Whatever kind of local business you have – a coffee shop in Philadelphia, a dental clinic in Chicago or a car rental business in Los Angeles – your website is the foundation of any online promotion strategy. So to make the most of your marketing campaign, it is crucial to ensure that your website is absolutely healthy. A site audit is like a medical examination for your business – you discover factors that affect your local search visibility and what needs to be cured and fixed.
How can you conduct an overall local website audit? Let’s break it down the entire process into a few sections and take a closer look at each of them.
On-page Technical Audit
Performing a technical audit is essential for every website, whether it is a local one or not. No matter how professional your webmaster is, your website is still likely to have at least some problems. And any on-page technical issues or errors are SEO-obstacles leading to poor website performance and decreasing your potential traffic.
Here are some items checked during a technical audit:
- Website visibility. You need to make sure that search engine crawlers can access and index all of your website’s pages, that there are no broken links, and that all moved pages have proper redirects and so on.
- Duplicate content. All content published on your website should be unique. Otherwise it may seriously damage your search rankings.
- Title tag. This is an important SEO element, which also appears on SERP, so pay particular attention to it. To improve your homepages’ ranking, the title tag should contain your business name and type. For a local business, it should also include your city or state name – and the same goes for each location-specific page.
- Meta description tag. This tag is shown in organic results as snippet text; therefore, it has real influence over potential customers and can persuade them to choose your website over competitor’s, even if it is ranking lower. Make sure that your description tag is unique, and that it briefly describes your page’s content and includes both business and location keywords.
- Alt text. Ensure that all your images have a proper alt text containing your targeted keywords and are geo-optimized, if possible.
- Internal links. All your internal links should be relevant to your content and have proper anchors. Tip: try not to use images to link to other pages, as search engines do not read them as anchor texts.
A technical audit is a complicated and time-consuming process. Of course you can check each item manually or with the help of a set of specialized tools. However, the easiest way is to use a comprehensive audit tool.
The SEMrush Site Audit Tool is a checker that helps reveal any technical, content, semantic or link problems on your website. After crawling your site pages, it provides you with a list of issues prioritized by severity – from major errors (like broken links or duplicate content) to recommendations.
Your content is a perfect vehicle for driving traffic, and it can directly impact your search rankings. But do not forget that your goal is not to merely satisfy the demands of search engines, but also to give visitors what they’re looking for.
Check for the following aspects:
- Geo-optimized texts on your website pages. Mentions of your business’ location can boost your website visibility in local search. But the idea is not just stuff your text with local-friendly keywords, but to provide your users with helpful and relevant information. So think about how you can associate your products or services with a particular city or district. For example, if own a hotel, you can write about sightseeing or nightlife; if you run a real estate agency, allude to history and architecture; if you own a car rental service, talk about city’s traffic network. One more tip: your landing page is the most significant page of your website, and it requires a lion’s share of your attention. But if your business has multiple locations, it is better to create properly geo-optimized pages for each of your business locations.
- Clear and visible NAP (name, address, phone number). This data is the most essential part of local optimization. Make sure that it is crawlable by search engines. That means it should be text, not an image. Even if you decide to display only part of your contact information – say, your phone number – as image, ensure that it has a corresponding alt text. To make your NAP easier to find, you can put it on every page of your website – for example, you can insert it in the footer area.
- Driving directions and embedded Google map. Provide driving instructions and put a marker on Google map . This is a great way to create a better user experience, and it can be a good ranking factor as well.
If your business is a local one, citations are one of the most important factors for ranking in Google and Bing. Therefore, it is important to make sure that you have accurate citation profiles and no duplicates in your listing.
Here’s what you need to audit:
- Number and quality of citations. The most valuable citations come from authoritative and locally-oriented resources. You can check your citations list with MOZ Local, and discover new high-quality opportunities using Whitespark Local Citation Finder.
- Correctness and consistency of information. Citations should contain the same business name and location information that your website does.
- Duplicate content. If you have two listings in, say, Yelp – for example, “Coffee Break” and “Coffee Break Company” – one of them should be deleted.
Backlinks have a strong impact on your SEO, and they can be negative as well as positive. High quality links improve your website’s authority, while numerous backlinks from irrelevant and suspicious resources can hurt your rankings and result in penalties from Google.
To be sure that your website is healthy, you should conduct a backlink audit on a monthly basis. Check the number and quality of your backlinks. You can do this easily with tools like Ahrefs, Majestic SEO, Open Site Explorer or SEMrush. Then analyze the results. Are your backlinks coming from relevant websites or do you have lots of low-quality links from spammy sources? If you feel that some of your backlinks could cause harm, you can ask their owners to remove them or use Google’s Disavow Tool.
Google My Business Audit
Google My Business is an incredible marketing tool for improving local SEO that combines all of Google’s useful services into a single platform.
How to examine your Google My Business page:
- First of all, make sure that your GMB listing is verified. You will know if it is after you log in; and if it is not verified, check the instructions in Google My Business Help.
- Your NAP data needs to match the NAP data displayed on your website. As we already mentioned above, your contact information should be consistent throughout all your local listings.
- The description of your business should be well-written and include your targeted keywords. You can also include links to your website and add visual content.
- Pay attention to the map pin – is it located correctly?
- Ensure that you’ve selected the proper business categories. To get better results, try choosing as few categories as possible. Also, the closer the categories you select are to your main keyword, the better.
- Make certain that there are no duplicates of your business page.
Social Media Audit
When planning your online promotion strategy, you can’t just ignore a powerful tool like social media. Here’s how your local business can improve its presence on social media:
- Check your information in your social media profiles. Is it accurate and consistent? Does it include geographic factors (e.g. address and local phone number)? Does it provide a visible link to your website?
- Take a look at the content you’re posting. Social platforms offer great opportunities for local businesses to reach and engage their exact target audience – for example, geotagging.
- See how consistent you are when managing your social media channels. You do not need to post all the time, but try to publish your content regularly to drive more engagement.
What is the difference between a good audit and an excellent audit? A good audit helps you understanding your problems, oversights and opportunities. A great one, in addition, provides comparative information on how you are performing compared to your competitors.
So after conducting a comprehensive audit of your online presence, take a look at what your competitors are doing:
- Study their on-page content and adapt fresh and successful ideas to update and create your own content.
- Review their backlinks and citations and find out if you’ve missed some easy opportunities to promote your business.
- Take a look at how they represent themselves on social media and get some inspiration for developing a more engaging social media campaign.
A well-executed website audit is an invaluable source of information. However, it is just the first step – now you need to apply this knowledge to your strategy. Make a checklist of what you need to fix or improve, define your priorities and start building your way to local visibility.
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