If you are a consumer searching online for a business, what is the number one thing that you want to find on the company’s website? For most individuals it is products, services, price and location. Because we are a society with a short attention span, partly due to the internet and social media, we want information immediately and in a format that will provide all of the information we need in one quick glance. This is true for both local businesses and internet retail sites. Customers want to be able to quickly find this information, and if they do not, they will move onto the next website on their Google search. However, local businesses need to go one step further – – they must gain the customer’s trust in order to gain their business.
When consumers are searching for a local company, it is typically because they will be visiting the establishment to purchase a product or a service. The second reason would be if they were searching for a service company that will come to their residence or business to perform a required service. Because of the more personal nature of the relationship between a local small business and its consumer, developing an immediate sense of trust is important if the business expects to gain an advantage over its competition. Whether customers realize it or not, they will choose the company that they consciously or subconsciously trust over a rival competition.
One way to instill trust in the minds of potential customers is to put a face to your small business. In addition to having relevant information on your website, you need photographs too. Once a customer sees that the local small business has the products or services in question, they will then begin to look at the images and reviews contained on the website. Images convey meaning and at first glance they carry a significant amount of weight, as visual stimuli are a large deciding factor in the minds of many consumers. Therefore, you want to make sure that your images instill trust if you want to turn this potential customer into a sale. Below are a few examples of how various images can help generate more business and increase your profit margin.
Images of the owner and staff – Actual images install more trust than photo stock images that are clearly taken from another source. These are usually easy to identify to most people who regularly use the internet. Customers may wonder why the owner does not want to put his own face on his website. Just that little nagging bit of doubt can have them moving on to the next website on the list. If you are operating a business where you expect to have face-to-face contact with your customers, (i.e. plumber, electrician, lawn maintenance, mechanic, beautician, etc.) having your photo and photos of your employees will instill more trust, especially if your customer will be allowing you into their home such as in the case of a plumber or electrician. It gives your customer a sense of security to know what you and your staff looks like before they choose to do business with you.
Images of the business premises – This is another way to instill trust in your customers and highlight why they should choose your small business over another. This is especially important for businesses where the person will be spending some time at the business location (i.e. restaurant, hotel, spa, gym, indoor playground, etc.). While generic photos work well if the person is only shopping (i.e. grocery store, hardware store, etc.), if the person is going to visit your place of business for personal services, they want to see the facilities beforehand prior to making a decision.
Generic photos and clipart – While these types of images may give instant recognition of the business or industry concept, a website that uses only these types of images will probably lose the customer when compared to websites that use actual photographs of the owner, staff and premises. Generic photos and clipart are good tools; however, they should be on the bottom of your image priority list.
When designing your website, remember what you look for when searching for a local business – – a direct personal connection. Using that as your guideline, choose images that would want to make you choose your small business if you were the one searching.
If you want to increase your profits, one way is to make sure that your customers leave you great reviews. However, that may be difficult at times because some customers only want to leave a review when they have something to complain about or they want to vent when they believe they did not receive quality service or products. In order to earn great reviews for your work or products, you must:
1. Perform great work and deliver quality products
2. Ask for a review
3. Make it easy for customers to leave you a review
Of course, the first step is always to perform great work and deliver products that are superior to your competitors. After you have made the customer happy, that is the perfect time to request a review. Customers that are happy will usually provide a review; however, some of them just never think about doing so until they are asked to do so. Customers are more likely to leave you a positive review if you ask them right after you have completed the work for them rather than a few weeks later. You must also make it easy for your customers to leave you a review. If leaving a review means answering lots of questions and going through a 10-step process, most people will not take the time to leave a review. However, if you email them a direct link or place an easy-to-find link on your website that allows customers to simply click a button to give you a 5-star rating and a box to type additional comments, customers will be more likely to give you a review because it is easy.
More tips for encouraging customers to leave you a great rating and a 5-star review:
Going the extra mile – If you take the time to provide extra tips or provide an extra service free of charge, you would be surprised how much more willing your customers will be to leave you a review. For example if you offer free wrapping and gift cards, customers appreciate the extra touch. Another example would be if you notice that a window screen is torn while you are performing lawn care and offer to fix it, that customer will be more inclined to leave you a glowing review.
