Local SEO has become increasingly important as Google continues to push its mobile first indexing strategy.
In order to get found online, you need to optimise your website for local searches. But how do you go about optimising for local customers? This guide will help you figure out exactly how to run an audit so you can optimise your site for local search terms.
You’ll learn how to find keywords that work well for your niche, how to rank higher for these keywords, and how to make sure your content gets seen by potential customers.
Get results faster than ever before with this guide to local search engine optimization.
This guide is intended for local businesses that already have both a website and a Google Business Profile (GBP). However, if you don’t have a GBP account, you can still use this guide to perform a local SEO audit of your website.
Auditing your website is a great way to identify any issues that may be preventing you from ranking well in search results. You’ll find out whether there are any broken links, missing meta descriptions, duplicate content, outdated content, and so on.
You’ll also find out whether you should add more keywords to your title tags, meta descriptions, headings and other elements. Auditing your site will give you a clear picture of what needs to be fixed and what doesn’t.
Local search engine optimization (LSEO) is an important component of any content marketing strategy because it allows businesses to reach customers who are physically located near them. This type of search engine optimization focuses on local searches such as “restaurants near me” or “plumber near me.”
The key to successful LSEO is understanding why potential customers are searching for products and services. If you do not have a website optimised for local searches, you may miss out on business opportunities.
In order to optimise your site for local searches, you’ll need to make sure that your web pages include information about your location. But, let’s not get ahead of ourselves. First, let’s consider why we should do an audit first, even if we already have a website and are attracting local customers.
Local SEO is an important aspect of any content marketing strategy. If you aren’t taking advantage of local opportunities, you could be missing out on potential customers.
Local SEO audits provide businesses with valuable insights into their current website performance and how they can improve their online presence. There are many reasons why you should conduct your own local SEO audit. Here are just some of them:
1) Keyword Research: you want to know if your site is optimised for your target audience. Learn what keyword research is and how you do it to improve your local SEO audit.
If you don’t understand what keywords people use when searching for your product or service, then you won’t be able to optimise your site appropriately. This could lead to missed opportunities for new customers
You can also use keyword research to help you understand how your competitors rank for similar keywords.
2) You want to find out which areas of your site are most effective at bringing in leads. An audit allows you to see whether certain sections of your site are more successful than others. For example, do you get more leads through your blog posts than your lead pages? Which content drives the most traffic?
3) You want to learn more about your visitors. Audits allow you to discover things like what devices your visitors are coming from, what browsers they are using, and even their geographic location. Knowing this kind of data enables you to tailor your marketing efforts to fit your customer base.
4) You want to find ways to increase conversions. When you perform an audit, you can determine which elements of your site work best for converting visitors into paying customers.
5) You want to know who your top competitors are. Once you’ve identified your top competitors, you can compare yourself against them to figure out what they’re doing right and what you can do differently.
6) Learn how to use social media effectively for marketing purposes. Learn what your customers’ needs and wants are. Also take the time to analyse what your competitors are doing well. Armed with this information you’ll be able to develop a social media strategy and plan.
Do you need help with your Local SEO? Schedule a free SEO consultation today.
Conducting a local SEO audit is a simple logical process. However, it’s one that every business must perform at least once per year.
You’ll want to start by reviewing your current rankings and identifying what changes you need to make to move forward. These benchmarks will allow you to measure and evaluate which is essential if you want to improve your ranking.
You’ll want to keep track of your progress throughout the year and adjust accordingly. As your rankings start improving, you’ll then need to take steps to build up your brand online.
Google Analytics is a great tool for tracking the success of your website. You can use it to find out which of your pages are doing well and which ones need more work.
You should start by checking your most visited pages. This will give you an idea as to which of your content is potentially driving the most customers. However, don’t make assumptions. If you have goals set for these pages, make sure you are collecting the right data. If you don’t have goals, what other ways can you measure success? Are you capturing customer information via a lead gen form?
Don’t shy away from content that is not performing. Often, there can be a simple reason and can be fixed easily. However, if you don’t have a content strategy and are just publishing random content, you will have a bigger problem on your hands.
If you’re not sure what your Google Analytics data is telling you, contact Highly.Digital and we’ll give you a helping hand.
Google Search Console
All search engines will rank your content (assuming it’s good content!). What you really want to know is where is your content ranking and what are the search terms it is ranking for? Head over to Google Search Console and you will find a treasure trove of data.
