If you’re not a local SEO expert (yet), it’s likely that you struggle in local search results.
There are a few extra things to consider compared to traditional SEO.
Not so long ago I shared a complete local SEO strategy to help you out.
Even though that answered a lot of Local SEO questions it wasn’t enough.
Table Of Contents
- 20 Local SEO Experts Reveal Their & Best Local SEO Tools
- Andrew Webber
- Andy Beaumont
- Ben Wynkoop
- David Jenyns
- Daniel Thompson
- Chris Silver Smith
- Gerry Downey
- Casey Meraz
- George Freitag
- Jeremy Rivera
- Krystian Szastok
- Phil Rozek
- Mary Bowling
- Mike Blumenthal
- Nick Rink
- Adam Steele
- Ryan Scollon
- Tyson Downs
- Margaret Ornsby
- Stuart Cooke
20 Local SEO Experts Reveal Their & Best Local SEO Tools
So I decided to invite a range of local SEO experts to share their number 1 local ranking tip along with any local SEO tools that they use to get the job done.
Let’s get stuck straight in!
Most our of local SEO clients are from Australia so the local SEO tools from the big players like Yext and Moz Local aren’t that useful for us, as they don’t cover off Australian businesses at the time of writing.
As such, our most effective local SEO tools come from the Whitespark tool set; in particular, we use the Local Citation Finder tool and occasionally, their citation building services.
How To Use The Local SEO Citation Finder Tool
This epic guide by Powered By Search covers off exactly how to use the tool to it’s maximum potential.
Basically we follow this guide and plug our client’s information into the tool, analyse their citations, compare them with their local competitors, and see whether there are any additional opportunities they’re missing out on.
Once we’ve got the list of new citation opportunities, we then go out and build them unfortunately this is a very tedious and time consuming task as Matthew outlined in his post.
Fortunately, once you have your target list generated from the Local Citation Finder, you can then use a couple of VA’s to build these citations for you, for an extremely low hourly rate.
The key is in the list and having clear and detailed instructions but the good news is that you only need to write the instructions once and they can be used for all future clients!
Most of the time we use our VA’s, but occasionally we’ll utilise the citation building services offered by Whitespark as the reporting is excellent, and often they find a few opportunities that we didn’t initially find (which we then add to our master citation list for use with other clients).
Because our clients are mostly Australian business, our lists of citations are quite different than what you see in the US and abroad – you can see some of the most important Australian citations here on the Local Visbility System citation guide.
I’m not sure if it’s my favourite, but the tool I use everyday is SEOptimer Chrome Extension.
Just go to the website you want to and press test. Alternatively, go to the homepage and put in the URL.
It gives you a branded PDF but it’s amazing how many local business owners are getting the basics wrong and they appreciate that you’ve shown value.
As with all tools it’s not always 100% accurate but like I say there is always some actionable data.
The most effective SEO tool I use is the Local Citation Finder by Whitespark. I use the Local Citation Finder to perform a competitive analysis of each client’s top ranked competitors and their citations.
Here is an example showing exactly how I use the tool for a martial arts school named Gracie Barra Garden Grove:
Step 1 – Make a list that contains exactly how many citations your client and their top 5 ranked competitors have
The screenshot below shows a report that contains the number of citation sources for Gracie Barra Garden Grove and the top 2 competitors ranked in local search for the keyword phrase “Jiu Jitsu Orange County.”
Step 2 – Decide exactly how many citations to build for your client
After analyzing the report I decided to build 109 citations, which is difference between Gracie Barra Garden Grove’s 62 citations and Art of Jiu Jitsu’s 151 citations, plus 20 additional citations.
Step 3 – Select which citation sources to target
Now that I have decided to build 109 citations I ensure Gracie Barra Garden Grove is listed on the top local and industry-specific directories. For this example, lets say I was able to find 20 local/industry-specific opportunities, which leaves 89 remaining generic citations to build.
This is where I use Local Citation Finder’s compare feature to identify 89 websites where competitors have citations from and Gracie Barra Garden Grove does not.
Step 4 – Build new citations from your selected targets
To build citations, I pre-save Gracie Barra Garden Grove’s information such as: name, address, phone number, website, links to social media profiles, etc… to quickly submit the business to directories.
