Mandy Boyle is the SEO Team Lead at Net Driven. She is also a published freelance writer and co-founder of NEPA BlogCon. She enjoys theater, not taking herself seriously, and adventurous eating.
Local SEO is a unique beast for me. For years, I specialized in SEO for ecommerce, but with time and some change, I now find myself working specifically with small local businesses. It’s a new challenge that I’m really enjoying.
While I’ve worked with locally-focused businesses before, I now find that I’m spending a lot more time learning the ins and outs of local search. I’ve used new tools, read new blogs…my mind has become a sponge.
Switching gears to do local SEO made me aware of a lot of things, and the tools I use on a daily basis have been such a help. Not only do they help with time and focus, but they really are valuable assets for anyone with a locally-focused site.
From small business owners to SEOs, anyone with a stake in local search can benefit from using these local search tools:
For $84/year per location, Moz Local can be a lifesaver for managing location data.
Using technology that made GetListed.org a staple for local SEO (Moz acquired GetListed.org), Moz Local takes your business location data and pushes the information out to all of the major data aggregators, including Neustar, Factual, Infogroup, and Acxiom. Additionally, it checks for duplicate listings as well as inconsistent or incomplete information about your business across the web.
For any business looking to manage their information in one place, Moz Local is a great option, but perhaps the strongest asset of the tool lies in its ability to help with listing cleanup.
The free version of the tool (accessible when you hit the Moz Local landing page) allows for you to run a quick search of your business to see which major listings are out there for your business. Each listing is assessed and you’re assigned a score, based on the completeness of the listings, duplication, or inconsistencies.
If you’re a DIYer, this can be helpful in at least finding out where the errors lie, but it’ll be up to you to correct these listings manually. If you want a less stressful fix, a subscription to Moz Local ensures you can submit the corrections all in one dashboard.
Made by local search expert Mike Blumenthal, this tool makes it easier to match your business to the appropriate categories in Google My Business. Of course, you’ll know the general terms that match what your business does, but with Google My Business allowing up to 10 categories to be added to your listing, it helps to take a second look to see if there’s a category you fit in that you might be missing.
To use, simply type in your service, product, or similar keyword to generate a list of preset categories that are present in the Google My Business category taxonomy.
In addition to helping with your Google My Business listing optimization, I’ve also found that this tool can be helpful for exploring keyword variations while doing keyword research.
Speaking of keyword research, 5MinuteSite.com has a free tool that can help you get to know your geographic area in more specific terms and make the keyword research process easier.
Simply enter your zip code and choose a mile radius. From there, select whether or not you want to include zip codes, cities, states, or other location details in your results. Then, enter in keywords or phrases you want to combine with these location details.
From there, this tool generates a list of keywords that you can easily run through Google AdWords Keyword Planner or any other keyword research tools you might use.
For multi-location businesses or unique metro areas, this tool can save the day when you’re feeling stumped on where to target your efforts. While keyword list generators are common, this is by far the best one I’ve found for local-specific generation.
Schema Creator (51 Blocks) & Schema Creator (Raven)
Yes, you read that right! Picking a favorite schema creator wasn’t easy, but I find myself going back to these two consistently.
51Blocks’ tool for generating schema is helpful for adding structured data to your site. Enter in your business information and run the tool to generate markup that gives search engines richer information about your business. What I love about this tool is the simplicity of adding business information and generating the appropriate code, but if you’re looking for other options, the schema generator by Raven is another solid choice.
Raven’s Schema Creator‘s strength in their tool lies in specificity. Choose the type of schema markup you want to add and it walks you through generating it step by step, making it a valuable tool not just for local search, but other SEO needs and projects. Fun fact: this tool also comes in the form of a WordPress plugin.
A favorite in any SEO’s toolbox, consider Google Alerts to be your local business watchdog. This free tool is a must for picking up on online reviews and feedback so that you can be proactive in sharing them, as well as responding to them. Engaging with reviewers or addressing both positive and negative feedback can mean:
- Better customer service, as you may identify customer complaints or questions being addressed to your business indirectly in other areas on the web
- Stronger online visibility, as you demonstrate that you actually care enough about your local business to reach out to reviewers (this can really make a huge difference!)
- Improved reputation management, as you’re able to address what’s being said about your business quickly
Google Alerts makes finding those mentions of your business easy. Set up an alert at the frequency you like and use any keywords that pertain to your business. Want to see keywords mentioned on a particular site? Just setup an alert using “Keyword” site:Site.com.
In addition to finding out what’s being said about your business, this tool can pull double (or triple, or quadruple) duty by helping you:
- Stay on top of any industry events as they happen
- Develop content marketing ideas based around what’s being said about a particular subject
- Identify trends in your industry by seeing buzz as its generated
And these are just a few suggestions. (Use Google Alerts in another creative way? Leave a comment with what you’re doing!)
These are just a few tools I used often for local search, but I’d love to hear more about what you use and find to be most helpful.
Search Engine People Blog