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Do you have the right local SEO tools for the job?
Planning and executing a local search campaign requires a lot of data and insight, making a good local SEO tool stack invaluable. Columnist and local search expert Andrew Shotland shares his.
Part of the fun of being in the SEO space is that we get to play with a lot of crazy tech developed in the name of reverse-engineering Google’s algorithms. We all have our favorites — when I first started learning SEO, my fave was SEO Altar, a service that allowed you to make a ritual sacrifice to the SEO gods in order to recover lost rankings. Somehow, that one never took off.
But there are plenty of other great SEO tools out there to help you get the Local SEO job done, and as part of my monthly indentured servitude to Search Engine Land, I hereby present thee with ye olde Local SEO Guide Local SEO Tool Stack.
In many ways, all you need is Google. Turn off your targeting computer and trust the Force. And of course, Google Analytics, Google Webmaster T — I mean Search Console, Google Docs, Google Page Speed Insights, Google Mobile Friendly Test and whatever other new/updated free thingy Google is offering these days.
Hint: This list of all of the structured data Google is recommending these days is a great resource.
If you don’t have a license for a Screaming Frog crawler, you really need to question if you are in the right business. This tool is indispensable for quick, on-demand site crawls, and they are always adding new features. Old-timers, remember the last time you used Xenu?
Honorable mention to Deep Crawl and Botify. These two both do the job for monster websites, so if you are working at a big brand with location and e-commerce mixed up in a giant, overly complicated stew of code and you want to store crawl history, these big guys are good options.
For most local sites, though, Screaming Frog gets the job done.
One backlink analysis tool just won’t do — particularly in the local search sphere, where the tools won’t find that many links for smaller sites. Majestic is the kingpin of the genre. (Full disclosure: Local SEO Guide has partnered with Majestic on our upcoming Local SEO Ranking Factors Study we’re presenting at SMX Advanced later this month, but we still pay them a monthly license fee because they’ve got the data.)
Ahrefs is a great complement — they have the best UI of any of these tools (IMO). Honorable mentions to both Cognitive SEO and Link Research Tools for their work in trying to identify spammy backlinks. None of our clients suffer from this issue, of course!
This tool is one of our faves. SEMrush is like having x-ray vision into your competitors’ SEO strategies. SEMrush monitors Google for something like 100 million keywords in over 25 countries. It then slices and dices the data so you can get amazing insights into how domains perform against various queries and competitors.
Again, it’s not always great for smaller sites, but for multi-location brands, it’s an essential research tool. For some ways we like to use it, check out this post.
I am a bit biased because our team built this one (kudos to Dan Leibson for spearheading), but NAP Hunter is a free Chrome extension that is the fastest way to find wayward NAP info in Google. I use it every time we get a potential local SEO lead to quickly assess their NAP situation.
I find this extension to be particularly helpful in identifying the source of NAP issues, which is really the main problem with them. According to the Chrome Extension Store, more than 2,000 people use NAP Hunter every week — and they can’t be wrong, right?
Search Google by Location Bookmarklet
When Google turned off the ability to change your location in Search Tools, #WTF became the hashtag de jour of many a local SEO-er. Thanks to the miracle combination of code monkey + free time, the Search Google by Location Bookmarklet was born. Guess that SEO Altar is indeed working.
Whitespark Local Citation Finder
Darren Shaw’s Local Citation Finder is the gold standard of the business. “Discover where to list your business for better local search rankings.” Pretty good pitch.
Full disclosure: Yext is a client of Local SEO Guide’s, but we spend real money with them on our clients’ behalf. So take this all with a grain of salt, but we find Yext to be an effective method for quickly creating and updating citations on some of the top local search sites. Yext’s dupe suppression tool is amazing.
As good as Yext is, local listings management often requires a variety of tools and manual citation work. We supplement all of our listings management engagements with a healthy dose of Moz Local to take our best shot at fixing business listing problems at the big business listing data aggregators: InfoGroup, Acxiom (time for an easier-to-spell name, guys) and Neustar Localeze.
Mark Kabana’s Places Scout (another partner in our Local SEO study) is our favorite tool when it comes to competitive local intelligence. They can provide a mix of multiple data sources (Link, Google My Business, Citation, Social) so you can see what factors are really differentiating the competition from your clients.
BrightLocal Rank Tracker
I am on the record as not being a huge fan of local rank trackers, but Myles Anderson and crew’s BrightLocal Rank Tracker is our go-to solution for this thorny issue. Honorable mention to Chase and crew at Authority Labs, who have worked with us on some big data local rank tracking studies that have yielded some great results.
There are a number of relevant tool categories I haven’t covered (e.g., review generation and monitoring). We’ve put together an exhaustive list of many of the other tool options here. Got any tools you dig? Hit me up on the Twitter.
Some opinions expressed in this article may be those of a guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.