Performing a local SEO audit is a great way to figure out which keywords you should target. For this step, you’ll need a list of keywords you’d like to optimise for. There’s probably lots of keywords related to your niche. However, you should only focus on keywords that are relevant to your business.
Consider where potential customers might be in the customer journey. This will help you develop your keyword list.
If they’re in an early stage, they’re probably searching “Where can I buy x near me?”. If they’re further along in the buying process, they’re probably searching for “X in city”.
Remember, the majority of search engine users rarely click on the 2nd page for information, so making sure your site ranks well for relevant keywords is critical to attracting new customers and increasing conversion rates.
Want to learn more? Read our guide that explains keyword clustering.
Now that you have a clear idea of what keywords you should target, let’s move onto optimising your site for those keywords.
Keywords play a huge role in determining whether or not your website ranks well in search engines. A key part of discovering the right keywords is knowing the intent behind the search terms.
There are four different types of search queries: informational, transactional, navigational, and commercial investigation. Each has a different intent and user.
If someone is searching for information about a topic, you should provide answers to the questions who, what, why and why. For example: “What is search intent and why is it important for SEO?”
Navigational intent is when a user searches for a specific brand or business. For example, someone searching for Highly.Digital would mean that the user is wanting to visit this website.
Transactional intent is when a user wants to complete a transaction. Examples would include: “how much does a ticket cost”, “what movies are playing next week” etc.
Commercial investigation intent
When someone is searching for products or services, they may be interested in comparing prices, features, and reviews. But, at this stage they haven’t made up their mind yet as to what to buy.
If you understand what those commercial intent search queries are, you can then create content that targets them.
Go deeper: Get the advanced guide to search intent.
Now that we’ve determined the right keywords for our website, we can start writing content that matches the keywords we chose. This helps us improve our ranking in search engine results pages.
I would probably run a quick competitor analysis at this point. I’d be curious to know what I was up against. And, as I was already doing (or just completed recently) keyword research, it makes sense to me to continue along that same theme.
Competitor analysis is a great way to find out what keywords your competitors are optimising for. You’ll be able to see if they’ve done any keyword research, whether they’re using any paid advertising, and how well they’re ranking for certain keywords.
Once you’ve found a handful of competitors, you can start analysing their sites. Look up their Google Business Profile, review count, social media activity, and how well they perform for specific keywords. You can also use tools like Ahrefs to see what keywords they’re optimised for, so you may want to consider those keywords for your strategy.
After identifying the keywords you want to focus on, you’re ready to conduct a comprehensive website audit.The purpose of a website audit is to identify any potential issues with the design, functionality, the content, and its overall user experience.
Correct crawlable Name, Address, Phone number (NAP) on landing page
Google uses the NAP (name, address, phone number) data found on a website to determine where to rank websites in search results. Having the correct NAP schema on your landing page ensures that Googlebot crawls your page correctly and ranks it appropriately.
Make sure that your NAP is accurate and that it matches your Google Business listing. Also, make sure that any phone numbers and addresses are properly formatted.
If you don’t have a correct NAP, Google may not be able to properly index your website. As a result, you won’t show up in search results. That’s why it’s crucial to have a correct NAP on your website.
Meta Title: What are you going to call your landing page?
Your landing page title is an essential element of your organic search strategy. You want to craft a perfect landing page title that optimises your business for local SEO.
You’ll want to include relevant keywords and location in your landing page title.However, it still needs to make sense e.g. Plumbing and Heating Specialist in Bromley, Greater London.
A landing page title must be concise and relevant. Avoid using long sentences and paragraphs. Also avoid using generic terms like “website”, “landing page”, etc. instead try to describe the product or service you provide.
Once you’ve chosen a headline, test it out. See how many people click through to your landing page after reading the headline. Don’t be afraid to change it up every now and again. Just make sure to track how the changes have made an impact.
What should your meta description state?
You want to write a compelling sentence that describes what your page is about and then encourages users to click on your link.
Google has said that they may change the description shown in the search results. However, we still think it’s important to craft a decent meta description.
Focus on creating a short, descriptive sentence that accurately represents your page and business or service. Don’t try to cram too much information into your meta description. And remember that the most important part of your meta description is the last bit – the call to action.
So what does that mean? Well, it means that you want to encourage users to click on your website. But don’t just tell them to visit your site; instead, give them a reason to do so.
For example, let’s say you run a bakery. You might write, “Visit our website today to find out why we’re the best choice for baked goods!”
