34 Experts Share Their No.1 (Actionable) Local SEO Tip

by James Reynolds • Updated: May 8, 2016

local SEO tips

30 Local SEO Experts

Would you like to know the local SEO strategies the “best in the business” experts use to dominate the local search results…and win more targeted traffic to their own (and their client’s) websites?

Well, consider yourself lucky…

…because today I’ve gathered for you 34 leading local search specialists and asked them this one telling question:

What is your number one (actionable) local SEO tip?

The result is this:

10,000+ words packed full of the most up to date local SEO tips and techniques to get your business dominating Google’s local, organic and maps results.

BONUS: Click here to get access to a free PDF checklist that shows you how to execute all of the techniques revealed in this post.

Meet The Local SEO Experts:

This list is not just a ‘Who’s Who of Local SEO.’

Each and every contributor has been carefully curated (by me) to include expertise from ALL corners of local SEO; authors and thought leaders, yes sure…

But also:

Creators of leading local SEO tools, founders of coveted local SEO companies AND (of course) in the trenches local SEOs.

Navigating This Post:

Each of our 34 experts has been compiled into a convenient alphabetical list.

All you need to do is click a name and jump to their tip:

Alternatively, you can browse the tips from start to end. Either way, now you’ve got to see all the experts, let’s jump in.

Here’s local SEO tip #1:

Local SEO 1

Use customer feedback for local SEO

Leverage Customer Feedback For Your Local Landing Pages

It is often difficult to create meaningful content for local landing pages when you have multiple locations.

So to make it easy…

Have your happy customers do it for you!

Mike Blumenthal recommends you survey every customer from each location for feedback as part of your review management process…

Then post that user-generated content to your local landing pages in Rich Snippet (Schema format).

The result is ever-changing (and really localised) content that is keyword rich.

The best part:

Since it’s formatted in Review Rich Snippets it offers the possibility that Google will show the star rating for your local page.

Star Rating Local Search Results

How To Gather Reviews

You can use Mike’s own software product Get Five Stars to gather reviews and embed them on your website.

Or, as TractLeads4Movers.com revealed in this post you can use Gravity Forms to collect customer feedback.

Gravity Forms for Local SEO

And, have that feedback auto post to your WordPress website after submission.

Gravity Forms for Local SEO

Whatever approach you use, it is important to utilise customer feedback on your local landing pages in order to generate unique and valuable content and to build trust with potential customers.

Having done that, it’s time for local SEO tip number 2…

Local SEO 2

Be Proactive in Local SEO

Be Proactive In Your Local SEO

According to Eric Enge…

The biggest thing that businesses fail to do is:

Understand the importance of getting data consistent across ALL sites listing business information online.

Those sites include listing websites such as:

  • yellowpages.com
  • superpages.com
  • Aggregators such as InfoUSA and Axciom

…and of course Google My Business.

Why it’s ‘SO’ important to be consistent:

Since Google (and other search engines) are trying their best to understand as much as they can about your business.

When you give them accurate information their job is easy.

When you give them inaccurate information their job is hard.

Whilst many business owners understand this and do make some attempt to update their information on the web…

…almost none of them do it well.

And, even when they do it well initially

They are almost always bad at updating information as their business evolves.

A typical scenario looks like this:

You claim your Google My Business listing.

But then you move and forget to update your address.

However, your address on yellowpages.com did get updated thanks to data it received from InfoUSA that noticed your new location via local phone books.

At this point, Yellow Pages has the correct information but Google’s own Google My Business does not.

Which information does Google trust?

Right here is the problem:

The information available to the search engines tends to be a mess.

From a search engine perspective, this sets up a situation where high-quality information is worth MUCH more.

Keeping local SEO data up to date

(Image: BrightLocal)

Enter the concept of proactively keeping your information up to date across the entire web.

If you do this, you send search engines a clear signal that your information is correct, and their confidence in that information rises significantly. This will lead to higher rankings because they are confident your phone number is right, and the address for your business is right too.

If your competitor has not done that, they’ll worry the phone number they show is wrong, and the consumer will call it and get a wrong number, or worse…

…the address they show is wrong, and the user actually goes there and finds a closed store front.

MozLocal explains this concept very well in this Whiteboard Friday:

When the way you maintain your business information online shows search engines that the data on you is dependable, you take these risks off the table.

And in short, you win.

Local SEO 3
Local SEO backlinks

How To Build Local Backlinks To Increase Your Ranking

Just like international SEO, local SEO heavily relies on getting backlinks, specifically backlinks from other “local sites”.

Tim offers these few pointers of where to get them:

(1) Directories – Look for local business directories and get yourself a listing. HubSpot offers this list of the top 50 business directories you can use.

(2) Partnerships – Reach out to all your local partners (manufacturers, wholesalers, etc) and simply ask them for a link.

(3) Sponsorship – Look for sponsorship opportunities because they all too often result in a link back to your website.

(4) Host an event – Then post it on ALL the event sites in your local area.

(5) Press – Do something interesting and get the local media to write about it.

Links are still a primary ranking factor even for local sites…

…so if you want to outrank your competitors – make sure you have more (and better) links than they do.

Once you’ve got some links, you are ready for tip #4.

Local SEO 4
Customer Experience

Provide Great Customer Experience

There are MANY factors that affect local SEO (which also have a direct impact on global SEO too).

But still.

The best thing a local business can do according to David Amerland is this:

“Provide the kind of GREAT customer experience that allows you to gather genuine independent reviews on TripAdvisor or Google Reviews.”

Tripadvisor Reviews

Reviews linked with a high-quality website can generate the kind of authentic feel that end users love.

What’s more:

They help with brand reach (and familiarity) and that generates a high level of trust.

