Greg is back with another fantastic presentation from Brighton SEO. This time, the focus is on Local SEO audits. See how mini-audits can be crucial to your business’ success. Check out the latest episode of Local Search Tuesdays and see how audits changed the game.

Welcome back to another episode of Local Search Tuesdays. This week, I’ve got a treat for you. I’m sharing my entire presentation from the recent Bryton SEO conference.
I was lucky enough to go back to Brighton SEO last month to teach the local SEO training course and present a session at the conference. I’ve been going to Brighton twice a year for a decade now, and I’ll never get tired of it. This time around, I talked about a local SEO mini audit that totally changed the game for us. Once we started using the mini audit for every sales demo, we more than doubled our close percentage.
Check out the presentation. I share all the awesome details and a copy of the audit template.
Don’t forget the basics. How a simple mini audit changed the game. I’m the chief operating officer here at SearchLab.
You probably know that already because you’re watching my video series and you’ve seen these before. But in case it’s the first time you’re watching, I do have a video series called Local Search Tuesdays that you’re watching right now. You can catch the episodes every Tuesday on our blog or on social media. And I’m also lucky enough to get to speak at conferences all over the world. And sometimes they just put salespeople up on stage and they’re not that great at public speaking and there’s no design elements in their slides. So it’s just a plain white background and they pack every slide with aerial font black bullet points and they just read bullet points the entire time and not only is that not fun to watch, it’s a scientifically proven fact that bullet points kill kittens. So we’re gonna keep all the kittens safe in today’s presentation.
And I’m pretty obsessed with movies. You definitely know that if you’ve watched any of this series before. So every time I create a presentation for a conference, I like to share my love of movies along with my love of talking about digital marketing.
So there’s always a theme. Today’s theme is science fiction movies and typically I include one movie for every year in the last fifty years. But if we’re doing sci fi, we gotta go back fifty six years so we can include every Planet of the Apes movie. So let’s get this going.
You hear because you need a hand with SEO?
A lot of times, you see competitors ranking higher and you get confused because SEO is a tough puzzle to crack. And far too many times, agencies try to skate by with minimal effort. But if you’re trying to just coast along, you’re gonna blend into the background noise. And if you blend into the background noise, you’re gonna be potentially invisible to the people that are looking for your services.
But I don’t want you to lose your head. I’m gonna help you dig through the giant pile of crap that’s out there online so that you can learn how to be better at selling your services as an SEO agency. I’m gonna show you a cheat code behind the matrix that helped us drastically improve the close percentage of our demo calls. So this was for the practical SEO session at Bryton SEO.
So in the presentation, I’m gonna talk about a mini audit and how it changed the game when we did demo calls. So let me set the stage and tell you the story about how I created this mini audit.
I speak at a bunch of these little smaller meetings for car dealers called twenty group meetings. And I’ve been doing these twenty group meetings for about a decade now. And years ago, I created something that we call the scoring matrix to use at these twenty group meetings. And this scoring matrix is basically a really simple SEO audit in an Excel spreadsheet, and I would know all of the dealers that were attending the meeting before I came to speak.
So I’d evaluate all of the attendees’ sites and then enter the scores on the sheet. So at the end of the session, I could then call out the people that had the best SEO and the people that had the worst SEO in the room. And for years, it was a huge hit. Everybody really liked it because not only was I doing a presentation about how SEO worked and what best practices were, I gave them helpful information that they could use to improve their own sites immediately.
So a few years ago, one of my buddies that I, have been doing twenty groups for for a really long time had a really interesting idea. And he called me and said, well, what if we update the matrix so that the attendees could actually fill it out? So I kind of retooled how it worked. Before, it was just kind of a a list of elements that we would check, and I would just assign a score for each of the elements. But we wanted to make it easier for noobs that didn’t really understand how SEO works to be able to use this matrix.
So then we used it in a workshop after my presentation where the dealers could use the matrix to score each other’s sites. So now they were putting into practice the things that they had just learned during the session. And this updated matrix was a massive hit. It really resonated with the dealers, and they said they had never seen anything ever that helped them really understand what was important when it came to optimizing their sites.
And these twenty group meetings, I typically don’t even get that many leads or that many customers out of it, but we’ve had several dealers sign up because they love the matrix so much and the information that was conveyed in the matrix. So I had the idea that maybe we should try to use it when we were doing demo calls with potential clients that were interested in maybe working with us.
And, wow, did it make a crazy difference immediately. We closed significantly more deals than we were closing before we used it. In fact, it more than doubled our close rate with people that we were talking to. Even to this day, our rate has stayed really, really high.
Because instead of giving a boring generic sales pitch, like most agencies, you’re just gonna get on a call and they’re gonna run you through the slide deck that they give to everyone extolling the virtues of their agency and talking about how amazing they are.