You get the idea. Whatever you write, make sure it tells users why they should visit your website and gives them a reason to do it.
Business opening times
Make sure the opening hours for your business are listed in a crawlable format. Make sure these times correspond to the business hours listed on the Google Business Profile for your business.
To optimise your local business listings for Google, you need a good landing page URL structure. This is a strong indicator that your business serves local customers.
This means that if you are trying to rank for a specific city, you’ll need to make sure that your landing page URL matches the city where your business is actually located.
For example: https://www.localseobusiness.com/service-area/location
The hidden benefits of internal linking
The main benefit of internal linking is that it helps you build trust through your website. It’s a way to make your site easier to navigate and find what you want. When users click on a link from one page to another, they expect to see something new and interesting. If they don’t, then they might leave the site entirely. Internal linking allows them to stay longer and explore more.
Internal linking also helps search engines find related pages on your site. Just make sure your sitemap is up to date.
When you conduct your audit, you’ll also be looking for broken links. You can use a free online tool to find broken links on your website.
You’ll want to fix any issues found during the audit. Broken internal links can cause problems for your site, including making it harder for search engines to crawl your site.
Remember, conducting a local SEO audit for your business is all about following a process. Start by identifying the most important aspects of your page. These might include the following:
A headline is an emotional trigger. It’s the first impression that grabs the reader’s attention. A great headline makes them feel something. It tells them exactly what they want to hear.
A catchy headline is like a magnet for your reader’s eyes. When someone reads your headline, they immediately form an opinion about whether they want to read more. That means that if your headline doesn’t grab their interest, they may leave without reading your article. That’s a missed opportunity.
So if you can create a headline that stands out, you’ll increase your chances of making an impact. Learn how to create a great headline.
Metadata is information about your page that search engines look for when determining where to place your page in search results.
One way to think about metadata, is that it’s text that’s hidden from the ordinary user. However, it can be important for optimising your listing on the search results page.
But, modern search engines don’t always use metadata to serve results. They are intelligent enough to analyse your actual content. So, don’t try to game the system. Most websites should only optimise their meta titles and meta descriptions.
Meta title: this is the title you want to appear in search results. This can be different to your actual page title. You can and should test different versions of this.
Meta description: this is a short (160 characters or less) paragraph or excerpt that describes what your content is about. But, it’s really your opportunity to persuade someone to click through to your page.
Images are very important to your page’s success. Images help to break up long chunks of text and encourage the reader to scroll down the page. But, ensure that your images are accessible and optimised for search engines by including alt text and filenames that include relevant keywords.
URLs are the web addresses for your pages. They are usually created automatically when you create a new web page from the page title.
However, the lesson here is to make your page title’s short and snappy. This is because we want to keep URLs relevant and simple. Most content management systems and other web publishing tools will allow you to edit your page URL. But, do it right at the start and you will become more efficient.
Generally speaking, the URL should make sense to anyone reading it out loud.
Keywords are the words that describe your product or service. Including relevant keywords in your page’s headline, meta data, and URL increases the chances that your page will show up in search results. You should also make sure to sprinkle keywords throughout the body of your text. But, don’t over do it. Find out more about keyword research and how you can do it for yourself.
Content marketing is the most effective way for businesses to connect with potential customers. The problem is that most businesses fail because they lack the skills necessary to create compelling content for their audiences.
But how do you go about creating great content?
The secret lies in understanding the psychology behind human behaviour. By tapping into our emotions we can make them more powerful content for business growth.
In order to do this well, you need to develop a deep understanding of your audience. What motivates them? What frustrates them? What excites them?
What are their hopes, dreams, fears, desires, and aspirations? Once you learn these things, you can begin to craft messages that speak directly to those needs.
By creating valuable content that solves problems, builds trust, and educates readers, you’ll attract more traffic, convert more leads, and close more deals. Find out how Highly.Digital can help you with your content marketing plans.
Search engines consider links to be votes of confidence in the quality of another page. Include links to related pages, topical sources, and other resources that support your page’s content. Context is important. Only include relevant links where they make sense and don’t over do it.
Backlinks are considered to be any other website or web page that includes a link back to your site. Search engines consider backlinks to be votes of confidence for your page’s relevance and authority.
Backlinks are an essential component of building authority in your niche. Without them, you won’t be able to rise above the competition. Local citations (explained below) and getting featured in local news are just two ways of getting backlinks.
If you find any issues with your page, fix them right away. Otherwise, you risk missing out on new opportunities to grow traffic and revenue.
