In this digital age, almost every business has an online presence. Business owners naturally look to capitalize on this, and generate as many leads as possible. However, it is widely acknowledged that this cannot be done by simply hosting a website for your business. There are certain calculated, proven processes that can help your business get the kind of online traction that you want, and that’s where local SEO comes in. But let’s begin with the basics.
What Is Local SEO?
Simply put, local SEO is the process of optimizing your business’ online presence so that it ranks well organically for local searches. Queries such as ‘Boutiques near me’, or ‘Window cleaners in Michigan’ have a geographically localised intent, and hence are categorized as local searches. Local SEO optimizes different aspects of your website in order for it to appear as a top result in such searches, including a spot in the coveted Google Local 3-pack.
That being said, understanding how to determine the quality of local SEO for your website is the key to refining it further, thus boosting your online presence. Here’s an audit checklist that you can use to evaluate your business’ local SEO and find ways to better it.
As the name indicates, keywords are certain words or phrases (also known as longtail keywords) that would help people find your business through internet searches. These words have to be incorporated into your website content so that search engines can sort and present it for the relevant search results. Here’s what you need to keep in mind while auditing keywords.
- Select a set of keywords that you want to rank for in local searches. For example, if you own a moving company in Chicago, you might want to rank for search terms such as Movers, Packers, Moving company, Chicago, Illinois, etc. Make sure these keywords are included in your website content.
- Make sure that you select a keyword that has a sizable search volume. You can use free tools like Google Keyword Planner, Ubersuggest.io or Keywords Everywhere to determine factors like search volume, competition, and the going cost-per-click (CPC) rate.
- Make sure your web pages have a keyword density of about 2-5%, so as to avoid keyword stuffing.
Metadata refers to certain descriptive content in your website that plays an important role in determining its rankings. This includes your title tag, meta description, keywords, etc. Here’s how you can audit your site’s metadata.
- Make sure that your title tag includes your primary keyword and the city/state that your business is located in. You can limit the title tag to 60 characters to enhance readability.
- Your meta description should not exceed 150 characters, and should ideally contain two or three keywords. This makes it easier for people (and even bots) to get a good idea about your business.
- Make sure all the images in your website have relevant alt attributes.
Google My Business Listing
Having an updated Google My Business (GMB) listing for your business is vital to rank in search results. This serves as the primary point of reference for most of your customers, and hence carries a lot of weight when it comes to your business’ online presence. Take a look at your business’ GMB listing, and make sure to incorporate the following pointers.
- Check to make sure that your business info is accurate and updated, including the name, address, phone number (NAP), working hours and website link. Don’t skip out on adding the zip code either.
- Ensure that your business listing adheres to Google’s guidelines.
- To make the most of your GMB listing, make sure that you fill up all the details asked for on the Info page. This includes details like, images of your store location, Google Posts, the service menu, business hours, reservation or appointment call-to-actions (CTAs), etc.
Citations are references to your business from other sites and directories. These references need not have a link to your website. However, they are still used by search engines as a ranking signal to determine credibility. Since citations help in rankings, it is paramount that you make sure your business is listed in all the major online directories such as Yelp, Foursquare, Yellowpages, etc.
Listing your business across all these directories can be a time-consuming task. You could consider using a tool like Synup that automatically lists your business info across all major directories.
Social Media Presence
Social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and Snapchat have established themselves as major sources of online traffic for businesses worldwide. Having an active social media profile in these sites has become an important part of local SEO. Here are a few pointers to follow while auditing your online social presence.
- Make sure your social media pages are active and that you are posting relevant content frequently.
- Determine a niche when it comes to your audience and take efforts to reach out to them. This helps in generating quality leads and reviews.
- Check to see if you’re following influencers and leaders in your industry. Make an effort to engage with them and possibly get them to endorse you.
- If it takes up too much of your time, make sure to appoint a person solely to handle your social media.
Simply put, backlinks are links that are given to your website from another website. Backlinks are essential because they pave the way for your website to be discovered and indexed by search engines. The number of backlinks that your website has also helps determine its domain authority; the more number of backlinks your website has, the higher your domain authority.
You can check the number of backlinks that your site has, using any of the free online tools that are available, such as this one from Small SEO Tools. Once you get a clear idea of your website’s backlink strength, you can go ahead and decide if you need to work on link building. Find out more on how to go about it here.
So, there you have it. Hope this guide proves helpful in performing a basic SEO audit for your website and structuring a plan of action to improve your rankings. You can also make use of this free printable Local SEO Audit Checklist to aid you in your endeavor. Happy SEO-ing!