Recent research shows that nearly 30% of all clicks go to the first organic result in Google and other popular search engines. That’s why local search engine optimization — aka local SEO — is essential to improve your online presence. If your business serves a particular geographic area or has a brick-and-mortar location, effective use of local SEO can significantly impact your bottom line.
A recent study by Go Gulf suggests that almost 50% of all Google searchers expect to find local information. In fact, Google has confirmed that up to one-third of mobile queries are purely location-based. That’s why local SEO plays such an important role in generating new customers. If you’re still not using local SEO in your digital marketing strategy, you’re letting competitors draw in all the prospective clients in your area.
How Does It Work?
Search engines are increasingly hyper-localizing transactional search engine result pages (SERPs) so that businesses can reach more relevant eyes. In 2014, the Google Penguin update introduced Map Packs, which displays the top three local businesses and their locations on a map.
This feature allows local brick-and-mortar businesses to be seen by hundreds of potential customers. However, to rank on Google’s location-based tool you need to know exactly which keywords will trigger it. That’s where local SEO comes in.
At a high level, local SEO works like your regular search engine query. When users look for a specific product or service, the search engine scans its index and uses a set of ranking factors to provide the best results. Local SEO has numerous ranking signals to help make those results area-related and accurate, such as:
- Query location
- NAP (name, address, phone number) citations
- Google My Business listings
- Google My Business SEO keywords
- Customer sentiment in online reviews
- Online review keywords
- Check-ins at a location
- Shares on social media
Although local search is nothing new, the recent boom in mobile internet access has vastly changed the game for searchers and businesses alike. Local SEO is now crucial for the success of any company offering products or services in a specific region. After all, people looking for a particular type of business are likely to need results from their immediate area — that’s why Google’s algorithm takes proximity into account even when the searcher doesn’t include “near me” or a city name in their query.
As a local business it’s vital to keep in mind that, while vastly popular, Google is not the only search engine out there. Local search engine optimizing for Google alone will leave you out of the race on other popular directories like Bing Places, MapQuest, and Apple Maps.
Who Needs Local SEO?
People want to do everything online these days. That includes discovering local businesses. If you plan to leverage a solid online presence to drive foot traffic into your business, then you must consider building a local SEO strategy. Among the business types that typically benefit from local SEO you’ll find:
- Maintenance services
- Home improvement services
- Pet services
- Medical services
- Local retailers
Even if you’re a service provider who visits your clients rather than the other way around, you can still profit from local SEO.
Why Use a Local SEO Management Tool?
The algorithms search engines use for localized searches have evolved over time. Today, local SEO is the key to put your business on the map — literally and figuratively — without depending on potential customers to search by location.
Just a few of the most popular tools will help you to improve your local online presence, monitor business performance, track rankings, manage reviews, understand customer needs, encourage engagement, develop search engine optimized keywords, decipher the competition, and more. The time saved from manually performing all of these tasks can then be put toward other vital work.
Best Local SEO Tools To Keep in Mind in 2021
With the ever-increasing value of local SEO for businesses, management tools are more relevant than ever. The right service provides a business with seamless coverage of a specific geographic area. But not all tools are made the same. A little research will ensure you’re choosing a system that meets your unique needs. Here are the top 10 options for 2021.
1. Google My Business
Business owners often create a Google business listing in order to gain more visibility. Yet while a business profile will make your company show up on Google Maps, it doesn’t give you management rights — making it useless for SEO purposes. Opening an account on Google My Business allows you to claim ownership of a business profile and make it a more reliable local SEO tool.
Google My Business lets you engage with customers by responding to reviews, answering questions, and publishing posts like you would on any social media platform. What’s more, you can use your account dashboard to provide and update business hours, pricing, links, contact information, and other important details.
This handy Google tool offers great insight into your local search performance. Its analytics tab shows the exact queries your potential customers are using in order to find your business profile both on Google Maps and Google Search. This information is useful when choosing the right keywords to incorporate into your local SEO plan, which you can do through this tool as well.
Keep in mind that Google prioritizes sections of your business profile in response to customers’ specific queries. This will highlight the exact information they’re seeking and increase the chances that they make contact. The search engine can even embolden keywords in the content of your profile to make it easier for your clients to find relevant information.
