20 Local SEO Experts Share Their #1 Ranking Tip & Local SEO Tools

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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.

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!

Andrew Webber

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.

Andy Beaumont

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.

Ben Wynkoop

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.”

Ben Wynkoop local SEO tools

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 speed up the process of building citations, tools that automatically fill forms such as LastPass or RoboForm are part of the standard operating procedures used by many local SEO professionals.

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.

David Jenyns

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.

Local SEO experts use Google Search Console

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.

David Jenyns 2

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.

David Jenyns 3

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.

David Jenyns 4

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.

Daniel Thompson

Affiliate, Global or Local SEO, the tool I couldn’t do without is SEMRush. It’s the best tool for keyword research, analyzing competitors and it’s even now got a keyword competition tool!

Robbie Richards put together a great tutorial on the many uses of SEMRush.

The other tool I use is Whitespark. I wrote a tutorial on Local SEO, which outlines how I use Whitespark to crank out citations.

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.

Quick suggestions:

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.

Gerry Downey

Gerry DowneyDGDMarketing.com
(Website was recently hacked should be back up soon)

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 (schema tester) 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.

New tweet by anyone in area Trigger on the Twitter Channel   IFTTT

Casey Meraz

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.

George Freitag

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.

Jeremy Rivera

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!

Krystian Szastok

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

Local Ranking Checker – if you don’t track any keywords for your website you’re doing something wrong.

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.

Phil Rozek

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.

Cross-reference those category choices with my Yelp and Apple Maps categories lists and you’ve scored the easiest win in local SEO: simply picking out the best categories.

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.

Mary Bowling

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.

Mike Blumenthal

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.
Case study:

Mike Blumenthal 1

Why Reviews are hard:

Mike Blumenthal 2

Nick Rink

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.

Adam Steele

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:

Advanced Citation Audit Clean Up Achieve Consistent Data Higher Rankings

Local Citation Audit Tip Use The New Sitelinks Search Box
and heck, one of my own for good measure:

Advanced Guide For Citation Audits

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.

Nick Rink 1

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.

Nick Rink 2

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!

Nick Rink 3

Ryan Scollon

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.

At the time I could only find two and after testing both Whitespark and BrightLocal out, I had found my perfect match.

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.

Tyson Downs

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).

Tyson Downs 1

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

How does this help?

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)

Really that’s it. Sure, there’s details here and there, but figure that stuff out and you are 90% of the way there.

P.S. In case you haven’t seen my blog post about the top local SEO tools, you can check it out here.

Margaret Ornsby

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.

Stuart Cooke

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!

Need professional help? I have 2 advices for you:

  1. Read my local SEO services post
  2. Avoid cheap SEO services

69 Responses

  1. cbse schools in amravati

    Asking questions are truly good thing if you are not understanding something
    fully, except this post provides good understanding even.

    • Matthew Woodward
      April 22nd, 2019 at 2:06 am

      Yes for sure… if you don’t ask, you don’t get :)

  2. Lisa George

    Very interesting post on Local SEO.

    Awesome tips and step by step explanation. Really appreciate the way you have written and explained.

    Thanks for sharing it with us. Worth reading it.

    Good work..!!

    • Matthew Woodward
      March 25th, 2019 at 3:12 am

      Thanks Lisa!

  3. Naveen Kumar

    Thanks for your advice and your blog is very nice.This is a really important information as it is very educational and helpful for us.Waiting for your next posting.

    • Matthew Woodward
      February 13th, 2019 at 5:06 am

      Thanks Naveen, there’s plenty more to come!

  4. Md Nishath Khandakar

    nice tips about local SEO expert.Thanks for share this post.boss

    • Matthew Woodward
      September 7th, 2018 at 9:25 am

      Thanks, I’m pleased you liked it.

  5. Roger Pickard

    Excellent tips about local SEO expert strategies tools. This post lot of information for local SEO strategies. I also learned about local SEO and help me. Thanks for share this post.

    • Matthew Woodward
      June 25th, 2018 at 12:02 pm

      Hey, no problem. Glad this post was useful to you and you learnt a lot.

  6. johnnycarson07

    Hi Matt, you have given a lots of information about seo strategies, thanks for share this with us .i read it once more time.

