Step-by-step local SEO audit checklist

Natalya Stecko
May 1, 2024

7 min read

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Step-by-step local SEO audit checklist
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Local SEO makes your business stand out to people in your area. Imagine it as placing the biggest, brightest sign right outside your business, but online.

Whenever people search for anything — from the nearest petrol station to the closest dog-friendly pub — they turn to Google.

Solid local SEO is essential to giving your business a fighting chance to appear in these searches. That's why we've put together a step-by-step checklist. It guides you through auditing your SEO, highlighting your strengths, and pinpointing areas for improvement.

What is a local SEO audit?

Put simply, a local SEO audit involves thoroughly examining your current strategies to understand how your business appears online within your local community. An audit can help you discover what’s working well, spot areas that need improvement, and evaluate your position in local search rankings. 

Use a detailed checklist that covers all essential aspects of local SEO when completing the audit. This should include checking rankings, conducting link audits, and evaluating your content. From this, you will earn a thorough view of your online presence and effectiveness in connecting with local customers. 

The benefits of a local SEO audit

Before diving into the checklist, let’s explore the benefits a local SEO audit can bring your business.

Improve your online presence

A local SEO audit clearly shows your successes, shortfalls, and potential opportunities. You can adapt and refine your strategy when you understand your current situation. This focus on key areas helps improve your online visibility.

Identify areas for improvement 

Your audit may uncover unknown problems and challenges. A thorough review shows areas that need improvement and encourages prioritisation.

Identifying improvement areas isn’t just about spotting what’s going wrong — an audit might also highlight areas of success in your local SEO efforts. By recognising these successes, you can replicate and consistently apply the same effective strategies in the future.

Gain insight into customer behaviour

A local SEO audit can provide valuable insights into customer behaviour by analysing how people find and interact with your business online. 

Reviewing search terms, click-through rates, and business listing performance in local searches demonstrates what your customers are looking for and how they engage with your services. 

Manage your reputation

Local SEO and brand reputation go hand-in-hand. You can see how users perceive your business by engaging with local SEO elements, such as reviews and Q&A on your Google Business Profile. 

12 step local SEO audit checklist for any business

Now we’ve covered its importance, let’s dive into how to conduct a local SEO audit. Follow our 12-step checklist for a clear understanding of your local performance. 

1. Perform keyword research

Search phrases constantly change when users look for information online. To build a stronger strategy and shape your content plan, explore the keywords your website currently ranks for and identify new ones you want to target. 

In local SEO, focus on keywords linked to your area and the ones you aim to target. This research will guide your content creation and show you the demand for your business or services in different locations.

Common tools used for keyword research include Ahrefs, Mangools, Google Keyword Planner, and SEMrush. 

2. Review your Google Business Profile

Properly managing your Google Business Profile (GBP), previously known as Google My Business, is a key part of your local SEO strategy.

Maintaining a Google Business Profile makes your business appear in search results and on Google Maps, which is crucial for local searches that often require immediate results. For example, if someone searches for “pharmacy near me,” they're looking for a nearby pharmacy (which, in some cases, might be needed quickly). If you run a pharmacy with an optimised Google Business Profile, you might be the first result they see, leading them directly to your business.

Your Google Business Profile presents your business with essential details like opening hours and location and displays user feedback. It includes customer reviews, questions and answers, and photos. Staying on top of your profile and optimising it is vital for effective brand management.

3. Explore your website rankings

When you look into where your website stands in search engine results, especially for local queries, you start to understand your online visibility. 

Exploring your website rankings reveals how easily potential customers in your area can find you. Regularly checking your rankings for specific local keywords can give you a clear picture of your SEO performance. It also highlights areas for improvement. 

For example, if you want to rank higher for important local terms, it might be time to optimise your site’s content or improve your local listings. Additionally, analysing your rankings against competitors provides valuable insights — it helps identify what they are doing right and where you can improve on what they’re doing. 

4. Check for ranking drops and Google penalties

To maintain your visibility in search results, check for ranking drops and Google penalties as part of your local SEO audit.

Start by monitoring your website’s traffic using tools like Google Analytics and Google Search Console. Look for sudden declines in traffic, which can signal a ranking drop. Next, check your Google Search Console for any messages from Google. These can alert you to penalties imposed on your site, often caused by SEO practices that go against Google’s guidelines. 

Use keyword tracking tools to monitor your website’s rankings for local search terms. A significant drop in rankings for multiple keywords may indicate a penalty. Regularly checking these factors is crucial in a local SEO audit. It helps you quickly identify and address issues that might harm your site’s visibility in local search results. By staying on top of these changes, you can ensure your local business maintains its online presence and attracts local customers effectively.

5. Conduct a link audit

A link audit is where you closely examine the links on your website. It involves checking two main types of links: 

  • Internal links (links that connect pages within your website)
  • External links (links that go to or come from other websites)

A link audit ensures all your links are working correctly, relevant, and high-quality. This is important because good links can improve your site’s visibility.

