How to Perform a Local SEO Audit for Maryland Businesses [Everything You Need to Know]
Local search engine optimization (SEO) is vital to any Maryland-based business.
Why, you ask?
Because it affects how many people will see your website in local search results.
With more people using search engines, businesses need to improve their online presence.
In this guide, we will cover everything you need to know about conducting a local SEO audit.
We'll discuss the importance of local SEO, the purpose, and the critical components of an audit. We will also include step-by-step instructions for performing your own local SEO audit.
By doing a local SEO audit, you improve your online visibility, and drive more traffic to your website.
With more traffic, you increase conversions. More conversions can help the growth and success of your business.
Let's dive in.
What is Local SEO?
Local SEO is a subset of search engine optimization. It focuses on improving a business's website for location-specific search terms.
Improving your website means improving user experience and performance in the search engines. Improving these two factors helps you rank higher in search results.
Local SEO is crucial for businesses that serve a specific geographic area. These businesses include homes services businesses, brick-and-mortar stores, restaurants, and other service providers.
Why is Local SEO Crucial for Maryland Businesses?
Local SEO is crucial for Maryland businesses for several reasons.
Businesses must stand out in their local markets, and online.
By optimizing your online presence in search engines, Maryland businesses can:
1. Reach more potential customers:
Local SEO makes it easier for people in your location to find your business. When more people find your business, you increase chances of generating more sales.
2. Improve online visibility:
Your business will be more visible by ranking higher in local search results. More visibility helps establish your brand as a top choice in your industry and location.
3. Gain a competitive advantage:
Optimizing your website for search engines gives you a leg up on your competition.
4. Boost trust and credibility:
Appearing on the first page tells customers your business is reputable, and credible. Boosting trust and credibility can help build trust and foster long-term customer relationships.
5. Maximize return on investment (ROI):
Local SEO is a cost-effective way to target your local area. It can be cheaper and less expensive than pay-per-click ads in the long run. Businesses can divide their resources and see better results by focusing on customers in their city or town.
How to Perform a Local SEO Audit
Performing a local SEO audit involves analyzing your website to find areas that need improvement.
To conduct a local SEO audit, follow these steps:
#1. Analyze your Google My Business listing:
A Google My Business (GMB) listing is a critical component of local SEO. It impacts your visibility in local search results, Google Maps, and the Local Pack.
Optimizing your GMB listing is essential for attracting customers in your target area. Here's what to consider when auditing your GMB listing:
Ensure that your GMB listing contains all the necessary information. This includes your:
Hours of operation,
Providing complete and accurate information makes it easier for customers to find your business.
Verify your business information is the same everywhere. Make sure it is the same on your GMB listing and other online directories. Consistency helps establish credibility and trust and can improve your local search rankings.
Choose the most relevant categories for your business. Choosing the right categories are crucial because it can help determine search rankings. Avoid using too many or unrelated categories, because it can affect your visibility.
Use relevant local keywords in your GMB listing. Use keywords in your business description, services, and posts. Using local keywords can help improve your listing's relevance.
Add high-quality images of your business, products, or services to your GMB listing. Photos showcase your offerings and make your listing more engaging. This can result in higher click-through rates and conversions.
Encourage customers to leave reviews on your GMB listing. Respond to them promptly and professionally. Positive reviews can build trust, improve online reputation, and enhance local search rankings.
#2. Evaluate on-page SEO factors:
On-page SEO is the process of optimizing individual web pages on your website to rank higher in search engine results pages (SERPs) and attract more relevant traffic. During an on-page SEO audit, you will examine various elements of your web pages that directly impact your
search engine rankings and user experience.
Here are the key components to consider when conducting an on-page SEO audit for your Maryland-based business:
1. Meta Titles and Descriptions:
Optimize your meta titles and descriptions to ensure they are unique and relevant. Also include targeted local keywords. Meta titles and descriptions give a quick summary of your web page and can affect how many people click on it.
2. Header Tags:
Assess your header tags (H1, H2, H3, etc.). Make sure they are correctly structured and contain relevant local keywords. Header tags help search engines understand the order and context of your content. It makes it easier to index and rank your pages.
3. URL Structure:
Check your website's URL structure to ensure it is clear, concise, and follows a logical order. The best URL structures use local keywords and are easy for both users and search engines to read.
4. Internal Linking:
Analyze your internal linking strategy. Make sure you have a well-connected web pages. This helps search engines crawl your site more and understand your site. Use descriptive anchor text with relevant local keywords to optimize your internal links.