Google My Business comes with free tools to access, customize, and manage your profile. This means you won’t have to spend a dime to establish your local online presence and start attracting new customers.
This service provides business owners with valuable tools to rank higher, generate more traffic and leads, and improve their overall reputation. Many renowned brands like Ikea, Hilton, and Mediacom use this top-tier platform to increase their local search visibility. BrightLocal offers SEO audits that show users where to put in some extra effort. It helps identify whether on-page and off-page SEO, local search, and social media are lacking essential search keywords.
BrightLocal is also known for providing local listing services and online reputation management solutions. It’s a particularly good option for those brick-and-mortar and service-area businesses that need to tackle SEO from all angles. Beyond keeping tabs on popular search engines, this tool even allows business owners to track their company’s ranking on mobile and maps. It offers listing management options and the ability to monitor reviews all over the internet. Other handy features include:
- Competitive analytics
- Google Analytics integration
- Keyword research tools
- Localization automation
- Keyword rank tracking
If you’re not ready to commit to a local SEO management tool just yet, BrightLocal offers a 14-day free trial to test out all of its features and interface. If you love it, you can find a plan to match your business needs. The price for the full suite of tools starts at $29 per user, per month, or around $24 per month if billed annually. A Multi Business plan will cost between about $41 and $49, while their Pro plan can range from nearly $66 to $79. If all you need is to monitor reviews, you’re in luck. BrightLocal has an $8 Just Reviews plan available for you.
3. Semrush Position Tracking Tool
Semrush is an excellent option for tracking your website’s ranking with a custom set of keywords. This service allows you to target a particular device type and geographic area. It even has a feature that lets you do all of this by zip code to be as precise as possible when analyzing the most relevant local searches.
The Semrush Position Tracking Tool offers a competitors discovery report to help you understand who else is competing for the same target keywords, location, and devices as you. The feature allows you to track up to 20 competitors at a time and keep tabs on their positions.
The service includes a Google Data Studio integration feature to visualize your campaign information in a custom report or dashboard. It also offers a keyword cannibalization tracker that ranks your site’s health based on the instances of each keyword and the affected keywords per page. Moreover, the position tracking tool helps you track the most useful SERP features to catch the eye of your target audience and increase your click-through rate.
Semrush has different pricing plans that adapt to your specific needs. You can purchase their Pro, Guru, or Business plans with prices that range from $99 to about $450. Additionally, you can buy a personalized Enterprise plan and have Semrush advisors guide you every step of the way.
This comprehensive keyword research tool is one of the best options out there for local SEO management. On top of providing solid insights on your target keywords, it allows you to see how your competitors are doing, gather content ideas, and monitor your site’s performance.
Ubbersuggest includes a backlink overview feature that allows you to track how you are performing with links in comparison to your competitors. Another prominent feature is its website traffic checker, which arms you with actionable suggestions to increase your traffic organically based on information from global data centers.
Lastly, Ubbersuggest gives you a sneak peek at what is working for others. It shows you top SEO pages and provides keyword suggestions to use on your own content. This tool has a free plan that provides limited access to the platform and some of its most relevant features. For the whole package, you can purchase the Premium plan for $29 per month.
This is a great tool for building a customer review profile. It allows you to customize and automate the customer feedback process and easily monitor reviews. In addition, GatherUp sends automatic review reminders to your customers and allows you to display your favorite reviews on social media.
The reputation management software is perfect for small businesses, startups, and digital agencies in need of sentiment analysis and database management features. Some of its more prominent tools are:
- Customer experience management
- Feedback and reviews tracking
- Reputation building
GatherUp offers a 14-day free trial with no commitment. Their plans range from $45 to $99 per month and per location, depending on the number of locations you would like to monitor. Additionally, this company has a demo program that provides customers with a month-long trial period for the social media and review generation monitoring tools.
6. Local SEO Checklist
Powered by Synup, this tool offers powerful features to fix the most common local SEO issues on your site. The best part: it’s entirely free. This local SEO guide will give you precise instructions to improve those elements of your website that require a little extra work. This includes clear guidance on how to:
- Optimize your site’s tags and images
- Structure your URLs
- Create and claim your business profile
- Provide accurate data in your listings
- Submit citations
The Local SEO Checklist includes a schema scanner that shows if you have marked-up content. Its Google Checker is another handy feature that allows you to identify if your business listings are aligned with the Google My Business guidelines. Additionally, it offers a small business checklist that provides further insight into the daily tasks you must perform to bring your business ideas to life.
