Last year was huge for local SEO as Google started to mess around with how they presented the local search results but how they determined local intent. As a lover of all things local this was an exciting time  - and as more businesses become aware of the importance of Local SEO it is crucial that you get that competitive edge. What follows is basically a small but essential list of the cool tools, essential reads and best blogs for keeping pace with this critical part of SEO.

If you don't have Local SEO down as part of your 'must-do' list you are going to fall behind...

Local SEO Tools

There are loads of new and exciting tools that have started to appear over the last year or so, here are my favourites:

Whitespark Local Citation Finder


This great little tool does exactly what it says on the tin - helps you find local citations. If you didn't know local citations are the new links!!! Sign up and you can use the tool in limited form for free - and to be fair if you are doing this just for your own business that may be all you need. You get the option to search by both phone number and keyword and it throws lots of opportunity your way and cuts out the process of having to search manually. Saving time = more citations.

finding local citations with whitespark tool

The Local Search Toolkit

local search toolkit

Without going in to too much detail (you can find a detailed review of the tool here) this nifty little tool analyses the other businesses that feature in Google Places results for your given keywords. So not only do you get a bunch of citation sites for helping you move up the rankings you also get the business name (who's cheating with keywords?), the title tag of the home page (what are they focusing on?), citations, reviews, photos, videos, is it verified and how far is it from the city centre. Essentially you get a shed load of data that you can export into excel and figure out your plan - nice!

local search toolkit detail

Not satisfied yet? Then check out...


bright local - local seo tools

The new kids on the block...but definitely worthy of inclusion here. BrightLocal offer some great tools, with the promise of more in the future. They have a great local rank checker - which when I tested it seemed to be fairly accurate. The reports look like they are going to be pretty comprehensive (I am waiting for the white labelling to be honest -due soon!) Helpfully thought BrightLocal have a great image right there on their site that shows you what its all about:

brightlocal - how the tracker works

Check the full details out here. BrightLocal have also got an awesome little widget that helps all you local businesses get reviews on the important third party sites that Google is looking at. With their link building plan already in place (nice work guys) BrightLocal are giving away a widget that businesses not only want but need (a lesson in link building). Take the widget and put it on your site so people can access the review sites that you need the reviews on:

local seo review widget

Expands to:

review this biz expanded

The great thing about this widget is that you can customise so the customers that are reviewing your business only go to the sites that you want them to!

In addition to this they are also planning to launch some more local SEO tools soon - CitationBurst, DirectoryRunner, LocalSEO Check Up and ReviewFlow...keep your eyes on these guys, they are going to blow up big time in Local SEO in the next year or so.

You have the Local SEO tools, but tools are useless without the correct knowledge - so here are some great resources for you to get to grips with to prepare you for your Local SEO campaigns:

Local SEO Blogs

Blumenthals Blog - Packed with great information and tips that you won't find elsewhere.

Local Search Optimization

David Mihm's Blog

Some Great Local SEO Posts

Local SEO " A Beginners Guide - A great primer of you are just starting out. Brief to the point and covering all the beginners stuff that you need to know.

36 Must Read Local SEO Resources - Proof that content curation gets links. A great one stop resource for all things local.

Making the Most out of Google Places - The best guide to Google Places that I didn't write myself.

35 Local Link Opportunities You Missed - We often forget about local links when conducting local campaign. Brain gone dry? Check in here!

Thinking Outside The Box

Rand Fishkin - Google Places Citations: 5 More Tactics to Earn Links for Your Local Business

Mike Belasco, Darren Shaw and Mary Bowling - Dissecting Local SEO Via Competitive Analysis

If You Only Ever Read One Local SEO Resource...Make It:

Local Search Ranking Factors - By David Mihm and a whole bunch of other great SEO people.