Whether you run a marketing agency or own a local business, there are many reasons to focus on local SEO. Google has improved its ability to show results based on intent and location, thereby leading to appropriate local results showing up for many search terms. Local competition has also gotten tougher, so most niches require a dedicated approach to ranking.
At Sandstorm we use local SEO to the benefit our clients to outrank their competition; giving them the edge they need to attract more relevant leads ready to convert to customers. To help us, we use tools and services to make the process of ranking far simpler. Here are eight of the best tools covering all facets of local SEO. Some we use, others we’re testing…
Whitespark has a number of tools that can simplify the SEO process for local businesses. There is a citation finder that scans directories, local sites, and your competitors for link-building opportunities. The rank tracker monitors rankings for your keywords on a local level. Reputation Builder provides an easy system for encouraging clients to leave positive online reviews. Finally, Link Prospector can be used to find link-building opportunities across a range of platforms including blogs, forums, and professional organizations.
BrightLocal is another product that features various elements suitable for individuals or agencies. You can conduct a full SEO audit, analyzing on-page and off-page factors, search rankings, and social sites. The citation manager service manually adds citations from sites across the web. Additionally, full reports can be created for reviews, citations, rankings, and more, available for site owners and clients.
Crazy Egg is a heatmap tool that can be used to study user behavior on a website. The software is added to the code of a site and then records actions taken by each visitor. The heatmap will indicate where users are looking, the clicks they make, and how they scroll down the page. This analysis can be used to alter the site for increased conversions and a better user experience.
Google Analytics is a free tool that many site owners don’t take full advantage of. There are many complexities to the tool, but it can be used to simply study basis traffic data. For example, a page with a high bounce rate might have a problem that needs to be addressed. Alternatively, a page might be receiving a lot of traffic from a particular website, so you can prioritize your work to maximize this opportunity.
Social media is useful for local businesses attempting to find the right audience. Sites like Facebook allow geo-targeting, meaning you can reach the people who will most likely become customers. Links from social media sites are important for SEO, but running campaigns across all the popular platforms can become tricky. Hootsuite allows you to operate accounts from a single dashboard, helping you to communicate with audiences and follow trends.
BuzzStream is a tool that helps find popular influencers and outreach opportunities. Every niche tends to have a number of popular personalities that command the respect of an audience. Finding these people, building relationships, and gaining backlinks can help you increase your authority, which helps to increase your reputation and improve your SEO. BuzzStream makes the process of reaching out and communicating manageable through their user-friendly dashboard.
Press releases are helpful for publishing business news to a host of relevant sites. From an SEO perspective, backlinks from related news and industry sites can help increase rankings immensely. There are many press release distribution services you can use, but eReleases is one option that frequently gets results for small businesses. The service can get your message out to national outlets, smaller platforms, and relevant journalists looking for appropriate stories.
There are various publishing platforms for running a website, but WordPress is the most popular. It offers numerous themes, so you can almost certainly find a design you are happy with, while SEO plugins make it easy to create an optimized site structure. If you want to sell products from your site, WooCommerce and other plugins make it easy to create an e-commerce store that accepts payments and controls stock.
You don’t need all of these tools to rank a local site for a number of relevant keywords. Each of them can, however, simplify the SEO process, allowing sites in all kinds of industries to rank above established businesses. Local search results have become more competitive than in previous years, with more businesses paying attention to SEO. Compared with general search terms, though, it is still possible to gain top rankings in a relatively short period of time. When you combine a quality site with effective tools and services, you stand the best chance of reaching your SEO goals.