There’s no shortage of info on the “ultimate” local SEO audit, and on all the checklist items big and small that people insist should be in your audit. But there are two intertwined problems:
a. Good SEOs aren’t necessarily good at doing audits. Most audits are overblown and disorganized.
b. Their audits often are tough for clients to act on, mostly because of how the recommendations are presented.
Whether you do your own local SEO and want to check everything out for yourself, or you’re in-house, or you’re a full-time professional SEO, your first concern should be whether you’re looking at all the moving parts. An excruciating checklist for the website is fine, but not if you skip (or skimp on) the other parts that matter.
If you want to bake a pie, the place to start is not necessarily with granny’s super-secret recipe that took 50 years for her to perfect, if only because it’ll probably take you 30 years to get it right (if you ever do). You’d probably prefer just a solid, straightforward recipe that you can make well today and tweak until it becomes your secret recipe.
I’ve done a lot of local SEO audits, and more often than not my clients act on the recommendations and get results. In either case, they always understand my recommendations, partly because I structure my audits in a simple way.
Here are the 10 basic sections I usually put in a local SEO audit:
1. General comments. Exactly how it sounds. Any commentary you have that isn’t an action item should probably go here. My “general comments” section is maybe half a page long. In it, I also specify any quick wins, to the effect of, “If you do nothing else today, here are the 5 most-urgent suggestions to do.”
2. Google My Business. Where you give your recommendations on your client’s GMB page(s), and maybe on features you think he or she should use (e.g. “Posts“). Here’s also where you should identify any duplicate GMB pages and tell your client what to do about them.
3. Other listings (AKA citations). I put the citation audit in a separate spreadsheet, separate from the main write-up, so this section is pretty lean. I include any color commentary here.
4. Anti-spam. I identify specific competitors who are spamming the local map, I explain what they’re doing, and I offer general suggestions on “spam patrol.”
5. Reviews. In a separate spreadsheet I’ve got a “review audit,” which shows the top 8-12 review sites that matter to the specific client. The spreadsheet also outlines my suggestions on where to focus on getting more reviews and on how to prioritize.
6. Link opportunities & strategy. My audits include research into specific link opportunities that are realistic for the client (based on his/her answers in a questionnaire I send), and I include those link-opps recommendations in a separate spreadsheet.
7. Website: site-wide and technical. This is where I put my suggestions on internal linking, standardizing title tags, site structure, how to improve page speed, and much more. My audit includes several sections of website recommendations, and this the first section.
8. Homepage. I’ve found that the homepage is important enough to call for a whole section of the audit, partly because I tend to have a lot of suggestions on the homepage.
9. Other pages. Here’s where I put any recommendations on existing pages other than the homepage: “Services,” “Products,” “Locations,” “Service Area,” etc. I also weigh in on concerns like whether the site has blog posts that would be better off as pages.
10. Pages to create. This tends to be a long section, because most businesses’ sites don’t have nearly all the pages they should have, so I end up recommending many specific new pages.
Most audits I do consist of those 10 sections – give or take one or two, depending on the business. As you can see, I didn’t tell you all the things I suggest go into each bucket, but rather the main buckets I suggest. What you put in each bucket depends on what works for you.
Also, I always include a follow-up call to discuss any recommendations my client may want to discuss more. I don’t consider that a section of the audit itself, but it’s an important part of the service.
Any sections I missed?
How do you structure your local SEO audits (either for a client or when reviewing your own SEO campaign)?
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