Whether you own a bakery, a flower shop, or a grocery store, building your local SEO is the most important thing you can do for your business. Although regular SEO and local SEO share some similarities, the difference lies in the nitty-gritty.
What is local SEO?
This is search engine optimisation for local businesses. It is a series of strategies geared towards improving a local business’s visibility on search engines like Google. These strategies help people located in the same area find the business.
How do you determine where you stand on the web? Perform a local SEO audit. You will get a sense of how you’re doing on the web in relation to your competitors. Performing a local SEO audit may sound scary, but it doesn’t have to be. Within a couple of hours, you’ll know your business’s current position and what to do going forward.
Why perform a local SEO audit?
Your business’s goal should be to increase organic ranking. These are akin to ‘near me’ searches. In the past two years, near-me searches increased by 900%. An SEO audit is the first step in determining how well you’re doing. It will also wake you up in terms of what you should do to stand out.
An audit gives you a detailed local SEO plan. From the results, you will determine what steps need to be taken to improve rankings. Take your time to implement these steps.
What are the steps?
1. Perform a layout keyword search.
This is a lengthy process for large e-commerce websites but not for local businesses. This is because local websites are focused on a handful of keyword search terms to help zero in on their target audiences.
Google Keyword Planner is a good place to start finding those keywords. This free tool will tell you the keyword volume and ranking difficulty for specific keywords. To start, you need to set up a Google Ads account.
Moz, Semrush, and Brightlocal are excellent keyword search tools as well. These are paid tools that will help you find specific terms and keywords related to your local business. All paid options will offer a free trial first, so you can test drive the tool before paying for it.
For instance, if you are running a local bakery business in Dallas, some of your target keywords might be:
- Baker Dallas
- Best baker in Dallas
- Dallas baker
- Dallas bakery service
Once you find the keywords, move to the next step in the local SEO audit.
2. Conduct competitor research.
This is one step that is a must on your local SEO checklist. You should know what your competitors are up to. Otherwise, how will you ever outrank them?
You do not need to spend hours figuring out their every move. At least start by knowing who your competitors are. Not sure who they are? Perform a Google keyword search for your type of business, i.e., a local bakery in Dallas. The search will compile a list of all the local bakeries in the area. Jot down the names of 5 competitors. The actual number will vary according to your area and location.
Now closely examine each competitor for the following:
- Social media presence
- Local listings
- GMB profile
- Review count
- Keyword rankings that you’ve selected
Put all this information on a spreadsheet. This will give you a bird’s eye view and improve your local SEO checklist.
3. Review your business’s Google My Business Page (GMB).
While performing a local SEO audit, you will frequently run into the term ‘GMB’. It’s impossible to do anything related to local SEO without a good GMB page.
Don’t have a GMB page? Make it your first priority. In fact, it should be at the top of your local SEO checklist. Once it is up and running, look for the following items:
- High-resolution images showcasing your business
- Hours of operation
- Information related to your business’s offerings such as the menu, speciality items, etc.
- Keywords and proper description (maximum 750 words)
- Accurate category and subcategory
If any or all these items are missing, complete them immediately. A comprehensive GMB will offer potential customers everything they need to know. It will improve and build your local SEO.
4. Check your citations and links.
There are several factors that determine your Google ranking, but the most important factor is the number of links leading to your website. The more high-authority and relevant links that lead to your website, the better it is for your business. The opposite is true as well. Low authority links that lead to your site will damage your rankings.
How do you figure out the quality of your links? Google Keyword Planner, Semrush, and Moz (mentioned above) have backlink checkers. There are free backlink check tools as well, like Ahrefs. Simply enter your domain and see how your links are looking from a quantity and quality standpoint.
Apart from link topics, check the citations. Good citations will meet the following requirements:
- Lists the name, phone number, and address
- Listed on high authority sites
- Same across all citations
By the last point, we mean you’re not listing ‘street’ as ‘st.’. Similarly, ‘Dallas Baker’ is not the same as ‘Bakery Service Dallas’. Run your business through a citation tool to check for errors.
5. Read your reviews.
Garnering reviews is a vital aspect of running a business and for a local SEO company. Most shoppers rely on and trust online reviews. Imagine what a few 5 out of 5 reviews can do for your business.
Do you encourage customers to review your products and service? If not, it’s time to start doing it.
What if you get a bad review? What should you do? It’s important to respond to it appropriately. Respond in such a way that demonstrates you’re an active business that cares what your customers think. It’s a sneaky yet important Google ranking factor.
6. Start working on our local SEO marketing plan.
Once you’ve performed the local SEO audit, it’s time to work out your local SEO marketing plan. The audit is the groundwork. Now get moving on actionable steps. The steps may look like this:
- Rank errors by importance
- Handle low effort tasks
- Decide on high impact opportunities
- Define long term and short term goals
- Set up a road map for difficult fixes
If you’re unsure about how to proceed with this local SEO marketing plan, we recommend hiring a local SEO expert. Keep in mind, to see the effectiveness of new SEO strategies, you have to wait a few months. This is also true when it comes to climbing in rankings.
Proper SEO requires time and effort. A local SEO audit can be performed in an hour or less. It sounds like a daunting task, but it is beneficial for your business.
When you hire a local SEO company, they will perform an SEO audit and conduct related SEO services such as competitor research, performance analytics, and link building.