Follow up with a telephone call – Calling your customer to make sure that they received the product and to ask if they have any questions is a great way to encourage positive reviews. Likewise, following up after performing a service to make sure that the customer is satisfied and to ask if there was anything you could do to improve your service is another way to get a great review. This also gives you the opportunity to ask your customer to give you a review.
Build a good relationship and make it personal – If a customer thinks that they are leaving a review for a person, they are more likely to leave a review than if they believe they are reviewing a large company. Developing a personal relationship with your customer encourages him to leave a review. When asking for a review, make sure to tell the customer how much you appreciate the review as it reflects upon you personally.
Get your employees involved – Explain to your employees that reviews of their performance are specifically tied to bonuses, performance reviews and raises. By making reviews a part of your employee review process, employees are encouraged to provide better service and ask for reviews if they understand that their job is directly tied to the reviews that they receive from customers.
Getting 5-star reviews takes work; however, it begins with providing great service and quality products. If you do this and make it easy for customers to leave reviews, you will definitely see an increase in the number of reviews you receive.
What is Local SEO? Why do I need an Audit or Analysis?
Are you competing with other local businesses? Are you competing with any other business in Google Local? A simple search for your business name on Google will reveal your answer. Chances are you do compete with a bunch of businesses as reflected in your visibility in the Google Search results. However, a Local SEO Audit report will do much more than that. It will include a report on your Local Directory listings, NAP data, descriptions, photos, reviews, ratings, etc. … A local directory listing will include your position, highlight any listing issues, and help you draw a strategic plan to get your business booming with phone calls and inquiries.
We wrote this guide as a simple guideline to show you areas of Local SEO you should be focusing on, what are the weak points and how to eliminate your SEO issues. To keep things simple but effective, we have included other resources to help to understand more elaborate issues.
We will point out the most important areas where you either need improvements or a complete Local SEO Audit. So first and foremost, we will explain why local search is so important. It all started with Google changing its search algorithm, a so-called Pigeon update. Google started putting a lot of emphasis on organic factors. To find out more about Organic SEO Audit, we recommend Steve Webb’s article on, How to Perform the World’s Greatest SEO Audit.”
This guide will address anyone who already has an established Google My Business Page. For more information, please see Google My Business. You will need to have a physical address in the area you are targeting.
Google Local Algorithm is rather complicated and ever changing. It is not in the scope of this guide to go into details about local algorithm because as a website owners we have very little control about it. To mention a few factors, proximity to other businesses and requests for driving directions, etc. could be of a particular interest. But again, we have very little control about these factors.
What we can influence is our attitude and readiness to change our online marketing alongside with the changes to the Search engines. We will see small but constant improvements with every Search algorithm change. There are no shortcuts and eventually everyone who tries to cheat the system will get caught and risk a penalty.
In our company, we always try to provide the best results for our clients. We do this by first and foremost understanding the whole scope of their SEO project. By seeing the whole picture, we can provide a strategic plan that will be efficient and effective.
As always, we look at the big picture. It is crucial to foresee the future but also look back and evaluate the website changes done by our past SEO or Web developer.
So what are the categories we can actually audit in respect to Local SEO?
1. Google My Business
2. Website & Landing page
4. Organic link & penalty
6. Social media
8. Long-term strategy
As you can see, the above list will give you the big picture because it covers pretty much the whole array of possible SEO issues you might encounter. This will make it possible to develop and implement an effective and sustainable Marketing Strategy.
Are there any tools you can use for an SEO Audit? Besides the information presented in this article, you can use our Excel spreadsheet to help you gather information, analyze and outline issues and serves as a practical reference in terms of reaching your target.
There are 5 tabs in the Spreadsheet:
Current info – This tab is meant for gathering information submitted by customers and compares it with the information you find on Google search.
Questions – Questions that will save your time later
Competition – Track and compare your competition
Top 50 citations – 50 sources of citations by Whitespark.
Audit steps – For advanced users, we took everything in this lengthy document and condensed it to an easy to use spreadsheet with an audit checklist and some small notes on what you really need.
Put on your audit shoes and let’s get started!
Step 1: Gather the facts
Whether you’re performing this audit for a client or for your personal business it’s necessary to begin with sufficient information. If you get all necessary information in the beginning, it will save you a lot of time later and you will be able to figure out many issues such as inconsistent NAP immediately.
