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):

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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.

Negative SEO Campaigns Are Still A Thing, Sadly

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A couple of years ago I wrote about a clients website who was under attack from a negative SEO campaign and how you can clean up and remove spammy backlinks pointing to your website. First, let me sum up a negative SEO campaign as fast as I can so you can protect yourself against them.

A negative SEO campaign is someone creating a bunch of low quality and spammy backlinks pointing to your website so you get flagged or penalized by Google.

These campaigns are easy to catch if you are using any backlink checking software like Ahrefs.

You will easily be able to see a multitude of massive links in a short period of time. Kind of like I did just now when looking at my Ahrefs dashboard. This is what the dashboard looks like.

ahrefs-dashboard

Wow! 1.6K new backlinks. I can certainly say that we are currently not doing any lnikbuilding for the website so 1.6 backlinks sticks out. The nice thing about Aherfs is you can see each and everyone one of those links. Here’s what that looks like.

ahrefs-backlink-checker

Those Backlinks Look Spammy!

You can see in the top left hand corner I have new backlinks selected and that shows backlinks posting to our website that Aherfs has crawled in the last 7 days. What looks wrong with those backlinks?!

I had a good chuckle when I saw this screen. Over the last two weeks we’ve launched a website for Viva Orthodontics and started web development on another. When we do this we add a backlink to our website in the footer. But that would only equate to 50 or so backlinks as footer links are on each page.

Could someone seriously be going through with a negative SEO campaign on our website? I surely hope not.

The scary thing with these campaigns is that any can launch them on any website. And sadly the majority of website owners who don’t have an SEO company working with them will not notice this until it’s too late and their rankings have tanked or worse, are penalized.

You don’t want any of this to happen so what do you do?

How To Remove & Clean Up Bad Backlinks?

This is an easy two step process.

1 – I’ve already mentioned it but the first step is to signup for a backlink checker tool like Aherfs. Once you sign up, you can go into your dashboard and select referring domains. In the case of this example, I want to remove the new backlinks pointing to my website from the past week so I am selecting the new referring domains.

how-to-find-bad-backlinks

There is a little “Export” icon on the middle right of the screen. I click on that and all these domains get exported into an .csv file.

Once I have this information I can then go onto step 2.

2 – The next step is to submit a disavow file within your Google Search Console. You of course need to have Search Console setup to do this. Using the .csv file I download from Ahrefs, I add the domains into a text file which looks like this. Feel free to download that. Just be sure to change the date on the top line of you disavow file. Also, be sure to rename it.

Now you might want to wait until the bad backlinks and negative SEO campaign has slowed down. Or else you will be submitting this file too many times. In our websites example, I am going to wait a month and see if anymore spammy backlinks are created. That way I can add them onto the disavow file and submit them when the campaign comes to an end.

There you have it! It’s pretty easy to remove bad backlinks pointing to your website. It could save you thousands of dollars. Especially if your main traffic source is Google and SEO.

 

How Long For Better Local SEO Rankings?

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No matter what you hear or read, local SEO is alive and well. It’s the reason you’re here reading this blog post. You obviously want to know how long local SEO and better search rankings will take.

You might be wondering how long is it going to take to see page 1 and top 5 search rankings. This is a common question I get asked during almost all of my calls and emails from potential clients. It’s understandable as you want to know when you can start seeing more traffic, leads and clients come your way.

The problem with trying to answer this question is that it’s too difficult to correctly predict. There are too many search rankings factors to do this.

With that said, I always give a potential client a rough estimate of when they can expect to see page 1 results. Once our SEO work begins and a few months go by, I can see how the search rankings are improving and give a better idea of when page 1 and top 5 results will occur by.

But first, I need to look at a few factors.

