What’s one of the smartest moves you can make as a marketer? Find ways to attract ideal customers to your business (instead of having to hunt them down one by one). It’ll save you time and, even better, make the marketing and sales processes smoother since your audience will have a natural interest in what you offer.
Search engine optimization (SEO) is one of the top ways to accomplish those goals so, if you have an SEO strategy, that’s great. But do you have a local SEO strategy? Here’s why you should, plus several tips and local SEO tools to get you started.
Why local SEO is important
If you mainly (or only) serve local customers, a generalized search engine optimization strategy will only get you so far. For example, say that you work for a small business accounting firm and your target market is small business owners in Austin, Texas.
You could get some organic website traffic from targeting terms that aren’t location-specific (e.g. “how to do small business accounting”). But much of that traffic could be from people who aren’t located in or near Austin and, therefore, would never become clients.
In contrast, what if you went after keywords such as “small business accounting services in Austin”? You’d generate higher-quality traffic to your website and, even better, leads with the potential to become clients!
Especially since local searches—and, specifically, searches with terms like “near me” included—are becoming more popular, now’s the time to start developing a strong local SEO strategy. How can you do that?
5 local SEO tips to use in your strategy
1. Create location-specific content
As our accounting firm example showed, location-specific content can attract potential customers. And the more of it you create, the easier it will be for search engines to understand who your content is most relevant to. So, when your ideal customers type a location-based query into Google, your website will have a better chance of showing up first.
2. Earn backlinks from reputable sites
External links are one of the more important ranking factors since they tell search engines if and how much other reputable, relevant sites trust you. Still, despite this knowledge, many marketers don’t invest in link building. If you build quality backlinks through guest posts, outreach, partnerships or other methods, you may have a significant advantage over other local businesses.
3. Optimize for Google’s Local Pack
Businesses shown in Google’s local pack get 5 times as many views as other businesses. Want to be among them? A Google Maps marketing strategy is the key to earning a spot in the local pack (also known as the 3-pack). Among other things, you must:
- Claim and verify your Google My Business (GMB) listing
- Make sure your listing is complete with location data and other business info
- Consistently earn great online reviews from your customers
If you get 1 of these coveted spots in search results, you can expect more eyes on your business, as well as more inquiries, visitors to your physical location, and local customers.
4. Rack up quality directory listings and citations
Yes, Google is the top place you should have your business listed but it’s not the only place. You should also:
- Create listings on major directory and review sites like Yelp
- Create listings on local directories or those specific to your industry
- Earn citations (or mentions) from local websites
Just remember that every listing and citation needs to be consistent, including information such as your business name, address, and phone number (NAP).
5. Adopt the mobile-first mentality
Google primarily uses the mobile version of sites for indexing and ranking so, if the mobile version of your site is not up to par, you could struggle to rank. Why run the risk of losing potential customers because your site isn’t optimized for mobile and results in a poor user experience?
The 12 best local SEO tools
Once you have a strategy in place, you’ll need the tools to help you execute efficiently and effectively. Here are 12 of the best tools for local SEO.
1. Moz Local
It’s no shocker that one of the most respected companies in the industry also has one of the top local SEO tools.
Moz Local enables you to:
- Manage and optimize business listings on Google and elsewhere
- Save time by monitoring and responding to all reviews in one place
- Post profile updates and offers to boost your company’s local visibility
- Generate reports to show the current results of your efforts and help you improve
Some users have mentioned:
- Delayed updates when making changes to business listings or performing other actions
- A learning curve with some of the tools
- That this is better suited for larger or multi-location businesses
Pricing: Moz Local starts at $14 per month.
BrightLocal’s goal is to help you manage local SEO with confidence. How does it accomplish this?
BrightLocal makes it possible to:
- Analyze your local rankings and spot opportunities to rake in more organic traffic
- Run automated SEO audits to uncover issues that are hurting your local search rankings
- Generate and respond to customer reviews to increase your online visibility and earn you new customers
Users of BrightLocal have mentioned the following cons:
- The credit system for generating reports can be frustrating
- There are no competitor analysis or tracking features
- Reports sometimes take a long time to generate
Pricing: After a free 14-day trial, you can grab BrightLocal for as little as $29 per month.
Jasper makes creating content and copy fast and easy via templates, Boss Mode, and other powerful features. But did you know it also makes ranking for local search terms easier?
Instead of piecing together what you need to include in your content to rank by manually analyzing each page showing up in search results, Jasper does much of the legwork for you when integrated with Surfer SEO.
A great representation of the many ways you can use artificial intelligence for SEO, the Jasper and Surfer integration allows you to:
- Enter your target keyword into Surfer and get recommendations on other related keywords that should go into your content (and how many times each should be used)
- See suggested headings to include, as well as an estimate of the number of words, paragraphs, and images you’d need to compete with the content that’s already ranking in local search results
- Analyze SERP competitors to determine how to make your content better so that it ranks and brings you traffic
- See how well you’ve done at implementing Surfer’s SEO recommendations (thanks to the Content Score feature) to evaluate your chances of showing up in local search results
- Use Jasper's SEO templates like the Meta Description Generator
What should you be aware of when you use Jasper and Surfer?
- Many users prefer to start the SEO process in Surfer first and then move to Jasper for the writing (instead of doing both in Jasper)
- You have to guide Jasper to get the most relevant outputs, along with fact-checking and doing light edits
- You’ll need a Surfer SEO subscription in addition to Jasper
Pricing: Jasper starts at $24 per month and Surfer SEO starts at $49 per month (but both pay for themselves by saving you time, helping you rank, etc.).
Semrush, an industry giant, offers some of the most powerful local SEO tools available.