Have your client fill out current company information; which represents the current company description and NAP information.
Top 10 Questions to ask your client:
1) Have you ever been penalized or do you think you might have been penalized by a search engine?
2) Have you or any of your staff build citations in the past? If yes, ask to see the details, this will help you with citation audit
3) Have you ever worked with an SEO company before? If yes, check their work for accuracy
4) Have you ever done link building? If yes, ask to see the details, this will help you remove bad links
5) What are the keywords you want to be ranked for? This will help you develop a target strategy and make sure you and your client are on the same page.
6) Have you ever changed your business name or used DBA? If yes look into NAP inconsistencies.
7) Is your main business address a P.O. Box? We can’t emphasize enough: Never use a P.O. BOX or UPS Store as the main business address.
8) Is your phone number a land line or mobile? Whether a land line provides any benefit is unclear, but it is good to know some background info about their phone number.
9) Do you know of any other websites that are redirecting to your website? If they are using 301 redirect, they might need to be audited as well.
10) Have you ever used call tracking? In general, call tracking can hurt your Local Directory listing if your phone number and address records are inconsistent with other listings.
Local SEO audit phase 1: Google My Business page
The information on the Google My Business Dashboard can be extremely useful. Please, always check the Google Guidelines as they change frequently and our information might be outdated.
Collect info from Google My Business and Use the “Current Info” tab in the spreadsheet.
1. Find the right Google My Business page
Login into Google My Business Dashboard and copy and verify with the business owner that this is the actual Page URL he intends to use.
2. Find and delete duplicate pages
Duplicate listings on Google My Business will negatively affect your Local SEO.
Find duplicates using Google MapMaker http://www.google.com/mapmaker or https://plus.google.com/local by searching for the business phone number or business name. In case you encounter duplicate URL’s, record them in your spreadsheet and delete them.
This issue is not uncommon at an attorney office where each attorney is listed as a separate business with same phone number and address. Remember there should only be one listing per address/
3. Find out whether the local listing is possibly penalized
A Local Listing could be penalized without any obvious signs, you might not even be notified by Google unless your Google Local account gets suspended. You will see a suspension warning on your Dashboard marked in RED.
Figuring out Google penalties in the local landscape is not usually a walk in the park. In fact there are a lot of variables to consider and now this is a bigger deal post Google’s Pigeon, as more organic variables get involved. We will look into other types of penalties a little bit later in this guide. Unlike organic penalties, Google does not notify businesses of local penalties unless account gets suspended with a big red warning in your My Business Dashboard.
Next step: Search for your business on Google Search. Do this by searching for your keywords for example ” personal injury attorney Los Angeles “. At the same time search on Google Maps with the same search term. If you business shows up only on Google Maps but not on Google Places, which represents your local listing, it is very likely that you are being penalized. You could also consult an SEO expert when unsure.
4. Check email address associated with Google My Business account
We recommend to use an email address that contains the domain name of the business. For example. My.Name@aceweboptimization.com as opposed to just firstname.lastname@example.org
Such little details assure Google that you are indeed the business owner. On the other hand, the business owner will keep the control of who gets notified of any changes to his Google Business account.
5. Get verified
Make sure your Google My Business page is verified. You will see this information in the dashboard. You can get verified by phone immediately or post card in a week or so.
Another possibility is that the page has not been claimed. If you see on the actual listing page saying “Is this your Business?” Click on it and then Manage this page to claim the listing.
6. Is the business name, address, and phone consistent across the web?
Always make sure that the Business Name, Address, and Phone (NAP) are identical across the web as much as possible. As of recently, Google allowed for an additional one word descriptor in the business name field, to help customers locate your business or to understand what does your business do. You can find out further information in Google s local business name guidelines.
7. Check the postal address
The addresss should be complete and accurate accordingly with the US Post Office records. It is not a good idea to include anything, not even a cross street. You can see more information at Google address guidelines here.
As we mentioned before, don’t use P.O. Boxes or UPS Boxes. Additionaly, Virtual offices are problematic as well. All these can get you penalized.
8. Check the phone number
Ideally, use a local number including the area code. Do not use an 800 number as the primary number.
