According to research, 46% of all the searches on Google are local. This means that you’re losing a great deal if a search is conducted online based on the goods and services you provide but your business doesn’t appear on the list of other local businesses. This can be very bad for any local business, especially one that’s just starting up.
Also, research has shown that 9 out of 10 people visit a local store within a five-metre radius after they’ve searched for a local business online. You’ll have a hard time being found if your local SEO is bad.
In this article, we’ll discuss the Google My Business SEO audit to analyse and study your competitors, and also increase and optimize your local ranking. And consequently, gather more traffic to your site and generate leads.
Here, the step-by-step process for the Google My Business audit will be explored and you’ll have the best knowledge and strategy for your local SEO. But before we get into the step-by-step process, below are two things you should do first.
List the Top Competitors
Google My Business audit doesn’t even begin when you create your listing, instead, it starts way before that. You must know how your competitors have successful listings before you proceed to create yours. It gives you a chance to improve on whatever method they use so you can be better than them when you create your listing.
How do you identify local competitors? It’s very easy to find them; a local search on Google will provide you with all the information that you need.
To do that, put in the keywords for your business with the exact target location. For instance, if your business is about providing plumbing services in Henderson, search for “Plumbing services in Henderson.”
When you input that keyword, a couple of results will appear. However, the top 3 that rank are what you should be on the lookout for. That’s Google revealing to you the top ranking businesses in that location, your top 3 competitors.
How does a three-pack work?
Proximity is a great determining factor in local rankings. What this means is that the more users are closer to a listing, the more likely they are to see it.
When you scroll down to the bottom of your Google homepage, you’ll see the location of where you are, you’ll also get the exact keyword for your search.
This is how you know the location that Google is showing you the local results for.
Now that we’ve explored the first step which is identifying the top competitors, let’s move on to the next step of the Google My Business audit.
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Analyzing the Competition
To analyse your competition, there’s a template for it. Firstly, list out your competitors as they are revealed in the result accordingly, then include the target keyword and location. The first two rows of the audit will be occupied by the #1 competitor.
Knowing these things, we can now proceed to the step-by-step process for your Google My Business SEO audit. Let’s proceed.
Step – 1: Business Name
Firstly, we’ll confirm if the target keywords or their variants are present in the list title together with the location. The keyword, in this case, is “plumbing service”. This competitor has a keyword in their title, they also have their target location in their title which is ” Henderson”.
Now, here’s the deal. The GMB guideline doesn’t support you decorating your GMB name to suit keywords and locations. The GMB guideline only supports businesses using the real-world names that their business uses everywhere else.
So, businesses whose actual business name contains these target keywords are at an advantage. However, those who don’t but still go ahead to add these keywords in their GMB title are susceptible to listing suspension.
If your competitors are using keywords that are not in their original title, you can help them by taking measures to get them to fix it.
Here’s why it’s essential for your GMB audit:
Local SEO research conducted by Moz discovered that one of the most significant ranking factors is Google My Business Signals.
These signals include the keywords or their variations in the GMB listings; they contribute to increasing your ranking signals. That’s why it’s very important.
However, if your competitors use keywords that are not in their actual business name in place of the GMB name, do not repeat the same mistake as them. Follow the GMB guideline and maximise the benefits of your GMB.
Step – 2: Directions & Website Buttons
Next, check if your competitor has given a website and an address. If so, then include that in your audit template.
Step – 3: Primary & Secondary Categories
Next, we’ll switch over to Google Maps to do a primary and secondary category audit. You’ll see the primary category located below the rating stars of the business. Write out the primary category in the right column.
GMB categories are another important ranking signal that can affect your rankings.
The next step is to locate the secondary categories. Here’s how you can get it done:
- Head to competitors’ Google Maps profiles, then right-click on the space beside the primary category.
- Click on view page source.
- Search for the primary category on the following page and steer to the third result.
- Following the primary category, you’ll find secondary categories added by the business.
Note: If you can’t find any there, then no secondary category has been added yet.
Document the additional categories in the template, and while doing that, also include the competitor’s Google Reviews count.
Step – 4: Business Hours, Photos & Posts
To fill in the next rows, it’s more advisable to review the template on a smartphone rather than on a desktop. It’ll be more convenient.
Here, we’ll be auditing competitors’ :
- Business hours
- Photo count
- Latest Google My Business post.
Input all the data into the Google My Business audit template. Then, we’ll audit the competitor’s landing pages. We won’t delve too deep into details, but below are what you should familiarize yourself with.
All GMB listings get at least one field to include a website link. It all depends on the category of the listing. Meanwhile, there are different available options:
- The standard “Website” button on Google My Business.
- Appointment section to send customers on a service-based page.
- Menu option for restaurants or cafes to directly send customers to the menu page.
The reason why we’re auditing the competitor’s landing pages is that we want to know the areas where we can improve on and excel better than them.
Also, it’s more advisable that you audit the landing pages on a smartphone and remember to set it in desktop mode. The reason is that most of your customers if not all will be searching for your business on their mobile phones.
In addition, you’ll want to check out your competitors’ URL structure. For example, are they gathering the traffic to a general page or a localized page?
Localized pages have more benefits since they let users know the location of your business.
Conduct this same audit for maybe two more leading competitors and write it in the audit template.
Auditing the Optimizations
After taking those four steps, the additional step for your Google My Business audit will be to check if the optimization you did is effective.
To do that, we’ll come to Google My Business Dashboard. Here you can see and review insights on optimisation for up to 90-days old data.
Here, Google lets you see a couple of various insights.
This one is an analysis of where your listing has appeared the most; Google search or Maps. We’ll be able to find out more in the next report.
Here, you’ll find the results of how many times your business appeared by branded search and the same from discovery.
“Direct” searches mean that the user deliberately searched for you or your address( this means they specifically input your brand name or location into the search engine).
“Discovery” searches mean when you appear because a search was made for the product or service you offer. You can get all this information in the insights.
This one is the most important of all the three at least from the GMB perspective.
Here you can check how many actions your listings have received i.e, Direction requests, Website Visits, Calls and Photo views.
On a final note;
As you’ve perused this article on Google My Business audit, you’ve already learnt all the aspects of local SEO audit.
It’s always important that you optimise and audit your GMB. The process is simple and it doesn’t require any technical expertise.
The goal is to check out how your competitors are doing it, check for their mistakes and where you need to improve. When performing an audit for your GMB, incorporate your discoveries into it.
Optimizing your GMB is another quality way to increase your ranking, generating quality leads and leading more traffic to your site.