Local #SEO 101: How to Do a Local SEO Audit in 30 Minutes Flat

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Local #SEO 101: How to Do a Local SEO Audit in 30 Minutes Flat

The saying goes that there are two certainties in life: death and taxes. And if you’re in the SEO space, the third certainty is doing website audits. Whether you are talking to a prospect or onboarding a new client, a site audit is the first step towards any successful optimization campaign. Even if you’re a business owner, a site audit can help you determine the quality of your SEO service provider.

Website audits help you uncover what’s wrong with a site and lay out (hopefully in a methodical way) what parts of a site need to be tackled first to bring in maximum returns. Obviously, something like meta data updates would come before engaging in any long-term link building outreach plans.

Personally, I have performed more than 200 site audits, ranging from e-commerce sites to local businesses in the US, Canada, and Australia. My experience covers the entire spectrum of SEO “flavors”. But for the purpose of this tutorial, we are going to focus on local SEO audits.

Since I have to do multiple site audits every week, I try to work efficiently and complete a full site audit within 30 minutes (without skimping on quality). This is for both on-site and off-site analysis. It’s important not to skip an off-site audit as that can uncover any past or future penalties (like on Panda, Penguin, etc). So let’s jump right into it.

On-Page Optimization Audit (Total: 15 Minutes)

Relevant Keywords in Meta Data (5 Minutes): the first step is to check if the site’s meta data has relevant, geo-modified keywords. It’s really difficult to rank in a market if your website does not contain relevant keywords in the title tag, meta description, and header. You can check this pretty quickly using a tool like Screaming Frog or manually looking at the source code. Remember, the title should be less than 55 characters and the description should be less than 155 characters (to be safe). You can use this character count tool to quickly check for character count. It’s imperative that the title tag contain relevant keywords and be geo-modified (for local SEO).

How to Do a Local SEO Audit in 30 Minutes | SEJ

Duplicate Content Check (5 Minutes): Another error I see propping up quite often is internal duplicate content. Many new sites just copy the content across the site with little regard for SEO. There are several tools that check for duplicate content, like Copyscape or Siteliner. Plugin the website URL into the tool and let it do all the work for you. Do keep in mind that almost all sites have some amount of duplicate content because of the header and footer sections of the site that are the same across all pages, but anything more than 20%-30% duplicate content, as reported by Siteliner, is something to be alarmed about. The below example is from Siteliner.

How to Do a Local SEO Audit in 30 Minutes | SEJ

Contact Information (5 Minutes): It’s difficult for a website to represent a local business without a clearly stated address and telephone number. I have seen countless sites leave this crucial bit of information out. Check to make sure this is listed clearly on the site—preferably site-wide and in the header, footer, or both.

How to Do a Local SEO Audit in 30 Minutes | SEJ

Off-Page Optimization Audit (Total: 15 Minutes)

Google+ Verified Business (5 Minutes): If a local business does not have a Google+ verified account, it’s going to be pretty difficult to rank in the local space. A quick way to check for this is using the following search string (there is only a single space between the two parts):

allintext:examplesite.com site:plus.google.com

If you do find the site listed on Google, make sure it’s been verified (see below what a verified Google+ account looks like).

How to Audit a Local SEO Campaign in 30 Minutes Flat | SEJ

Citation Audit (5 Minutes): Citations are the backbone of local SEO. The more you have, the higher you can expect to rank in the local SEO space. To do a quick citation audit, simply use MOZ’s local citation checker. For ease of use, the tool spits out a number from 1-100 based on how many citations have been claimed/missing or incorrect. The higher the score, the better the website is in terms of local visibility (see below as an example).

How to Audit a Local SEO Campaign in 30 Minutes Flat | SEJ

Backlink/Penalty Analysis (5 Minutes): Living in a post-Penguin and Panda world, we need to look out for any previous or future penalties for shady backlinks. You can analyze this part fairly quickly using a tool like Ahrefs site explorer. Once on Ahrefs, plugin the website URL in the site explorer tab. Once you get the results, scroll down to the section titled “Anchor Phrases.” Do you see mostly branded keywords (business name) or do you see keyword rich anchor text like “plumber dallas.” If you see a large amount of keyword rich anchor text, the site could be in trouble and more backlink analysis will be required (and maybe even a full disavow). Below is an example of site with a very high percentage of keywords in the anchor text (definitely not a good sign).