9. Check your category association!!!
It is absolutely essential that you check and use all the categories in your industry. But beware, your listing could substantially jump by choosing the right or wrong (unrelated) primary category. Your primary category is one that has the closest association to your most important keywords. Other categories could be related to your main products or services.
10. Check Contact Email address
Your Google Local page lets has a contact by email feature Please, verify that Contact Information contains the right email address and again, make sure this email address is identified by your domain name and not a free email services.
11. Check Website URL
For small businesses with a single location you can use home page URL. If the business has more locations, use a landing page for each location. Beware, if your landing page has particularly low organic authority, it will reflect on your listing, so make sure the landing page provides the best user experience.
Excellent URL Examples for landing pages:
12. Check business description
This description should be brief and unique. Make sure you just don’t copy and paste from other related listings. Simply, use it to describe your business to customers.
13. Check that Profile is 100% complete
Check that Google My Business profile marker shows 100% completed.
14. Check Google Map & Search photos
Pictures and photos are very important and should present your business in a professional and accurate way. You should use the best images available.
15. Check your Business hours
Make sure Business Hours are complete and accurate.
16. Be active on Google+
Business should be active on its Google+ page and post at least once a week.
17. Add Virtual Tour
If budget allows, you should sign up for this program. Only a Google Trusted Photographer can validate pictures for the Virtual Tour. This prevents abuse and it also provides for a greater user experience. Learn more about this program here.
Local SEO audit PART 2:
Checking Website and Landing page rankings
As mentioned previously the so-called Pidgeon Update brought changes to Local Listings. Organic SEO of your website or landing page helps you better compete in the Local Listing. Please check the URL section above and read how to properly link a website or landing page in your Google My Business Dashboard.
1. Check and Correct NAP on landing page
Always make sure your NAP or Business Name, Address, and Phone are accurate and consistent across all the marketing channels. Common issues you may encounter are using call tracking without knowing how to do it properly, or listing phone numbers in the form of images. In this case, use ALT text in any images that you want crawled by Google.
2. URL Structure
In general, check for simple and common issues within the URL structure of the business website. Have a relevant page for every specific service, location, or individual professional.
Make sure the home page has a lot of useful information and links to other relevant sub-pages. Also make sure that your blog is hosted within your domain. And as mentioned before, have your locations pointing to individual subpages.
Please see this for additional reading on optimizing URL structures.
3. Business hours
Listing your business hours will give you better organic ranking because there are a lot of customer who search just for that. If your business hours are visible only in as image make sure the image ALT text is reflecting that.
4. Auditing Landing pages
Optimized Landing pages are extremely crucial for local listings especially if your business has multiple locations. Check that the landing page content is unique for each location. As reported by Mary Bowling; its is a good idea to delegate the writing to local staff who is familiar with the specific location. It adds a local flavor each time an article is posted. In general, we advise that article\s should be at least 400 words long. However, we have seen exceptions as well.
For more information on this topic, please see Miriam Ellis article about ” Local Landing Pages: A Guide To Great Implementation In Every Situation.
5. Indexing landing pages
Do a quick Google Search for the specific URL. If the URL is not indexed that means there is an issue with Organic SEO or it is being penalized.
6. META Title Tag
Properly optimized landing page title is our next issue you should be investigating. It should be optimized for the business name, keywords, and location including city and state for Local SEO Listing. For more on this topic, please see Matt Cutts’ Give each store a URL.
7. Meta description
The META description may show in the search results right below the title. Google actually modifies this information based on searcher’s intentions. However, we recommend having one in place as it may help you control results.
8. H1 Heading tags
A single H1 tag helps you optimize your Landing page in Organic Search Results. If you can add the city, state, and keyword in a non obtrusive way, we recommend going for it.
9. Driving directions and a map included on landing page
Improving user experience will help your Local Search Listing, and Driving Dirtection with map is one of easy tools you can use. Simply visit the classic Google Maps and embed the code from here.
We recommend including direction in a text format, and landmark pictures as well.
10. Payment information
Remember payment and pricing information included on website increases conversions. In any way, it is a powerful and free content and a great part of improving customer experience. You will also save many phone calls.
