Local SEO Audit: Everything You Need to Know (2022)

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There are quite a few ranking factors to keep in mind in local SEO. But, once you have the right process, you can dominate Google’s first page for your target keywords.

In this blog post, we’ll give you a 13-point local SEO audit checklist to help you:

  • Dominate your local market
  • Attract high-quality leads on autopilot

After reading this guide, you won’t even need local SEO training to put your business in front of the right people.

Let’s get started.

How Is Local SEO Different?

Now, SEO in the traditional sense means improving your site’s rankings on a national or international level.

Whereas, local SEO refers to ranking on local search terms and connecting with people in your area.

Therefore, some of the strategies in local SEO are purely focused on reaching prospects in a particular area.

Now that you know how local SEO is different, it’s time we told you how to rank locally by using our local SEO audit free checklist.

Local SEO: 13-Point Checklist

Keywords/SERPs

One of the first things you want to do while doing a local SEO audit is a SERP analysis. Analyze the first-page results for the target queries you want to rank for.

The goal here is to figure out where you stand relative to the competing websites. This is important because you don’t want to waste your time working on the wrong keywords.

Especially the keywords you don’t stand a chance of ranking for.

Now, you shouldn’t completely dismiss important keywords because there’s too much competition on the SERPs.

However, it’s generally best to keep your local SEO strategy realistic. For instance, you might temporarily want to work on certain keywords via the Google Ads route. And as you build your authority, you can strive to get organic rankings with confidence.

There are many keyword research tools that can help you select the right local search queries. Or, you can do a manual search and analyze the first-page results yourself.

Pro tip: Use Google Chrome’s Incognito Window to keep the results non-biased/non-personalized. Keep in mind that different people use different search queries to find the same thing. So, you don’t want to focus on a single keyword.

Think of the various phrases your prospects might be using to reach businesses like yours and incorporate them into your strategy. Plus, in order to rank, you need to address the search intent of a query.

This also impacts where your target customers are in their buying journey. For instance, some would just be looking for a viable solution to their problem. While others might be ready to buy the next product they feel can solve their problem.

Website Audit

Now that you know your target keywords, it’s time to make sure your site is search-engine-friendly, i.e., crawlable and indexable.

Typically, a technical audit is used to analyze a site’s content, structure, and overall user experience.

There are many tools that can crawl your site and help you identify any loopholes. The most important part of any website audit is on-page optimization.

On-page optimization is all about good user experience and relevant, high-quality content.

This typically means a visitor should find what they’re looking for without any delays. Search engines crawl your web pages to understand what they’re about.

They analyze an entire page, especially the title and headings, to determine the keywords it should rank for.

This is why your pages need to be optimized for target keywords. Use these keywords in your URLs, meta descriptions, titles, and headings because these are the most important locations on your pages. Here’s a good example:

Note that the keyword “Local SEO” is present in the URL, title, and meta description.

Now, let’s say you want to rank for “Breakfast in London”, you’d want to include that keyword in all those locations. And while you create your content, keep in mind that Google and other search engines tend to prefer well-structured pages. But, that’s not it. A local SEO audit will also highlight other issues in your content, for instance;

  • Duplicated title tags (Or maybe they’re too long? They need to be 60 characters max since Google could cut them off in the SERPs)
  • Missing headings (H1 is the most important one) The audit will also tell you if there are any duplicate H1s on your website
  • Too long or missing meta descriptions. Google only displays around 160 characters of your meta description. So, if it’s longer than that, users won’t be able to see it

Your SEO technical audit should also include image ALT texts. The best practice is to include your target keywords or their variations in your image file names and ALT texts. These ALT texts should be descriptive, clearly explaining what your images are all about.

That’s especially important when images are an important part of your web presence. For instance, you might want to rank image carousels for your product or service. Even if they’re not your primary focus, you should always optimize your images for better search visibility.

Thanks to the featured snippet feature of Google, searchers can now get answers to their questions without leaving Google. You can also showcase your content as featured snippets by:

  • Keeping it relevant and high-quality
  • Using structured schema markup

Internal Linking Audit

Having outdated and broken links on a website is common, which is why you need an internal link audit every once in a while. Broken links on your site can damage the user experience. And let’s not forget that search engines crawl your site’s internal links to understand its structure.