David says:

“Trust is the gear every relational exchange runs on and for a local business, the ability to generate tangible trust in an online and offline environment creates the kind of deep differentiation that actually leads to increased sales.”

So, hopefully, you now understand that a “stand out” customer experience will help you stand out in local search…

What else is important?

Let’s find out…

Local SEO 5
Connect with local audiences

Create Content That Connects With Local Audiences

Nicole Hess recently came across a billboard for a national brand with the text:

“Save money close to home.”

Bland as unsalted bread.

Nicole rightly points out:

“This is how not to market to a local audience.”

Instead, you should be the brand that makes a genuine connection with your targeted local community.

This is good marketing in general.

And, when you want to perform well in a specific geographic location, it’s good local SEO.

Local SEO Content

(Image: Search Engine Land)

From local business to national franchises Nicole has seen successes from making the effort to build a genuine local connection.

She recommends you showcase the content that connects your brand with the local audience, then optimises that content, share it and encourage others to share it (and comment too).

Local SEO 6
Outshine your competition in local search

Outshine Your Competition

For just one minute, forget about SEO.

And, instead think about serving your local community.

This is a mentality shift Martin Shervington encourages you to make.

It’s a shift from “trying to trick the system” to really making sure your business deserves  to be served in the top 3 Local (Snack) Pack results on Google.com

Google Local Snack Pack:

Google Local Snack Pack

Once you’ve made that shift…

Think about how you can ‘outshine’ the competition – that is, think about reviews.

Reviews are one area that IS in your control.

With Google (unlike other review sites) you can ask people to leave you a review, in fact, they actively encourage it.

Martin offers this advice:

“Stop thinking about one or two reviews, think about getting hundreds.

I bet that search results are increasingly going to be ‘filtered by review’ (a feature on mobile and desktop) and you are going to want to have a ‘4.0 and above’ average rating.”

All in all, Martin’s approach will naturally support your business with traffic, calls, and customers walking through your door.

What’s more, you’ll actually deserve all that extra business.

Local SEO 7
Local meet up sponsorship

Get More Links and Coverage By Sponsoring Local Meetups

Sponsoring local meet-ups (and events) is great for local SEO.

Why is that?

They usually result in local coverage (in the local press) leading to mentions of your brand and better still…links to your website.

As Local Visibility Systems point out in this post the fastest way to find Meetup.com groups that need sponsoring is to use search strings in Google:

site:meetup.com “this group does not have sponsors right now”


site:meetup.com “this group does not have sponsors right now” city

Here’s an example:

Meetup Group Sponsorship

When you sponsor a Meetup.com event you will receive a link to your website from the strongest page of the Meetup group:

Local Meetup Groups Sidebar Link

This has powerful local SEO benefits.

In addition to sponsoring a local event, you should also do outreach to local press in order to promote your involvement in the event and gain more coverage.

Yes, it’s more effort, but still, it’s totally worth it.

According to Krystian, outreach to the press will bring you a tonne of indirect exposure:

“As a result you will get featured on many local ‘what’s on’ types of sites too – which means more links and more coverage.”

Once you’ve found a meet-up to sponsor, you are ready for local SEO tip #8. 

Local SEO 8
Before starting local SEO

Stop! Read This Before You Start Local SEO

If you are a “local business” you should be investing in “local SEO,” right?

Well…not necessarily.

At least, that’s not what Aaron Wall recommends you do.

He suggests you take the time to really look at the search results to get a feel for the barrier to entry and level of opportunity BEFORE investing in any type of SEO, local or otherwise.

Aaron points out:

“Google has had a history of moving mobile search traffic away from organic results toward paid ads.”

To illustrate how extreme this trend has been…

Google (recently) rolled out an “innovation” on a broad swath of travel search results on the mobile interface which essentially kills off the idea of organic SEO on devices in that category.

This new innovation makes it very hard (nearly impossible) to access the organic search results at all.

An example:

A search for “where to go in Russia” leads you through various Knowledge Graph panels:

Russia Travel Query SERPs

And, flight search ads.

It’s not until…you’ve clicked several times that you eventually find the “See web results” link way down at the bottom of the page.

Russia Travel Query SERPs 2

Get the point?

With the direction in which the organic search results are heading…

Before YOU invest time, energy and resource in local SEO…

Ask yourself this:

Is it REALLY it worth investing in local SEO at all?

Local SEO 9
Customer Reviews

Reviews, Reviews, Reviews!

There really is no arguing that online reviews are a deciding factor for local SEO.

There’s a whole bunch of studies such as Moz’s Local Search Ranking Factors Survey that back this up:

Reviews as SEO Ranking Factor

It’s pretty clear too why Google would consider reviews as important…

67% of consumers are reading online reviews to make purchasing decisions.

That’s 2 out of every 3 people who use reviews and ratings on sites like Google My Business, Trip Advisor, Facebook and Foursquare to influence their choice of product or service provider.

If it wasn’t obvious to you before, the data makes it clear.

The greater number of positive reviews YOU can acquire the better.

So the question is…

How do you get more (and better) online reviews?

Chris offers this advice:

“Managing online reviews is a great, actionable way to improve local SEO.

The simple act of asking your customers for reviews can be very powerful.

Last year we started with zero online reviews (ironic I know), and just by asking our customers during existing and planned touch points, we generated over 100 new five star reviews.”

Review Trackers

Chris continues…

“The facts show 4 out of 5 consumers will reverse their purchase decisions because of negative reviews. Get in front of that by making sure your happy customers share their story. Encourage customers to leave reviews and respond to each one.”

Here’s how to take advantage of Chris’s advice:

Email 5 satisfied customers or contacts and ask them to review you on Google My Business, Trip Advisor, Facebook or Foursquare.

Once you’ve done that. It’s time for local SEO tip #10.

