

Make note of duplicate pages and substantially revise copy to distinguish between them. If you must have pages with similar content, specify one as the canonical page for indexing.

Local SEO Audit Tools

Before you start your audit, find some local SEO tools to make the job easier. Here are some resources to help identify why you’re not getting visibility in Maps and local searches.

  • Google Search Console helps troubleshoot problems that prevent your site from ranking in the SERPs, such as manual penalties and indexing problems. You can also use this free tool to review backlinks and discover the queries audiences use to find your business, which can guide your keyword strategies.
  • Google Business Profile Performance is a set of analytics related directly to your GBP. Use this data to audit how well your GBP is engaging users. Learn how customers find your profile, the features they interact with, and whether they’re taking action by requesting directions or calling your business.
  • SEO tools such as Ahrefs and Semrush are useful for uncovering search terms your audience uses. You can find long-tail and related keywords for more opportunities to rank, as well as in-depth data on search volume and keyword difficulty to prioritize your keyword strategy. Site audit tools can pinpoint duplicate content, missing meta tags, and technical issues.
  • Moz Local and BrightLocal are valuable for assessing local citations. They also help you to monitor and respond to reviews from a single dashboard.
  • Google Analytics tells you how local customers engage with your website. You can learn where your customers are located and their demographics and interests. You can also discover the channels that bring them to your site and the content they’re most interested in to help refine your SEO strategy.

Get a Leg Up in Local SEO

While you can use this guide to launch your own local SEO audit, consider partnering with a local SEO agency like Victorious to truly amplify your online presence. Our experts will conduct a deep dive into your local search performance, tailoring recommendations to your business goals and putting proven strategies into action. Schedule a free consultation and learn how a perfectly executed local SEO campaign can increase your local profile and send valuable traffic flowing to your business.

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Google has become everything from our yellow pages to our shopping mall and our library. In fact, in 2022 87% of Americans used Google to look up local businesses.