Semrush’s suite of tools specifically for local SEO include:
- A listing manager for optimizing your online listings and managing your reputation
- A position tracker that tracks your target keywords and local pack rankings to show your search engine performance on a zip code level
- An on-page SEO checker to give you actionable steps to improve your SEO
- A social media toolkit for engaging potential customers through GMB and other channels
The disadvantages of Semrush revolve around price. For example:
- It’s one of the more expensive tools and only offers a 7-day free trial
- Location management features are add-ons and split into two tiers separate from your mainSemrush subscription
- Adding additional users to an account can be expensive
Pricing: Pricing starts at $119.95 per month.
Ahrefs—Semrush’s main competitor—is another great tool for doing search engine optimization on a local level.
Ahrefs allows users to:
- Research their own and competitors’ keyword rankings to spot weaknesses and decide what terms to target
- Research keywords to find location-related terms that could drive traffic
- Audit their websites to find and fix SEO issues
Potential cons of Ahrefs include:
- The 7-day free trial period, which can be too limited if you’re not immediately comfortable navigating such a robust tool
- Its cost, which is proportionate to the immense depth and breadth of data it provides
Pricing: Pricing starts at $99 per month.
6. Screaming Frog SEO Spider
If you need a website crawler to identify SEO issues that are hurting your results, Screaming Frog SEO Spider could be for you.
This industry-leading website crawler can, among many other things, help you:
- Find broken links and duplicate content
- Audit redirects
- Generate sitemaps and visualize site architecture
SEOSpider’s disadvantages include:
- Its technicality, which can make it tricky to use if you’re not a technical SEO pro
- A slightly outdated user interface and navigation that could be more user-friendly
- Running out of memory when crawling large sites
Pricing: SEO Spider has a free version and a paid one that’s £149 per year.
Synup—the creator of Local SEO Checklist, which we mentioned earlier—is another great option.
With Synup, you can:
- Use its listing management tool to update and sync your business listings
- Automate review management, content publishing, and report generation
- Run campaigns and create store pages to increase the discoverability of your business
As far as cons go, users have noted that:
- Some service categories aren’t available
- You can’t compare reporting between locations or sets of locations
- They’d like more interaction and automation
Pricing: You’ll have to schedule a demo for pricing.
Many businesses also use Whitespark to get more online views and local customers.
WhiteSpark’s features and benefits include:
- A local rank tracker to track Google and Bing rankings across the local pack, organic results, and more
- A reputation builder to help you get more customer feedback, better rankings, and more customers
- A local citation finder to alert you to citations your competitors have that you need to outdo them in search
- Managed citation and local SEO services so that you can be hands-off if you want to
Users of Witespark have mentioned the following cons:
- A low daily limit for local citation finder reports
- Inability to find local citations that only mention a name, business address or phone number instead of all three
- The platform could be more robust and the reports more detailed
Pricing: This tool has a free plan with paid plans starting from $20 per month.
9. Schema Markup Generator
Attrock’s Schema Markup Generator is useful to help Google understand your site better, rank it more appropriately, and potentially even feature it in rich results.
This user-friendly structured data tool allows you to create various schema types with no schema knowledge including:
Are there any disadvantages to using this generator?
- While you don’t need schema knowledge, you will need to know how to insert the JSON-LD or RDFa code into your website’s HTML
- It’s not a site plugin and doesn’t integrate with your content management system
Pricing: You can use Attrock’s Schema Markup Generator for free.
Thousands of companies are using ReviewTrackers to fuel their customer acquisition and retention strategies.
ReviewTrackers makes it easy to:
- Generate, monitor, and analyze customer reviews
- Manage local listings
- Compare your brand’s online reputation and rank to local competitors so that you can figure out how to beat them
While it’s emerging as a strong contender in its category:
- Its mobile app is only available for iOS so, if you’re on Android, it will be more challenging to use on the go
- Some users have commented that it could be easier to navigate the tool and respond to reviews
Pricing: While the company gives info on its packages, you’ll have to request a demo for pricing.
11. Local SEO Checklist
Local SEO Checklist is just what it sounds like—a list of to-dos to get your strategy in order and start seeing results.
This comprehensive checklist provides step-by-step instructions on many important elements and tasks including:
- On-page optimization
- Using Google and top business directories
- Building citations and backlinks
- Getting and handling reviews
What are the cons of using this checklist?
- It’s primarily an educational tool and not a “get it done” tool so you’ll have to do some manual legwork
- While the site lists several citation submission services, you’d have to find your own services or tools for other aspects of local SEO
Pricing: Local SEO Checklist is free.
12. GrowthBar SEO
GrowthBar SEO is an up-and-coming AI-powered SEO tool designed to help you dominate your niche.
This tool can help you:
- Do keyword research to find local keywords worth targeting
- Evaluate your results with its rank tracking tool
- Generate optimized outlines and content that can help you rank on the first pages of search engine results pages
- Analyze any website’s domain authority, backlinks, Google Ads, etc.
As for the cons of using GrowthBar, some users have mentioned that:
- It has fewer features than similar tools
- They’d like integrations such as Google Search Console to streamline the process of creating and tracking the results of local content
Pricing: After your 5-day free trial, you can choose a paid plan starting at $29 per month.
Get started with local SEO today
Local SEO has the potential to increase the reach of your business, bring you leads on autopilot, and help you earn more customers. But, of course, you have to start doing it first. The tips and tools above will help you get off to a strong start and enjoy the long-term benefits of your strategy.
Since you’ll definitely need to create content consistently to support that strategy, you’ll need Jasper to streamline the process, ensure quality, and help you rank in local search results. Give it a try for free today!