Most people fail in their local SEO strategy by simply not doing the basics. They jump straight to the tools and more complex tactics without laying the foundation.
Just by getting the basics right, you’ll be ahead of 80% of your competition. It’s all about getting these steps done first.
#1. Ensure your website follows Google’s best practice.
The first thing that you want to do is just make sure that on your website you’re following Google’s best practice. So go have a look at Google’s Webmaster Tools guidelines. You want to make sure you’ve got a good, quick loading website
You want to make sure it’s mobile responsive. You want to make sure that you’re not doing any SEO manipulation, so you don’t have thin pages or pages that are very specifically and purposefully created to try to game the search engines.
You also want to make sure you’ve got good, clear contact information on your contact us page. I’d have your phone number for the business, your business hours and also your mailing address as well.
As part of this, you want to look to set it up using microdata. You can head over to schema.org and just chat to your web developer about getting the local business codes on the site.
You’d be looking for things like opening times, address, phone number and correctly tagging things using the microdata format. This is all outlined over at schema.org and a good web developer should be able to help you with that.
#2. Claim and fill out completely your Google Maps listing.
Next you want to move on to your Google Maps listing. We need to make sure that our website is submitted or that we have claimed the listing. Then you want to make sure that you fill it out fully and completely.
You want to match the data that we’ve also loaded onto our website. That would include opening times, addresses, phone numbers and anything you can fill out.
I’d go so far as to make sure you populate all of the photos. If you’ve got some videos on YouTube, then look to embed those as well through the Google Maps listing. You just want to make sure that anything Google gives you the opportunity to fill out, that you go ahead and do that.
You can t, once you’ve got the listings up and running, chat to some past clients, clients you’ve already had a good experience with. Perhaps ask whether or not they would be happy to review you over on your Google Maps listing.
The good thing about that is often times a lot of your competitors aren’t doing this. You can get a few reviews and then when someone does a Local search and the little pack of local businesses pop up, your business will stand out because you’ve got a star rating underneath.
So it is a good way to stand out from the competition.
As part of this stage, we like to make sure that we link all the Google properties together. So if you’ve set up a YouTube channel, you can go ahead and link that into your Google + page and Google Maps. That way, everything is linked together.
#3. Build some relevant citations.
At this point, you want to go out and submit your website to the most relevant local directories. So that would be, here in Australia, things like TrueLocal and the Yellow Pages and even Yelp. There is a series of local directories that are relevant.
This is actually very different from one of those mass submission services that will submit your website to over 200,000 local directories. This is about submitting through to high quality directories that are important in your specific industry and also in your geographic location.
Make sure when you populate the data that you fill it out fully and properly and make sure that the contact information that you reference through your microdata on your website and also on your Google Maps listing, all matches. It needs to be the same address, the same phone number etc.
#4. Create targeted geographic pages on your website.
Next up, look at finally creating some specific targeted geographic pages on your website.
It might be your specific product or service and then you add in the geographic area that is local to you and your place of business. If there are particular suburbs that you service or particular areas, then you can go ahead and create pages specific for those.
A word of caution with that though is, you need to be careful to make sure they’re not just a whole bunch of doorway pages that are duplicating content and simply finding and replacing things like the suburb name but the framework of the page stays pretty much the same. You need to avoid doing that.
If done correctly and with some smart internal linking and following all of those steps, you can actually perform very well for local search. It does depend on the industry and the level of competition, but I’m confident if you follow those steps, you’ll get some great results.
If you would like some help and perhaps want one of the local SEO expert team members to review your site and also your strategy, you can head over to melbourneseoservices.com.
Local SEO doesn’t require a lot of high-end tools. Most of the markets you’ll compete in will have relatively low competition.
The difficult part isn’t ranking a client, it’s getting enough clients to make it worth your while. I’m currently experimenting with Facebook & Linkedin ads. You’ve probably heard of “lumpy mail” which is another great tactic for generating leads.
In regards to local lead generation, I think the most important thing is being able to quickly setup landing pages. Unbounce and Leadpages are both terrific options but might be a little steep if you’re just starting out.
Personally, I use Thrive Themes & Thrive Theme Builder. In my opinion for a drag and drop style Wordpress editor Thrive is the best (and it’s pretty cheap).
