30-second summary:

  • When people are searching for something through the search engines, they’re always keeping their location in mind.
  • 87% of consumers prefer interacting with businesses through reviews.
  • According to Google, mobile searches in the “near me” category with some alteration of “to buy” have escalated over 500%.
  • Performing amazing SEO audits will not only help you define your client’s current status and strategy but will also give you the chance to fix loopholes and come up with additional productive techniques that will boost a site’s ranking and conversions.
  • With the right guidance, you can perform a website audit in less than one hour. Learn how through this article.

An exceptional local SEO campaign starts with a comprehensive website audit. Whether you collaborate with small brick and mortar businesses or multinational online agencies, the way you measure and assess the initial SEO conditions and performance of a website will define your overall results.

When people are searching for something through the search engines, they’re always keeping their location in mind. For example, when a user searches for Chinese food on the web, it means to order Chinese food in LA, where the user is located. What is the point of ordering the best noodle soup from New York to LA? And Google knows it. Therefore, proximity is getting more attention nowadays rather than traditional ranking factors, such as backlinks.

For that reason, local searches are becoming more and more important today. This is not just my assumption, but a quite obvious fact of recent Google’s local algorithm SEO expert Mary Bowling determined. Let’s check some statistics of 2017-2018 published on Search Engine Watch:

  • 87% of consumers prefer interacting with businesses through reviews.
  • Up to seven times increased level of interactions between consumers and AI-enabled services (compare with businesses’ own websites).SEO
  • More consumers took action in search results: 1% increase in clicks to call, clicks for directions and clicks to the website.
  • Consumer actions on local pages (pages for booking appointments, placing orders, etc.) are increased up to 4%.
  • According to Google, mobile searches in the “near me” category with some alteration of “to buy” have escalated over 500%.

Why perform a website audit for a local business site?

One thing is clear: if you manage to rank a business at the top of the local search results, the traffic and revenue will skyrocket.

Performing amazing SEO audits will not only help you define your client’s current status and strategy but will also give you the chance to fix loopholes and come up with additional productive techniques that will boost a site’s ranking and conversions.

Another important reason why a website audit is necessary is that you cannot prepare a “diagnosis” without having a close look at the “problems”.

With the right guidance, you can perform a website audit in less than one hour. That’s the reason why I’m here.

Most people think that Local SEO is about optimizing business websites with keywords like “near me” or any location-based terms that help you stand out for nearby customers, or adding a website to Google My Business and different local listings. In fact, that is not enough. How to leave competitors behind? How to rank higher without backlinks? How to make users spend more time using your site?

An SEO audit enables you with data that can boost your local SEO performance, help eliminate errors and positively affect website promotion and niche distribution of leaders.

The formula is quite simple – search engines prefer well-optimized websites, rather than poor ones.

Our SEO audit checklist will give you an edge over your competitors and propel visitors down the sales funnel.

So what will you get?

  1. You can get ahead of your competitors without any special promotion costs.
  2. Raise your website rating according to Google recommendations, therefore improve site performance for users (better loading speed, error-free navigation, adaptability for mobile devices).
  3. Reduce the bounce rate and increase the user’s average session duration.

Before you begin your local SEO audit

Right before you start analyzing the specifics of your client’s website, you need to possess the right information. Here are a few questions that you should ask yourself before beginning:

  • Is the title tag of the homepage properly optimized? Does it include the keywords, the brand name, and the location?
  • Does your client have a proper contact page that presents all the important details (name, email address, store location, phone number, etc.)?
  • Is the content on the home page plagiarized or spammy? Is it relevant to the target audience?
  • Does your client’s website have an active blog? What type of content can you work with?
  • Is the website connected and optimized for social networks?
  • Is the name, address, and phone number (NAP) placed at the header or footer of the platform? Is it effectively optimized for schema markup?

A quick tip: The NAP of a business must always be identical. If NAP presents slight variations (even one letter), Google and the rest of the search engines might misinterpret your business identity. It means whichever version of business address (111 Vermont Ave / 111 Vermont Ave. / 111 Vermont Avenue) you choose, make sure it’s used in the same way. It is made for users’ and Google convenient. You should The NAP must always be perfect!

Competitor Analysis: The first step of the website audit is competitor analysis. Before trying to outrank businesses, you need to identify them first.

Temperature check of the current situation: To identify your most important competitors, start searching for relevant keywords that are relevant to your brand, products, and services. Make sure you include your location, and you’ll be able to figure out your competitors in a matter of minutes.

Meta Tag Status: A quick meta tag audit is about finding mistakes or missing keywords in the meta tags of your targeted pages. If the city or state is not mentioned, the meta tags need to be optimized.

Links Analysis: To study your competition’s backlinks and compare yourself to their performance, you should use various SEO tools like Ahrefs.

Lastly yet very importantly, you need to measure and assess your competitors’ key performance metrics:

  • Total Links
  • Total Links from Root Domains
  • Total External Links
  • Citations
  • Page MozTrust
  • Page MozRank
  • Page Authority

Content audit

The content audit of a website is probably the most important step of the entire process because Google is mostly focused on judging the value and relevance of the information rather than the expertise of the SEO practitioners.