Local SEO 10
Consistent Google My Business Categories

Google My Business: Consistency Is Key

Claiming and optimising your Google My Business page is probably one of the most beneficial things you can do for your local SEO rankings.

Some would say it’s the heart of your local rankings…

That being said, it’s important that you list as much useful information as possible and make your page look WAY better than your competitors.

Google My Business Mistakes You Should Avoid:

The most common issue Ryan sees is people adding several categories when all they really need is one.

For example:

If your business is a pizza takeaway, don’t put Italian takeaway as a category too.

Google Local Business Category

Also, make sure you keep your contact information up to date like your phone number, website URL and your physical address.

With these details now becoming even easier to find in the search results, it’s important that users can get in touch with you…without hassle.

The trickiest (but most important) thing to do is get plenty of positive reviews. More than 5 positive reviews and the golden reviews stars will appear.

What’s more:

Reviews will show up in the local pack when people search for a product or service AND show in a knowledge panel when someone searches for your business name.

Any other mistakes to avoid? Yes!

A common issue with multi-location business is that people tend to add the location to the end of the business name e.g “Bob’s Plumbers Birmingham.”

Ryan says:

“I can understand why people do this, but truthfully you need to remove the location as it is against Google guidelines and will not help with your local rankings.”

To sum up Ryan’s advice:

Local SEO comes down to ONE main rule: Consistency!

Your NAP (name, address and phone number) must be the same on every mention, whether that be your website, Google+ or citations.

Once you have that in order you’ll have a strong chance of success.

Local SEO 11
Data Testing Schema

Don’t Be A Fool. Test Your Data

As Ryan pointed out in tip number 10:

The problems of inconsistent NAP (name, address, phone) can prove a challenge for search engines (and SEO practitioners).

To ensure the correct (NAP) information gets displayed…

Susan’s tip is to add structured markup data to your site:

“Thank goodness Google is piloting Knowledge Panel cards with local business information taken right from your website.  I recommend you read up on Google’s Local Business Information guide, and then take the time to add structured markup data to your website (JSON-LD.)

Once you’re done:

Please, don’t be an arrogant fool!

Take the time to test and validate your data using Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool.”

Local SEO 12
Local SEO Directories

Go Beyond Local Directories

Local SEO has changed a lot over the years.

Assuming that you’ve done all of the basics and your listing, citations, and website are properly optimised you need to turn your attention to links to move the needle.

Casey’s advice?

Focus on earning links to your location landing page.

You can do this through strong localised directories, local news media, event link building, and sponsorships.

Your goal should be to build authority and never stop.

But how do you find ‘quality’ local SEO Links?

Here are three local link opportunities Casey recommends:

1. Do a Google search for your city name and review the opportunities

See what websites Google is rewarding in your city. What is already ranking? Is it the Chamber of Commerce, local directories, or local foundations? Get listed on these websites as they already carry the weight you need.

2. Pay attention to industry-specific websites

If you’re a lawyer you get listed on websites like Avvo.com, and the Findlaw directory. But, did you know there are thousands of other attorney directories out there? Simply do a search for your industry+directory and see what comes up.

If it is a legitimate site make sure to get a link.

How to find industry directories

3. Move the needle with sponsorship links

If you want higher rankings for your landing pages, consider finding charities and local nonprofits you can donate to. They will (I’m sure) give you a link to your website for your contribution.

Now, you know where to get links. Let’s talk content.

Local SEO 13
Blog about local events

Blog About Local Events and Landmarks

Most local businesses aren’t experts at ranking their websites in Google.

The good news for them is this:

Ranking in Google’s local search is not as tough as it is in global search.

Quite often, all it requires is relevant (quality) content.

With this being the case, Zac’s recommendation is for your business to have a blog where you can write stories and news updates on different landmarks, events and businesses in your area.

Not only will this help your site rank for a wide range of terms, it can also improve social sharing within your local community as well.

Local SEO 14
Local business Schema Markup

Use Local Business Schema Markup

There’s a tonne of great stuff you can do in local SEO.

Everything from ensuring you’ve got accurate and consistent citations to putting in place a robust reviews strategy.

Not to mention local content and links!

Still, one of the very first things Nick likes to do for his clients is installing the correct local business Schema markup on their website.

It may not have any direct impact on ranking (yet) but there’s no doubt that structured data is important.

Want proof?

Google recently announced their support for the JSON-LD format – which happens to be Nicks’s preferred method these days.

Here’s an example:

<script type="application/ld+json">
 { "@context" : "http://schema.org",
 "@type" : "ExerciseGym" , "additionalType": "http://www.productontology.org/id/Personal_Trainer",
 "name" : "Powervibe Fitness Studio","telephone" : "020 7229 9614",
 "address": {"@type": "PostalAddress","streetAddress" : "1 All Saints Road","addressLocality" : "London","postalCode" : "W11 1HA"},"url" : "http://www.powervibe.co.uk/","logo" : "http://www.powervibe.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/logo.png","sameAs": ["https://www.facebook.com/powervibefitness","https://twitter.com/powervibestudio","https://plus.google.com/112232085282587544358"]}</script>

What data can you use in Schema markup?

You can include many things…

Opening hours, link to a Google Maps listing and it’s also possible to add markup for menus and reservations, especially useful for restaurants and hotels.

Some more Schema advice:

Before loading the code up to any website Nick recommends to check it using Google’s Structured Data testing tool, which you can find here.

Once you have installed and tested your Structured markup, it’s time for tip #15.

Local SEO 15
Mobile SEO

Fast, Mobile and Easy To Use

The often forgotten half-cousin in any kind of SEO (including local SEO), is the overall ease of use, readability, mobile-readiness and load speed of a website.

In short: User experience.

Sure, UX may not be an SEO’s favourite topic, but it has an ever increasing role in SEO, just check out these ranking factors listed by Moz.