Why is this important? This will allow you to track each piece of mail you send out. It also lets you setup focused campaigns. For instance, you could make one specifically for Dentists, which you could target on FB exclusively in an ad campaign.
Chris Silver Smith
For highly competitive industries and market areas, it’s realistic to consider organic local search marketing to be a long-haul effort.
Ask yourself: why should your business rank higher than the approx 7-10 others that currently occupy the top positions? The simplest answer is: you don’t!
Essentially, this is the nature of the game. It’s not possible to develop this in one month, flat.
You need to consider ongoing, monthly services to make this a possibility.
Besides using Google KW Research To Target The Long Tail In Local Search why not add SlideShare into your tools arsenal and leave competition behind.
From a local SEO point of view, slide presentations can contain links as well as local citations, and these can comprise a very unique source of references or “buzz” about your business as search engine algorithms analyze them when encountered on the web.
The links do not have to be only to your business website; it’s natural to link presentations to your social media accounts as well. Links to Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram are also definitely in order.
1. Optimize Your Title Slide
The title slide is likely the most important for SEO purposes, so design it carefully, incorporating valuable keywords in the main title headline, and try to include your business’s name, address, phone number, and website URL on that initial slide.
2. Optimize Your Final Slide, Too
The last slide in a presentation is similarly important. Incorporate your contact information there, including business name, address, phone number, website URL, and links to your top social media accounts.
Read more tips on the benefits of using SlideShows for local SEO & web visibility and optimize your business for local search.
I’m sure everyone has their own favourites when it comes to Local SEO. So I’ll start off with the usual suspects and leave my favourite tool till last.
BrightLocal Is my favourite tool of choice when it comes to assessing where the competition are listed online, how many listings they have and how many links they have going to their domain.
As well as checking to see if there are any duplicate NAP listings for the business in question.
Schema Creator Sometimes I use this tool, there are many tools out there that can produce the markup
for you but most of the time I like to do it myself as some of the tools don’t have all the input fields that I might need so Schema.org does me just fine for markup but if your new to it the schema creator tool is great.
Hootsuite Has a handy little feature where you do a search via Google maps it will show you who are sending out tweets from that area.
This is very handy for your outreach efforts in finding local bloggers, which from the local side of things is great as a foundation to build opon.
And last is an IFTTT recipe which is similar to the Hootsuite one only that it creates a list of people that tweet from a certain location, again I use this for connecting with local influences in that area. That’s it my favourites are the last two.
This is a hard question since there are so many useful local SEO tools out there and each provide a different service. Also most effective to me means what is going to make my life the easiest.
For me though my favorite tools are those that save me the most time.
Whenever I’m evaluating a potential new client there is a lot of work that can go into conducting a full local SEO audit.
Therefore I like a simple easy to use snapshot that will give me the important details quickly for me to analyze.
It’s for this reason that I think Brightlocal’s Local SEO Check-up is the most effective tool for me. By filling out some basic company information including the NAP of a business I’m working with I can get some actionable insights in about 15 minutes.
This is especially useful since it covers six major areas I need to evaluate before I have a clue what needs to be fixed first with a local project.
Since Pigeon local SEO has taken on more organic signals so seeing some of the on-page ranking factors next to some of the important citations is very important to me.
But to be completely fair there are a lot of tools I use regularly and fine very effective such as Local SEO Guide‘s NAP Hunter, Whitespark’s Citation Finder, and Places Scout just to name a few.
If I just need a piece of the pie and need to see if they’re listed in the top data aggregators I can run a quick Moz Local check. It really just depends on the scenario and what I’m trying to accomplish.
What I’ve found is that in local SEO, there is rarely anything more impactful to a business’ online visibility than working with a directory submission service.
In fact, the longer your business has been around, the more important that directory service ends up being.
Over time, business names can change slightly, tracking numbers get indexed, website links get broken. The directory submission service is really the only way a business can make sure that your N.A.P. stays consistent.
For most businesses, the most efficient solution is going to be Moz Local, which is why I’d probably list it as the best local SEO tool for most people. It hits 3 of the 5 major data providers, (Localeze/Neustar, Infrogroup, Acxiom) which are essential in getting more N.A.P. mentions across the Internet.