Search Ranking Factors At Play

There are so many search rankings factors, but when determining how long a potential clients website will need to rank on page 1 and the top 5, I look at:

  • what search terms you want to rank for
  • is your website well optimized for those search terms
  • how many websites/webpages rank ahead of you for those search terms (direct competitors and directories)
  • how many business listings does your business have and are they consistent
  • how many and what type of backlinks does your website have
  • how long has your website been around
  • what type of content is on your website
  • does your website have great local SEO content
  • have you changed business addresses or domains in the past

There are 200+ search ranking factors, but these are the ones I look at when determining how long it will take to rank a website.

Trial Period

With every potential client, I always suggest a three month trial period of our services to show them what kind of results they can expect to see after 6 and 9 months. If after three months we don’t see much improvement, it’s not a good sign. If that’s the case, which it rarely is, I offer a partial refund for the three months.

It’s risk reversal. We have to perform and generate better search rankings in those first three months. If we haven’t, then I don’t feel comfortable receiving money for not doing our job.

New Websites Vs Existing Websites

With this three month trial period, you might be wondering if that is enough time to improve the search rankings to page 1 and the top 5. Rarely will this happen, unless you are already ranking somewhere on page 2 and have an existing website.

Existing websites are, for the most part, going to take less time to rank. Why? Because an existing website has been indexed by the search engines, has business listings and backlinks created along with quality SEO content on the site. It’s built up existing credibility with the search engines which is going to take a lot less time to rank than a new website.

A new website doesn’t have the credibility and thus, is going to take a longer time to get to the top of the list. In all cases, SEO is a long term investment. Once you rank higher, you stay there as long as you update your website.

SEO As An Investment

With traditional advertising or even pay per click (ppc), you always are paying money. That’s not the case with SEO. Depending on what industry you are in, once better search rankings are achieved, you only need a few new clients to pay the SEO services off. Even better if you offer a service where the lifetime value of a client is high.

With all potential clients though I do suggest running a ppc campaign in coordination with an SEO campaign. Yes, it will cost more but with a ppc campaign, you will get targeted traffic to the site right away. Then as the search rankings improve and they get more organic traffic, we can reduce the spending on the ppc campaign.

Running a ppc campaign will also tell us if the website is good at converting so you can generate new leads and clients. If not, then we will have to make some conversion adjustments.

I hope I’ve been able to provide a detailed enough answer to the question of how long will it take for my website to rank higher with local SEO. If I haven’t, please contact me today and I’ll be happy to answer any further questions you may have.

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.

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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

Beware Of Negative SEO

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I’ve talked a lot about SEO throughout the 4+ years of this blog. One thing I’ve failed to shed light on is negative SEO. This will be a very short post on negative SEO but you can read more over at Moz.

What is negative SEO?

It’s an SEO campaign that is launched to HARM and not improve the rankings of website.

Who would do such a thing?

In most cases it’s a website and business owners looking to drop the search rankings of their competitors. They’re many business owners out there who will do whatever it takes to beat their competition. It’s unfortunate but it happens.

In other cases it could be an SEO company who doesn’t know what their doing or is operating on old SEO principles that Google now frowns upon.

How does it work?

The most common case of negative SEO I’ve seen deals with un-natural ways of link building. This would be adding a bunch of backlinks on low quality sites pointing to a website with the exact same anchor text. It’s the exact same issue one of our clients faced a couple of years ago when they hired what they thought was a trustworthy SEO company.

How to prevent it?

Last week I was doing some link building for a client when I noticed they had 29 00 new backlinks pointing to their site!!

ahrefs

Certainly wasn’t me. When I dug deeper I found all the new backlinks were spammy.

In short, there is no way to stop someone from building spammy backlinks. But there is a way to stop Google from connecting those backlinks to your site. You can use a backlink checker tool like Ahrefs to monitor your backlinks. Then you can use the Google disavow tool to disconnect these spammy backlinks and negative SEO campaign from your website.

By using Ahrefs you will be able to see the majority of backlinks pointing to your website. When you add your website to the dashboard, you can set up automated emails to be sent to your account whenever a new backlink is discovered. This is very helpful and a much easier way to monitor your backlinks.