Have you ever taken your car to the shop to be repaired?
The mechanic starts throwing out costs of repairs, parts you need, and in minutes you’re overwhelmed and have unknowingly agreed to install a new engine, new headlights, and probably a new minty air freshener. Yikes! Maybe you should have done your homework beforehand?
Being a small business owner can sometimes feel like that, especially when the conversation turns to your website. Technical SEO terms like bounce rates, search volumes, and error codes like 404s start flying around…it’s a lot for any business owner. The conversation can quickly escalate, and may end up with you hiring an expensive agency and agreeing to changes without really understanding what your site needs.
Well, here at webSMART, we think it’s important to equip business owners with the knowledge they need when it comes to conversations about their digital presence and the health of their site. This is where a Local SEO Report for your website comes in handy. Your SEO audit acts as a general health check for your website, as well as your company’s web visibility. It examines key SEO factors including those that affect your site’s ranking on search engines.
With our free local SEO assessment, you’ll see how your web presence stacks up against the local competition, and what you need to do to start souping up your ride. You’ll see where you rank in local searches, the health of your user reviews, and where your business is listed in local directories. Soon you’ll have all the info you need to set a game plan and get to winning.
Search Rankings in SEO refers to a website’s position in the search engine results page [SERP]. It’s kind of like golf, you’re aiming for a lower number. There are many different ranking signals, or characteristics of a website, that determine the position in the search engines, such as:
In the Search Rankings section of the audit, you will find your site’s rank for your important keywords. If you are using that keyword more than once on your website, then you will see multiple results in the table. If you don’t appear in the top 50 you will see a result of >50.
The goal is to get to position 1,2,3 or at least to the first page of the results page. So if you’re not on the first page yet, there’s still a lot of work to do. But don’t worry, we got you!
Enroll in our FREE How to Conduct Keyword Research Crash Course to learn how to climb to the top of the search engines.
The “Top Keywords” displayed in the On-site SEO section of your audit tells you what keywords your site is focusing on, allowing you to see if you are right on track when it comes to if your content is focusing on the right keywords for your business and location. Or if you’re not.
Your reviews are a major part of your online reputation. Basically, the better your reputation, the more customers you’re likely to win online. Customers read multiple reviews to make a single decision, even what to eat on a Friday night. So, it’s crucial to keep an eye out for what people are saying, when they’re saying it, and what sites they’re saying it on. Use this report to:
Your review count isn’t a static number. After delivering a superb product or service from you, there are tools available on various platforms to encourage customers to give their feedback or review. Increasing the number of positive reviews will help you get in front of potential customers and even help improve your search results ranking.
According to Bright Local, consumers read an average of 10 reviews. And chances are they’re reading your most recent ones first. That’s why your last ten reviews are key! Potential customers are forming their impression of you based on these recent reviews. Are you great at customer service? Do you reply to reviews? Are you the type of business they want to work with?
A reoccurring comment in the reviews could be an opportunity for improvement or even a chance to expand your business.
While it may seem tempting to remove negative reviews, don’t do it. Bad reviews happen to any healthy business. What’s important is how and when you respond to them.
Enroll in our Reputation Management 101 Crash Course to learn how to increase the number of reviews you have, respond to the good and bad reviews, and manage your overall reputation.
We’ve all seen them, those annoying error messages that pop up on your screen when you try to go to a webpage that is no longer there or has been moved. Maybe you ended up on a page with “404” prominently displayed prominently with a message that says, “Page Not Found.” But do you know what these errors really mean and that you could do something about them?
Here are the more common codes you’ll run into on your local SEO audit:
It’s important to resolve these errors so that customers don’t go to these broken or missing pages, and then end up abandoning your site completely. Google can also reduce the authority of your site if your error count is high. And that can have an impact on your ranking on search engines.
The Errors section of the Technical SEO area of your audit shows you pages [URLs] on your site that return an error because they don’t exist anymore or they have a problem.
Page-specific error information can be found in the Appendix. You can use this section as a checklist of things to fix on your site.
Do you know who you’re up against online?
Your Local SEO Report provides you with insights into who your competitors are online. Using this information can be incredibly beneficial because you can scope out their website, social profiles, GMB profile, and other sites, to figure out how to beat them at their own game. Competitor information can be found in a couple of sections, including the sections of your audit:
If the goal is to rank better than your competition [and it should be], it’s essential to keep an eye on your domain authority as well as your competitions’. Since backlinks are a significant ranking factor, look at your competitor’s links and see how many they have compared to yours. That’ll give you a baseline of where to put your focus. The more you know, the more equipped you are in putting together a plan to beat them.
This section of the audit analyzes your GMB optimization. It reports on a number of important criteria for your site against the top 10 ranked businesses in your area.
GMB is Google’s local listing and search tool, featuring listings of local businesses, organizations, and places. Listings from GMB appear in organic search results and Google Maps on both desktop and mobile devices. This is why GMB is a hugely powerful marketing opportunity for local businesses. Getting your optimization correct here is critical to attracting new, local customers.
Use the Google My Business section of the audit to see what your competition is doing. Here are a few items to look for when scoping out the local competition:
Now take the information and use it to improve your own GMB listing. You don’t need to reinvent the wheel, just do it better than your competitors, so that you stand out among the stars.
Metadata is like a file cabinet to your website. Keep it nice and relevant, and search engines like Google [and in turn your audience] will find the nuggets they are looking for when searching for your products and/or services. When reviewing your metadata information on your Local Search Audit, it’s important to look for errors and duplicates. Insights into your site’s metadata can be found in the On-Site SEO section of your Search Audit. There are the foundational metadata your site needs to have:
Titles are prime SEO real estate and so should be carefully considered and optimized. They appear in the search results and on browser tabs, telling Google and users what to expect on the page. A catchy title can push someone to click thru to your site. So keep it interesting and accurate, unique for each page, and write with your audience in mind.