Moz Local is also great because it helps you monitor your display on Google, Bing, Yelp, and Foursquare, as well.
If you happen to have a large amount of locations, however, it may be worth talking to any of the above data providers directly since they may be able to provide you with some additional support.
But regardless of the solution you choose, the most important thing is that you choose one.
After that, your strategy is simple but important. You choose a Name/Address/Phone and Landing page and you stick with it. Ideally, you only refer to your business using the exact, word-for-word information you gave to Moz Local and you keep doing that until the end of time.
I find that the most important part of local SEO is finding out what citations matter to Google for a specific industry.
Remember, every business is unique and there are different sites & directories that are related just to that industry.
It’s not surprising that you also tend to find some unique link & citation opportunities in even the most boring of industries.
You’ve got to hit those “basic citations” first, which takes time and/or money and but then you really need to dig deeper.
My new favorite tool to uncover some of those more obscure local link & citation building opportunities is a Chrome plugin by Local SEO Guide. It runs a series of queries in Google based on the name address and phone number of a business.
Since Google uses this same NAP information in it’s local search algorithms, it seemed worthwhile to find out what I could find in all of those SERPs.
I used the NAP Hunter chrome extension for a Huntsville lawyer client of mine and was able to dig up some surprising citation and link building wins for my efforts.
I targeted his the competitors who were ranking for some of my targetted keyword phrases and saw that several of the queries pulled up results of local sports teams where they listed the competitor as sponsors with links to their site. Jackpot!
A quick email to the client, and now the sports team has a new sponsor and the client has a new, Huntsville based link. Another way to use this tool is to determine if local citations even play a role for a specific industry.
I used the same NAP hunter for an online E&O insurance client’s competitors to see that the industry competitors weren’t listed at all locally, but have developed a deep network of 3rd party sites where they post “guest articles”, even though they really created the site in the first place!
My favourite local tool is Brightlocal. It’s a tool for managing citations and building them up.
It has a lot of other useful options but for my use the most important aspect was the ease with which I was able to manage multiple branches.
My client had 50 mini sites when I was using Brightlocal each with 2-5 locations. Sadly I can’t reveal the business name due to NDA.
Brightlocal did great job managing their citations across so many locations. In regards as to how best to use it, it’s important to use it regularly, managing your citations shouldn’t be a one off job.
Ideally use it at the start of the project, create your new citations. Then revisit after a month and month after.
Brightlocal gives you a nice counter of ‘current citations’ and ‘possible citations’ so there is usually space to grow. The tool also allows you to hand pick citations from a list of 1,600 that they use.
This gives you additional control over quality of your listings. You probably don’t want to appear on a 1,000 directories overnight, but instead do a few a week, but continuously.
Other noteworthy features
Google+ Local Wizard – this feature allows you to compare your competitors listing against yours. This can be a source of inspiration. I recommend reviewing this every 3-4 months, depending on how active your competitors are on Google+
Local SEO Checkup – this feature is especially useful at the start of the project. It checks your website for a number of local ranking factors such as:
- The address and how it’s marked up
- Basic SEO factors such as having a meta description etc
- Rich markup being present
If you’re very local targeted, just use this checker to gain insight into when your website lists and when you appear in a local listing. This also helps to track progress over time.
Reports – If you manage a business with over a 100 locations, having good reporting is crical. BrightLocal has quite a decent reporting tool which will show which location received how many new citations, etc.
My favorite local SEO tool is Moz Local. It’s the best way to do a quick check of your most-important online listings (if you’re a US business).
You just enter your business name and ZIP code and it will give you a quick benchmark of where you’re listed, where you’re not listed, and which listings have correct and incorrect business info.
I’ve used it for the past 5+ years, ever since it was Getlisted.org. Of many tools I use often, it’s the one I use most.
But it’s getting better. Ever since Moz Local started offering a paid product to help with your listings (which I recommend, by the way, especially if your business is new), there’s been a “Category Research” area. It’s free, often overlooked, and a goldmine for local SEO.
It’s a giant list that helps you pick out which categories to pick for your various listings. It’s handy if, for example, you know you’ve picked out the best Google Places categories but aren’t sure what the closest equivalents are on CitySearch, FourSquare, SuperPages, etc.
