How To Run A Local SEO Audit

Local-SEO-Audit

Running an SEO audit is a standard procedure for any website, and it’s a great way to get better insight on your website as a whole, the individual pages, and your overall traffic. But you can only get these insights and performance enhancements if your audit is done properly. While there are many articles out there on how to perform the “best” local SEO audit, trying to include all of the suggestions leads to disorganized and hard-to-interpret audit results. These kind of results aren’t what you need to improve your website ranking and performance.

Your best option when running a local SEO audit is to keep is simple. Stick to the basics first, and get fancy later. It’s the basics that will give you meaningful action items and actual tangible ways to improve your website. Below I’ve listed out the 10 sections that I suggest always including in a local SEO audit (give or take a few, depending on the business):

ICON_LocalSEO

Overall Comments

This should be about a half page of any commentary that is not an action item. Write any comments that you have, and include a section of “quick wins” (eg. a list of 5 small changes that can be made to have a relatively large impact).

Reviews

List out the top 5-10 review sites that will matter to the business (this may vary depending on location, business size, business focus, etc.). Be sure to also include suggestions on where and how to get more reviews in a prioritized order.

Google My Business

In this section, give any and all recommendations on the business’ Google My Business page(s). You should include things such as suggestions for features that you think should be used, and identify duplicate Google My Business pages. Our article on how to rank a Google My Business page is a good start as well.

Citations

This is where you should include any comments on the citation audit (this audit will most likely be separate from the main write-up). Getting business listings/citations is important for ranking in the Google My Business results. You’ll want to make sure the business information is correct in all citations.

Anti-Spam

Find and take note of specific competitors who are spamming the local map in this section. Be sure to explain what they are doing and how their spam can be monitored and reported.

Link Opportunities

It’s a good idea to do some research into specific link opportunities that you can include in your audit. These opportunities will be different for each business, so try to keep them realistic in your audit!

Website (Technical)

This is where you should write any suggestions on technical aspects of the website such as internal linking, title tags, overall structure, page speed, and other aspects. This section goes hand in hand with the next three sections below.

Homepage

The homepage is where a lot of things happen, so that’s why it should get its own section of the audit. There are usually plenty of ways to tweak a homepage, and all of those suggestions should be included here.

All Other Pages

If you have recommendations on any other existing pages besides the homepage, write them in this section. These could be pages such as “Services”, “About”, or “Contact Us”. Also take a look at items such as whether or not the website has blog posts that may work better as pages.

New Pages

There are always more pages that can be added! This section is where you should recommend any specific ideas you have for new pages.

Including these sections in your local SEO audit will give you a solid audit with actionable items to make your website better. While there are plenty of other sections to add, I always recommend sticking with the basics in order to see results.

I’m happy to help you run your local SEO audit and get your website the views it deserves. Learn more about my local SEO consulting fees.

Improve Your Brand Search Results

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As more and more of your potential customers view your business on Google, fewer and fewer of them actually click on your website. How can this be?

A Moz study from 2017 shows that 34% of Google searches result in absolutely no clicks, and this means that customers are viewing your business info directly on Google rather than on your website or social media page. This is why it’s important to improve your branded search results.

Think about it: your clients can Google your business, contact you or find directions to your address directly from the search results. That is if you have a Google My Business page properly optimized.

When they can do all of this, many of them will not visit your website. So what does this mean for you?

This means that Google needs to become your new home page, and this includes extending your brand to your search results. When your potential customers Google your business, what do they see? Does this result reflect your company’s brand in every way that it could?

Your branded search result is the page where Google sums up everything it knows about your business, and this is where your potential customers will get their information. Since word of mouth is such a huge driver for business, Google takes part in this by providing customer reviews attached to your branded search results alongside your company info. Let’s talk about how to improve this branded search result and leverage all of the elements that Google offers.

Leverage Google Brand Search Results

You may be wondering how much control you actually have. After all, Google owns the search result and not you. In reality, you have much more control than you think, and with a little bit of planning in addition to your already successful business, you can create a great narrative about your business right on Google’s page.

Start with consistency. No matter what variation of search your potential customer types or where they look on the screen, your brand should be clearly and consistently visible. If your branded search result appears different depending on which variation of your business name is searched or where it appears (in the knowledge panel, the local content, ads, etc.), this looks unprofessional and untidy. Google deep down needs consistent information about your business. That means your business name, address and phone number better be consistent to your website and all over the web.

