43 Actionable Checks

Rank in Google Maps/Local

Rank in Bing Maps/Local

Improve Your Website

Become Visible Locally

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Is an optimized NAP firmly defined?

The Name, Address, and Phone Number (NAP) of a business, together, comprise a "local citation".

When Google, Bing, and others discover these groupings of information around the web, it improves your rankings.

The most common local SEO mistake is a failure to be absolutely consistent with this information. And since certain websites will only accept this information in certain formats, we need to be sure that the name, address, and phone that we use has been optimized for maximum acceptance.

What is the ideal business name?

Consider capitalization, suffixes (like "LLC"), abbreviations, and how a person may be drawn to write down the business name outside of our will. How others write it will probably be most important, since there are more of them than there are of you. This means the full legal name of a business, especially if it differs from the logo or common marketing message, is often not the best choice.

Look at all the variations of text that other people use to link to the brand on Ahrefs or Moz OSE for a terrifying look at the human psyche.

What is the ideal business address?

Obviously, just figuring out the current address is a start. Many local citations will restrict you to the USPS address validation tool version.

It's strongly recommended that you use this tool's version as well. Otherwise, it will never be possible to obtain 100% local SEO value from available sources.

Finally, use a 5-digit zip code (not the 9-digit version) in the U.S.. If outside the U.S., revert the shortest acceptable version.

What is the ideal phone number?

800#s are not permitted for many local listings. Duplicate phone numbers for one location may also cause issues. The format that it's written is important, since some listings force a particular format. Finally, many popular variations, like separating the digits using decimals, may not be a valid phone number on some sites.

A simple, hyphen-separation of digits is strongly recommended, typically omitting the country code.

Finally, never use a vanity number (with letters).

Service-related Description

Without spamming, has the company prepared a keyword-rich description to accompany listings?

Because so many local business listings are searchable using the internal tools of these sites, and because Google/Bing will treat surrounding text as additional signals of what the business is relevant to rank for, it's important that all major products/services are noted in a short business description.

Is the website optimized?

The next many checks relate to optimizing a website for local search rankings.

Completely optimizing your website is more complex than this. Most Core SEO Audits and Core Inbound Audits also matter. For the scope of this audit, we'll focus on the optimizations that are only relevant for local.

Location Pages

Does every business location have a dedicated page on the site?

This is especially important for both Google and Bing. Especially since 2014, when Google released their Pigeon algorithm update, which focused particular on this issue. This will also establish your page as the most authoritative reference page for this location (with an aim of outranking yellowpages.com-style citations).

Embedded Google Map

Have we embedded a Google Map of the site's listing on the page?

While not required, this is strongly recommended best practice on location pages. This addresses many goals at once. It expands upon the page's substance. It creates a deeper, clearer association between the page and Google My Business profile. And, it makes it far easier for your audience to add Google reviews.

Location Content Architecture

Does each location page have strong on-page SEO for relevant keywords?

In short, we should be referencing the location and summary of product/services in prominent locations on the page. For example: placing "SEO Services in Lincoln Square, Chicago" earlier in the title, description, H1, and high in the body text of the page.

We have an entire 50+ step checklist for good content architecture for advanced implementations of this concept, but for the scope of this audit, simply make sure that these keywords/phrases are in play.

IF ONE/FEW ADDRESSES: Business Address is Static

Does the business have the correct, pre-determined name, address, and phone listed on all pages of the site?

In the header, footer, or some combination, it's best practice to list our NAP - that is, the Name, Address, and Phone Number - on every page. This will help to associate all relevant content with the correct address. If the business has many addresses, this may not be possible.

Structured Data on Address

Does the site use schema.org to signal to Google that all addresses on the site are localBusiness and streetAddresses?

You can find this information by selecting the address in Google Chrome and choosing "Inspect Element". It should look just like this. Full documentation.

Structured Data on Telephone

Does the site use schema.org to denote the business telephone number? Documentation here.

Geocode Photographs

Does the site contain photographs that are on-location?

If so, we should geocode them using Exif data or using schema.org using this guide.

Geocoding Image Sitemaps

Does the site contain photographs AND take advantage of an image sitemap?

If so, it's strongly recommended to geocode photograph locales as well (guide).

Social Geocoding

Does the brand have photographs that only appear on social media? Ie. Facebook, Flickr, Pinterest, Instagram galleries.

If so, it's strongly recommended to geocode Exif data. Let's also try to gather up these geocoded images for us on local citations in the later steps (guide).

Google My Business

Has a Google My Business profile been created for every physical location?

Ranking in Google's local/maps listings will be impossible without this. Setup here.

Duplicate Google Maps Listings

Search Google Maps for the business. Are there any duplicate listings to be found? Also check for extras here, published or unpublished, as this can cause problems with Google's editorial review process.

Duplicate profiles should be deleted, but not before having old reviews moved to the new profile (should those reviews be flattering). Contact Google My Business phone support to migrate any misplaced reviews.

Verified Google Listing

Has the listing been verified? If so, you'll see a small green checkmark next to the business name with the word "verified". If not, an address verification postcard is usually required. Instructions on how to verify.

Ideal Categories

Is the Google My Business listing in all ideal categories? Review the listings of several competitors to be sure. You can add a site to multiple categories, so add as many as are genuinely relevant.

Google Business Photos

Are there at least three photos for each category: Identity, Interior, Exterior, At work, Team?

These may or may not help rankings, but do correlate according to various studies. Google directly requests three of each, which theoretically can only improve presentation in the listings, if not rankings.

If you are having trouble getting the profile published, Google support looks for exterior photos in particular. It's suspected that these photos carry additional weight in rankings as well.



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