To conduct a link audit, use tools like Google Analytics or specialised SEO tools to identify all the links on your site. Look at your internal links to ensure they help users navigate your site easily and make sense contextually. For external links, check they come from or lead to reputable, relevant websites. This process enables you tp spot any broken or harmful links that could hurt your website's SEO performance.

A link audit can reveal opportunities for new links. There may be local businesses you could partner with for mutual linking or local resources you could link to that improve your site’s local relevance. By continuously updating and optimising links, you maintain a healthy, SEO-friendly website that stands out in local searches.

6. Assess your content

Assessing your content is a key step in your audit. This involves looking closely at various types of content, such as local landing pages, blogs, guides, videos, and social media posts. The goal is to ensure you have content tailored to your local audience. 

Local landing pages should highlight your business’s connection to the local community, using specific references and local keywords. Similarly, your blogs and guides should address local issues or interests, showcasing your expertise in the context of the local area. 

Videos can also be a powerful tool, especially when they feature local landmarks or community events, creating a visual and emotional connection with your audience. Social media content should engage with regional trends and conversations, making your business an active participant in the local online community. 

Carefully assessing and optimising each content type can significantly improve your local SEO, making your business more visible and relevant to the local community.

7. Track and inspect citations

Tracking and inspecting citations involves closely examining where your business is mentioned online, ensuring accurate and consistent information across different platforms. Doing so increases the likelihood that search engines will rank your business higher in local searches. 

Accurate citations, which include your business name, address, and phone number, help build trust with search engines like Google. This trust, in turn, boosts your visibility in local search results, making it easier for customers in your area to find you. 

Keeping a keen eye on your citations and tracking your progress corrects errors and shapes the online narrative of your business, making it stand out in the local digital landscape.

8. Inspect social media accounts

Inspecting social media accounts is imperative for brands that create individual profiles for different locations. 

Make sure each account has accurate location information so searchers can easily find the right branch. When profiles display correct addresses, operating hours, and local contact details, they boost the brand’s local online presence. 

It’s also important to check that location-specific social media accounts reflect the local community’s interests and strengthen their local relevance. 

9. Audit your online reviews

Regularly monitor what customers say about your business to understand their experiences and expectations. Responding to positive and negative reviews shows you value customer feedback and are committed to improving. 

For businesses with multiple locations, it’s important to address reviews for each site. Mirador Local simplifies this process by enabling you to manage all reviews from a single dashboard, ensuring consistent engagement across all locations.

Remember, a well-managed review section reflects a customer-focused brand. It builds trust and credibility, attracting more customers and fostering loyalty among existing ones.

10. Analyse your NAP consistency 

Analysing NAP (name, address, phone number) consistency is important for local businesses aiming to improve their online presence. 

Begin with a thorough analysis of your business listings across all online platforms. This includes your website, social media profiles, and local directories. The goal is to ensure your business’s NAPr appears exactly the same everywhere. Even small discrepancies, like using "St." in one place and "Street" in another can confuse search engines and potential customers. 

Consistent NAP information boosts your credibility and builds trust for search engines, leading to better rankings. Regularly monitoring and updating your NAP details is key. This aids in better search engine visibility and ensures customers always find the correct information about your business.

11. Check you’re showcasing accessibility

It’s essential to ensure your business is inclusive and accessible to everyone. As part of your local SEO audit, check how well your business and locations showcase accessibility.

Start by making good use of your Google Business Profile. Here, you can add specific attributes and details about your business’s accessibility features. This straightforward step shows potential customers you care about their needs and experiences. 

Don’t stop there — take charge by highlighting your accessibility on your website’s location pages. Include clear information about features like wheelchair ramps, braille signage, or hearing aid compatibility. Extend this practice to your social media platforms, too. For example, create an "Accessible Features" highlight on your Instagram account to inform and reassure customers about accessibility needs. By proactively showcasing your business’s accessibility, you're complying with standards and actively creating an inclusive and welcoming environment for all your customers.

12. Understand your competitors

Analysing your competitors gives you valuable insights into the strategies that are working in your area. By understanding what your competitors are doing right, you can identify opportunities to enhance your SEO strategy. 

Start by searching for your target keywords in Google and note who appears in the top results. Pay attention to their GBP, especially their use of keywords, customer reviews, and how they respond to those reviews. 

Look at their website structure, content quality, and backlink strategy. Are they listed in local directories? How do they engage with their audience on social media? By carefully studying these aspects, you can uncover successful tactics, adapt them to fit your business and improve your local search rankings. Remember, the goal isn’t to copy but to learn and innovate from what’s already successful in your market.

Closing thoughts

By following our checklist for your local SEO audit, you’ve taken significant steps to improve your visibility and reputation locally. Remember, consistent monitoring and updating are key. 

For businesses with multiple locations, Mirador Local offers a streamlined solution. Our tool simplifies managing your Google Business Profiles from a single dashboard, saving you time and ensuring accuracy across all your listings.

Keep your business information up-to-date, engage with customer reviews efficiently, and stay ahead in local search results. Start optimising with Mirador Local today, and watch your local business thrive.