Here are the elements you should be looking for when auditing content:

  • The main targeted keyword (make sure it’s consistent throughout the text)
  • The word count (As a rule, search engines and users like long-read stories, but, first of all, your content must be useful and helpful)
  • The type of content (diversification is important)
  • Plagiarism (use tools like Copywritely, Copyscape, Plagiarism checker to detect duplicated content)
  • CTAs (make sure they’re present and strong)
  • Mobile responsiveness (websites must be properly optimized for all devices)
  • Images (high-quality, unique, well-described, and relevant to the content)
  • Image ALT tags
  • Page title (relevant titles that include keywords and location)
  • Page headings
  • Broken links (fix as soon as possible)
  • Inbound links (optimization)

URL audit

The next step is the URL audit. Here are a few important guidelines that you should work with when analyzing and optimizing URLs:

  • URLs must be short, relevant, and user-friendly
  • They must be less than 115 characters
  • They should be static and should not include exaggerated parameters
  • The main keyword of a page should be present in the URL
  • Hyphens are more appropriate than underscores

To easily analyze your URL’s health and effectiveness, you can use website checker tool by Sitechecker, which is an SEO spider crawler that helps you automate and simplify the process. It analyzes every aspect of your website and report important details such as broken links, errors, indexing issues, loading speed, and so on.

Site speed analysis

Speed is very important. If your client’s website loads slowly, you’ll get into trouble sooner or later. While the average load speed time is approximately three seconds, you can properly optimize your website’s content and structure to make it load even faster.

When it comes to auditing, here are the most popular and effective tools that’ll help you with this process:

  • Google’s Page Speed Insight: Use this tool to perform a quick and relevant analysis on your website’s speed. At the end of the analysis, you’ll receive relevant insights on how to optimize your performance.
  • Gtmetrix: Another useful page speed testing tool that will prompt relevant information about your local site.

Generally, there are a few important steps you need to take in order to improve your site’s loading speed:

  • Reduce the server’s response time
  • Minimize HTTPS requests
  • Minimize redirects
  • Optimize visual content
  • Enable browser caching
  • In other words, you should take all possible actions that will help to wrest your website from heavy files like images (for example, 3800x5000px), CSS files, unnecessary plugins, and more.

Backlink health

Your site’s backlink profile is surely one of the most important elements of your SEO campaign. Before you start working on it, you need to assess and diagnose it just like you’ve diagnosed the rest of the pieces.

Surely, this isn’t a manual task. To perform a solid backlink health analysis, you’ll need to leverage tools like Ahrefs and Open Site Explorer. These tools will help you:

  • Perform deep analysis on all sorts of backlinks
  • Acknowledge the authority of the referring domains
  • Identify the type of backlinks that you are leveraging
  • Spot the geolocation of the backlinks

Mobile-friendly check

Most of today’s search traffic comes from mobile phones. According to official data from Statista, in 2018, 52.2% of all website traffic worldwide was generated through mobile phones, up from 50.3 percent in the previous year.

Therefore, it is critically important that your client’s site is properly optimized for mobile devices. Here’s what Google wants you to do:

  • Make content easily readable and digestible on mobile phones.
  • Ensure that your links are easy to tap
  • Make sure that your content is always fitting the screen
  • Use high-quality and responsive visual content

To quickly assess the performance of your design’s responsiveness, use Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test.

Interlinking audit

Interlinks help Google’s spiders crawl websites while they actively affect the ranking of your client’s website. Moreover, a proper interlinking structure will provide additional value to website users, allowing them to explore all the relevant topics that they’re interested in.

Here’s how to audit and optimize an interlinking structure:

  • Always use a descriptive anchor text that includes the business information and the location (e.g. Dallas Groovy Outlet)
  • Ensure that all of your website’s pages are getting linked by other pages from your site.
  • Ensure that the interlinking structure offers variation, giving users the chance to end up in more than one place
  • Make sure that your homepage contains only relevant links that will lead the user towards the CTA or the sales funnel

Even if you’re ranking in the local pack, but your website isn’t optimized well, firstly, you will lose tons of traffic, and will be really vulnerable to every search engine’s ranking update.

As a rule, such website owners who don’t follow simple Local SEO optimization hints, don’t use work with the most targeted and easily-converted audience. Poorly optimized web pages without internal linking, bad loading speed, lots of internal errors (404 pages, redirect chains, etc) confused users and crawling bots. Afterward, your website won’t get the lion’s share of traffic and some pages are risky to be non-indexed.

Nowadays, Google and other search engines improve their ranking algorithms so fast. More and more attention is paid to the website’s technical health. Recently, Google announced, Chrome browser will be identifying whether websites load fast or slow for users with clear badging. Will it affect CTR? Absolutely.

Takeaways

Was it rocket science? I don’t think so. Performing a successful website audit for a local business is only difficult if you do it for the first time. As you keep analyzing and assessing all the aspects that I’ve mentioned above, the whole process will turn into an interactive and simple exercise.

I’d highly suggest you bookmark this post and come back to it whenever you struggle with an auditing process. If you have any questions, ideas, or suggestions, let us know.

Kate Peterson is a digital marketer, graphic designer, and content developer. She’s currently developing a beginners’ digital marketing course that aims to provide a comprehensive online marketing methodology.  In her free time, she is contributing to various social causes through various non-profit movements.

The post Local SEO: How to make a website audit in 30 minutes appeared first on Search Engine Watch.