4 Steps for Auditing a URL for Local SEO
Where this post isn’t directly about Local SEO we have found that one of the most important signals in getting your Google+ listing to rank is your website. We get a lot of question about websites and what we see in terms of how they affect Local SEO so we compiled a list of the major red flags we look for and gave some instructions on how we test them.
The 4 major factors we review on a webpage from a local perspective are:
- Site Crawl Ability
- Keyword / Categories in copy
- Does each location have it’s own page are those locations using Schema
- Is the site Mobile friendly
Site Crawl Ability
This is really one of those “is it plugged in” tests. While it’s simple to check I still see it getting missed quite often, even by some seasoned Local SEO vets. That’s why I typically start any Local SEO audit with a quick review through SEOCentro.
SEOCentro is a website that features a free meta tag analyzer that will quickly point out any major issues a site is having. You can find that tool here: http://www.seocentro.com/tools/search-engines/metatag-analyzer.html this will check the keyword density of the page, title tags, meta tags, and of course the robots.txt file.
If all of those things check out we can cross site crawl ability and the basic meta and title tags off the list and move on.
Keyword Categories appearing in content
Often times one of the biggest mistakes I see small businesses making is not actually talking about what they do on their website. I had a client once who was a new start up bar in NYC. They were having difficulty ranking for their keyword. I can’t remember which keyword is was specifically since this was about a year ago but as an example let’s say the keyword was “Sports Bar”.
I started doing an audit on their site only to discover as a user I could not for the life of me figure out what kind of a bar they were… They had no content about what type of food they served, whether they had sports games on their TVs, or anything of that nature.
Not only is the bad from a usability perspective this is also bad from an SEO content perspective.
One of the key rankings factors for a lot of business, especially ones that don’t have categories related to their businesses in Google Maps (think Medical Marijuana or Vape shops) is to talk about those subjects on their website.
Since Google pulls most of the rankings factors from the content of your Google+ page and citations one of the only opportunities besides the description in your Google+ page to work in a few keywords is on the site attached to the location in Google+.
What this means to me is if you serve pizza you better talk about that on your site. If we review a site and see that it’s missing any copy around the word pizza and that’s what you’re trying to rank for then it’s time to have a copywriter take a crack at getting that copy up to par.
Location Pages and Google Schema:
We all know that citations are one of the major factors for ranking well in local, however you might not have known that the citation on your own site is the most important one! Based on our research there is a very large correlation between having your name, address and phone number on your site and great rankings. A good examples of this would be Domino’s Pizza.
All Domino’s Pizza Google+ locations point to dominos.com but if you do a deep dive on the site you will notice that each Domino’s location has it’s own page with original content and Schema location data. Here is an example of one of those pages: http://pizza.dominos.com/arizona/phoenix/85004/2819-n-central-ave/ and it’s been executed very well. Time and time again I see sites trying to rank for local that don’t have their NAP information anywhere on their site.
Another common mistake would be to have all 10 locations on a “locations” page. Throwing a page like this into Google Structured Data Testing Tool seen here: http://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/richsnippets were we have multiple location on one page that are not taking full advantage of Schema like Domino’s does, we see that Google doesn’t do the best job of differentiating between which phone numbers and address tie to which locations. Most of the time in fact Google pulls in pages like this as article pages.
By implementing schema on these pages or doing one better and giving each location it’s own page, we can ensure Google reads the location correctly with the proper name, address and phone number and can attribute that back to the proper Google+ page. Implementing Google Schema used to be difficult to do correctly and test. Nowadays however there really isn’t an excuse.
You can find data on Google Schema here: http://schema.org/ and a free tool to help you format it correctly here: http://schema-creator.org/organization.php so no more excuses!
Mobile Friendly website
Google takes into consideration what user-agent you’re coming from when doing a search. What that means is if you’re on Chrome on a desktop you’re going to see one result and another on Chrome for mobile. If your site is not optimized for mobile Google is going to be less likely to show your page to someone who’s doing their search from an iPhone if there is a better result available for mobile phones. This applies globally to local and desktop searches.
As an example I had a bar in New York I was reviewing that was having difficulty showing up on maps when they did a search from their mobile phones. It didn’t take us long to see that their site was barely usable on a desktop and on top of that could barely be seen on a mobile phone.
This creates a bad user experience for people coming off Google Maps so Google is much less likely to show their site. Our suggestion to them was to make a few small changes to their website to make it more usable on mobile phones.
If you’re having trouble testing sites on mobile phones or want an easy mobile phone simulator I use Mobiletest.me Here is how our site looks on their simulator http://mobiletest.me/iphone_5_emulator/#u=http://reportpro.net to be honest though these web based emulators … aren’t the best. Quit being lazy and pull out your damn phone!
There is always more you can be doing when auditing a site for Local SEO and we barely scratched the surface here, however we find these to be the biggest factors and typically if you can pass all these tests your sites going to be in pretty good shape to grab some awesome local rankings.