11. Customer reviews
Client reviews and testimonials are a great way to increase confidence in your products and services. To get the greatest impact from reviews, use the hReview tag on your landing page. hReview tags tell Google to use certain data to display review and stars in search results. So properly tagged reviews on website can increase your clickthrough rate. More clicks equals more business. You can use MicroDataGenerator to generate the code
12. Alt text for images on landing page
To achieve the Best Results in Local SEO, any images on landing pages should be properly tagged with ALT tags including city and state. For example, an images of the business should use an alt tag like this: “Jim’s Harware in Denver, CO”.
13. Check Page authority
There are many good reasons to have landing pages well optimized and noticed by Google. It definitely helps in local SERPs. Record the PA in your spreadsheet.
14. NAP in hCard / Schema.org
As mentioned previously, the NAP data should be made crawlable on the website. To help Google identify the kind of data, make sure it is in hCard microformat.
We like to use the Microdata Generator.
You will find further reading on the hCard microformat here.
15. Loading time of pages
Loading time is an essential metric when it comes to popularity of a website. If your website takes a long time to load, Google might not spend much time indexing your website and so your visitors might feel the same way. Measure your website speed with URI Valet and try to optimize it for less than 3.5 seconds at the 1.5mbps. Google Analytics also reports your speed. Check out Google’s Page Speed Insights for more information.
16. Check if there is a KML file on domain
Check Sitemaps in Google Webmaster Tools, if there is a KML file submitted. You can add a KML geo site map with Geo Map Site Generator.
Altough Google doesn’t support KML files, it is a small step towards having a perfectly optimized website.
17. Check Domain authority
You won’t have much control about Domain authority, but record it in your spreadsheet to compare against competitors.
18. Check Footer address
We see a lot of businesses including their address on the website in the footer. It is acceptable if the business has a single location; however, too many addresses will create confusion for the search engines.
19. Check for keyword stuffing?
Keyword stuffing is mentioning the keywords too many times to a point where the content seems unnatural. Make sure the keyword appears on the page only once or twice.
Read more about keyword stuffing or irrelevant keywords.
20. Check if Landing page is readable by search engines
Landing pages made with Flash look very cool; however, if you are trying to get indexed by a search engine, there is no content to crawl.
An easy method to check if your page is crawlable is pressing CTRL+A. Everything that is crawlable will be highlighted in blue.
21. Check if website is mobile friendly
Google has mentioned on few occasions that websites with anything than a mobile friendly design may get less visibility in their search results. Mobile friendly design are a must. We prefer responsive designs where the content gets resized based on your device’s screen resolution and screen orientation.
Read more about creative website designs.
How to: To know if your website is mobile friendly you can open the website and the landing page on your mobile device or tablet. You can also check out tools like Browserstack which let you know how your website looks and how it operates with different browsers and sizes.
22. Check if content is mobile friendly
It’s great to have a separate mobile optimized website such as http://m.mydomain.com. Just make sure the content is not showing as a duplicate. Run a duplicate content check for both regular and mobile website.
23. WHOIS information review
As a domain owner you can opt for privacy protection otherwise you need to disclose contact name, address, phone number, and email address. We recommend keeping this information publicly accessible and it should match the business location and NAP. It will prove even more that you are the business owner.
You can check WHOIS information here.
24. Install Google Analytics
It is important to install Google Analytics on the website. You can search to see the tracking code snippet by using your browser’s “View page source” tool. You can also use with most browsers
a keyboard shortcut CTRL+U.
Click here for Google Analytics guide.
25. Use Google & Bing Webmaster Tools
Google Webmaster Tools is very useful for SEO. You can see if your website got penalized, indexed or review crawling errors. Log in to Google and Bing Webmaster Tools and see if your accounts are set up correctly.
Local SEO audit PART 2: Auditing Citations
Quality over Quantity. This is the motto of Auditing Citations. The reason is that Better Quality citations will always be more relevant than the number of citations from Lower Quality sources. As always you need to make your own research in order to see what works in the long-term and what doesn’t. Therefore, perform a Link Analysis on your client’s domain
What are Citations?
Citations are listings of NAP on the web; business name, address, and phone number. A simple listing on Yellow Pages will contain business name, address, and phone number. There are two types of citations: structured and unstructured. Yellow Pages listing is an example of a structured citation in a business directory. Unstructured citations are mentions of NAP such as a local newspaper article, or magazine’s website.