Below are the desktop components that you have the ability to control and make consistent:

  • Ads
  • Your Website Organic Results
  • Knowledge Panel Images
  • Google Reviews
  • GMB information
  • Google Posts
  • Sites that also show in the Reviews from the Web
  • Organic Review sites
  • The Wild Card – Future Knowledge Panel Features

While I am focusing on desktop searches here, it is important to focus the same attention on mobile as well. Failing to do so will cause you to miss out on many potential customers who search your business using their cell phone!

Google Ads

A few years ago I wrote about how Google could be poaching money from your business by displaying your ad for a branded search result. I was silly in thinking this. Why?

I realized it’s actually helpful so that COMPETITORS don’t poach current or potential clients when someone searches for your brand. Also, Google gives you a low cost per click for branded keywords. We’ve implemented for a few clients recently and the average costs run from $.50 – $1.50 per click.

viva ortho brand search results

It’s well worth it to have a branded adgroup. This alone won’t fully protect your brand from competitors, but it is a great start to build a consistent branded search result.

Your Website Organic Results

This is one of the areas of the page where you get to control both the social proof and the messaging. You will see these results high on the page (possibly first if there are no ads) and it is definitely the first thing your potential customers will see about your brand. Alongside well thought out titles and meta-tags, you will want your customer’s social proof to show on your most critical product and service pages. Google has full control over the pages they show below your homepage but they will decide what’s important for the searcher.

smiletown branded search results

It should also be noted that Google will almost always recreate your homepage title to your brand name for branded searches. The above example is what Google recreates the homepage title to and the below screenshot is what Google shows for a keyword search of “pediatric dentist Langley”.

smiletown keyword search results

I mention this so you don’t get bogged down with deciding about putting your brand name at the end of your homepage title when it’s optimized for keywords.

Knowledge Panel Images

After viewing your branded search result, the viewer will most likely move to the Google My Business section to learn more about your business. Your Google My Business profile image is key as it gives a first impression of your business. Try using a good quality, closely cropped image that is compelling and appealing. Local customers do not want to see your logo, they want to see you and your products! Besides your profile picture, every other picture should be equally compelling. You never know if a customer will go through your entire gallery, or Google may choose a different photo to highlight.

Island Eyecare Optometrists

Google Reviews

Just under your photos you will find your Google review summary. When it comes to Google reviews, don’t give up! Keeping a sustained effort that gains 1-2 reviews a month can build a strong online foundation for your business, and it can bring you a step above competitors.

victrans branded search results google reviews

Never underestimate the power of a Google review, and especially the snippets that the Google algorithm picks out to reflect your business. And don’t sweat the negative reviews, they will eventually be pushed to the bottom of the page if you keep up your efforts.

google review snippets

GMB information

Did you know that posting your business hours could increases your requests for driving directions by 13% and the clicks to your website by 42%? Add as much as your business information as you can, this includes adding a link to your service pages or your menu. Google recently also added the ability for professionals to upload an appointment link (one more place for your client to click through to your website).

smiletown burnaby search results

Google Posts

There are three things that will help you make use of the new Google post feature: a great photo, a a short but compelling introduction to your business, and a call to action. While Google allows posts to be 300 characters long, only the first 100 characters will show in the knowledge panel so you need to make them count. Since this is still a relatively new feature users are still getting used to it, but hopefully the feedback is positive as it provides another way to showcase your business on Google.

google my business posts

Sites that also show in the Reviews from the Web

If you haven’t enabled Google Posts, “Reviews from the web” will show up right below your address info. This section has the space for up to three review sites, and it is very important that you get three review sites to show up there. Right away, add your own site and Facebook to your plan as Google will show both of these sites. You can include your own website by creating a consumer facing feedback program and posting the content in rich snippets right on your website. Don’t bother trying to get Yelp or TripAdvisor to show up here, Google will not add either site to this section. Some sites you could try are YellowPages and Facebook. You should view your review strategy over a 3-4 year timeline, so there is no rush to get reviews right away. Choose a few review sites to work on and go from there.

reviews from the web google my business

Organic Review sites

Once the user is done with the knowledge panel, their eyes will wander back to the organic search results for your business. This means that if well known sites such as Yelp or BBB show up, they will attract the user’s attention. With the exception of Yelp, BBB, and Tripadvisor, these sites also inform the “Reviews from the web” section in your knowledge panel, so if they did not see the info there, hopefully this is their chance to view it.

rakhi madan brand seerch results reviews

The Wild Card – Future Knowledge Panel Features

It’s always a good idea to keep an eye out for the next features that Google will be releasing on the knowledge panel because this helps you stay on top of your branded search results. Google is constantly changing and because of this you should continuously check your search results to see how the changes affect them. New features are being added and changed so fast that this article will probably be slightly outdated by the time I finish it – but it’s a good place to start if the concept of branded search results is new for you.

