One of the natural challenges of SEO (search engine optimization) is just how volatile it really is. The world of search engines are changing all the time – a technique that worked wonderfully yesterday may be woefully inadequate tomorrow, or vice versa. Engines like Google may suddenly release an update to the algorithm used to calculate search rankings, causing a massive change to the very nature of SEO in general. It can be difficult to keep up with the ongoing evolution, but that’s exactly what you have to do if you want to continue to see the type of results that you’re after in the first place. Performing your own local SEO audit on a regular basis is one of the best chances you have to accomplish exactly that.

In the simplest terms possible, an audit helps make sure that you’re moving in the right direction and that you’re identifying changes as they occur so you can adapt accordingly. If you want to perform your own local SEO audit and actually glean valuable insight from it, you’ll want to keep a few key things in mind.

  • Check your business name reach. This includes taking a look at your name, address and phone visibility, which is also commonly referred to as NAP. The name of your business, the address that it’s located at and a phone number for contact should be as visible throughout your domain as possible. If potential customers can’t find you when they want, they’re going to look elsewhere – end of story. Google in particular also weighs NAP visibility very highly when calculating rankings.
  • Identify both the city and geographical location of your business. This is particularly important in the mobile-centric world in which we now live, where local pages are given priority over larger, national ones on search engines like Google. Not only will this help people in your own market find you much easier, but it will also go a long way towards boosting your rank on search engines, too.
  • Extract as much useful data as you can through competitor analysis. Take a look at what your closest competitor is doing regarding not just SEO but also mobile-friendliness, social networking integration and more. What is working for them? What isn’t? What types of content are they seeing the most penetration with on Facebook? What types of consumer outreach programs are they running? Consider this something of an A/B test – compare what they’re doing to what you’re doing and see if you can identify ways that you could be doing better (or, conversely, big mistakes that you should try to avoid).
  • Conduct a thorough keyword analysis. What keywords are you targeting with your content? What goal are they supposed to help you accomplish? Which keywords are performing better than you thought they would? Which is underperforming? This can help you immediately identify any shortcomings in your strategy, giving you a clear picture of what you need to focus on moving forward.
  • Search your business in Google and other search engines. How easy is it to find your business? If the answer is anything other than “almost impossibly easy,” you’ve got a problem in your SEO strategy somewhere that you need to find and fix at all costs.
  • Scan your Google+ Local Page to access page health. Take a look at the most recently updated guidelines for representing your business on Google+ and make sure that you’re in compliance with every last one of them.
  • Audit your company website and blog for duplicate content. Google in particular really, really doesn’t like duplicate content – not only will it harm the overall health of your page, but it could also end up getting you penalized. This might artificially deflate your ranking as a result. If you’ve got reams of duplicate pages on your blog or website, you need to replace them with higher quality, unique alternatives as soon as you can.
  • Review the social networks that your business is active on. Are there any pages that you’ve been neglecting? Are you getting as many “Likes” on Facebook or “Retweets” on Twitter as you’d like? Remember that as far as SEO is concerned, it isn’t enough to just HAVE a Facebook page for your business. You need to actively be utilizing it to publish regular content and contribute to the types of conversation that your target customers are having.

Finally, you’ll want to take all of the new and valuable information you just learned and use it to set an outgoing strategy for the future. As a result of your local SEO audit, you likely have a better idea of where you stand. You know which goals you weren’t able to accomplish and you know which ones you succeeded at with flying colors. A failure to make ANY type of change as a result of this is essentially spinning your wheels – it’s not taking what you’ve learned and putting it to good use and it’s certainly not helping you expand your reach. Set NEW goals for yourself based on how far you’ve come to help make sure that you always know exactly where you’re going as a result of your SEO strategies tomorrow, the next day and beyond.