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Why Perform A Local Search Audit For Your Business?

According to Forrester Research, 40% of US retail sales in 2010 were  “web-influenced”.

So even when consumers plan to purchase offline, they often consult online. This is where Local Search comes into play. For an explanation of Local Search, please see my previous post. In short, Local Search ties the digital world to the real world. It’s how many of us find out about products, services, locations, reviews  and special offers available in nearby shops and towns.

Local listings  (like Google Places) are the first contact many mobile searchers will have with your business. Investing time in Local Search is important for business owners as it ensures the phone keeps ringing!

Local Search is different from regular or Organic Search

How is your business performing for Local Searches? How are your competitors performing for Local Searches? What can you do to improve your Local rankings? The first step is to perform a Local Search Audit.

Reasons for a Local Search Audit:

  • Review listings to find any confusion about the business information (Name, Address, Phone Number) and correct where required.
  • Find duplicate listings and remove.
  • Discover what the top ranking listings have in common so that we can try to duplicate their success. Analyse the top ranking listings so that we can understand how they have achieved ranking and how we can replicate.

Time for a NAP. Not the sleeping variety, but the Name, Address and Phone number. Included in this, should also be the website url. The N.A.P allows search engines to cross reference information about local business from many sources. Roughly speaking the more times you business is referenced by local sources the more relevant your business is deemed to be. These references are known as citations. They have a similar effect on your local listings as inbound links have on your website.

At this point it is also important to stress that the N.A.P needs to be identical every where on the Internet. For example, search engines will see Franks Hardware and as separate businesses. This creates two problems firstly you may end up with duplicate listings in for example Google Places. The second issue is that you will not get the citations associated with this reference.

The Audit Process

  • Google  your business name. Check that the N.A.P is identical in each instance.
  • Search for the business name in Google Maps, Yahoo Local and Bing Local.
  • Search for the business address in Google Maps, Yahoo Local and Bing Local.
  • Search for the business phone number in Google Maps, Yahoo Local and Bing Local.
  • Look at the citations and reviews in the local business listings on each search engine and see if the information is correct.
  • Note what needs to be corrected/updated and for any opportunities for improvement.
  • To analyse competitors citations, there is a great tool from Whitespark – Local Citation Finder. This enables you to find out where your competitors are listed so that you can seek citations from these sources as well.

Check for Duplicate listings

  • Note duplicates during the audit process and try to determine the source of the listing. Google Places often auto generates listings for businesses it finds in Internet directories.
  • See if any of the listings are owner verified. As the business owner no one else but yourself should have claimed the listing. If a listing has been hijacked (claimed by a third party), report to google.
  • See which listing ranks best for your target keywords and note this. It is probably the listing you want to keep and concentrate on.

Remember if you change your business name, address or phone number. Or you might get two separate businesses merging, this can really confuse search engines. Once your local listing gets to the top things are not finished. You need an ongoing strategy to obtain reviews from your customers and to focus on getting the same citations as you competitors.

The above is a time consuming process, but if done correctly it produces great results. Please share your comments or questions below.


Owner at Local Search Marketing. Internet Marketing Company based in Dublin, that specialises in Local Search. Local Searchers are further down the decision process, are easier to convert and represent a better return on investment.These are your customers engage them today!

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  • Cool post Catherine! My favourite colours (and for ties too) is blue. Pity that politicians chose that one as well 🙂

  • Nice one Catherine! I’ll be sure to bear this in mind the next time I meet a new client

  • Great post. Well done Catherine . . .

  • Oh yeah, I just remembered that supposedly Tiger Woods used to always wear a Red Shirt on the final day of a Tournament as he felt Red symbolized Power, Energy,etc . . .

  • Oh yeah, I just remembered that supposedly Tiger Woods used to always wear a Red Shirt on the final day of a Tournament as he felt Red symbolized Power, Energy,etc . . .

  • Anonymous

    Not a tie man myself – but wear pink shirts 🙂

    Did wear a black tie at a recent wedding – do you know what black says about me?


  • My current favourite tie in my own wardrobe is pink, we must be romantic souls at heart Paul 🙂

    A black tie in our society usually stands for death or a funeral, which is a shame as a black tie is a wonderful addition to any wardrobe, as it can symbolize someone who is traditional and respectable but also carry a hint of mystery.

  • Thank you for the kind comment Daniel, Red is perhaps one of the most powerful colours in our wardrobe….

  • Blue is a great colour Fred, It isn’t an agressive colour, its calm and cool, and like I mentioned to @Niall Devitt today, the wearer of a blue tie is often someone who values honesty and honour….

  • Anonymous

    I’m chuckling a little as I think of how I prepare for a meeting at which I want to make a good impression. One of the items on my checklist is which outfit I wear. I have to say that navy blue is one of my go-to colours. I have noticed that different networking groups have different “dress codes.” Some are more funky, relaxed or serious and that makes quite a difference when you plan what to wear.

  • I think we all have an “outfit” that we go to when we need an extra boost of confidence. I teach my Confidence clients that wearing something you know flatters your shape, size and colouring means it’s one less thing to stress about! And, when you receive more compliments that day than usual, say “thank-you”!

  • Ray

    I like to wear a red tie after a late night out as it co-ordinates well with my eyes!!!

  • Julieanne Lawler

    Have to say – dont wear ties myself – but red shoes/bags are my weakness – Love them!
    Really interesting read Catherine!

  • Facundo

    Compelling article Des. Loads to work on. This mus definitely be the “Year of Local” Thanks for sharing

  • Plenty of great advice there Des. Will check out Whitespark.nnHow would you keep track of all the pages that your business can claim? Do you think this activity is fair or ethical – to advertise a site without permission? Just curious.n

  • Hi Des, Local Citation Finder looks like a great tool. I read somewhere that whether you include http:// piece in listings has a separate effect, You should stick to a single approach as Google will look upon both differently? – Niall

  • Des

    Thanks Facundo! n

  • Des

    Thanks Christina,nnnSorry for the late reply. Only just back from Mexico.nnnYou can only claim the listings relevant to your business. Hijacking other listings is against Google’s Terms of Service. They have a zero tolerance policy so I would strongly advise against claiming someone else s listing or creating a fake listing.nnnCan you explain what you mean by advertising a site with out permission?nn n

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