An internal link audit helps you identify broken or outdated links, allowing you to fix them before they hurt your SEO. An important part of your local SEO audit should be to identify internal linking opportunities. For instance, if you have two blog posts talking about similar topics, you’d want them to be linked to each other. This can help you boost those pages’ SEO given that the internal links are guiding the user in the right direction.

External linking to authoritative pages can also help you establish the credibility of your content. Since you’d be doing a local SEO audit, you might want to link out to relevant events and local organizations.

Important : Make sure that any external links on your web pages open in a new tab. This can help prevent readers from leaving your page.

Mobile Audit

As mobile is the most used device to access websites (Especially for local searches), it’s important that your site is mobile-friendly. Google provides an easy way to test your site’s mobile version through this tool.

Plus, make sure your site doesn't take more than a couple of seconds to load. Our attention spans have never been this short. You don’t want your visitors to bounce back after landing on your site. Plus, Site speed is now an official Google ranking factor since it impacts the user experience.

Duplicate Content

Duplicate content on your site can confuse search engines as to which pages they need to crawl and rank. As a result, all those pages can get affected adversely, and your SEO rankings can take a hit.

If you think there is more than one page with the same content, add a canonical tag to all the similar pages except one. You can manually add this tag in the HTML of a page Or, you can use an SEO plugin like YOAST SEO to do that for you.

Google Business Profile

Your website’s local presence is incomplete without an optimized Google Business Profile. A GBP audit points out any inaccuracies or incompleteness in the following components:
  • Your business location
  • Business category
  • Its hours of operation
  • Services/products
  • Photos
  • Offers
  • Updates
  • Events
  • Other important information

The more complete your GBP is, the more credible it’ll be considered by users as well as search engines. Here’s an example:



Review Management

Reviews are one of the most important sections of your Google Business Profile. Today, it’s easier than ever to review a local business.

These reviews are very prominent and can easily be read by potential customers. Plus, local reviews play an important role in your local map pack rankings. 

Importantly, you want to respond to each and every one of those reviews (positive or negative) to show that you care what your customers think about you. But, it’s normal to miss some of them. A local SEO audit helps you identify the ones that fall through the cracks.

Local Content

The type of content someone looks for depends on where they are in their buying journey. As a business owner, you want to create content tailored to every stage of that journey. The goal is to be found by your target customer no matter what stage they’re in.

A local content audit helps you make sure you have content catering to cold as well as hot prospects. For instance, informational content can help you educate your prospects on topics related to your product or service.

You can publish it on your blog or share it on other external channels like social media. This type of content mainly deals with your prospects’ “What”, “How”, and “Why” type queries. Whereas transactional content targets the people that know what they’re looking for but don’t know where or who to buy from. It can include reviews and comparisons.

The third type of content is navigational; it focuses on searches that include your brand name. Searchers here are generally trying to validate your brand as a trustworthy one before making a decision.

Commercial content works for people who show a strong intent to buy. To make the process easier, your content should include strong offers, coupons, clear CTAs, and attractive discounts.

Local Business Listings and Citations

As a local business, you want to establish your presence in reputable review sites, local & business directories, and even local partner sites. You can do a local SEO audit to find and update your existing citations’ information, primarily your business:
  • Name
  • Address
  • Phone number

It can be done manually or with an SEO tool, depending on your online presence.

Google Search Console

Google Search Console is a free yet powerful local SEO audit tool. It can help you with:

  • Content and keyword data
  • Indexing issues
  • Schema
  • Mobile experience
  • Security
  • Finding opportunity keywords (From performance report)

A complete local SEO audit of each section can help you identify weaknesses as well as new opportunities. For instance, the “URL inspection” tab tells you if your web pages are getting indexed or not.

Plus, any manual action by Google is communicated to you via Google Search Console. Now, GSC does send you the updates, but a complete audit makes sure everything is taken care of.

