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Local SEO Audits: A Comprehensive Walkthrough For 2022

Local SEO Audits: A Comprehensive Walkthrough For 2022

SEO is optional only for those who think that having a website is optional. In short, it’s not, really not.

Okay, before we jump into the topic: how to do an effective local SEO audit, let’s try and understand why do we need local SEO in the first place?

So, here it is: imagine that you need to go some place nice for a bite to eat, not the nearby diner – let’s say it’s a special occasion. But you’ve got no clue where to go, what do you do? You will most probably search something like “fine dining restaurants near me,” right? 

stats on consumer behavior after local search

The ‘near me’ tail tells Google that you’re not just looking for fine dining in general, you’re looking for a nice place to eat, near your location. Google then uses your location settings to suggest you a couple of places, based on their nearness and ratings.

This is how local SEO works, and today, we’ll discuss how you can maximize it via a local SEO audit.

How To Do Local SEO Audit: A Six-Step Bulletproof Formula

Now, on to the real question: how to do an effective local SEO audit? 

Your goal is to gain visibility with the local audience, people who’ll actually show up at your business office, restaurant, clinic, and so on.

Generic SEO is not the solution, you’ll have to think much deeper than that.

Here’s our bulletproof six-step local SEO audit checklist to help you through the process:

#1 Don’t Ignore Google My Business

Your Google My Business account is the backbone of local SEO for your business. If you don’t have one, set yourself up for it immediately. Without Google My Business, your presence on Google search rankings on Google Maps will be non-existent.

In either case, your local SEO audit should start from here – build one up and optimize or review your existing profile.

Google uses relevance above anything else for local SEO, thus you should be as relevant as possible.

screenshot of Direct Line Development’s Google My Business listing

Check the information you’ve provided and scan through every section ensuring that all the details are correct and up to date. You should also try to find ways to integrate search phrases relevant to your business (locally) in your texts, wherever possible.

Be sure to clearly mention your:

  • Services
  • Products
  • Location
  • Hours

And so on…

This information will go towards tuning the search results for people based on when they searched for the relevant keywords and from where (i.e. whether you’re available at that time, your services, and your service areas/locations served).

As long as your search remains relevant for the user, you will rank higher in the Google search results.

#2 Check If Your Keywords Are Targeted Properly

The whole idea of a local SEO audit is to explore methods of boosting local search rankings, and what better way to do so than to check for local keywords, or whether you have any in your texts. Keyword check is not as hard as you might think, but for local SEO, the mission is to find the keywords that rank you better in your location.

Tools like Moz Keyword Explorer are perfect assets here. You can use them to analyze all the keywords you have integrated into your texts and their searchability in your area. Some phrases will perform better than others while others may be completely irrelevant, once again, your task is to maintain relevance.

screenshot of Moz Pro page with keyword overview of website

Look for all the high-performing location-based keywords that offer good results and high visibility in your service area and try to incorporate as many of those in your texts as possible.

Also, you can geo-modify some of the top-performing generic keywords, i.e. you can add location reference tails to these search phrases and thus associate your service with the area. The best thing to do is to check out how your competitors are doing things well.

Try to emulate their example as long as it suits your framework to bolster your searchability.

PS: no local SEO audit checklist can be complete without a reference to the meta tags – you should find ways to introduce keywords there as well.

#3 Avoid Content Duplication

When we talk about duplicate content, we’re of course referring to matching copy, not generic phrases that are bound to be repeated. Google distinguishes between general info texts (repeatable) and marketing copy (non-repeatable).

If you plagiarize the latter, even if it is self-plagiarized, Google will penalize you for being unoriginal. After all, what value would your content have if it has been copied from somewhere else – be sure to check out for any duplications and replace the plagiarized segments with something original.

If you doubt your writing skills, seek help from someone, your goal is to create compelling content that attracts the reader’s attention and perfectly integrates high search-frequency keywords. You should also check for any duplication in your Google My Business listings.

Removing plagiarism, including self-plagiarism, is a vital step for any effective local SEO audit.

#4 Link Building

Next up in our bulletproof local SEO audit checklist is link building/using backlinks.

In case you don’t know, backlinks are hyperlinks embedded on content that redirect users (if clicked) to your content. They are put on blogs, websites, and other avenues where organic traffic is pretty decent so that you get a good flow of traffic your way too.

Back-linking is a way to show Google that you’re an authority in what you do.

If people are linking back to your work, it shows that your content has value and deserves to be explored by users. However, this only works if you create a network of high-quality backlinks because not all of them are the same.

You can buy cheap backlinks, but they won't amount to much and may even cause more harm than good. But getting a couple of high-quality backlinks is no easy task; you’ll need exceptional writing skills, valuable information, and lots of patience to pull it off.

Remember, when it comes to link-building, any form of spamming will be penalized; be very careful about how and where you get your backlinks. You should try to find blogs and websites related to your niche, and the blog should have a nice reputation as well

If you’re unsure how to approach the back-linking problem, ask an expert, but as a general rule of thumb, you’ll be good as long as you stick to high traffic and relevant blogs.

#5 Look For Citations & Mentions

It is very much possible to get a backlink without having to work for it. Most high-ranking websites get them because they host tons of valuable content. Imagine that your site too has some pretty decent written collection that has attracted some positive attention, this can work in your favor.

Maybe people are talking about you, even referring to your brand, but without linking back to your site. If this is true then you’ve already gone through half of the work, all that remains is for you to contact them and politely ask them to give you a backlink since they’ve already mentioned you in a positive light.

Most likely, they’ll cooperate, ticking off another entry from your local SEO audit checklist.

Moreover, websites can give you NAP citations, i.e. name, address, and phone number.

This way, their visitors might come over to your place if moved by their positive remarks about your service, citations, much like backlinks, boost your authority and popularity. But it is best to have both together, so don’t hesitate to request a backlink wherever you can.

Just be careful about consistency, if you note that the NAP citations are outdated, ask the website owner to update them, and again, be extra polite.

#6 Never Ignore Social Media Platforms

Last but not least, you should maximize your presence on social media.

infographic with 30 stats: general, facebook, instagram,  linkedin, youtube, and twitter

Be interactive, be innovative, be helpful – you need to build an engaging community that will like and share your content, thus linking back more and more pages to your site. Google factors in social media engagement when ranking a business, and the better you're able to engage with an audience on your social presence, the better your rank will be.

And that pretty much sums up: “how to do an effective local SEO audit?”

Conclusion

Local SEO may not seem like much, but your business website's success ultimately depends on it. You can't ignore the impact of Google search rankings for a website, locally or globally. However, local endeavors are different in that they target real-life customers rather than a virtual online audience.

infographic with do’s and don’ts of local SEO

Thus, you should define your goals very clearly before starting with your local SEO audit.

Through better monitoring of your website performance and noticing the stuff that's attracting more clients towards your business, you can multiply your success by doing that stuff more. If, at any point, you feel lost, just take a look at what your competitors are up to.

If that doesn’t work out either, you can always contact an SEO expert to get things sorted.

Just remember to keep up the routine checks if you want to stay ahead of the competition.

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