    • Matthew Woodward
      August 1st, 2017 at 3:21 pm

      No worrys Johnny :)

      • johnnycarson07
        August 1st, 2017 at 10:56 pm

        Thanks Matt , and its my pleasure !

  7. Mathias Amodu

    wow thanks alot nice tips you have done the best

    • Matthew Woodward
      May 1st, 2017 at 12:53 pm

      No problem Mathias!

  8. James JK Media

    That was an amazing post about local SEO. I use a Fiverr service which took me a while to find but she delivers some amazing local citations (in the UK) for $5 and they are consistent. My problem is, my local web design company business address is on a new building site and the postcode doesn’t exist on many directory sites yet :( I suppose it’s just a waiting game. Not sure if I will have to re-submit them when their sites get updated. Will keep you posted ;)

    • Matthew Woodward
      April 14th, 2017 at 7:24 pm

      Has it been updated/listed with Royal Mail?

      • James
        April 15th, 2017 at 1:47 am

        Yes updated with Royal mail :) Thanks Matthew

  9. EASY

    Thanks the best content

    • Matthew Woodward
      April 4th, 2017 at 12:41 pm

      No problem

  10. Inez Carlson

    best content, seo change the wolrd

    • Matthew Woodward
      April 4th, 2017 at 1:06 pm

      Thanks Inez

  11. Joshua

    Thanks, Matthew

    You always deliver the best content and teach from an endless supply of SEO goodies.

    • Matthew Woodward
      January 10th, 2017 at 4:11 pm

      I try my best :)

  12. Mikhail Khorev

    Thank you Matthew great as usual :)

    • Matthew Woodward
      November 15th, 2016 at 9:43 am

      Thanks Mikhail!

  13. AArti

    Pretty! This was a really wonderful article. Thanks for providing
    this information. Matt

    • Matthew Woodward
      September 5th, 2016 at 9:02 am

      No problem AArti :)

  14. Robin Eyre

    Very useful. Thanks Matthew. Lots to learn here and a couple of tools I’d not heard of, esp. the Chrome extension Margaret Ornsby mentioned.

    • Matthew Woodward
      September 5th, 2016 at 9:13 am

      No problem Robin!

  15. javier rios

    I am a San Jose criminal defense attorney and will go into private practice soon. Someone is making a website for me.
    I want to know which domain name has the better chance of better SEO,

    I read conflicting information on the benefits of keywords in domain names. so I do not know whether to use the long domain name or should I go with the short name. I already own both domain names.

    • Matthew Woodward
      October 29th, 2015 at 7:11 pm

      Forget about keywords in domains and go with a brand

  16. Chalat Itthiwatthawong

    Amazing review providing with us, some of internet marketer losing their time by auto things, I think this thing will be 90%. They known after the down rank. I have a query about my website local ranking, I doing work 3 months still, but not showing on google, even not shows another competitor websites. I’m trying to get local rank using “รับทำ SEO (seo service)” keyword on Thai google, I can succeeded local ranking for English keyword (seo service in bangkok), but doesn’t ranked thai keyword. Any suggestion?

    • Matthew Woodward
      October 26th, 2015 at 8:22 am

      Honestly I have no experience with ranking in Thai land

  17. Erick Stevi

    OMG!!! Super Complete lists… thank you so much

    • Matthew Woodward
      July 29th, 2015 at 1:34 pm

      No problem Erick :)

  18. margaret


    In my experience, most small business owners don’t want the raw truth. There are things agencies can and do, well for local businesses. But *nothing* tops the business owner getting out there and promoting their own businesses themselves.

    I agree there are agencies that pretend to know more than they do and use geeky words to sell smoke. There are also a lot of hard-working, genuine folk who run very successful agencies because they do their job well. Grouping them all together is entirely unfair.

    And yes, your book just might be a breath of fresh air, please do write it. I’m looking forward to reading it.

    If you have time, that is…

    I can see you love reading blogs – you like to comment a lot. Thousands upon thousands of links to your website (mostly blog comments) on blogs ranging from raising kids, genealogy, renewable energy, politician’s sites, british architects, spam article sites, random Q&A sites, writing about mariah carey on a blog written in Swedish (?), commenting on a blog about iphones written in Portuguese, using a pen name on a horse blog…
    Oh my you’re a busy bee indeed.

    If this activity wasn’t you and your’e the real Rob, then it’s clear why you are grumpy at agencies. You hired a shonky one.