Since Google wants us to please our visitors first and foremost…

So should you the website owner.

Thus, before you start working on citations and getting more reviews ask yourself this:

Does YOUR website deserve to rank?

In order to make your website “rank-worthy,” Ashley provides the following advice:

“I usually start with page load speed, as this affects not only rankings but conversions as well. I aim for 2-3 seconds first load time (ie. a visitor has never been to the site, and has nothing cached). The best way to measure this with accuracy is with a tool like Web Page Test.

Using this data, you can start to see where the load problems are:-

  • Usually, images are too large – not resized or compressed.
  • Too many files (WordPress plugins are killer adding each a css and js file).
  • Long initial lag (first bar on the chart) which could mean an issue with your host or software.

Once these have been addressed, you can also run your site through Google’s own tool which gives you more optimisations suggestions. They are often tougher to implement (minification, gzip etc) but usually worth the extra effort.

Google Pagespeed Insigths

Another fundamental issue that affects every site’s SEO is mobile-readiness.

Again, Google is pushing this and it should be addressed by every website owner, regardless of how much mobile traffic you are getting (even 10% means you might lose rankings for those searches and potential customers).

These days, a mobile responsive site is one of the easiest and cheapest ways to solve this problem and means your content is almost optimal on any device – mobile, tablet, laptop or PC.

So check the site and make sure it is OK by Google, and usable at least on mobile devices.

Mobile Friendly Test

The last factor I take a look at is how easy it is to consume the content and find what I (ie. a random visitor) might realistically be looking for.

Navigation can be optimised for usability and SEO, with the most important pages linked directly and easy to find. Another simple trick is to up your font size (16-18px is the trend of late) and use more white space.”

And no, none of these things are local SEO specific, but that makes no difference according to Ashley.

“They are essential SEO factors you should be looking at before you run off using Whitespark or tweaking a Google Business listing.

So how does the user experience of your website measure up?

If it’s good, then you are ready for the next local SEO tip.

Local SEO 16
Leverage Chamber of Commerce for Links

Leverage The Chamber of Commerce For High Authority Links

An often overlooked local SEO strategy is to…

Use your city’s Board of Trade, or Chamber of Commerce for backlinks.

Disclaimer: These associations will require a monthly or annual membership fee.

But, you’d be hard-pressed to find more relevant websites from which to acquire authoritative backlinks that will power your local SEO results.

Here’s why:

The Board of Trade and Chamber of Commerce websites are repositories of content related to real, quality local businesses, which is precisely where you want to be found.

Justin provides these steps:

(1) Visit the website of your local Board of Trade or Chamber of Commerce.

(2) Look for a directory of member businesses.

(3) Choose the listing of any member business that has a link to their website on their profile.

(4) View the web page source and ensure the link the to the member’s website does not contain rel=”nofollow” within the tag:

Rel No Follow Link

Check also that it is not a “jump-off” link through a redirect page on the Board or Chamber website.

Essentially you are checking to make sure that these links are direct.

(5) Check to ensure that the directory listing pages are being indexed by search engines. The quickest way to do this is using the Google Chrome browser, and typing cache: before the website URL.

How to check website cache

(6) When obtaining membership, obviously be sure to include a link to your website. However, also be sure that the business name, address and phone number are all consistent with what is on your website as well as your Google My Business profile.

If you need some help with that refer back to tip #2.

Next up, local SEO tip #17.

Local SEO 17
The foundations of Local SEO

Follow These Best Practices For Optimum Results

People fail in their local SEO strategy by not doing the basics.

They jump straight to the advanced tools and complex tactics without laying the foundations first.

Foundational Local SEO

Understanding the core basics of local SEO is essential, but actually getting them done is what will put you ahead of the pack.

In short:

If you want to win with local SEO, then you absolutely must build from strong foundations.

How do you do that?

David Jenyns says you should follow these four steps:

(1) Ensure your website follows Google’s best practice.

The first thing you should do is make sure your website is following Google’s Webmaster Guidelines and Quality Raters Guidelines.

Your website MUST be mobile responsive, fast loading and free of all SEO trickery.

That means no thin content, doorway pages or any other such tactic done purposefully to game the search engines.

Next, add your business’ opening times, address and phone number to your website and correctly tag those things using Microdata. This process is outlined over at schema.org and any good web developer should be able to help you with that.

(2) Claim and fill out completely your Google Maps listing.

Next claim your Google My Business listing.

Be sure to fill out the profile completely matching exactly the information you’ve added to your website. This includes your opening times, address(es), phone number(s) and anything else you can fill out.

Also, make sure you populate all of the photos. If you’ve got some videos on YouTube, then embed those as well. You just want to make sure that anything Google gives you the opportunity to fill out, that you go ahead and do that.

Once you’ve got your listing up, chat to some clients you’ve already had a good experience with and ask them to post a positive review on your Google My Business page.

Google My Business Review

(3) Build relevant citations.

The next step is to submit your website to the most relevant local directories.

In Australia where Dave is from, that is things like TrueLocal, Yellow Pages and Yelp. There is a series of local directories that are relevant.

This process is very different from submission services that submit your website to over 200,000 local directories. The process Dave describes is about submitting manually to high-quality directories that are important in your specific industry and your geographic location.

When you submit to relevant local directories, make sure the data you enter matches exactly the contact information you reference through your Microdata on your website and also on your Google My Business page. So as not to confuse the search engines this information must be consistent.

(4) Create targeted geographic pages on your website.

David’s final step is to create targeted geographic pages on your website.

These might be your specific product(s) or service(s) plus the geographic area local to your business.

For example, if there are particular suburbs that you service, then go ahead and create pages for those.

A word of caution…

Be careful that you’re not just creating a whole bunch of doorway pages with duplicate content.