We could talk about specific things that we found that were incorrect and how we would improve those things and how that would result in more visibility and more traffic and more sales.
The matrix makes it really easy to find really big opportunities for optimization, but here’s the really important thing about it. It looks like we spent a lot of time auditing the site. But once you’re familiar with the matrix, it only takes about ten minutes to complete.
I purposefully set it up to look at basic tactics, not at strategy. And people tend to use those words interchangeably, it’s If the matrix was too much on the strategy side, then it’d be really easy for the dealers to take it back to their current SEO partner.
And that partner could say, oh, this is like a HubSpot site grader. It’s super generic. They know nothing about you. Our strategy is fine. You can just ignore this thing. But since it evaluates basic tactics that pretty much anybody that knows SEO would agree these tactics are important, it’s pretty impossible to argue with the results.
Plus, you can’t use the strategy angle when it’s not looking at strategy because strategy doesn’t matter if you don’t have the basic SEO tactics in place. For example, one of the things that it talks about is if there is a city included in the title tag on the home page.
Now the matrix isn’t looking at the strategy side of is the right city there. It’s just looking at is there a city there at all. So for example, we could be running this on a business located in Dallas, Texas, and they could put Honolulu in for the city. They’d still get full credit because there’s a city there.
Even though it’s the wrong city strategically, tactically, all that matters is is there a city there? And we also have multiple versions of this matrix because we have several verticals that we service. So we’ve got a car dealer version. We’ve got a lawyer version, we’ve got a cannabis dispensary version.
So it helps us look more specifically at the things that matter for for each particular vertical that may or may not be on another type of business’s website. They’re all focused on local SEO, But if you’re watching this and you just do traditional SEO without the local focus, you can look at the elements that we’re checking in the matrix and pretty easily update the matrix to work for your own potential clients.
And the matrix really just evaluates four areas, and these are the four areas that have the most influence on visibility in local searches.
So then each of those areas are weighted to approximate the importance of each of those areas to Google’s algorithm, and then you get scores for each area, and the four scores added together give you a total score of anywhere up to a hundred points. But a hundred points is effectively impossible because let’s be honest, nobody’s ever gonna have everything lined up and perfect. But if best practices are being followed, you should really have a score somewhere in the high sixties to mid eighties. In fact, the highest score we’ve ever seen was just an eighty three point six, and that was one of our own clients.
The highest score we’ve seen from someone that wasn’t a client was just a sixty five. And there are elements on the matrix where if you do things incorrectly, it’s pretty likely that that’s hurting your visibility in search results. So you can actually lose points instead of just not getting points for doing something right. So the lowest score that we’ve ever seen was actually a negative seventy one and a half, and this guy was paying five thousand dollars a month for SEO from an agency. We’ve scored over twelve hundred sites since the beginning of twenty twenty two. And when I look at all of the sites that we’ve scored, you start to see some interesting stats and metrics. The average score that we see is only eighteen out of a hundred.
And think about this like it’s high school test grade. That’s a eighteen percent.
That’s, like, not even a failing grade. That’s so far below failing.
The on-site section of the matrix evaluates the content on the site and how that content is optimized. It it includes a check of the home page, the about us page, and a primary product or service page. And then we’ve got those vertical specific versions where we might evaluate a few other internal pages that are really important for that particular vertical.
Then the link section evaluates the number of unique inbound linking domains.
Then there’s a section for Google business profiles, and, obviously, it’s gonna check your Google business profile and how that’s optimized. And then there’s a review section that checks your reviews on Google and Yelp and how you respond to those reviews. Now it’s important to note that we look at Yelp because here in the US, the reviews that show on Apple Maps are sourced from Yelp and not from Google. So it’s important to make sure you’ve got a great score there.
In case someone pulls directions on an iPhone, you don’t want to suddenly have a bad review score that might make someone decide not to come do business with you. But if you’re watching this and you’re outside the United States, just update that from Yelp to whichever site feeds the reviews on Apple Maps because outside of the United States, it’s not Yelp. It’s going to be one of a few other sites like Tripadvisor or Foursquare or something like that. So do a search on Apple Maps for a generic term in the vertical that you’re trying to score and see which review sites power the review stars on Apple Maps.
You’ll see pretty quickly if you do a search for, you know, pizza restaurant and it’ll pull up and it’s likely outside of the United States gonna be coming from OpenTable. So just look at that list of businesses for the vertical and see in the Apple Maps interface where those reviews are being sourced from.
And then just update that Yelp section to evaluate that review site instead.