7. Moz Local
This local SEO tool is perhaps one of the most popular to date. Moz, the developer company, has built an unmatched reputation in search over the last few years. Moz Local is an excellent platform to increase your local visibility and ensure your listings are consistent, clear, and correct. This service submits the most accurate location data to the most relevant online directories and data aggregators.
With Moz Local, you have access to a local listing dashboard that allows you to track and optimize your online listings’ health and overall performance. It helps to close duplicate listings and update existing ones. Its instant directory and aggregator submission feature takes away the hassle of distributing your listings’ information manually and lets you do it in real-time.
What’s more, Moz Local has a Google My Business sync feature that allows you to claim your listings and sync all changes with your Google My Business profile. It renews your basic or enhanced listing data automatically across the local search ecosystem. On top of which, this tool gives you the opportunity to efficiently evaluate your published listings, report metrics, and perform listing research.
Moz Local prices are pretty reasonable compared to other tools on the market and even on this list. The subscriptions start at $129 per year, per listing, with the highest plan at $299 per year.
This free local SEO tool allows you to choose the type of schema markups, or structured data, you need for your listings. This form of metadata is the way that search engines interpret your content to make sense of what your site is actually about. Merkle automatically generates the markup code for site pages. Then all you need to do is use a schema checker to make sure it’s all good.
Those who use local business schema are more likely to be picked by a search engine’s algorithm and rank higher in local search results. By taking advantage of the creation of structured data for your content, a tool like Merkle can help improve your online presence.
This brand management tool is what you need to create listings and pages that increase face-to-face interactions with customers. Using this service to enhance your local SEO performance will put you on the fast track to boosting brand awareness, driving traffic, and ultimately increasing sales and revenue.
As a Yext user, you have access to data cleansing tools that remove all irrelevant data in your internal data sources. Keeping it consistent across listings is vital to keep your customers well-informed about your products, prices, business hours, and more.
Yext allows you to eliminate unnecessary listing duplicates and update your Google My Business account without leaving the platform. This means you can effortlessly publish updates at any time. Yext Local Pages are automatically optimized to appear in the most popular search engines so that your potential customers can easily find relevant and accurate information.
This tool also offers a listing management feature. Its integration with numerous apps, search engines, social networks, and maps allows your business to improve in organic search. Last but not least, at $199 per year for a starter plan, Yext’s subscriptions are accessible to tight budgets.
This tool is convenient for those avid Chrome users. Its Google Chrome extension allows you to perform all your keyword research, pay-per-click analysis, backlink evaluation, and more without leaving your browser. GrowthBar is a terrific option for those who need SEO metrics on any site or Google search result.
This multi-purpose SEO tool lets you access critical local SEO insights that will ultimately lead you to rank higher in searches. You can use it to find the best local keywords for your specific product or service in a determined area and to glean a solid overview of your local competitors’ most searched keywords.
The add-on is quite intuitive, so pretty much anyone can use it. All you need to do is type any local search query into Google and GrowthBar will show you a list of suggested keywords, the monthly search volume, and other relevant data right below the search box.
GrowthBar offers numerous subscription options to choose from. Their Standard plan for one account starts at $48 per month with an annual membership. They also provide a Pro alternative for users who manage up to three accounts at $99 per month, while Agency plans for up to 10 accounts start at $199 per month. All memberships are significantly cheaper when paid annually.
Get Started With Local SEO Today
It’s never too late to start using management tools to up your local SEO game. While not all options are the same, you can mix and match those that suit your needs to ensure you’re covering all aspects of your local search performance.
Bear in mind that building a solid SEO strategy is a process that requires trial and error. Results grow over time. You may start noticing effects in a few weeks, but it can take anywhere between four and six months to start seeing the returns you want. It’s important to set clear and realistic expectations and to be consistent from the start.
Although there’s no secret formula to building a robust local SEO plan, services like the ones listed above will put you on the right path to ranking higher on local search results. Try them out and start attracting new customers today! Not sure where to start? Contact Redstitch Digital to discuss your local SEO goals and we can provide guidance to get you on the right track.