For instance, do not keep the framework and content of the page exactly the same and just change the suburb name. This could get you penalised.

If done correctly (with unique and relevant content on each page) and some smart internal linking, you can actually perform very well for local search.

Of course, it does depend on your industry and level of competition, but Dave’s confident if you follow those steps, you’ll get fantastic results.

Local SEO 18
Keyword mapping for effective local SEO

Keyword Mapping: Use Hierarchy To Rank On Page One

Optimisation of title tags is Michael Borgelt’s actionable local SEO tip.

According to Michael, not a lot of small business owners (and even some SEOs) use title tags to their full potential.

“Optimizing appropriate pages for their targeted keyword will put you ahead of about 50% of the competition.”

But, simply optimising all of your page titles isn’t enough to get to page one.

Employing the logic that applies to your keyword environment to your titles (in a hierarchical fashion) is where the real bread is won.

Use your top pages to go after competitive, short-tail keywords and then use their subpages to target keywords that support the main page’s target.

Website Architecture Best Practice

(Image: Moz)

You can drill this down even further in blogs or you could use those titles to test the viability of a keyword’s traffic before fully committing to it.

Michael concludes:

“In short, get creative with your titles and use them collectively instead of on a per-page basis and you will definitely start seeing results.”

So go ahead and take a look at how you’ve mapped your keywords.

If you’ve done so in a hierarchical fashion, then you are ready for the next local SEO tip.

Local SEO 19
Local Citation Strategy

Develop A Strategy To Gain More Links and Citations (Every Month)

So, you’ve got your NAP listings in check…

…and have fixed up your website architecture and on-page optimisation.

Well done, you’ve got the foundations in place for an effective local SEO campaign.

Now all you need to do is sit back and wait for the rankings to flow?

Wrong, that would be a HUGE mistake.

Solid on-page and consistent information are things that every local site needs.

You need to do much more than that for the top of the page local rankings.

One of the most important things to be doing is:

Local Citation Hoarding Meme

Citation Building

According to A.J. Ghergich you need a plan (every single month) to gain more links and more citations.

Even a few earned links per month will usually put you miles ahead of your local competitors.

Creating and promoting linkable assets like infographics, in-depth guides, podcasts, slide decks, blog posts, and other content are essential link-building steps.

That said, you should look at everything you do. For instance:

  • Are you a member of the Chamber of Commerce?
  • Are they linking to you?
  • Do you sponsor any local events or charities?

There are so many ways your local business can gain links and citations, but you (if you are like most SEO’s) probably lack a coherent strategy to do so.

So do this:

Commit to building citations and commit to building them EVERY month.

Make this one single change and it will pay huge dividends for you down the road.

Local SEO 20
Hyper Local Citation Building

How To Find (And Build) Hyper Local Citations

Vlad works with many local SEO clients, and when he does he goes through a long (50+ point) checklist to make sure everything on and around their site is optimised correctly.

The main things he looks at (and optimises) are:

  • Technical SEO
  • Content and on-page
  • Google My Business profile optimisation
  • Links
  • Citations
  • Reviews
  • Social signals
  • Conversion rate optimisation

According to Vlad the most important elements to get right are the links and citations.

Firstly, make sure that your business is listed on all local search data providers in your respective country.

Many other local directories buy their data from these main aggregators and if your information is missing or incorrect on those…. then it will also be missing or incorrect on many other sites.

Here’s a comprehensive list by Moz of the local search ecosystem in US, Canada, UK, Germany and Brazil.

How business listings are generated by Google

Secondly, get your website listed on all major citation sources in your respective country; BrightLocal and Whitespark have good lists to get you started.

Afterward, you should use a tool like Whitespark to replicate all of your top competitors citations.

Lastly, and perhaps the most important part from Vlad’s experience is to create hyper local citations.

Some search strings you can play around with are:

location + directory
location + submit site
location + company listings

Local submission search string

These citations and links should give you a strong foundation to build on.

Then on an ongoing basis, Vlad recommends to include a citation and link back to your site in your author bio whenever you guest post or write an article for a third party website.

Local SEO 21
Google My Business Category

How To Choose The Right Category For Your Google My Business Page

The biggest problem Andy sees in local SEO is improper categorization of Google My Business listings.

According to Andy:

“People often have no idea how they are categorized or which categories are relevant to their business.”

The result of improper categorization?

Lowly rankings in local search results as Google find it difficult to assess the searches they should list your business for.

Incorrect Google Maps listing

But fear not, this problem is easy to fix.

You just need to follow Andy’s recommend steps:

  • Check to see what categories similar businesses are using in different geographical areas.
  • Browse a list of all categories to see what your options are.
  • Select categories with keyword relevance and add them to your Google listing or in your submission tool.

Once you’ve locked down the right category(s) for your business then you’re ready for the next tip…

Local SEO 22
80:20 Local Citation Building

Local Citation Building: The 80:20 Approach

Don’t get sucked into a citation perfection vortex.

Adam’s local SEO tip is to be smart about how you manage your citations.

“I’ve always urged our clients to focus their energies on forming relationships with top-tier amplifiers (and a few select publishers in their verticals) instead of pursuing a paid-inclusion approach with tier-two publishers.

The reach that businesses like Foursquare, Apple, Google, and Facebook have makes spending additional resources on them a much smarter strategy than spending those same resources on cleaning up listings on tier two sites that receive little traffic and have a much smaller impact on Google’s Local and Local Organic algorithms.”

To sum it up:

Focus your energy on the 20% of citation sites that will yield 80% of your results.

Local SEO 23
Survey Your Prospects

Survey Your Prospects To Increase Your Conversions

The vast majority of local SEO work is focused on increasing visibility and getting users through to a business’s website.

