More threads by Linda Buquet

Linda Buquet

Local Search Expert
Jun 28, 2012
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Image credit: SEMrush

How do you do a QUICK, but thorough pre-consult audit before talking with a potential new client?

Are you sure you have all your bases covered?

Darren from Whitespark did an EXCELLENT post at SEMrush that should help!

Wanted to highlight 2 very important points Darren raised and also expand on one.

How to Do a Basic Local SEO Audit in 30 Minutes or Less
From the SEMrush Blog (Note: Below are just a couple snippets. Click through to read the rest!)

b. Is the description spammed with keywords? The description field isn’t considered in the ranking algorithm, but it is checked in Google’s spam filter. There’s no benefit to stuff it with keywords, but it could harm your ability to rank.

Yes, good to hear this talked about more, it's something I've always stressed in training as well as here. Especially if city is repeated multiple times, I've seen ranking penalties. Pigeon does not see to mind quite as much. BUT since Google has personally told us the description is not a ranking factor, why risk it???

d. Have they associated too many categories with their listing? We have found that when you remove some of the less important categories, rankings for the primary category improve. We call too many categories “category dilution” because your category strength is being split across multiple categories. Tighten the categories up to focus all your category strength on the single most important service. Note: this is just a theory based on a few observed cases. We don’t have substantial evidence to back up this theory at the moment. Your mileage may vary.

This is a really good point! I had not heard this before - BUT it aligns with the new guidelines.

HAS ANYONE TRIED REDUCING CATEGORIES? Did it help ranking for the main category???

Head over to read the rest: How to Do a Basic Local SEO Audit in 30 Minutes or Less

Wanted to mention one Darren barely mentioned that should be expanded on.

Search for duplicates. Dupes are one of the biggest reasons for ranking problems.

He does briefly mention there could be dupes. But I think there should be a section under #2 specifically for dupes.

You also need to understand the potential problems that different types of dupes create; practitioner listings, closed listings and traditional dupes - so you can alert the new client there is work to do on this front. Not that you are going to tell a new prospect how to fix them or anything, but need to know how to find them, so you can let the prospect know that problem exists. And also in case you need to build more into your proposal if its a complicated mess that will take additional time.

So following is a post that ties in, in case you missed it...

Pigeon now hides dupes. In new maps typically only one listing will show and Classic maps often hides dupes, old closed listings and practitioner listings too. So here's a detailed post about how to search for dupes now. (Which Darren did briefly touch on.)

<a href="">Advanced Tip for Google Local Duplicate Discovery & Troubleshooting</a>. That post also links to an important post about how old closed listings can suppress ranking for the main listing you want to rank.

Anyway, great stuff Darren and I totally subscribe to this strategy. Back when I still worked with Dentists, I would always do a pre-consult audit, so I could educate myself on their situation and the problems the Dentist had prior to the initial free consult I always did. I think this post provides a really nice road map for the things that need to be checked in advance.

What else do you cover in a quick audit???
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I think he did a great job laying out the local audit. He covered all the basic stuff that everyone should be doing for a local client, so not sure I can add much more to what he listed. From a outside audit, this list is great. If you can get webmaster tools access I would check crawl errors and various other technical onsite points. Screaming Frog, Xenu, or even Moz can help you check 404 errors and other onsite issues that might be bottle-necking the campaign. Webmaster tools access would also let you do a quick check to see if there are duplicate title tags reported, then you can do a deeper dive into page content to see if all services/products are covered and if they have target keywords in the page. Darren covers that in Step 4-D, but thought the error check and the dupe title tag check would be useful to know.
Hey Linda! Just noticed that you shared my post on the forum. Thank you for your kind words, and thanks for sharing. Glad you liked the post.

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