Featured Snippet Box: A box at the very top of a Google search result highlighting specific content from a web page.
OK, so this isn’t necessarily part of your audit and to be honest, it’s really hard to get a featured snippet. That said, featured snippets are an amazing way to boost traffic and convert more visitors into customers.
These snippets are meant to provide answers to searchers’ questions.
The most important aspect of featured snippets is that they appear above organic results for a particular search term. This means that these snippets are highly visible and easy to click on.
This makes them ideal for driving clicks and conversions because searchers are much more likely to click on them than any other result. In fact, according to Search Engine Land, featured snippets account for almost 8% of all clicks on SERPs.
But, you can’t simply add in meta data or create special features and automatically get a featured snippet. Nope. According to Google their “systems determine whether a page would make a good featured snippet for a user’s search request, and if so, elevates it.” In other words, focus on creating great content that meets a user need. Simple content marketing.
However, when it comes to local, the most obvious featured snippet box is not really a featured snippet at all. It’s the Google Map Pack and you can try to win that battle.
The Google Map Pack helps users discover nearby businesses with the most relevant info about the business and the location. This is displayed in a Map Box. This is reserved for local businesses with a Google Business Profile. The map pack will only be shown in search results when a user has entered a relevant search query e.g. plumber near me.
With the map pack, users can discover companies with similar offerings and services by clicking on the result. They can learn more about the business, contact the business and navigate to the business location by using Google Maps. It is quite a powerful tool and businesses serving a local area should take advantage of this by creating or optimising their Google Business Profile.
Creating a Google Business profile is essential if you want to optimise your local search rankings. A Google Business profile is a box that appears whenever someone searches for your business online. This box contains your company’s name, address, phone number, website, hours of operation, and other key information that potential customers might want to know.
Make sure that all the information regarding your company is accurate and up to date. By establishing credibility you will encourage the algorithm to rank your company higher.
Make sure to keep your Google Business profile up to date. A well-maintained Google Business profile will help establish credibility and will encourage Google’s algorithm to rank your business higher on local searches. You should update your Google Business profile at least once a week.
Creating an effective Google Business profile isn’t hard if you follow the steps outlined below.
You’ll want to make sure that your Google Business Profile page has been verified. If it hasn’t been verified, you won’t be able to access any of the benefits associated with being listed on Google Maps.
To verify your page, you’ll want to head to the Google Business Profile Dashboard and look under the About section. There, you’ll see a link called Is This Your Business? Click on Manage this page and you’ll be taken to a screen where you can claim your page.
Once you’ve done that, you’ll want to verify your page. You can do that by either calling or sending a postcard and then entering a code. Either way, once you receive confirmation from Google that your page was successfully verified, you’ll be able to access all of the benefits associated with having a verified Google Business page.
Make sure your Google Business Profile shows “100% complete”. If not, take immediate action to complete the missing information.
You should definitely be using your real business name. Not doing so may result in penalties being applied against your account.
For instance, if your business is called “Joe’s Pizza”, don’t try to game the system by calling yourself ‘Italian Restaurant London’.Google may consider that name to be spammy and ban you.
If you’re worried about losing rankings, you can ask SEO experts Highly.Digital to perform a free audit of your profile or website.
Remember, a Google Business Profile is for businesses that have premises at a physical location. Therefore, virtual offices, PO Boxes or UPS Boxes are prohibited.
Use your officially registered business address and make sure it’s consistent everywhere it is published. Definitely make sure it’s the same one used on your website.
Simply, this means you include the main contact number.
As a business operating from a physical location, most people would expect to find opening times or hours of business. You can include different times for each day and you can even update these for holidays.
Make sure your primary category is your most important category. You should only add categories that describe what your business is and not what it does. You should include any relevant categories that apply to your business. Add categories that fit with the guidelines, but avoid including irrelevant ones.
Just keep it simple and use the domain name that your business uses. I know it can be tempting to use link trackers or setup a landing page, but honestly, you’re only wasting your time. If you want, you can use UTM parameters, but again I would keep this simple. At the end of the day, your profile is about consistency, so be consistent. You have lots of other tactics to drive traffic to your website, but this isn’t one of those tactics. This is about local ranking and the map pack.
This will depend on the type of business you have. If you don’t invite the public to your office e.g. you are a service provider like a plumber or content strategist 🙂 you will add photos to your posts.