But, that’s just half the battle.

Once your potential customers arrive at your site you need to convert them into leads or customers…

Otherwise all that marketing effort (and dollars spent) means absolutely nothing to your business.

So, before you spend a shed load of cash on PPC or embark on a long and arduous SEO plan, first consider what information your customers want to know and how they want to contact you.

The key information that consumers want from local business websites is this: 

(A) Are the services/products you offer what they’re looking for?
(B) Can they afford your services/products?
(C) How do they get in contact or visit you?

The quicker you can provide answers to these key questions, the better your chances of converting hard earned visitors into actual customers – and money!

In a January 2016 study Bright Local carried out; they found that 41% of local consumers prefer to call a business after they visit their website.

So an obvious tip is to put your phone number in the header and footer of every page of your site.

But also consider this:

20% of people prefer to email; 19% prefer to visit the business location; 10% prefer using ‘contact’ forms and 4% prefer using social media.

The lesson here is that different people prefer different methods…so give your users options and let them choose.

Don’t assume a phone number and email is enough – you’ll be putting the other 30% of consumers off!

So how do you find out all this useful information about what you consumers want?

Myles says you should ask them and watch them.

“We use a great tool called HotJar. It allows us to record every user who comes to our site to see where they go, what they look at and where they drop off. This helps us know where to put important information on the site.”

Hot Jar Heat Map

He continues:

“We also use HotJar to survey users. We ask simple questions such as;-

1. What is the main reason you came to our site today?
2. What is stopping you from using our service today?
3. What is your preferred way of contacting us?

The answers you get back are enlightening and specific to your customers. It’s gold dust for working out what works and what doesn’t so you can fix it and start converting more visitors.”

So do you know what your prospects really want from your website?

Local SEO 24
Rich Local SEO Content

Use This Framework To Create Rich Local Content

To get great results with local SEO you must understand the intent of a (potential) local customer.

As a marketer, it’s your job to make it a no-brainer for potential customers to choose you and your brand.

Interestingly, 75% of the companies that rank in local pack results also happen to rank in local organic search results.

To be one of those companies in your own local market, provide a better user experience that’s aligned with the potential local customer’s user intent…

That is: create BETTER local landing pages.

This goes well beyond creating a page for each city your brand services, or a page per store location.

It means understanding the buyer journey and predicting all the potential points of friction, incentives, and action that they might take.

Here’s what Dev uses to create rich local content…

Questions Framework:

Who are you?
In what way do you service _______ (the city, town, or state)?
How long have you been serving the local community in _____?
What makes you unique and the preferred choice for _____ (primary keyword) in _____?
What are some of the sub-services you offer?
What are some of the FAQs that people in _____ might have about your services?
What are the major landmarks that can help customers get to your business?
What are other local customers saying about your business in ________?
What other businesses do you partner with in _______?
What local organizations do you support in _______?
What types of local offers and incentives do you offer the people of ______?

Using this framework you can create that’s not only relevant, but helps local prospects become local customers.

Local SEO 25
Competitor Google Maps Research

How To Nuke Your Competitors From Google Maps

The most actionable strategy up Colan Nielsens sleeve is this:

Perform “spam” research on your competitors and remove offenders from Google Maps results.

The first step of this strategy is to identify all the competitors in your market that are blatantly violating Google’s guidelines for representing your business on Google.

According to Colan, violations are most prevalent with service businesses such as Locksmiths or Pool Cleaning services (and the like). If you are in these spaces then be ready to find many competitors breaking Google’s terms of service.

Once you’ve discovered the listings that are in violation you can report them for deletion via Google Maps or Google Map Maker.

Google Maps Edits

Imprezzio Marketing were recently able to “nuke” six Google Local listings that were all completely fake addresses.

As a result, one of the legitimate listings (Colan’s client) moved up in ranking from position 10 to position 3!

Pretty awesome results.

So what you waiting for? Go try this Google Maps tip yourself.

Local SEO 26
Local Mobile SEO Experience

Create A Mobile Experience That Is Intuitive And Straight To The Point

According to Evan Prokop, one of the most important factors for winning in local search is having a solid mobile presence.

For many (if not most) local businesses, the critical exploratory search phases where potential prospects are actively looking for the information that will persuade them to become customers…happens on the go!

So, in order to win that business, you need to provide a mobile experience that is intuitive, useful and straight to the point.

That means your site has to do more than just pass Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test (although that is a very good start).

It means it has to actually work well at allowing people to take the desired actions that are the reason for your site to exist, on mobile.

Local SEO 27
Schema for Local SEO

Use Schema To Feed Your Business Information To Search Engines

One very powerful local SEO strategy which often goes overlooked is the use of local business Schema markup.

As Daniel Law points out:

“Schema markups are a great way to let search engines know about your business details using microdata. You can then use Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool to confirm whether the markup was successfully implemented.”

Structured Data Testing Tool

Follow up on Schema markup with high-quality citations and local customer reviews and your website will be gaining some great local search authority in no time.

Local SEO 28
Local Citation Quotes

Use This Tip To Find The Top Ranking Local Citation Sites

Citations, citations, citations.

We’ve mentioned them numerous times in this post and that’s because they are one of the most important aspects of local SEO.

In fact, Moz’s Local Ranking Factors Study listed them amongst the very top local ranking factors:

Moz Local Ranking Factors Citations

The good news is, getting listed on quality industry specific and city specific citation sources is immediately actionable because it’s something you can take care of (easily) yourself.

To find the best industry specific and and city specific citations, Darren Shaw suggests you search the common keywords for your industry and look through the organic results for business listing sites.

Google Local Search Terms

Better still, to save you the legwork you can refer to Whitesparks Best Citations by Category and Best Citations by City resources.

The manual approach mentioned above is the exact methodology Whitespark used to develop the lists.