    • Matthew Woodward
      July 6th, 2015 at 9:08 am

      I 100% disagree with this “But *nothing* tops the business owner getting out there and promoting their own businesses themselves.”

      The business owner is best spending their time doing what they do best.

      • margaret
        July 8th, 2015 at 8:16 pm

        Hmm… 100% is pretty strong.
        Perhaps I didn’t word that as well as I could have. Here’s where that statement comes from:

        All too often I see the devastation of a local business owner who has hired a digital firm and then decided “marketing done”. In essence, they abdicated any and all response for marketing their business to someone else’s business.

        Local businesses that thrive use online marketing as a *part* of their overall marketing, and continue to use offline methods such as local papers, community sponsorships, letterbox drops, networking, and so on.

        So while it may not be their strength, it’s still part of owning and running a business.

        And just like they do with their accountant, they don’t hand over the register to the accountant, they bring him/her in when they need help.

        • Matthew Woodward
          July 9th, 2015 at 5:58 pm

          Yes I understand that, for example SEO is only a small part of internet marketing – but I see many people act like SEO IS internet marketing

  19. Robert Cece

    Not expecting this comment to be approved. Cause I was hoping for something at least half way decent. But this is a messy, over long, extremely shallow, 1 dimensional, disorganized, cluster f##k of regurgitated and rehashed noob information.

    What took these 20 “experts” 20 pages to say… I could have said 20 times better in 1/20th the amount of space.

    There is SO MUCH more to local marketing than citations, g local and these few crappy tools. Not 1 word about geo-targeted YT arbitrage? How to spin video scripts by chopping and spinning sound bytes? Or ranking other parasites like Yelp? No talk about how to sky rocket conversions? Like, “grab an $80 press release, get in G News, Daily Herald, Jeffersonian… 300+ other media outlets then plaster this social proof all over your site”?

    Why is there so much talk about White Spark and Bright Local? These tools can be useful but they’re like 1/1000th of what it takes to grow a real local business. A business with a wide, diversified… but highly refined funnel.

    There’s a gaping chasm between what alleged local experts believe local business need (to succeed)… and what successful local business ACTUALLY DO to succeed. I realize you gotta make money Matt .. and you can make money talking about local…. but this article very clumsily executed.

    The focus seems to be on SEO agencies and experts. Get some tools out there, some information, collect commissions.

    But the LEAST you should have done was contact a successful small business owner whose actually grown and flipped small businesses. Most the “experts” on here have no idea how to do that. They try to sell packages or tools or strategies rather than RESULTS and ROI. Their clients bitch and complain cause they don’t get a proper ROI cause 95% of these experts have never run a real small business themselves.

    SEO agencies have the advantage of selling pure smoke screens. While real business have to sell real tangible goods or services. If someone’s gonna paint your home or remodel your kitchen, there are specific standards they have to be met and fulfilled… unlike SEO.

    The problem I see in local is that SEO agencies use the same models they use to promote their businesses… for other businesses that are completely different from theirs.

    They do in fact use a “cookie cutter” approach. “We’re gonna register you with White Spark, Bright Local…. and all the same crappy tools we used for our last client while we IGNORE all the awesome and creative opportunities that exist in your particular industry… opportunities completely critical to your success”.

    The best advice I can give small business owners is the following quote: “The worst investment any man can make is allowing someone else to invest his money for him”. If you’re a local business and need an ROI, you need leads, you need to GROW your company….. then you NEED to bring at least 1 inhouse marketing consultant. Who is paid strictly and solely on a commission only basis.

    This is something most marketers and agencies refuse to do because most of them suck. And that’s exactly why you do this. Because you immediately screen out all the garbage. Then you find that 1, 2 or 5 people who know your industry, know all the unique opportunities that exist and know how to leverage them for your ROI. You make money, they make money.

    If your marketing is not set up this way you can expect your company to be out of business in less than 5 years.

    This is why you rarely see franchises using out house SEO agencies. They bring in or train teams to work inhouse. And those people get paid strictly for performance. No monthly fees. No salaries. No commitments. If they don’t perform, they get canned. And if you can’t find someone who can perform, you fire yourself. Cause you’re either in the wrong industry or you’re too lazy to learn how real businesses are run.