One important note to remember when it comes to the length of a page title. There’s no hard and fast rule about character limits, but Google’s display titles max out at 600 pixels, which amounts to about 50-60 characters. Anything more than that may get cut by search engines. So craft your title with the main keyword for that page towards the beginning.
After your page title, an interesting or compelling meta description is your next chance to convince someone to click on your link instead of the competition. The Meta Description is your moment to briefly explain what a page is all about and what makes the content worth someone’s time. Since each page on your site should be different, each meta description should be unique to each page.
Headers help ensure that a page is easy to read and is well-structured for both readers and by search engines. Although there are six levels of headers [H1-H6], it is the first few that are the most important for SEO purposes. The organization of these headers highlights to Google what the important keywords are and what topics the page covers. H1 tags—of which there should be only one per page—have a higher SEO value than H2 tags. H2 tags have a higher SEO value than H3 tags, and so on.
Search engines penalize sites that load slowly, but more importantly, so do users. They stop visiting your site, bounce, or don’t buy. The faster a webpage loads, the better the experience for your site’s visitors. And the better their experience, the better chance you have in them coming back and sticking around. And that’s what we want right?
Your Search Audit detects the presence of technical elements. These are factors that Google looks for as a ranking signal that isn’t seen by the average user:
Your audit will show you the page load speed of your website when viewed on both a desktop and a mobile device. This data is displayed for desktop in the Technical SEO section and for mobile devices in the Mobile SEO section of the Search Audit. Scores range from 0 to 100 points. You should also check out the page load speeds of your top competitors’ sites as well.
Pay special attention to how fast it loads on mobile. With more and more people using their mobile phones to go online, it’s important that your page loads fast and is mobile-friendly. So keep an eye out for this number.
Yes. A sitemap is a visual layout of the structure and content of your website, sort of like a “table of contents.” Submitting your sitemap is an integral part of any SEO strategy, as you are literally alerting search engines to your presence rather than waiting to be discovered. The Technical SEO section lets you know if your site contains an XML sitemap. If you don’t, the easiest way to create a sitemap is with the help of a sitemap generator.
Absolutely. Alt Text is a method for adding a text description to an image. With an audience that includes those that are visually impaired, screen readers will be able to read an alt attribute to better understand an on-page image. Search engines also can’t currently read images to determine their relevance to your content, so alt text is your opportunity to add keywords to your images to reveal their significance. The SEO section of your audit provides information about whether or not the images on your site have alt text through “Image Alt Tags.”
Finally as you start to wonder where to start with all the data you just reviewed in your audit, the appendix hands you the answers. See how each of your top performing pages hold up with several SEO factors, such as:
This is the perfect place to take action on the report and ensure your top pages are working for you. Discover how a closer look at your audit’s appendix can reveal some quick wins for your site.
Not just limited to metadata, this extends to copy on all pages. If your page titles, meta descriptions, or content are the same on multiple pages, Google will not know which to rank over the other.
As a website owner, this could mean, ranking drops and loss in traffic. Duplicate content results in ranking a less important page over the other, or worse, refusing to rank either page. You can lose traffic if you have multiple versions of the same content on your site. Duplicate content also decreases the trustworthiness of a site. And that isn’t good for business.
While word count may be highlighted as an area to improve when below 500, consider this more of a nudge to reconsider what you are putting out there.
Just like many ranking factors, there is no clear cut answer to how many words are optimal on a page to boost your page. Rather than focus on the number of words to provide the search engines, use the opportunity to answer what your target audience is looking to learn. Are they there to learn? To purchase a product? Or maybe the page is meant to entertain?
Each of those reasons could mean varying lengths of content. Clear and thorough information most likely comes with a word count higher than 500, and depending on the topic, you might lose the interest of a user after 4000 words. Ultimately content should be as long as it needs to be to provide the best structure, information and resources for a user. Quality over quantity. Items to consider in quality: topic covered, target keywords, and resources referenced [including another important ranking factor, backlinks].
Check out what your competitors are doing. Are they providing full content? While it plays into a rank factor, it’s indirect, and ultimately it’s your user you should be focused on rather than Google when it comes to word count.
There’s a lot of information in this report. And while it’s easy to get overwhelmed or end up in analysis paralysis, the appendix section delivers a checklist to get it done by analyzing your top performing pages.
Duplicate titles and meta descriptions? Review the page and the important keywords you want to rank to see how you can update the titles and descriptions. Missing alt tags or broken links? You can’t have that. Fill in your image alt tags and replace the broken links. Knowing is half the battle when it comes to improving your website, and this free SEO audit report has given you the know-how!
But let’s be real. Your visitors may want something beyond your current top listed pages. Ensuring your whole site is in tip-top shape is now more critical than ever [beyond placating search engines]. Whether they’re on your website to gather information, be entertained, or buy something, ensuring that the site isn’t chock full of broken links, duplicate content, and other problems can mean the difference between someone coming back or leaving for good.
Now that you’ve gotten a taste of what types of issues might be lurking behind the scenes, let us help you run a full audit of your site for an in-depth strategy roadmap. The time for guessing is over.
Boosting your search rankings online and gaining new customers in the ever-growing digital realm can seem overwhelming. But like any great mission, it’s important to come prepared, do your homework, and understand and review the data. With so much cyberspace to cover, don’t be discouraged if you see a few red flags flying over your ship.
Fortunately, webSMART is here to help you navigate your website through the ever-changing, fast paced online world and improve your web visibility. If you haven’t done so yet, run and review your free SEO audit report and let’s have a SMART conversation on where to go next.