Destinations aim to attract people from all corners of the state, region, or even the world. However, this doesn’t mean they should neglect improving their local search rankings. By optimizing for local search, destinations can encourage both residents and visitors to support local businesses that form the heart of their communities.
Conducting a local SEO audit can help identify your website’s strengths and weaknesses, enabling you to perform better in local search and strengthen the connection between your audience and potential customers.
Here are four key aspects to investigate during your audit:
1. Google Business Profile
The Google Business Profile, formerly known as Google My Business, is a fundamental requirement for any effective local SEO campaign. If you haven’t already done so, creating and verifying your profile should be your first step.
Once set up, your profile will appear in standard search results and on Google Maps. It often serves as the initial exposure of your business to searchers. Therefore, it should be as comprehensive and up-to-date as possible.
Review all the information about your company to provide an accurate representation of your services, products, location, hours of operation, and other essential details. Google assesses listings based on relevance, distance, and popularity, so consider how you can enhance your listing to achieve better rankings.
2. Keyword Targeting
Keywords are a vital component of all SEO efforts, but local SEO requires the use of specific keywords tailored to your destination or target area.
Examine your keyword rankings and identify any location-based terms that could help your website stand out. These might include phrases containing “near me,” such as “things to do with children near me” or “hotels near me.”
Geo-modifying existing organic keywords can also boost your local SEO. This involves adding your location to a relevant keyword, such as “family-friendly attractions” becoming “family-friendly attractions in Chicago.”
While it’s generally advisable to avoid placing these local keywords in your on-site title (as it might appear unnatural), you can include them in your Meta Title, Meta Description, Img Alt Tags, and even discreetly in the body copy without disrupting the user experience.
3. Backlink Profile
Backlinks have long been a potent ranking factor for Google and continue to hold significance. Maintaining a healthy backlink profile can significantly enhance your visibility in local search results.
You can naturally build strong local backlinks by creating content with descriptive phrases related to your area. Alternatively, take a proactive approach and reach out to relevant local businesses, associations, and governmental organizations, requesting backlinks.
When reviewing your backlinks, ensure that those linking to your site use descriptive and contextually relevant anchor text. Overly generic or non-descriptive anchor text can raise red flags with search engines, potentially devaluing a high-quality link.
Quality anchor text should accurately convey the content of the linked page. For instance, for a page about “family-friendly attractions in Chicago,” suitable anchor text could be: “Family-Friendly Attractions Chicago | Chicago Attractions | Things to Do in Chicago for Families.”
Finally, make it a routine to disavow any poor-quality or toxic backlinks that you encounter during your audit using Google Search Console. Most websites accumulate several potentially harmful links each month, so proactive management can make a significant difference.
4. Citations and Mentions
Citations and mentions occur when other websites reference your brand without necessarily including a hyperlink. They also play a role in affecting your local SEO. Citations usually include your name, address, and phone number (NAP), but they can extend to encompass additional information like images and reviews.
High-quality local citations can help search engines assess your authority and reach. During your local SEO audit, it’s essential to review your citations and mentions. Over time, you can inadvertently accumulate a substantial number of citations. Software solutions like BrightLocal or SEMRush can assist in updating and managing your citations efficiently.
While there’s always more to be done, effectively executing these four core elements will set you on the path to improving your local SEO, thereby enhancing your local exposure and better fulfilling your mission of promoting your destination and its local businesses.