5. Image Optimization:
Examine the images on your web pages to optimize them for SEO. Optimized images include:
Using descriptive file names.
Compressing photos for faster load times.
Adding relevant alt-text with local keywords for improved accessibility and search engine indexing.
6. Content Quality and Relevance:
Assess the quality, relevance, and structure of your website content. Make sure content it is well-written, engaging, and informative. Also add local keywords and phrases naturally throughout your content. Additionally, check for duplicate content that may negatively impact your search rankings.
7. Keyword Usage:
Check the content of your website to make sure you use local keywords. Include keyword variations and long-tail phrases. Avoid keyword stuffing. Stuffing keywords can result in search engine penalties and a poor user experience.
#3. Assess off-page SEO elements:
Off-page SEO involves activities outside your website. These activities can help improve visibility, authority, and rankings in search engines.
An off-page SEO audit can help optimize factors like backlinks and citations.
Here are the key elements to consider when performing an off-page SEO audit:
1. Backlink Profile Analysis:
Check the quantity and quality of your website's backlinks.
Identify high-quality, relevant, and authoritative sources linking to your site.
Check for harmful or low-quality backlinks that may negatively impact your search rankings.
Analyze your competitors' backlink profiles to discover new link-building opportunities.
2. Local Citations:
Review your business listings across various online directories (such as Yelp, Yellow Pages, and Bing Places).
Ensure accurate and consistent NAP (Name, Address, Phone number) information across all listings.
Identify any missing or duplicate listings that may impact your local search performance.
Assess your competitors' citation profiles to discover new citation-building opportunities.
#4. Examine technical SEO issues
Technical SEO optimizes your website for search engine crawling, indexing, and overall performance.
During a local SEO audit, it is essential to examine the technical aspects of your website. to ensure a seamless user experience and optimal search engine visibility.
Here are the critical technical SEO components to consider when conducting an audit:
Website Load Speed:
Analyze your website's load speed on both desktop and mobile devices.
Identify any bottlenecks or issues that may be slowing down your site.
Improve load times by optimizing images, caching, and code minification.
Test your website's mobile responsiveness and compatibility across various devices and browsers.
Ensure a seamless and user-friendly experience for mobile visitors.
Use a responsive design for your website.
HTTPS and Security:
Check if your website uses HTTPS (SSL/TLS) for secure data transmission.
Install an SSL certificate if not already in place.
Review all security issues that impact the user experience or search engine trust.
Crawlability and Indexability:
Examine your website's robots.txt file and make sure search engine bots can crawl and index your site.
Analyze your website's XML sitemap to ensure it is up-to-date and submitted to search engines.
Identify and fix any crawl errors or issues reported in Google Search Console.
Structured Data and Schema Markup:
Review your website's use of structured data and schema markup. They can help search engine understanding of your content better.
Use schema markup to improve your website's visibility in local search results.
Broken Links and Redirects:
Identify and fix any broken links or redirect errors on your website.
Implement 301 redirects for outdated or removed pages to maintain link equity and user experience.
Analyze your website for duplicate content. Duplicate content can negatively affect your search engine rankings.
Install canonical tags or 301 redirects to address duplicate content.
URL Structure and Architecture:
Check your website's URL structure to ensure it is logical, clear, and descriptive.
Assess your site architecture and internal linking to improve crawlability and user navigation.
#5. Conduct content and keyword analysis:
Review existing content for quality, relevance, and optimization.
Identify content gaps and opportunities for new or updated content. Perform keyword research to identify targeted local keywords and search terms.
#6. Assess user experience and engagement:
Test website design, layout, and navigation.
Analyze conversion rate optimization and user behavior metrics.
Identify areas for improvement in usability and user engagement.
#7. Perform a competitor analysis:
Identify local competitors and their online strategies.
Analyze competitor strengths and weaknesses.
Uncover gaps and opportunities to gain a competitive edge in your local market.
#8. Create an action plan
Once you have completed your local SEO audit, the next step is to develop an action plan.
This plan will outline the steps to improve your website and local SEO performance.
Base your plan on what you find in your audit and focus on the most impactful areas of improvement.
Here's how to create an effective action plan for your Maryland business:
A. Rank tasks and recommendations:
- Review your local SEO audit and identify the most critical issues.
- Rank these tasks based on their potential impact on your local search performance. Consider factors such as competition, difficulty, and resources required.
- Create a timeline for addressing each task, starting with the highest priority items.
