Know how to rank higher in local search

Swarm audit
Foursquare used to be pretty popular for check-ins. Recently they decided to separate their check in function from the Foursquare app and spin it into Swarm. Having a social presence here can help alert their users of your business and allow them to check in. You can also take advantage of this by having check in deals among other offers. Make sure your Foursquare and Swarm profiles are correct and up to date with the information below:

1. Ensure the NAP is correct.

2. Are the best images used?

3. Is the page completely filled out and linked to their website?

4. Are they active and posting regularly?

5. Do they have any business check ins?

6. Do they have reviews and do they meet the criteria mentioned in the review section?

3. Google Plus audit
Being active on Google Plus can provide some tremendous benefits if used correctly. If the business is associated with the right groups and in the right relevant circles where their customers are, they can make a big impact. By being social, participating in these groups, and posting to their own business at least once a week they can share their messages with the appropriate audiences. All of this also shows that you are active on Google's platform which can't be a bad thing.

Goal: Make sure they are consistent in posting to Google Plus (at least once a week).

3. YouTube audit
As I mentioned above, having a video presence can be a very valuable thing. Of course having great videos is pretty self explanatory, but did you know your videos can also have NAP in the description, link to your landing page (If relevant), and be Geo Tagged? If not, take advantage of it.

Goal: Make sure the videos uploaded are high quality, have NAP in the description, and are geo-tagged.

Local SEO audit phase 7: competition analysis
Analyzing the competition is not some foolproof science. In fact it can be downright dangerous if you're doing it for the wrong reasons. One of the reasons this information is scary is that I usually like to look at the number of links and citations of the competition. This information is typically better left for the professionals as it's NOT A NUMBERS GAME. It's important to use the information in an ethical way to create a long term game plan that consists of major wins.

If you are just in SEO to make your numbers match the competition you are doomed to long term failure and should not be in this industry. It can also set the wrong mindset of "Well they're not doing it so I'm not going to do it" instead of the "Lets be the least imperfect" mindset we started with.

You should only move forward with a competition analysis if you plan on developing a plan that falls within Google's guidelines for your clients.

How a competition analysis is a good thing
Conducting a competition analysis can be a great thing to gain insight to help develop your own strategies. Some of the Good things you can do by looking at the competition are:

1) Review their citations and see if you missed any of the high quality easy wins they have

2) Identify their links and see if it generates any good ideas on what you can do to be successful, or what you can do better. If your main competition was mentioned by a major news outlet for their community service you could use this inspiration to develop a stronger campaign and help the world at the same time.

3) Gives you a general snapshot of what areas in which you might want to step up your game

If you beat your competition in every area and are not winning then you relied too much on imperfect tools for your imperfect data. Again, this is mostly used for a road map of what we can do moving forward.

1. Competition identification
Start by figuring out who your top competitors are. Once we have this list, we can go through it and compare some of these metrics for good. You can find your top competitors by doing a search for the keywords you want to rank for. You can then plug this information into a spreadsheet.

Goal: Find 3-7 competitors for your niche and record them in the spreadsheet with their NAP+W and G+ Page information.

2. Competition analysis
Once we have the list of competitors, we can take a simple look at their metrics. I prefer to record the following information for each competitor to get a snapshot of where they stand:

1) Domain Authority (Moz)

2) Figure out the domain authority of the competitors root domain using the Moz Toolbar.

3) Page Authority of landing page (Moz)

4) Figure out the page authority of the competitors Google My Business landing page using the Moz Toolbar.

5) Number of links from root domain

6) The number of links the competitor has from unique domains

7) Number of citations

8) The number of citations that are detected.

How to: To make this easier and get a rough idea I suggest using Moz Local, Whitespark or Brightlocal's tools.

Once you have the information above, you can use this information to get a snapshot of where you will want to be. If your competition is beating you in all of the above areas you can now start thinking about how you can create a strategy that will not just increase the numbers, but how you can ultimately get more authority from stronger sites.

Local SEO audit phase 8: developing an ongoing strategy
After you have all of the information above compiled, you can now create your checklist of things you need to improve to be the least imperfect. With this information you should develop a priority list of the most important items you click here need to fix. You can then assign them by putting them in a schedule and knock them out one by one.

Once you have identified the problems that need to be fixed and gotten them resolved you can turn your attention to an ongoing strategy for your clients. Ongoing strategies in local SEO really boil down to a few major components including:

Strong link earning
Strong content creation
Strong structured and unstructured citations
Good reviews
Based on your industry you can develop a plan that no longer chases the links and citations but rather earns them. In my opinion it's essential to develop a plan for your ongoing efforts with set goals and project lengths. This way you can measure KPIs.

Many people make the mistake of signing up for ongoing SEO fees without a plan and that can lead to a lack of accountability and bad SEO. On the other hand it's probably easy to see why generic priced SEO packages are also bad. If someone is charging $1,000 a month for 10 links or 10 citations, etc. they are likely going to be in a place that will hurt your SEO. Without the pre-knowledge from an audit like the one above you will be shooting in the dark which can ultimately hurt a website.

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