However, if you are a business that is open to the public, for instance a restaurant, you will want to upload high quality photos of your place of work. You really want to show what the place looks like in real life. Take pictures of the exterior. Include photos of menu items. This is your opportunity to really sell your business to prospective customers.
A citation analysis is a great way to find out if your business listings are accurate and up-to-date! You’ll want to make sure that all of your business citations are current. If you’ve moved, changed names, or updated your phone number, then all of your business listings should reflect those changes.
To perform a local business citation analysis, simply enter your business name and location into Google Maps, Yelp, Bing Places, or another directory service. Then click on the “Search My Businesses” button at the bottom of the results screen. From there, you’ll be able to view your local business citations.
Make sure that all of your business citations are current and correct. If not, your credibility could take quite a hit. Search engines may lower your rankings if they detect outdated information.
A citation is simply the listing or mention of your business name, location, and phone number on the web.
Citations are a form of structured data, meaning that they provide specific information about your business.
They are typically found in business directories, such as Google My Business, Yellow Pages, Bing Places, etc. These listings are usually free to add, although there may be fees associated with adding certain types of businesses.
There are two main types of citations: Structured and unstructured.
Structured citations are provided by business directories. These are generally considered to be the most reliable sources of structured data. Examples of structured citations include those listed in Google My Business, Bing Places, and Yahoo Local.
Unstructured citations are any mentions of your business’ name, address, and/or phone number on the web that are not part of a business directory. These are typically found on blogs, social media sites, forums, news articles, etc.
Customer reviews are incredibly powerful. Not only do they provide insight into whether or not you’re providing excellent customer service, but they also give you a glimpse into what your competitors are doing right.
You should analyse your reviews regularly to find patterns and trends. You’ll then be able to determine if there are any major issues that need addressing. If there are, you’ll be able pinpoint specific actions you can take to fix them.
Your reputation matters. By analysing your reviews, you’ll gain insights into what your customers think of your business. So, keep track of your reviews and respond accordingly. Customer reviews are a great way to show Google that you’re an engaged and responsive business.
You can use various tools to conduct a local SEO audit. These include Google Search Console, Moz Local, Ahrefs, SEMrush, and others. Each of these tools offers a variety of features that can help you identify issues with your website and optimise it for search engines.
For example, Google Search Console allows you to view data such as keywords used in searches, the amount of times your site appears in search impressions, and the specific terms are ranking for your pages (these could be different than your target keyword). You can also use it to submit sitemaps and track changes made to your site. And while we’re talking about Google, don’t forget to make or update your Google Business profile.
You can use Google Analytics to track your progress over time. This tool allows you to record simple metrics like pageviews and also more complex data such as goal conversions on certain elements on your site.
Moz Local allows you to manage & sync business listings across many directories. In addition to posting content to various platforms, you can also use Moz Local to manage customer reviews and keep an eye on your reputation. You can also get handy reports and insights which you can learn from and make ongoing improvements.
Ahrefs provides a basic free site audit tool. However, it’s knowing what to do with this information that’s key. If you need help with your website analysis, contact Highly.Digital and ask for SEO support.
SEMrush lets you analyse competitor websites and find opportunities for improvement. Its Keyword Explorer feature shows you keywords related to your business and helps you find keywords that are underutilised.
These tools can help you identify issues and fix them quickly. Once you’ve identified any problems, you’ll be able to improve your ranking and attract new customers.
BrightLocal provide a range of Local SEO tools. It’s almost like all of the tools above have been rolled into one. However, this convenience comes at a price: $290 per year.
Hopefully by this stage you’ve discovered the importance of local SEO, which is essential to any local business. Now it’s time to apply what you’ve learned to your own business by conducting your own audit.
Start by creating a plan for your local SEO strategy. Then implement the tactics you’ve learned throughout the course of this guide.
Once you’ve performed a local SEO audit, you should record your findings and begin implementing changes to optimise your site. Doing so will help you avoid missing anything during your next round of audits.
Once you start seeing results, keep track of your progress. You’ll be able to determine whether your current SEO strategy is working or whether it needs tweaked.
Local search engine optimization (local SEO) is becoming increasingly important. But it’s not a stand-alone effort. It’s part of a larger strategy that involves using SEO to drive organic traffic to your site.
A local SEO audit is a great way to identify opportunities for improvement and determine whether you need to hire a professional to handle your local SEO needs. The audit will show you where you stand today and give you a clear idea of where you need to focus your efforts moving forward.
By implementing these actionable steps, you’ll ensure that your business also has a strong foundation when new SEO features come along.