How to Audit a Local SEO Campaign in 30 Minutes Flat | SEJ

And there you have it folks. A no-nonsense local SEO audit in less than 30 minutes flat. You can churn these audits out fairly quickly and still provide a huge amount of value to your prospective clients or partners. Do keep in mind, this is a quick audit. It is always recommended to do a full site audit before starting an on-going campaign, as that would uncover many more clues that a quick audit can never really uncover.

So how long does it take for you to do a local SEO audit? What would you include or exclude from the process?


Image Credits

Featured Image: fatmawati achmad zaenuri/Shutterstock.com
All screenshots by Zain Shah. Taken January 2016.

Zain Shah
Zain has been in the internet marketing space for several years helping small and mid-size businesses increase their online visibility. When he’s not analyzing traffic... Read Full Bio
Zain Shah
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  • Juan Hendon

    Thank you for your post, I can not identify the term of local SEO and global SEO. Please give me your words. Thanks

    • Chase Reiner

      Local SEO usually pertains to a certain city or multiple cities. While global is focused on non area specific keywords. For example, local: (city)(keyword) global: (keyword). Hope that helps.

  • Chase Reiner

    No recommendation for local business Schema markup?

    • Zain

      Hey Chase, thanks for reading. Local Schema is definitely great to have, but if a website lacks proper meta data etc, it will not do much for the website to just have schema on it’s own. So it’s a “nice to have” feature after foundational stuff is taken care of.

      Regarding citations, I would build as many as possible! Some industries have very niche specific citations (like dentists for example). Those would be great to go after as well. Hope that helps

  • Chase Reiner

    Local SEO usually pertains to a certain city or multiple cities. While global is focused on non area specific keywords. For example, local: (city)(keyword) global (keyword)

  • Alexandermark

    Thanks for shared useful information.

  • Randy Downs

    Perfect for a quick audit of local SEO

  • Siri Innovations

    This is really a quick audit to analysis the website and start the SEO activities very fastly.

  • Woo Expert

    Hey Zain,

    I have checked website from Ahrefs and Siteliner. good to know that am on right way . All websites is fine 🙂 Anyway thanks for mentions useful analyzing website.

  • Tracy Mills

    Just love this article! Absolutely quick and clear advice. And, obviously, it have to be on my FB page. Thanks, Zaln!

    • Zain

      Thanks Tracey! Glad you enjoyed it.

  • Rapidsoft Technologies P. Ltd

    Great post Zain! Easy to understand and The information that you provide in this post is very important. Keep it Up!

  • Palash Kumar Daw

    Thank’s for fattest clear idea on Local SEO analysis for little business owner 🙂

  • Travelsito

    Nice tips!

  • Srisailam

    Good post Zain Shah! It is most useful for beginners

  • Ace Robin Mark Garga

    Nice tips out there.

  • Laxman Kotte

    Informative Tips, Thanks Zain Shah, Is there any free tools to find website Duplicate Content ?

  • ambikasofttech

    Thanks Zain Shah, for such pricious information but I do it manually. I used the SEO tools like Screaming Frog when I have a lot of work and less time. I like Backlink/Penalty Analysis most it is as I always try to avoid this part. Now will start it.

  • Seobeetree

    Thanks Zain for this wounder short informative tips, but i also want to know about the Onsite Seo will you mail me.

  • Doug Caywood

    All good points Zain and thanks for the information. However, to expand slightly on “citations”; It’s important to point out that NAP (name, address, phone number) accuracy and consistency is crucial for local and directory citations. It could be said that the quality of citations is even more important the quantity. Thanks again!

  • parag

    Thanks for Sharing By great content. Right now i can unsterstan diff between local SEO and global SEO

  • Shane

    Here we go! thanks for sharing great tips.It’s very helpful for me and others too.