Moz Local is only available to US businesses at the moment. Until that changes, for clients anywhere I’d say my favorite local SEO tool is my preliminary questionnaire. It gives me the facts I need to understand a client’s overall situation and specific problems.
I can Google their phone number and business name and see how messy the citations are, I can see if their site’s a dog, I can see what links it’s got, I can know if my client’s been penalized in any way, and I can perform all sorts of other diagnostics.
Like Moz Local, the benefit of the questionnaire is how quickly it gives me facts.
The most effective local SEO tool is Wordpress. It allows us to quickly structure a local website in the best ways for local businesses and to “bake” SEO into the site right from the beginning.
Pages, subpages, categories and subcategories allow us to easily silo content around the themes of the website and enable us to continually add content that supports those themes.
We can also establish SEO-friendly URL structures, deal with pagination, create unique snippets and achieve a mobile-friendly responsive design without too much technical expertise.
But the best thing about using Wordpress for the websites of small, local businesses is that we can quickly train the business owners to manage the content on their own websites.
This enables them to update products, pricing, menus, events, etc without having to rely on a web developer, as well as giving them the ability to blog at will. With a few guidelines from us on SEO best practices, they can modify their URLs, optimize their page titles, create compelling meta descriptions and write in ways that please both their website visitors and search engines.
They can also engage with their customers via blogging and comments and easily push their content out across social networks.
All of these advantages enable us to provide local business websites that are optimized from the ground up to empowers small business owners to have much more control over their own internet presence.
From the shameless self promotion division of Mike Blumenthal.
Reviews are hard for many small businesses. Hard to get, hard to manage and yet a critical part of local search. I didn’t like the tools for location based businesses on the market so I built the one (with Don Campbell) that I wanted to use, GetFiveStars.com.
Great businesses get great reviews, bad businesses get bad reviews but most businesses fall somewhere in the middle. They just don’t know where and have no formal process for improving. Many feel battered by the review process.
I wanted the businesses to feel like they had more ways to interact with the review world that were productive.
With GetFiveStars a business can solicit feedback via our email system, their email system, via their CRM system or via a kiosk (the kiosk works great for field service professionals).
The system allows a business to easily survey every customer, determine if they are happy, unhappy or just blah. If they are unhappy, then the business is alerted IMMEDIATELY so that the problem can be fixed.
This not only creates really happy customers but dramatically limits the number of bad reviews that show up in the public sphere.
If the customer is happy they are lead to a choice of review sites where they can leave a public review. Any positive reviews they left during the feedback process can be automatically pushed in Rich Snippet format to the business website.
All comments and feedback are tracked and measured. The business can learn who their most ardent promoters are and who just doesn’t care or thinks ill of them.
The business can solve problems immediately and most importantly they can measure their service levels over time so as to be able to improve and EARN good reviews.
We use the industry standard NetPromoter Score so the business can compare their quality scores to others in their industry. Reviews at the major review sites (Google, Yelp, Facebook) are monitored and the business is alerted when new ones show up.
Why Reviews are hard:
There are many different facets to local SEO so we tend to use a range of tools to help with both analyse and get the work done.
Beyond regular SEO tools like Raven, Moz and others we really like the range of things you can do with BrightLocal.
Over the past few months we’ve been specifically using their Google+ Local Wizard quite a lot.
How about no tools at all?! No….
We have all become so damn reliant on the latest and greatest, that somewhere in the mix we exchanged our common sense for the fast, cool and shiny. C’mon! You’re better than tha
I’d be a bloody hypocrite if I said I didn’t use Whitespark, NAP Hunter, BrightLocal, MozLocal and a slew of others for my citation audits, but I never forget what works best: common sense, and a little elbow grease.
You probably don’t realize, but these tools miss a lot of stuff.
Sure, you’ll hear….”but we get the important stuff – the stuff Google cares about.” And maybe, maybe Google tapped them on the shoulder and said “hey SEO dude, who games Google, let me give you a tip. You deserve it! We only care about these 49.5 citations.”
Hah! Suspect! Very suspect indeed. Maybe they’ve done vigorous testing, been doing SEO for years and years, and just know for fact. It’s not their fault, it’s our own.