Found some local citation sources? Then it’s time for local SEO tip #29:

Local SEO 29
Tools for Local SEO

Leverage These Tools and Watch Your Local Rankings Skyrocket

Aaron Agius doesn’t have just one actionable local SEO tip, but 4 tools you can use to maximise your local SEO results.

Here’s the list (and how they’re used):

(1) Google Places For Business Category Tool

Critical to your local search strategy is having a Google My Business page listing the correct categories for your business. Use this category tool from Mike Blumenthals to determine the right categories to use.

(2) Structured Data Testing Tool

Next, ensure you have consistent NAP (Name, Address, Phone) across all of your web assets, the footer of your site, your About page and Contact Us page.

Schema Address Footer

Wrap this information in Schema markup and test it using Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool.

(3) Whitespark Local Citation Finder

According to Aaron; “citations are the currency for local SEO.”

He suggests you check out out all the tools on offer by Whitespark and in particular the Local Citation Finder.

Local Citation Finder

You can use this tool to find the places that your competitors have citations (and the places you can go to get citations of your own).

The more relevant citations you get, the better off you will be.

(4) Get Five Stars Review Tool

Reviews are critical; we’ve mentioned that before.

Use a service like Get Five Stars to get as many legitimate 5 star reviews as possible.

Get Five Stars Local Review Tool

This tool helps you solicit more customer feedback and online reviews to help power up your local search rankings.

Each one of these tools is powerful, but when you combine all of these tools together your local rankings will skyrocket!

Local SEO 30
Google Maps Results

The local SEO tip provided by Ben Wynkoop is to check if your business location is within your target city according to Google Maps.

Ben shared this experience:

“Recently I was working with local gym in Pensacola, Florida named CrossFit VU and I did quite a bit of work optimising their website, building links plus citations, and coaching them to successfully gain more reviews than all but one competitor.

However, their local rankings quickly plateaued at number 6 in Google Map results for “CrossFit Pensacola” and shortly after was surpassed by another gym with less worthy metrics in the four mentioned aspects.

After searching Google Maps for “Pensacola” I found that all higher ranking CrossFit gyms were located within the red border Google Maps displays to show what it views as Pensacola.”

Google Maps City Border Map

Here’s what Ben found for his client:

“Despite CrossFit VU’s address being in the City of Pensacola, it is located just outside according to Google Maps.

If finding your (or a client’s) business in this situation, see what cities Google Maps indicate your business to be in and near.

Be sure to also track your keywords + geo locations for these additional areas.”

After tracking the additional nearby areas indicated on Google Maps, Ben found his client to in fact have several rankings in the Local 3-Pack.

Ensure the same results and go check your business location on Google Maps.

Once you’re done, move on to tip #31.

Local SEO 31
Local SEO Website Audit

Use This Checklist Before You Begin Your Local SEO Campaign

To ensure your local SEO campaign gets off to the very best start, Robbie Richards recommends you begin with a thorough local SEO audit.

Specifically, audit 6 core areas by asking these questions:

Accessibility: Are the search engines able to access the most important content on the website?

Architecture: What does the overall site structure look? How many clicks away from the homepage are the most important pages?

On-Page: Presence of NAP? Geo-targeted keywords featured in title and heading tags? Use of multimedia? Site speed? Mobile-friendly? Structured data?

Off-Page: Does the business have a Google My Business page setup and optimized? What does their citation profile look like? Is barnacle SEO a play? How many quality inbound links do they have?

Social Media: Do they have a local social media following? Are profiles optimized with NAP?
Competitor Analysis: Who are their main competitors? How does the client stack up in terms of organic traffic, keyword rankings, number of links and social engagement?

After Robbie has taken a look at these 6 core areas he’s able to identify the biggest areas of opportunity.

Robbie says…

“This is crucial when building out a local SEO strategy. You always want to show quick results for clients so you can build trust and turn the project into a long term engagement.”

The audit process Robbie follows will largely dictate which strategies he gives priority to.

However, one of the first things he focusses on (in most cases) is optimising the Google My Business page and structured citations.

Here is a “high-level” local SEO checklist Robbie uses for each item:

Google My Business Checklist:

  • Verify the listing and upload a branded profile and cover picture.
  • Confirm your address is correct and consistent. If not, make adjustments.
  • Make sure the business is properly categorised. This can sometimes be a bit of a grey area, so check out this awesome post by Phil Rozek.
  • Add at least 10 photos showcasing the interior of the business, staff and high-quality images capturing the essence of the business.
  • Write a complete description with relevant keywords and internal links to key pages on your website.
  • Use sub headings, bullets and don’t stuff keywords.
  • Fill out your hours of operation.
  • Encourage customers to leave reviews and always respond.
  • Post content regularly to your Google My Business page and within relevant Google Plus communities.
  • For single location sites, link to the homepage. If you have a multi-location site, build a location-specific landing page and link to it. You’ll want to create a separate Google My Business page for each different business location and optimise each (as shown above).

Citations Checklist:

  • Use Bright Local to find all your current citations.
  • Clean up any old or duplicate listings. To do that make sure the correct NAP is showing in The
  • Secretary of State database and major aggregators such as LocalEze, Factual and Acxiom. Robbie recommends you check out this Slideshare by Darren Shaw which explains the process in great detail.
  • Study your top 3 competitors and identify new placement opportunities. You can reverse engineer their citations by using a tool like SEM Rush, then once you’re done you can build your own. Whitespark offers a great done-for-you service for citation building.
  • Make sure the correct NAP (Name, Address, Phone) is listed in Schema markup on your website.

By simply optimising your Google My Business page and structured citations “you’ll see some pretty quick results in the local search rankings,” says Robbie.