Check data aggregators
Companies that sell business listings are called data aggregators. Their clients are other directories and listings. Make sure all the NAP information is correct and there are no duplicates/
Why are citations so important?
Citations have always been a major variable in the Local SEO algorithm. It is debatable how much they actually matter in the recent Google algorithm changes. However, for the best customer experience keep the citations profile clean and accurate.
What is the citation audit all about?:
Check if the business is listed, check for duplicates, and 100% accuracy. In the spreadsheet, you will find the top 50 citation sources. Another good idea is to check that the business is listed in Apple Maps. You never know if someone on an iOS device will search for you.
1. Check data aggregators
Data aggregators or data brokers own huge databases and sell your information to other businesses, mostly other directories. Top U.S. data aggregators are Infogroup, Factual, Localeze, and Acxiom.
2. Check the top 50 citations
Check that your business is listed, and all the information is 100% accurate and there are no duplicates
Top 50 Citation Sources provided by Whitespark.
3. What are some quality sources for citations?
This will depend on your industry. There are local newspapers, and other publications. There are also niche websites that are relevant to your products and services.
For Attorneys: Lawyers.com, FindLaw.com, Martindale.com, Avvo.com
Restaurants: Yelp.com, Zagat.com, TripAdvisor.com, OpenTable.com
More reading on this topic can be found here. Another good resource is Brightlocal and its Best Niche Citation Sites for 41 Business Categories
4. Check Apple Maps
Not a big player in the Local Search yet, but worth mentioning is Apple Maps Connect. A new service started just in October 2014. Visit Apple Maps Connect, login and make sure your NAP is 100% correct.
Local SEO audit PART 4: Organic search, links, and penalty
There are plenty of approaches and methods for applying SEO on clients’ websites. The most important rule is whatever you do, don’t get penalized. A penalty will affect ranking in the short-term as well as in the long-term. Even if business changed its website years ago, there are links that might connect the dots. So when you Audit your client’s website make sure you check links thoroughly.
The link audit
When it comes to link audit, experience and skill outweigh any tools or gadgets. We audit hundreds and thousands of links manually. There are some popular tools to make your job easier, but they are not perfect.
1. Check manual action tab in Webmaster tools
Once you verify your website in Google Webmaster Tools, you should check on the manual actions tab if one of your pages got penalized and has any webspam activity.
2. Checking for organic penalty
This part is a little tricky because there is no obvious sign to look for, but you can look and see if there are any significant changes in organic traffic. This information is available through Google Webmaster tools. Check complete guide to algorithm changes.
We look for the trends in a website’s traffic analysis and try to align any spikes with dates of changes in the Google algorithm. A great tool that will make it easier for you is the Panguin tool.
3. Check the number of links
A great part of website audit is checking the number of links on the website and individual landing pages. Record this number in your spreadsheet. It will help you analyze future issues and compare with competition.
4. Anchor text
Anchor text is the clickable text of links and buttons you find on websites. This often contains an important keywords. You can use some keywords in your Anchor text, but makes sure it looks natural and you use it to advertise your brand more than your commercial services or products.
You can read more about anchor text in the Anchor Text Distribution Study: Powered By Search Anchor Text Study
5. Viral links
Live fast, die young! One of the most ill-conceived SEO methods is that getting a lot of links from any source can make your website rise to stardom quicker than competition. Sure, there are successful viral campaigns, but these are backed by solid quality links from domains with top authority. Please, make sure that any sudden increase in links is double-checked for quality. Otherwise, you are exposing yourself to a higher risk of penalty.
6. Check disavow file
This file will help you in case your website has bad links. It will help in case the website contains bad links. Upload and update this file monthly.
Local SEO audit PART 5: Reviews
Good reviews are very important for getting new customers and have them come back for more. Reviews are often overlooked because they are difficult to manage, difficult to get and difficult to get positive only. They are still one of most important parts of our Local SEO Audit.
a) Do I need good reviews?
Yes, good reviews are a good sign for customers and the search engines that you are a worthwhile business.
b) Can I copy the reviews?
Reviews should be unique across the web. If you replicate the same review posted on five different websites it might get disregarded.
c) Do Elite reviewers matter?
Yelp has an Elite user group whose members are more trusted than an average user. So not every reviewer is the same.