Somewhere along the way, we stopped thinking for ourselves, and assumed whatever citations they find, and the ONLY ones we ought to care about. Tsk, tsk, tsk.
Now let’s suppose they indeed have a direct line to Google, and received said tap on the shoulder. Alright, sure. That they know better than us. But what of brand consistency?
Suppose dear Grandma, in her persistent, ruthless search for her hair stylist of choice, goes deep into the SERPs and wanders upon this citation that had not been updated.
Some SEO decided, “meh, I ain’t feeling this one.” Or, never saw it at all. She hops the bus, heads down to Main Street, a whopping 1 hour away. Huffs it up Main, cane in hand, only to find her stylist has moved.
Oh noooooes! Well let me you, this Grandma, ain’t happy. And she has herself a Yelp account. I needn’t say more.
Lazy SEOs, with your Google moles, look what you’ve done!
Me, I love my Grandma. She doesn’t walk so good anymore, so I demand citation consistency for her, and all the other Grandmas out there. So when I do my citation cleanup, I don’t leave any stone un-turned. Small website, big website, pretty website, ugly website, I update ’em all.
Because I give a damn about Grandmas!
How do I start? I am glad you asked. Here are a number of tremendous manual audit procedures (you may need to dig a little bit) from SEOs I admire very much:
Local Citation Audit Tip Use The New Sitelinks Search Box
and heck, one of my own for good measure:
So the next time you start an audit, or are working on a cleanup, think of my Grandma. As it so happens, this happened to her, and she has one badass Yelp account. Dun dun dun.
It’s simple to set up a new report. You’ll need to enter the basic business information, an accurate link to their Google+ Page along with up to five search terms, which should all be geo targeted, i.e. “florist London”.
Reports take a few minutes to run and are also available through an external URL which you can share with clients, if you wish.
The initial overview gives you a quick snapshot of where you stand. For a given search term you can see if it’s citations or website authority that might be possibly letting you down.
You can also see follower and view count direct from Google+ Pages of competitors, giving an idea of whether they’re active or not over there.
If it looks like citations could be the issue then the analysis the tool gives can be highly useful. You get to see a long list of citations both for your client and competitors. You can sort by citation count or by authority.
We usually start by looking at the citation count which helps to highlight any of the more obvious major ones that could be missing. For example, the one below would appear to be missing on Yahoo.com.
They actually have some duplicate issues there, but this has helped to indicate that there’s an issue there that needs sorting. Looking at the list by authority helps to target some of the more unstructured citations that come via press, blogs and elsewhere. Can uncover some gems!
I was introduced to Local SEO over 2 years ago when I first started at Bowler Hat and my first task was to find an effective but affordable Local SEO tool.
Bright Local was the one for me, It was simple to use and came with some really cool tutorial videos to help you get started. After using it for 2 years, I can still say that it is a great tool and is a crucial tool in order for me to complete my job successfully.
It comes with a range of tools but as I like to do a lot of the work myself, there are only a few that are useful to me:
Rank Checker – Allows you to track your organic & local search rankings in google, yahoo & bing. I tend not to focus on yahoo or bing results but it is still a great tool which allows you to track up to 50 keywords which would take a long time to do if collecting results manually.
CitationTracker – Allows you to keep track of your existing citations but also recommends other citations for you to create. This tool includes one of the best features you could possible ask for in Local SEO: Old Citation Finder.
It allows you to enter two old business names and addresses and will find a list of citations that have them details on. Citations play a crucial part in Local SEO and it can be difficult to manage and maintain 30+ listings but this does all the hard work for you.
SEO Check Up – Allows you to run a complete SEO audit on a particular company. The report covers 6 areas of local SEO including Google+ Local, Local Directory listings, on-site SEO and social media.
I tend to use this when I receive an enquiry, as it allows to have a general overview of the work that needs to be done.
Google+ Local Wizard Tool – Allows you to analyse important Google+ local ranking factors for your business and benchmark yourself against top 10 competitors.
This is my favourite tool of them all as you can easily compare stats of your Google+ page against the top 10 competitors for a particular search term. The best feature is it the ability to spy on competitors to see which high value citations they have but you do not.
