Perform an SEO Audit in Just 12 Steps

Businesses on page 2 of the SERP might as well not exist… it sounds harsh but it’s simply the reality that we all need to accept.

You know the drill—you want pizza so you get on your phone and do a search. Google presents its top 3 local options and 10 other organic results. You pick one make the call.

If you’re the local pizza joint, you want and need to appear on the first page for those target keywords. So how do you get them there? You’ll need to do a local SEO audit to find out.

SEO audit

Here’s How to Perform an Audit:

Step 1: Audit Keywords

What keywords are you targeting? Step one of your audit should be to determine what you’re currently ranking for and identify any opportunities you might be missing.

For example, if you’re ranking well for ‘Kent Bakery’ but are nowhere to be found for ‘Kent Bakery’, you’ve identified an area to improve.

Start by making a list of services, products, or a page you’d like to drive traffic to. Once you do this you’ll be able to use tools like Google Keyword Planner to quickly put together a list of high volume local target keywords. With this list in hand, you can proceed through the rest of your local SEO audit and determine how well these keywords are optimised every step of the way.

Step 2: Audit Your Competition’s SEO

Your local SEO audit should include a snooping session to determine your competitor’s SEO status and tactics early on. If you’re located in a highly competitive area where the other top businesses are doing everything right, you need to document what you’re up against.

Take a look at the following, and compare that data against yours:

  • GMB ranking for top keywords

  • Organic rankings for top keywords
  • Review quantity and quality

  • Number of links

  • Site Speed

  • Social Stats

In most cases, you should be able to take a look through these items and develop a hypothesis on why your competitor is successful in local SERPs.

Step 3: Audit Google My Business Listing

The 2017 edition of Moz’ Local Search Ranking Factors Survey ranks Google My Business (GMB) as the biggest driver of local SEO success. If you want to appear in Google’s ‘snack pack’, your GMB listing should be robust, and well-optimized with your core target keywords.

What to look out for:

  • Do you have a GMB listing? If so, is it claimed and verified?

  • Is all business information present and correct?

  • Do you have multiple reviews and a high cumulative rating? Are you responding to reviews?

  • Do you have appropriate business categories listed?

  • Do you have images of the business?

  • Have you created any GMB posts?

  • Are you participating in the Questions & Answers section?

By including all of these features, you’ll have a great GMB listing!

Step 4: Audit Reviews for Quality and Quantity

Reviews pack a ton of clout in both the local ranking and reputation building arenas. Search engines regard them as an authentic measure of a local business’s popularity and viability. Potential customers trust reviews as an accurate gauge for that business’s quality level.

Getting an abundance of positive, glowing and wordy reviews across multiple review platforms like GMB, Facebook, Yelp, and vertical-specific sites like Houzz, Tripadvisor, and Healthgrades helps you win on many levels.

Step 5: Audit Links for Quality and Quantity

Links remain the bread and butter of Google’s ranking algorithm.

A diverse array of quality links is crucial for any local business’s link portfolio. This means that you’ll need to evaluate your links, looking for links with:

  • Local content
  • Industry or vertical topic clusters
  • High domain authority

Link quality will win over quantity, and quality PLUS quantity will help you dominate the search rankings in your market. On the flip side, if you see a high volume of spammy, off-topic links, you’ll want to make a note of it as a red flag that may be damaging your ability to rank well for your target keywords.

Step 6: Audit Schema-Mark-up for Local

Schema mark-up is code that goes on a website to help the search engines return more informative results for users. Schema tells the search engines what your data means, not just what it says. This is a key way to tell search engines exactly what a given website is about, which will help them serve it up on SERPs for the correct search queries.

One way to check to ensure that your site is using schema mark-up is to enter your URL in Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool You’ll be able to check to see if all the correct info about your business has been included.

To add Schema mark-up, if it’s a WordPress website, then “All In One Schema Rich Snippets” is a great plugin. For other websites, this is a good tool to create the code.

Step 7: Audit Local SEO Citations

How frequently is your business mentioned online? Auditing your citations will determine how many online mentions exist of the name, address, and phone number for your business.

It’s important to look into both your structured and unstructured citations. For structured citations, you’ll audit your business listings across the web, looking at social platforms and directories like Yelp, Yellowpages, Facebook, Superpages, and MapQuest. You’ll also need to check to see if their correct business info is listed on the main data aggregators: Axiom, Neustar/Localeze, Factual, and Infogroup.

Next, you’ll need to check your unstructured citations. An unstructured citation can be found on random websites, blogs, event listings, job posting sites, government records or social media mentions. These are unstructured because they could be as simple as a company mention. Usually, these citations don’t include a business’s NAP data.

Top Tool: Whitespark’s Local Citation Finder

Step 8: Audit SEO on Main Pages

With your list of target keywords in hand, you’ll want to run through each page on your spreadsheet looking at the keywords on each page. Specifically, you’ll be looking at:

  • Page title

  • Title tags

  • Sub-headings

  • Word count
  • Meta description

Step 9: Audit Image SEO

Auditing image keyword optimisation boils down to evaluating each image’s filename and alt text. Since Google can’t yet tell what visual content an image contains yet, site crawlers rely on things like the filename and alt text to determine what’s being displayed. These are places you should optimise with relevant target keywords.

You can get some big improvements in page load speed when images are optimized to reduce their file size without significantly impacting their visual quality.

Step 10: Check Website Speed

Having a site that loads rapidly is crucial in today’s online business environment.

Google PageSpeed Insights Tool performs a near-instant audit of a given URL for both mobile and desktop searches. This will give you a quick way to tell if improvements are needed, and a list of actions to take to improve your website speed.

Step 11: Audit Site Engagement

Metrics like organic search click-through rate (CTR), dwell time, bounce rate, and conversion rate are all ranking factors. You can simply use Google Analytics to examine your engagement metrics and compare them to industry benchmarks.

Step 12: Audit Social Engagement

The truth is that we’re not sure to what extent social signals are baked into Google’s ranking algorithm. However, there’s no doubt that a strong social media presence can significantly boost local SEO efforts.

Therefore, evaluating your social platforms is an essential part of your local SEO audit:

  • Number of people that like your Facebook page + Facebook shares

  • Number of Twitter followers + tweets mentioning your brand name

  • Number of LinkedIn company followers and Linkedin Shares

A Final Note

Performing a comprehensive local SEO audit using the 12 steps we’ve outlined is going to dredge up issues. Finding and fixing any SEO optimisation issues you discover along the way is also crucial, as is recording your progress to ensure you’re not missing any vital pieces to the local SEO puzzle.

If you need help with your SEO strategy, check out out local business SEO services and get your FREE SEO report today!

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