1. Google My Business reviews
Natural and legitimate reviews are excellent signs for customers to do business with your business.
Google’s review guidelines allow businesses to ask their customers for a feedback.
We recommend at least ten 4-star or 5-star reviews depending on the type of business. A popular restaurant will have more reviews than an optician or a plaintiff lawyer.
2. Check niche review sites
Niche websites are great for referral traffic. You can see your referral traffic in Google Analytics. Look for the sites that refer the most visitors to you and see if they allow reviews. Always follow their review guidelines. Some websites including Yelp prohibit soliciting reviews.
On the other hand, you should look for websites that are not sending you any traffic. This could be a sure sign of an issue./ Your reviews might be too low so read them and learn from them.
Local SEO audit PART 6: Social media
Social media has a lot of relevance to Local SEO and needs a lot of attention when it comes to SEO Audit. What search engines are mostly looking for is NAP information, which should be always accurate, check-ins, and brand consistency across all web. There are some other tools that you can take advantage of such as geo-tagged content. Panoramio is a great example of geo-tagged content. Additionally, Youtube.com is one of some great video sharing websites. Again, you should take advantage of geo-tagging and include NAP information in the description field. Youtube.com can help you increase conversion if you use high quality video content. As mentioned previously, make sure your NAP is consistent and content unique.
One major factor you should have in mind about any social profile is that you should not have duplicates. Not only will it create a bad user experience, it can also cause data uncertainty. You must learn how to manage brand in every place.
1. Facebook reviews
Any business that has a valid postal address should take advantage of Facebook Pages. Include correct NAP and link to your website. Reviews the quality of cover and profile photo. Make sure the page appears complete. In the near future, try to increase your Facebook Likes, Facebook Shares, posts and check-ins.
1. Check Facebook NAP for accuracy.
2. Check Images for cover and profile
3. Check link to business website
4. Check for post activity
5. Check for any business check ins
6. Check for reviews as described above
2. Foursquare and Swarm
Foursquare Audit steps are the same as Facebook steps
3. Google Plus audit
Google Plus works a little differently than Facebook or Foursquare. Being in the relevant Google Groups and Google Circles can make a great impact at a potential customer. Being active includes participating in Google Groups, posting to your Google+ profile and sharing messages with an appropriate user audience. Being active at least once a week is the golden rule of social media.
3. YouTube audit
Check that videos contain quality content, include NAP information and link to a landing page in description and use Geo-tagging.
Local SEO audit PART 7: Competition
Analyzing your competition is more art than science. Don’t look at the number of link your competitor has. Remember: Quality over Quantity. Be creative, if your competition is not doing it, try it out. If you want to beat your competition you need to come up with a long term plan, we advise our clients.
Analyze this: Competition
You can definitely learn something by looking at your competition. Use it to develop a long term strategy not a short term boom or bust.
1) Check their citations and compare to see if you are missing any of the good quality ones.
2) Check their links to see what is it that they do differently? For example, if they run a story in a major newspaper, see what you can learn from it to develop a future campaign.
3) Are you better than competition? If yes, what do you consider being better at, getting more traffic, sales etc.
2. Analyze that: Direct Competitors
Record a list of direct competitors and their metrics in your spreadsheet. For each competitor record the following
1) Domain Authority
2) Domain authority of their root domain
3) Page Authority of competing landing page
4) Page authority of the competing Google My Business landing page
5) Number of links from root domain
6) Number of links from other unique domains
7) Number of citations
We suggest using Moz Local, Whitespark or Brightlocal’s tools..
Local SEO audit PART 8: Long-term Strategy
Throughout this guide, we covered all information that would let you identify strengths and issues that are either right on the dot or they need some improvements. Create a checklist of all issues and see which ones are the most important and need to be taken care of sooner than later.
We tend to concentrate on quality:
1. Quality Link Building: Please see, Casey Markee’s sin city Link Building
2. Quality content submission
3. Quality structured and unstructured citations
4. Quality Customer Reviews
Our customers appreciate our SEO efforts because we always develop and follow a set plan. We never try to chase clicks, we always earn them. Never sign up for a flat-fee SEO plan without setting a detailed long-term strategy. We hope you can see from our article that this can only hurt your Local SEO Listings.