Step by Step Guide to Making Local SEO Audits
Want to boost your client’s ranking in local business SERPs?
Want to know exactly what you need to fix so that your client’s website consistently ranks on the first page?
Here we give you a systematic way to analyze your client’s website so that you know how to improve it and make it more likely to rank in the top spot.
We all know that if your client’s local business is to have any chance of benefiting from online traffic it is important that their website ranks among the top 3-5 listings in SERPS results. Numerous analyses have shown that placements any lower than this generate very little interest and even fewer hits.
The first step in getting ahead of your local competition is to find out where you currently stand. This means:
• Know where your client’s page currently appears in SERPS rankings.
• Know the history of who built the website and what changes have been made to it over time so that you can undo any damage.
• Tweak every single piece of information so that it is presented exactly in the formats that Google and the other search engines like best.
• Figure out what competitor websites are doing better than you and follow their example.
• Be prepared to adjust your website repeatedly and regularly until you climb higher and to maintain your high position.
Be warned – there are no short-cuts to consistently good local SERPS results. Rather than looking for a quick fix, it is better to be prepared to rework your website in detail so that it provides authoritative information in the right format that both answers the needs of browsers and simultaneously fulfills the search algorithm criteria of Google and other search engines.
Step 1: Getting fully informed
Take a thorough and detailed look at your client’s:
• Overall website structure and content
• Landing page in particular
• Citations – analyze them one by one to see if they are credible? Do they add authority to your site?
• Organic links – investigate who and when people are connecting back to you
• Penalties – identify when these were imposed and what was changed that got the site penalized
• Reviews – who is writing and what are their comments?
• Browsers – which social groups most access your site?
• Social Media sites – what kind of interest do they generate, and from who?
• Check your client’s Google My Business page – if your client doesn’t have one, you need to set it up – go to www.google.com/business.
• Don’t forget to check out your main competitor sites and analyze why they rank higher than your client.
When you are fully informed, then you can go about planning a strategy for on-going optimization that will place your client’s business near the top of the SERPs.
Step 2: Verification of facts
Google and other search engines are happiest when business names, addresses, telephone numbers, email addresses, contact information and other basic facts appear exactly the same across all types of social media and online.
Your first job is to work your way through your client’s website, Facebook pages, Twitter and other social media sites to make sure that all basic facts are 100% consistent throughout.
Check all the information you gather with your client. It is imperative that you are both clear about the basic facts, the changes you are going to be making to the site, and why. You need to clarify:
• Which business name does your client prefer to use?
• Has your client ever used a different business name? (If so, this could be a reason for Name, Address and Phone Number (NAP) inconsistencies that you will need to iron out).
• Does your client use a physical address? PO Boxes do not work well in terms of local business SERPS.
• Does your client have a local land line telephone number? For local SERPS it is better to use this as the main phone contact (ahead of any free-of-charge 1-800 numbers or mobile phone numbers).
• Did you client ever make use of call tracking numbers? Wrong phone numbers can be a headache for local SERPS and will need to be cleaned up.
• Which email address does your client use? It is better for local SERPS if the email address reflects the business name rather than being a personal email address.
• What are the principal keywords that your client wants to rank for?
• Has your client ever hired a consultant to add citations – and is there any documentation showing what was added and when?
• Has your client ever worked with an SEO consultant or company in the past and what they were asked to do?
• Has your client ever hired a consultant to build links – and if there is any documentation showing the links that were added?
• Does your client know anything about search engine penalties that may be affecting the site and when they were imposed?
• Are there any other websites that use 301 redirects to send traffic back to you client’s site? If so, you will also need to take a good look at these domains too, particularly in terms of evaluating for penalties.
It is a good plan to record all this information on a spread sheet so that you can give your client a record of the changes you are making and to serve as a reference point for future consistency.
Keep hold of the information on citations, penalties, reviews, etc, because you are going to need this later when it comes to knowing what to delete/amend.
Getting the basics right will go a long way to making your local website and social media postings less confusing to the search engines and will go far in improving your SERP rankings.
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