This is an edited excerpt of the ‘Elements to Audit and Why’ lesson from Amanda Jordan’s free ‘How to Perform Local SEO Audits for Multi-location Businesses’ course in BrightLocal Academy.
In order to build a strong SEO strategy for any multi-location business, you need to conduct a thorough local SEO audit. This audit will enable you to understand where the business is flourishing and where it’s failing in local search. This will help you to create a successful strategy that will allow the business to focus its efforts in all of the right places.
Before you can conduct a local SEO audit, you first need to understand what to audit and why. My local SEO audits include multiple sections focusing on the different principles that impact rankings, as well as those that have the ability to convert searchers into customers.
These sections include:
- A Google Business Profile review
- An online reputation assessment
- An analysis of Google Business Profile landing pages
- Citation checking and tracking
- A backlink analysis
While how important each of these actions is can be debated, local SEO professionals generally agree that all of these factors impact rankings.
Let’s take a look at each one in more detail.
Google Business Profile Listing
A recent survey from Whitespark found that Google Business Profile (formerly known as Google My Business) is THE number one ranking factor for the Local Pack. This means that a Google Business Profile (GBP) listing is the foundation for all ranking factors. After all, you can’t rank in Google Maps without a GBP listing.
There are several elements of a Google Business Profile that impact your ability to rank or convert, such as Google Reviews, business categories, and business attributes. So knowing how well a client’s GBP listing is performing is essential for a local SEO audit.
According to the Whitespark survey, reviews are the second most important factor for ranking in the Local Pack. This means that Google reviews from customers that include keywords about your client’s products or services are critical to their search success.
Your client’s overall online reputation is extremely important for conversions. This means you should be aware of results across all platforms for searches related to your client’s reputation. For example “company x reviews,” “is x a good company,” and “reviews for company x.”
Google Business Profile Landing Page
Within a GBP listing, a business can provide a link to its website. The content on this site can impact online rankings in Google Maps and organic search results. So it’s important to know how well the homepage is optimized for your client’s top products and services.
It’s also wise to have a clear unique value proposition and conversion opportunity on this page. Additionally, ensure searchers are provided with the information they need to encourage them to choose your client over a competitor. The page should answer these questions:
- What’s the product and/or service?
- Why should I choose this company over the competitors?
- How can I contact this company?
- Can I trust this company?
- Where can I learn more information?
For those of you who aren’t familiar, citations are online mentions of your client’s business name, address, and phone number. This is often within social media listings and directories, but also includes anywhere online where this data is shown.
Google often uses third-party data in Google Business Profile. When data on directory listings and third-party sites is incorrect, it can lead to Google pulling inaccurate data about a business. Therefore, it’s important to make sure your client’s data is correct everywhere in case a searcher finds the business on a third-party site.
There is thought to be a strong correlation between the quantity and quality of citations, and rankings. Citations also often provide links to your client’s website, which can be extremely helpful for businesses who need help building links.
For your audit, you’ll need to track the business’s citations. This is so you know where it’s listed and how accurate the information in those listings is. You will also want to find out which citations the top competitors have that this business doesn’t so it can level up.
Backlinks are links to a client’s website from any other website. While link building is not always considered to be within the remit of a local SEO, there are ways to use your local SEO expertise to provide insight into backlink opportunities.
Backlinks help improve rankings in organic results, as well as in Google Maps, so they’re extremely important and need to be part of a local SEO audit.
To be able to offer your client recommendations on their backlinks, and help them close the gap on their competition, you’ll need to know what backlinks they already have and which ones their competitors have.
Want to learn how to audit each of these elements for any multi-location business? Head over to BrightLocal Academy and enrol on Amanda’s ‘How to Perform Local SEO Audits for Multi-location Businesses’ course for free!