That was a lot of info, but it is all key to improving your branded search results and getting more potential customers looking at your business. Try some of these tricks out for yourself and see the results.

Contact us today if you are looking to improve your SEO rankings or Google Ads campaigns.

A Better Way To Track GMB Listing Website Clicks

track-google-business-website-clicks

One of the common things our clients want to know is how many people click through for their GMB listing to their website. Once you’ve properly optimized your GMB listing and are getting reviews, you should start seeing some traction. Whether it’s phone calls or website clicks, you’ll want to know what is going.

In this post I’m going to show you how to better track website click through’s and why you shouldn’t trust your GMB listings insights. Let’s begin!

Google’s Campaign URL Builder

Head over to Google’s special campaign URL builder. From there add your domain to the Website URL  and in the Campaign Source, list “GMBPage”.

Google My Business tracking

At the very bottom, copy your new link which you will replace in the website url of your GMB listing info.

My link would be https://outcareyourcompetition.com/?utm_source=GMBPage.

That was easy, wasn’t it! Now you can better track how many visits are coming from your GMB listing.

Don’t Trust The GMB Listing Insights

Watch the video below where I explain why this is a better way to track those click-throughs. Basically, don’t trust what the insights of your GMB listing says.

 

How Proximity & Diversified Reviews Affect Local Voice Search

how-proximity-voice-searchIt’s 2018 and voice search is on the rise. I’ve been reluctant to use it myself and blog about it. Early last year I did a few searches using Siri and the results were less than desirable.

But with the popularity of Google Home, Amazon Echo and many more home assistants hitting the market, the time has come to invest in voice search for local businesses. Since this blog focuses on local SEO, I’m going to discuss local SEO searches from the standpoint of using Siri. I hope to do the same using an Andriod device soon.

In this post I will explain why your businesses proximity and the diversification of your reviews is important to getting better Siri search results. Here we go!

Location Services

Having location services enabled on your phone isn’t about getting spied on. Location services help Siri and other apps determine your location so they can help you. In the case of a local search, Siri will display businesses close by. This is why your businesses proximity to the search is an important factor.

Business Proximity To The Searcher

I blogged about the Google My Business results and why location and proximity are important for higher rankings or to even show up at all. The same applies to local Siri searches. Take the example screenshots below of a few searches for auto glass shops, transmission repair and pizza places.

While looking at these screenshots, the first and main thing to note is that Siri is using the Apple Maps app on my phone. As far I know, Siri uses Apple Maps by default and there is no option to switch to Google Maps.

“Transmission repair”

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“auto glass repair shop”

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siri-local-seo-search

“pizza delivery place”

siri-voice-search

By looking at these screenshots you will see the proximity of all these businesses to my location. Once again Siri knows where I am as I have location services enabled. Most of the results are within 800 meters and 3.5 km’s from me.

So if you’re hoping to show up yet you’re on the other side of town and 10 km’s away, it’s not going to happen. Siri along with Google want to display the closest business to you. Not so much the best.

Diversify Your Reviews

Reviews go a long way and you should be focused on getting reviews for your business daily. We’ve been asking our clients to diversify the directories and sites that they ask for reviews on because it helps when potential clients do a brand search and see reviews on their Facebook, Yelp, and Yellow Pages listings on top of their Google reviews.

More reviews on directories like Yelp and Yellow Pages can help get higher search rankings within those directories as well. And nothing but positive things can happen when potential clients Google a business and see reviews from multiple websites. This builds trust and credibility.

Here’s a brand search for a client. Notice the reviews areas.

smiletown-dentistry-burnaby

Obviously you can see the Yelp and Yellow Pages reviews. But Google is now displaying other reviews in the “Reviews from the web” in what is known as the businesses knowledge panel on the right hand side of the search results. This is where business contact details from the Google My Business page are seen. For this to happen, you must ensure your business listings are consistent and up to date.

Once again, look back up at the screenshots from my Siri searches. You will see the business listings provided have reviews from Yelp and YP.ca (Yellow Pages). It’s clear as day why you should be focusing on diversifying your reviews from a Siri search perspective.