Analytics

A local SEO audit with a data analytics tool like Google Analytics can help you understand:
  • Your best and worst content
  • Audience profile
  • Traffic sources
  • And, more

No matter which tool you’re using, you might ask the following questions while auditing your site:

  • Which pages are not attracting enough relevant traffic?
  • Can I optimize the path to purchase on my website?
  • Who is referring to my site?
  • Can I use these referrals to generate relevant backlinks to my site?

Questions like these will help you prioritize your content and get the most out of your SEO efforts.

Competitor Analysis

No SEO strategy is complete without competitor analysis. Your local SEO audit should include the strengths and weaknesses of your top competitors. Now, you may already know who your competitors are. But, if you don’t, all you have to do is put your target keyword in Google search and see who appears on the first page.

The fact that they’re ranking for your target keywords makes these first-page results your true competitors. So, see what they’re doing right and try to replicate their strategies; that’s the fastest way to outrank them. You can use our local SEO audit checklist to understand how they optimize their:

  • Keywords
  • Backlinks
  • Local listing
  • Reviews
  • Google Business Profile

Generally, the best way to beat the competition in local SERPs is to provide an overall better user experience to the customers.

Backlink Audit

Although backlinks are like citations, they’re links from any external web page to your website. High-quality backlinks lend credibility to your website and boost its authority. However, links from irrelevant and low-quality sites can work against you. Unfortunately, it’s possible to have questionable backlinks without even knowing it.

This is why it’s a good idea to conduct a backlink audit every few months, depending on the size of your site. Fortunately, you can monitor your “Top linking sites” in Google Search Console’s “Links” tab

GSC is a good place to start, but you eventually want to shift to a more powerful tool like Ahrefs or SEMrush for better insights. When you’re auditing linking websites, check to see if any non-reputable and irrelevant web pages are pointing to your site.

Consider removing the backlinks that don’t make sense for your business. But, that’s not the only purpose of a backlink audit. It should also help you identify link-building opportunities. Here’s how you can identify those opportunities:

  • Competitor Backlink Research: Find your competitors’ backlinks with tools like Ahrefs and SEMrush and try to get links from those websites
  • Non-Competing Websites: See if there are any non-competing websites appearing in SERPs for your primary keywords. They could be blogs, publications, or directories

Local SEO Audit: Frequently Asked Questions

How Do I Complete a Local SEO Audit?

You can complete a local SEO audit by implementing our local SEO audit checklist above. It includes everything you need to boost your local rankings in the least amount of time.

Do SEO Site Audits Free?

Yes, you can do SEO site audits for free, thanks to free SEO audit tools like Screaming Frog. Screaming Frog lets you analyze up to 500 URLs for free, which is more than enough for small-to-medium-sized websites. But, even the paid version of the tool isn’t that expensive.

How Much Should I Pay for an SEO Audit?

The price of an SEO audit depends on your site’s depth and size. But, if you’re looking to hire a digital marketing agency to do an audit for you, it could cost you anywhere between $3000 to $30,000. If you don’t have that kind of budget, you can always use a professional freelancer on Legiit . If you’re doing SEO for a client, you can get a white label SEO audit as well.

What is the Local SEO Checklist?

A local SEO checklist includes every SEO strategy you need to implement to improve your site’s local visibility. It includes:
  • On page analysis
  • Keyword analysis
  • Competition analysis
  • Internal/external links Analytics
  • Citations
  • GBP audit for local SEO
  • Mobile audit
  • Duplicate content
  • Review management
  • Local content
  • Google Search Console

Final Thoughts

This was everything you needed to know to dominate Google’s first page for your target keywords. You can use this checklist for your own site or your client’s. If you want to have an expert do it for you, we have multiple white label local SEO services you can rely on. For instance, check out this white label SEO audit service on Legiit.

About the Author

Zainawan

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I'm an SEO copywriter with more than 3 years of experience helping blog owners a...

I'm an SEO copywriter with more than 3 years of experience helping blog owners attract, engage, and convert their target audience. My goal is to work with you long-term, which is why you'll get my best work every single time. If you have a blog that needs high-quality, unique, and search-engine-friendly content, I'm your guy! I have extensive knowledge of digital marketing, online business, and freelancing, but I am open to writing on virtually any topic. Let's Connect! Drop me a message if you want to grow your business with content marketing.

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