Local SEO is of prime importance to service based businesses looking to increase their qualified leads in a metro area.
There are some great local SEO tools that I use for myself and local clients, to help find areas of improvement.
Recently, I was turned on to BrightLocal.com, which is one of the most comprehensive tools I’ve found for comparing you and your local competition side-by-side, and finding out what areas you need to improve in local search.
What BrightLocal Does
BrightLocal is a suite of seven local SEO tools that starts at $29 a month for a single business. There are also tiers for multi-business ($49/month) and SEO Pros ($79/month).
Here are the tools, and what you can use them for.
This tool lets you add up to ten keyword phrases that you can track, to see where you gain or lose rank over time. This defaults to a monthly report, but you can run this report up to 30 times a month manually. (Most local SEO search results update about once a week, sometimes twice a week).
When you click View Report, you’ll see three tabs. The first tab is a view of the individual keyword phrases you’re tracking, and details on whether they’ve gone up or down. The report defaults to tracking Google and Google Maps, but you can also track Bing and Yahoo if you choose.
The second tab is a line chart of each keyword rank over time, called the Search Tern Tracker Chart. The third tab is a color coded line graph, the Aggregate Ranking Chart, which gives you a sense of how many of your search phrases are in the top spot, top five, top ten, and top fifty search results.
The next tool is the SEO Check-Up, a cumulative measure of your site’s SEO health. You can only run this report once a month (at no additional cost) in the normal plan.
This report gives you a basic grade (red, yellow, green) for some top level measurements, like where you stand against your competition.
It then gives a more detailed breakdown of comparing you against competitors in areas like:
- Pages indexed
- Domain authority
- Inbound link count (including and average of you vs. competitors)
- Code Summary Review
- Name, Address, Place listings for major directories
- Quick assessment of your top 100 pages
This report also gives you suggestions for improvements that aren’t always obvious, like fixing duplicate title tags, or including your location in title tags.
The Citation Tracker has a few tabs that show what citations you have, and what ones you need. This report can be run manually up to ten times a month.
The first tab is Top Citations, which tracks the top 50 citation sites. Now, I’ve found there are a few false negatives in here in my own case. My own citations were built with a combination of manual submission, Moz Local, Yahoo Local Works, and Citation Burst (more on that in a second).
Before you go to build new citations, double check to make sure you don’t already have one on that service, to avoid duplicates, as these confuse the search engines.
The other tabs show your active citations, pending citations, and potential citations.
What’s interesting here is on the Potential Citations tab, it will show you citations that five of your competitors have, that you don’t in a grid pattern. Their citations are marked with a Y for Yes.
Citation Burst is one of my favorite features of BrightLocal. This is a service where you pay them to submit citations to directories that you are missing from. The smallest package you can buy is $30 for 10 citations, but you can also purchase larger amounts.
What’s cool about Citation Burst is if it detects a citation already in place on that directory, it will automatically substitute another one, ensuring you get the citations you pay for.
If you consider how much time it takes to manually submit citations to local business directories, spending three dollars a submission for some extra listings is a no-brainer.
Google+ Local Wizard
What I like about the Google+ Local Wizard is you can get side by side comparisons of you versus your competitors for up to five keyword phrases. I actually think this is BrightLocal’s best tool.
The first thing the Google+ Local Wizard does is let you see for each keyword phrase who your main competitors are, and what stats they have compared to each other and your business. These stats include inbound links, number of and average of Google reviews, number of citations, average quality of citations, Google+ categories and photos.
For each keyword, you can see a grid of citations that you and your competitors have. If you hover on the letter markers, a tool tip will tell you what competitor is in each column.
This gives you a clear picture of what citation opportunities you have. To view different competitor/citation grids, just click the tab for each keyword phrase.
If you want to build inbound links manually, those Y’s are links to your competitors citations.
Citations are listed by domain authority downward, so start building there, if you see gaps in your citation profile.
The Citations Matrix is only one tab in this report. The NAP Comparison tab will tell you if your Google+ Name, Address, and Place match what you provided.
Top 5 Categories will show what categories your competition uses most on their Google+ pages.
Other Ranking Factors makes sure you are using local signals like area code, city, and state correctly in your title tags and page content.
Gathering reviews is a huge part of local SEO, but also one of the biggest hurdles for business owners. ReviewBiz allows customers to go directly to your review profiles from your website.
It defaults to including your main review profiles (Google+, Yelp, Bing, Yahoo) and some secondary ones, but you can also add custom review profiles.
ReviewFlow allows you to find your review profiles on the web, and then track how many reviews you have, and see what people are saying about you on each. Each profile has a link to the page in question.
BrightLocal is a tool I didn’t know existed a few months ago, but one that is extremely beneficial to web agencies or businesses interested in improving and monitoring their local SEO.