So what can you to do to improve your rankings for Siri local searches?

How To Get Higher Voice Searches

It’s a really simple three step process. Once again you cannot control the proximity issue so you’ll be targeting people close to you. And you can get higher rankings from a local Siri search by following these tips:

1 – Head to the desktop backend of Apple Maps, find and claim your business listing. Fill out all your business information including linking to your Yelp, Facebook & Twitter pages.

smiletown-burnaby-apple-maps

2 – Head to Yelp for business owners, find and claim your Yelp listing if it hasn’t been. Fill out the information in full including adding some nice photos since Apple Maps is using those photos for their listings.

3 – Ask your clients to write reviews on your Yelp and Yellow Pages listings along with Facebook page. More reviews on multiple sites is better than more reviews on one site.

Most Valuable On Page SEO Tactics for Small Business Success

small-business-seo-tipsTo get your small business site in front of as many potential customers as possible, you need on page SEO. Search engine optimization is vital to your growth and success. With proper on page SEO tactics you can boost online visibility, external links, keywords, and most important of all, organic traffic.

The top three marketing tools a small business has are . . .

  • 54 percent email marketing
  • 51 percent website traffic
  • 48 percent social media marketing

On page SEO can make a big impact on your bottom line, not just by increasing traffic, but by also cutting your marketing spend in half. Do you run PPC ads on Google? With stellar on page search optimization in place, you can rank page one without running ads.

Make search engine optimization a priority in 2018 with the following SEO tips for small business online growth and success.
local-seo-tips

Get Local with Your Small Business

Mobile has become the preferred search device for products and services, making it essential to have your small business listed. In fact, 50 percent of mobile consumers who will visit a store they found in local search results within a day.

The first step is to set up a local listing on Google My Business.

google-my-business

When someone searches for products and services similar to yours, they will see your business, website, and also get featured on Google Maps. Leverage other local listing sites like Yelp or Angie’s List as well. The more local listings, the more your small business will appear in SERPs.

Local listings are also the perfect platform for your customers to rate and review your business, products, or services. This is more important than ever, since online consumers check ratings and reviews prior to making a decision to buy.

Make Your Small Business Site Mobile-Friendly

The New Year will usher in a few changes for on page SEO, and one of them is Google mobile-first index. This will give priority to mobile friendly, fast loading sites when a user searches via mobile. This is very important for future business growth and success, especially since most consumers are now more mobile than ever before.

A few on page SEO mobile-friendly tips for your small business are:

  • Make your site’s content readable on mobile devices, including the text and font you decide to use.
  • Avoid software that is not mobile-friendly like Flash.
  • Think like a user visiting your site by ensuring your pages are easy to scroll and navigate.
  • Make your CTA buttons and anchor text links easy to see and not in the way of a users scrolling thumb.
  • Ensure your page load time on mobile is optimized and under one second.

To check these potential on page SEO pitfalls, turn to Google. Google has a number of tools you can use to check just how mobile-friendly your site actually is . . .

Google Mobile-Friendly Test

Think with Google Test My Site

Google PageSpeed Insights

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Create Unique SEO Titles and Meta Descriptions

Google algorithms are always on the hunt for duplicate content and poorly constructed SEO titles (page titles) and meta descriptions. These issues could cause your small business website and pages to drop in ranking.

The first step to better on page SEO is to look at your page titles and meta-descriptions. You want to tell Google exactly what your page is about, and why it fulfills search intent.

Make a list of all your title tags and start looking for duplicate keywords, and subpar title descriptions pages that promote your products or services. Then get a little creative by replacing those duplicate keywords using online tools like SEMrush’s Phrase Match.

sem-rush

To highlight this important on page SEO tactic, here is an example from Brilliance, for product page best practices, listing a number of keyword rich options.

brilliance

Time to Make On Page SEO a Priority . . .

Your small business can’t afford to ignore proper on page SEO tactics. These 100 percent free changes can decrease your need for large PPC ad spend while also providing a better user experience for your site’s visitors on both desktop and mobile. How will you make on page SEO work for you in 2018?

nick-rojas

Nick Rojas combines 20 years of experience working with and consulting for small to medium business and a passion for journalism to help readers grow. He writes about technology, marketing, and social media for the aspiring entrepreneur. When Nick is not sharing his expertise, he can be found spending time at the beach with his dog Presto. You can follow him on twitter: @NickARojas