    The method may seem crude, cold and cut throat. And it is. But it doesn’t mean your employees have to be miserable. In fact, it should be the complete opposite.

    I need to write a book on this. Cause I’m just getting tired of all these alleged “experts” and agencies who don’t know a thing about running a real business.

    • Matthew Woodward
      June 4th, 2015 at 2:37 pm

      Hey Robert,

      Well actually this is because I have very limited local SEO knowledge personally, so I invite others to talk about it here as many readers request this kind of information.

      I just don’t have the neccessary exprience to deliver that myself.

      It sounds like you’ll also be happy to know that Codrut will no longer be writing for the blog. It took me more time to edit his contributions than it would have taken to write them myself.

      Heck why not write a book on it? It sounds like you have the knowledge and experience to do some damage. There is certainly room in the market for an authorative local SEO blog that is for sure.

      Or if you ever want to do something here, take a look at https://www.matthewwoodward.co.uk/write-for-us/


  20. Sebastian Popa

    Ahh….man. Just starting a SEO agency. This will come in very handy :)
    Thanks Matthew

    • Matthew Woodward
      May 28th, 2015 at 3:29 pm

      Good luck :)

  21. Himanshu

    Great tips man, thanks for sharing. Keep up the good work

    • Matthew Woodward
      May 26th, 2015 at 10:10 am

      No problem :)

  22. Paschalis I.

    Hi Matthew! Can I ask how you managed to put the little nice arrows in your main menu ?? :)

    thanks a ton!!

    • Matthew Woodward
      May 25th, 2015 at 9:36 am

      I hired someone who knows how to code

  23. Sam

    no indian or asian hero in the list, we need to make ourselves known or atleast try

    • Matthew Woodward
      May 25th, 2015 at 9:39 am

      There is definitely room for dual language IM blogs :)

  24. Harekrishna

    Well tools are good to use but it’s better way that you should take a
    quality of links and written natural content.

  25. Jeremy Rivera

    I’m glad to be mentioned on your Blog for something other than my relationship with Raven Tools.

    Seriously though, I love the thorough nature of the input from all of the other guys in the roundup, very very information dense!

    • Matthew Woodward
      May 21st, 2015 at 5:00 am

      Hahaha thats not a bad rep to carry around :)

  26. Nicolas Colombres

    Great insight for Local SEO! Thanks so much for this, I using looking for it :)

    • Matthew Woodward
      May 21st, 2015 at 5:17 am

      Please feedback with how you get on :)

  27. Toby Beavers

    Wow…you nailed it….again!

    • Matthew Woodward
      May 21st, 2015 at 5:18 am

      I can’t claim credit for this one :)

  28. Ian Pritchard

    This post is destined to become a ‘Must Share’.

    For complete beginners (and reminders for pros) David Jenyns hits the nail on the head.

    As soon as I read it I shared it because there’s way more stuff in here than I have heard of before. It’s great Mr Woodward.

    • Matthew Woodward
      May 21st, 2015 at 5:19 am

      Thanks Ian :)

  29. Dustin Gomez

    Nothing but quality info right here. I’ll definitely be implementing some of this into my strategies. There’s way too many SEOs out there that just half ass the process. Thanks for publishing this. Time to rank some businesses on page one of big G!

    • Matthew Woodward
      May 21st, 2015 at 5:19 am

      I hope you have good results

  30. Ario

    Where is local hero from Indonesia Matt? Or at least Asia..

    Hehehe ..

    • Matthew Woodward
      May 21st, 2015 at 5:19 am

      They need to make themselves known :)

  31. Tyler


    Great article. I’ve never heard of Category Tool By Mike Blumenthal before. Looks like one to try out.


  32. Gerry Downey

    Really appreciate you adding me to your post Mathew, I see the LICEcap tool didn’t work or did you leave it that way because of the size of the files, I only ask because I’m having the same issue with my own site ? Again much appreciated to be in the post.

  33. Abir

    Hey Matt, you have given a lots of info, i need to read it once more, thanks for this.

    • Matthew Woodward
      May 21st, 2015 at 5:21 am

      No problem :)

  34. Nate Sheusi

    Matt! You outdid yourself this time. Excellent round-up. Now your readers need to get off their asses and start ranking and renting.

    • Matthew Woodward
      May 18th, 2015 at 7:02 am

      I hope so!

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