Local SEO 32
Local Landing Pages

Create Location Specific Landing Pages If You Have A Multi-Branch Business

If your business services multiple locations or has several offices or branches you should be creating a unique landing page for each one.

These should include the relevant NAP (Name, Address, Phone number) information for each branch.

Avoid “thin” duplicate pages and instead:

Provide valuable content for users specific to those locations and branches.

A good example of this would be a real estate company that services several areas within a major city.

Each location page could include:

  • The details and contact information for each agent who look after those areas.
  • Relevant listings in that area.
  • Case studies (specific to that area).
  • Testimonials from happy clients at that location.

This process also helps to create social proof for other potential clients looking for a real estate agent in their specific location.

Here’s an Infographic by Nifty Marketing and AvaLaunch Media that illustrates the components of a well-optimised local landing page:

Local SEO Landing Page

Creating location specific landing pages is a very simple but effective strategy a lot of (multi-location) businesses overlook.

Go ahead and implement them in your local SEO strategy.

Local SEO 33
Video For Local SEO

Use Video To Reach Your Local Audience

Video marketing is a HUGE but under-utilised strategy.

That’s because many local businesses believe video is out of reach.

They think you need high-quality equipment, years of experience and expensive software.

The reality is…you don’t.

Sure, you do need a half-decent camera, a tool to edit the video and some experience in creating video content, but still the barrier to entry is low.

Local Video Strategy

Olga’s suggestion is to answer frequently asked questions on video.

To do that first brainstorm questions with your sales and customer service teams. Next answer those questions on video:

Creating video content can actually be very simple.

Optimising Your Videos:

Olga recommends you include relevant keywords in the title and description of the video which you upload to YouTube.

Whats more:

Go beyond obvious keywords; use colloquial phrases, synonyms and variations for your keyword phrases.

To get the full benefit of the video, next create a transcript and embed the video along with the transcript on your website.

Video for local SEO

Videos are known to increase the time users spend on page which in turn has positive impact on your SEO efforts.

Even if your new page doesn’t appear in the search results at first, your YouTube video has a higher chance of ranking because of the domain authority associated with it.

After publishing the video on YouTube and your website together with written content, go over to Facebook and upload the native video there.

Olga has this suggestion:

“Make sure that the few first seconds of the video grab attention. Come up with a catchy short headline to post along with the video and target it to your local audience (using Facebook advertising) and geo-targeted hashtags as well.”

Local SEO is all about engaging your local audience so that you become relevant and interesting to them.

Video helps you do just that.

Local SEO 34
How To Influence Google Suggest

How To Influence Google Suggest With 1 Cent Bank Deposits

I’ve saved the most creative local SEO strategy till last.

This one comes from Dan Petrovic at Dejan SEO. He offers this strategy:

Guerrilla Local SEO

Let’s say you want to influence queries for the Sydney local area.

Find a common pattern in the bank account format of local numbers for the most common banks.


Guerilla Local SEO Marketing Strategy

Google and scrape each variant, for example “sydney BSB 062*” for the Commonwealth Bank.

Next, generate a batch transaction file.

Send everyone variant you have scraped 1 cent with your target search query in your transaction description.

For example: Dan used “SEO DEJAN.”

Congratulations, you’ve just become a bank account spammer.

For every dollar sent you buy one hundred impressions on desktop, mobile devices, financial apps and/or paper statements. For every dollar you target one hundred business owners, accountants, bookkeepers, CFOs, GMs and business owners.

A portion of these people will research the transaction to see what’s going on. The searches will be from random IP addresses and devices.

You’re now spiking popularity and demand of a local query of your choice. This will influence Google Suggest, Related Queries and Local Signals.

The method is simple, it’s just a numbers game.

A word of warning.

In a small-scale test of this strategy Dan encountered two problems…

One was a transaction he made into a trust account. After his deposit was made he later discovered that such accounts can’t have unaccounted transactions, no matter how small.

This caused quite a stir from the recipient of his one cent. They had to liaise with him to refund the 1 cent back.

This caused annoyance and wasted people’s time. There were threats also.

Dan told me:

“Later that day I received a call from one of the managers at the Commonwealth Bank of Australia inquiring about suspicious pattern transactional activities. I explained it was a guerrilla marketing experiment. She was not impressed and told me not to do that again as it resembled active account probing in an attempt to extract money in a scheme.”

Aside from the turmoil, what were the results?

Well essentially two things happened:

(1) When people from the local area started typing in “seo…” and put a space afterwards Google Suggest would prompt “seo dejan” as a query. Pretty cool.

(2) At the bottom of the page in related searches “seo dejan” appeared for about ten local queries.

Google Related Searches

The results lasted for a few months.

There was also a noticeable change in local result positions but there was no way for Dan to confirm whether it was this tactic or something else he did.

According to Dan:

“The boost disappeared after the Pigeon update took place in Australia at the end of 2014.”

Now It’s Your Turn!

It’s time to actually put these powerful local SEO tips into practice.

And, to make the process easy for you, I made a checklist that outlines the EXACT steps you need to take win in local search.

The checklist combines the expertise of every one of our experts in one single PDF guide you can follow to optimise for local search.

Download the FREE local SEO checklist:

Local SEO Checklist

Join 23,837+ subscribers and get access to proven SEO tips.

Includes exclusive strategies not found on the blog.
James Reynolds

About the author: James Reynolds is passionate about helping you get more traffic and sales from search engines.


About the author: Karl Tablante is the Inbound Marketing Manager for SEO Sherpa, a top-rated organic SEO agency that lives and breathes all things search.

Image SEO: The Ultimate Step-by-Step-Guide For Ranking In Google Images

21 SEO Experiments That Will Change The Way You Think About SEO (Forever)

How to Find Any Email Address: The Complete List of Tactics (2021 Edition)