It’s really cool the way that we set up the updated version because instead of just saying homepage title tag, it now says, is this element in the title tag on the homepage? Everything is formatted as a question like this. So it’s easier for people to understand what we’re doing because every question then has a drop down next to it with all of the possible answers, and then the scores are automatically assigned based on the selected answers. So it looks kind of like this. Is the city in the title tag? There’s a drop down with one city or two cities or three cities or, hey, maybe they don’t have a city in the title tag at all and that score is just automatically assigned.
Now it’s mostly scoring factors that we know influence visibility, the traditional ranking factors as you would call them in SEO. But we also include several conversion factors because that’s also something that you should be looking at when you’re optimizing your site.
If you’re gonna use this matrix for your own potential clients, the first time you fill it out, it’s gonna take a little bit longer because you’re not familiar with the matrix. But once you’ve done it several times, you really should be able to complete it in eight to ten minutes.
The first page of the matrix shows the total scores for each of the areas in the complete aggregate score, but it also can list multiple businesses together in case you’re talking to a client with multiple locations. So then you can stack everything up, and there’s cool little bars in each column that show you how far off you are from the other businesses that are listed. And then down below, each tab displays the score details for the individual websites.
So you’re actually filling out the individual tabs and then that front sheet just aggregates the scores. And on each individual tab, there is a notes section so that we can mention any obvious strategic problems that we see even though they’re not necessarily losing scores for those.
So today, every single potential client that we’re going to do a demo call with, we run the scores so that we can have an intelligent conversation about the opportunities that we found and how we can help that potential client. And about half of the demo call that we do will cover what we found in the audit, and then the other half covers what our proposed solution is. Potential clients really love it because we’ve done manual work to check out what’s going on, and we’re not using, you know, automated HubSpot site grader tool, or we’re not just giving them the default out of the box presentation.
And the important here or important point here is that it’s manual because the general public really doesn’t trust those site grader tools because they understand that they’re generic or they’re just really bogged down with jargon that people don’t understand. And then once we’re done with the demo call, we send the scores over. So we literally email the spreadsheet over after we’ve covered them so they have them in hand to check out for themselves. And about half of the time, they’re gonna reach back out and ask us more questions as they kinda read through the full Matrix score.
We also point out that getting a good score doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re gonna be more visible in search results or get more traffic. It just means that the right basic tactics are in place. So now whatever you’re doing strategically will influence things instead of just wasting team or our director of SEO, Dane Seville. So when a new client starts with us, they’re already going to have a completed matrix because we would have done that on the demo call.
So then it’s a really great guide from our team to help prioritize what they’re going to do when they do that first swing through of initial optimization on the site, and it’s a high level look from the director or from myself. And then we have to rescore those client sites at the end of the first month and at the end of the second month so that we can see definitive improvement. And the expectation among our team is to increase those scores to at least the upper sixties within that two month time frame. So if you’d like to check out the matrix and potentially use it for your own agency potential clients or if you’re a freelancer and you wanna use it for your own potential clients, I’m sharing two versions with you here.
The generic version will work for any local business, and then I’m also sharing a version that we created specifically for car dealers just so that you can compare the two and see how we adjusted the scores and the weights of the scores to include additional pages on that auto dealer version.
So check out how those scores are adjusted because the mass side is really important. You wanna make sure that the scores add up correctly to a hundred points so that things are consistent as you use them between one vertical and another. So use it as is for any local SEO prospects. Or if you do traditional SEO, like I mentioned earlier, you could tweak it a bit and still make it work for your traditional prospects.
Because if you only spend a few minutes before your demo calls, you will drastically increase your close rate, and you’re gonna help your team out. So thanks for watching that quick run through of our mini audit. Hopefully, it did not explode your brain. And for those of you that haven’t seen Scanners, his brain literally does explode.
I have really kinda given you a lot of dumb jokes, but this is my favorite dumb joke in the entire presentation because the truth is out there about how to be a better sales person for your agency services. I’ve now given you the key so you’ll be able to break out of your shell and do better demo calls and win more clients so that your agency will live long and prosper. That was don’t forget the basics, how a simple mini audit changed the game. There’s my email address.
If you have any questions about the matrix or how to use it, please shoot me an email. I’d be happy to help. Or if you’d like a copy of the slides, happy to share those as well. And as always, there is a list of all the movies at the end by order of release date.
Pretty cool stuff, right? If you’re a freelancer or an agency, feel free to grab a copy and tweak it for your own clients. If you’re watching this and you want to chat with us about doing your SEO, let us know. We’ll score your site and let you know what we find. That’s all the time we’ve got left for this week’s episode. So you know what that means. Put your hand on the screen right here.
We totally just high fived because you learned something awesome. Thanks for watching and we’ll see you again next week for another episode of Local Search Tuesdays.