So there we have it. Bright Local for me is a great tool but it is not yet perfect. It has helped the guys here at Bowler Hat doing some amazing work for small companies targeting local areas.
My favorite local SEO tool has to be one of Bright Local’s many tools. I use their tools nearly every day.
For example, when I get a new client, part of my Local SEO Audit involves looking at the competition in the local market.
As an example, if I’m working with a Las Vegas dentist, then I like to see what type of results are showing for one of their search terms (typically cityname dentist).
I find out exactly what is showing up by running a Google + Local Wizard report inside my Bright Local Dashboard. What does this show me?
- The categories the top results are using
- # of citations for each top listing
- strength of those citations
- exactly what citations each listing has
- citation opportunities (by viewing the citations for each listing in the top 7 results)
- website authority
- # of reviews
- # of images
We know that all of those items are ranking factors. This is low hanging fruit which allows us to find citation opportunities, and see what category that Google feels is most relevant for certain keywords.
I think at times, SEO professionals like to make this harder than it is.
Making up ‘theories’, and new terminology for who know’s what reason.
Bottom line, keep it simple by:
- Making your website easily readable by the search engines (on page SEO)
- Being listed on the major citation sites (and a few hidden ones if your competition is)
- Being an active, legitimate business (That is-blog. Be active in your community. Give Back. Use social media)
- Getting client feedback (in the form of reviews)
P.S. In case you haven’t seen my blog post about the top local SEO tools, you can check it out here.
Citations are without a doubt the least favourite aspect of any Local Search project. It’s tedious and time consuming. So any tool to help make this task easier is a good thing.
There are two paid-for tools of note – one from BrightLocal and one from Whitespark. Both are really good, both get continual enhancements and either one would be a good choice to have in your arsenal.
But even with these great tools, I still found myself needing to do manual checks. And that is really where the hard slog has been made easier, by a tool that costs nothing.
You need Google Chrome and Excel, and skills to run both. The tool itself is called N.A.P. HUNTER! Lite from Local SEO Guide and is an extension you can download from the Chrome Web Store.
It works by doing exact match searches for (and minus) different parts of a business’s NAP info, so it will work in any country and for any website Google indexes.
You enter the key information for a business and it returns for you the combination searches you’re most likely to do manually, as a search result page. You can then download those results to a spreadsheet and work your way through the list.
This is where your Excel skills come in handy, as the searches will return duplicates. It will also return junk ones (like reverse phone lookups), so you need to have your list handy of domains you automatically ignore.
But in returning everything, there are almost always ones that the paid services discard or don’t pick up because of the way their algos work. And this is where it shines.
This tool is really handy for finding citations that are fragments (eg part of the business name but not the whole thing), or finding ones in countries outside the US/UK, or duplicates within the same directory.
In the end, it all comes down to how much of a stickler you are for details and what part/s of the world your customers have their businesses.
If all your customers are US or UK only, then chances are the commercial services will make citations a breeze and you won’t want or need the NAP Hunter. But if you do businesses globally or prefer to nail down every last citation, then NAP Hunter is a must-have.
Getting featured in the local map pack is mostly down to your NAP and the relevance and consistency of the information in your Google My Business profile. There are lots of great tools that will help you keep track of your map pack rankings and find the best local keywords like BrightLocal and Whitespark.
But you will also want to rank in the organic searches as well as the map pack. To do this, just as with any organic listings, links are still super important.
Aim for links from other local companies in your area. This is something that the majority of local businesses aren’t doing and so there is massive potential to outrank your competitors. Lots of local websites will have a useful links or resources page where they link to their suppliers, distributors or just other local businesses they feel their customers would be interested in. That’s your opportunity to earn some valuable local links.
Some other ways to build local links to your website include sponsoring local events or sports teams and creating local PR pieces, most towns or cities will have at least one local online publication looking for new content. Creating local guides or information pieces on your blog is another good way to earn links from websites in your area. For example, if you are a personal trainer, then a guide to the best local parks to go for a run could be a popular piece of content.
Wrapping It Up
So there you have it! The Local SEO experts have spilt the beans on their favourite local SEO tools and how they use them effectively.
Have you got any additional local SEO tips that weren’t included here?
Don’t forget to check out the Local SEO guide for a step by step ranking strategy!
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