B. Assign responsibilities:
- Determine who in your team will put in place each task in the action plan.
- Ensure they have the necessary skills, resources, and support to complete their tasks.
- Set up a clear way for team members to report on their progress and talk about any problems that may come up.
C. Check progress and adjust as needed:
- Review and assess the progress of your plan to make sure you complete tasks to get the desired results.
- Be prepared to adjust your strategy and timeline based on changes in your local market.
- Track key performance indicators (KPIs) like organic traffic, local search rankings, and conversions. Measure the success of your local SEO efforts and identify areas for improvement.
D. Test and iterate:
- After completing the tasks, conduct another audit to see if things have changed. Identify any remaining or new areas for improvement.
- Use the insights from this follow-up audit to refine your strategy and create a new action plan. Focus on further optimizing your online presence and local search performance.
- Continue the evaluation and iteration to ensure that your website remains competitive.
Why Do a Local SEO Audit?
A local SEO audit analyses your business's website. It focuses on the factors that influence your website's performance.
The primary purpose of a local SEO audit is to:
Identify strengths and weaknesses:
Evaluating your website and online presence helps you understand what's working. It also helps you figure out what's not working. When you identify your strengths and weaknesses, you can make better decisions to improve your SEO performance.
Uncover optimization opportunities:
An audit helps you discover areas where your website may be missing out . You can find opportunities to help you site rank higher in local search results. The audit will look at your keyword usage, citation consistency, and backlink profile.
Develop a strategic plan:
Based on your audit, you can create a plan to address weaknesses and capitalize on strengths. Creating a plan ensures that you focus your efforts on areas for your website that will help the most.
Track progress and effectiveness:
Regular local SEO audits can help you track the success of your efforts. Continuous tracking allows you to make adjustments and stay ahead of your competition.
Stay up-to-date with best practices:
Search engine algorithms and best practices are changing. A local SEO audit helps ensure you follow the latest guidelines and recommendations. By following the most recent rules and suggestions, it can move up in local search results.
Several SEO tools can be helpful when conducting a local SEO audit.
These tools can assist with various aspects of the audit process, including keyword research, on-page optimization, off-page optimization, technical SEO, and competitor analysis.
Here are some popular SEO tools to consider for your local SEO audit:
Google My Business (GMB):
This is the primary tool for managing your local business listing on Google. Use it to optimize your GMB profile and track performance in local searches.
This powerful tool helps you track website traffic, user behavior, and conversions. It provides valuable insights for optimizing your local SEO efforts.
Google Search Console:
This tool provides insights into your website's search performance, indexability, and crawlability. Use it to identify and fix technical SEO issues. Use it to submit a sitemap and track keyword performance.
Moz Local helps you manage and optimize your local citations across different directories. It helps ensuring accurate and consistent NAP (Name, Address, Phone number) information.
This all-in-one local SEO tool offers a range of features. It includes local search rank tracking, citation building and management. It also includes review monitoring, and competitor analysis.
This super SEO tool that provides valuable insights of your website. It gives you your backlink profile, keyword rankings, and competitor analysis. Use it to identify opportunities for off-page SEO improvements and content optimization.
Another powerful all-in-one SEO tool that offers a range of features. , including keyword research, site audit, backlink analysis, and competitor analysis. Use it to identify areas for improvement in your local SEO strategy.
Screaming Frog SEO Spider:
This website crawler helps you analyze and audit your website's technical SEO issues. Issues such as broken links, duplicate content, and meta-tag optimization.
Yoast SEO (WordPress plugin):
If your website is built on WordPress, the Yoast SEO plugin is an essential tool. It can help optimize your on-page SEO, including meta titles, descriptions, and keyword usage.
This tool helps you analyze your website's load speed and performance. It provides actionable recommendations for improving your site's technical SEO and user experience.
Local SEO is a crucial aspect of any Maryland-based business's digital marketing strategy.
This is because it has a direct effect on how visible you are in local search results, Google Maps, and the Local Pack.
Conducting a local SEO audit is essential for identifying areas of improvement. An audit can help enhance your online presence and performance in local search results.
Following the steps in this guide, you can perform a thorough local SEO audit. You can also develop an effective SEO action plan based on your audit findings.
Remember that local SEO requires regular evaluation and adjustments to stay competitive.
About the author
Kester is the Director of SEO at Bowie SEO. He has been doing SEO and digital marketing for more than 4 years. When not engulfed in SEO or building websites, you can find him with his family, riding his bike, or relaxing in front of his aquarium.