Taking The Plunge, an SEO Audit for Local Businesses
Are you a filmmaker, production company, or a business owner looking to drive better sales this year? If so doing an SEO audit for your online business is a must! And no, it is not true what they say that a person must have some technical knowledge to be able to do this. The 5 step plan that I will share with you in this article will not only get you to understand what SEO does but will also help you conduct an audit on your own in less than an hour.
Let’s dive in!
Let’s take a step back and look at the bigger picture for just a second. Think about why we need to go through all this? What are we hoping to achieve? Local Consumer Review Survey findings say that 85% of consumers use the internet to find a local business and almost the same amount of consumers use the internet each week to find local businesses. If you can tap on this market, it offers a huge potential for your business to grow! If you’re a film industry pro, think about what UPMs and departments head do before even giving you a call. THEY GOOGLE YOU! Or at very least look you up on IMDb. You will need to appear in search results of course. The goal is to let you appear not just anywhere but to make you on top of the Search Engine Results Page (SERPs). Because, how many people really click on page 2 of Google?
In a world that is ever-expanding digitally, showing up on top of search engine results is extremely crucial in ensuring that customers find you when they’re searching. It’s safe to say that how well you rank on local searches translates directly to how many more customers your business will rake in.
What is local SEO?
SEO is a variety of strategies that help you promote your product or services at the exact moment customers are looking for them. It makes it easier for business owners and customers alike to find what it is they’re looking for. Local SEO assists by displaying results based on location. For instance, when searching for restaurants in Google, it makes sense that the search results start with those nearest to you. It doesn’t make sense for a restaurant in another country to display when you’re in Minnesota right? Local SEO is responsible for that logic.
Now that you understand the importance of local SEO. Let’s jump right into it this DIY SEO audit!
Step #1 – Metadata and Keywords (5 minutes)
The content in the title tag, meta description, and other meta tags play a major role in how your website ranks on search engines. Make sure that you add the keywords you want to rank for in your site’s meta description. I know for cinematographers and most of those in production they’re just focused on “showing” there work via images and videos. You need to remember to tag it up!
To do this:
- Make a list of up to 7 keywords that you want to rank for. For example, if you own a camera rental business in New Orleans, your keyword list could comprise of camera rental, camera care, film equipment, New Orleans, Louisiana. Make sure that you have a neat, easy-to-read title and description using these keywords.
- Having your business’ city/state in your title tag will help you rank higher when someone searches for a query that contains your locality in it.
- Your title tag content should be under 60 characters long, and your meta description content can be approximately 135 characters long. This helps bots, as well as humans, gather what your business is about in a short amount of time.
Step #2 – Your Google My Business Listing (5 minutes)
If you own a small business and you don’t have a verified Google My Business (GMB), then you’re doing it wrong. Why? Google My Business (GMB) help build your online reputation.
The GMB listing provides accurate information about a business’ name, address, phone number (NAP), opening/closing hours and website URL. It allows people to review your business online, and it also links your ratings from other websites such as ReviewBuzz/Facebook.
Providing accurate information to Google about your business means providing accurate information about your business to customers. Any change in working hours must be reflected in your listing. It goes without saying that all information such as your address, phone number and zip need to be correct as well. Inaccuracies may mean losing a valuable customer.
Above all, make sure that you pass GMB Guidelines! Google has a set of guidelines that they expect all businesses to follow while representing themselves. Ensuring that you meet them keeps you away from any penalty Google may impose. If you’re short on time, you can use a tool like the Google Guidelines Checker to tell you right away whether your business meets guidelines.
Step # 3 – Citation Analysis (5 minutes)
The top results on SERPs are often Yelp / Home Advisor / Trip Advisor / Foursquare or other such directory listings for local searches. So it’s absolutely essential that you have yourself listed on all major online directories. This allows your business to be found by potential customers.
Step #4 – Social Pages (5 minutes)
An active social media presence impacts the traffic that you drive to your business’ blog, website, or physical store, actively or indirectly. For instance:
- Social media sites such as Facebook also allow you to list your address. Review scores taken from your Social Media sites syncs with your Google My Business Listing.
- Twitter suggests ‘People to Follow’ based on the geographic location of the user.
- Sites such as Pinterest often show up when a user searches for images.
Make sure that you have a handle on all top social networking sites. Appoint someone to take care of it if you need to. You’ll be amazed at how social media can help with your business’ growth.
Step #5 Backlink and Spam Analysis (10 minutes)
The more you have backlinks the more likely it is that you’ll land high on the ranks. Now, if you don’t know what a backlink is, it is simply a link that leads to your website that is present on another website. A backlink from an authoritative website is sure to boost your rankings on SERPs. Think of who you know that is reputed amongst your business’ community on the internet. You can write to them and ask them for a backlink to your website/blog.
Running a quick backlink analysis is very simple. One of the easy to use tools that will help you do this is Moz’ Open Site Explore (OSE). Did I mention that it is a free backlink analysis tool? It is one of the tools that are not only relevant but are budget friendly too.
Just enter your website URL and click on the button that says ‘Search’. It will give you a list of backlinks that your website has received from reputable websites. It will show you the source of the backlink, the anchor text for that link, and the authority score (PA – Page Authority, DA – Domain Authority) of the website. Moz’ OSE will also show you what your website’s spam score is. A spam score of less than 3 is said to be good for your website. It’s unlikely that your website will get penalized by Google if it meets this standard.
So, that concludes our 30 minutes local SEO audit! We hope that you found this useful. If you have any queries, feel free to add a comment below.