Want to make 2020 a great year for your Local SEO clients or your own business? It’s essential to stay on top of all of the tactics and strategies that will help your grow your visibility on local search.
It’s time to dive into this year’s best Local SEO resources. Get ready to do some bookmarking, because 2019 brought us lots of great stuff.
Best Local SEO Blogs of 2019
When looking for the best local SEO blogs I was looking for blogs that were pure local SEO, or at least extremely heavily local. There are plenty of blogs out there with local SEO sections, such as Moz, but local SEO junkie that I am, I really get excited about those that are “all local, all the time.”
Also worth noting: I favor blogs that update regularly. There are some fantastic ones out there which might go months without adding anything. There are quite a few excellent ones in terms of content matter that nevertheless started gathering dust in the latter part of 2019. You might see them, or those involved with them, elsewhere on the Best Of List.
Here are my picks, in no particular order.
1. Local Visibility System
Phil Rozek’s blog at Local Visibility System returns to our list again this year. Phil never stops putting out in-depth, actionable, and entertaining posts. There’s never any nonsense or fluff. There are lots of pop culture references, many of which are delightfully dorky. Delightful to dorks like me, anyway.
Phil also pays close attention to his commenters and will happily engage in conversation with anyone who stops by. This means it’s really easy to get clarification if you have any questions about anything you read on his site.
Check out these recent posts:
The Whitespark blog is always full of educational and research driven local SEO content courtesy of Darren Shaw and Jessie Low. You’ll find screenshots, slide shows, and plenty of insights that you can turn around and use immediately.
Check out these recent posts:
Would you rather watch a video than read? Want tons of local SEO content?
Well, the DealerOn Blog is going to check both of those boxes. The posts and videos are short, you’ll find plenty of information packed into each and every one. The result is a series of posts which are quick, digestible, and useful.
4. Sterling Sky
Last year we featured the Sterling Sky search forum on this list. This year, we’re going a little bit more purist: the blog itself is just as fantastic as the forum is, and deserves a mention of its own.
Joy Hawkins brings you posts like:
Back again this year, courtesy first and foremost of BrightLocal’s original research pieces. Another plus? Plenty of content from a wide variety of experts.
I do have a bit of a beef in that I feel like they devote a few too many posts to promoting BrightLocal directly, which is a peeve of mine. Nevertheless, they make up for it with everything else they’re doing.
6. Online Ownership
Tim Capper is good at picking up on the subtle details that can make your local marketing campaigns more successful, and he provides in-depth coverages of those details on his Online Ownership blog. You’ll find lots of pictures and screenshots to help you navigate what he’s trying to show you.
He also dives right into the code sometimes, useful if you are heavily involved with that side of things.
Recent posts include:
7. Advice Local
Did you know people sometimes mention competitors in reviews, and that this is kind of a problem? Did you know that very problem needs to be addressed in your review strategy?
I didn’t. Not until I read a post on Advice Local which mentioned this very issue. Which is my way of saying that Advice Local is covering some issues in local SEO which I’m not finding everywhere else. It’s well worth a read.
Action steps and quick tips are the order of the day for this local SEO blog. All of the posts are quick, scannable reads. They’re timely, too: always a plus.
Check out some of these posts:
9. Local SEO Guide
Another great local SEO blog that’s back from last year’s list. The tagline, “This is the kind of stuff we’d be talking about to you if you were a client,” pretty much says it all.
Andrew Shotland gets right to the point and pulls no punches whenever he writes a post. He’s got the inside scoop on quite a few newsworthy local SEO items. He also, every now and then, gives away free beer. Rare free beer. What’s not to like?
10. LocalU Blog
Another repeat excellent local search and marketing blog from last year that is still going strong. Which is of course what you’d hope to see from a site that’s literally dedicated to teaching people how to do local SEO.
If you want to stay on top of the best in local search all year long, this is the one to bookmark, just because they do a weekly “Last Week in Local” video which will point you to that week’s best articles in local search.
Best Local SEO Articles of 2019
There are plenty of amazing articles being written about local SEO on blogs which aren’t strictly devoted to the subject.
Here are ten you absolutely cannot miss. Again, these are in no particular order.
In this post, David Mihm and Mike Blumenthal talk about what used to impact your local search rankings vs. what does it right now. TL;DR: focus on GMB and reputation management as you head into 2020, not on citations and NAP consistency. It’s worth reading a lot more than the TL;DR.
This local citation issue has kind of been the talk of 2019. That’s why you won’t want to miss these 5 experts giving their take. They don’t all agree, which means you’ll have a pretty nuanced view and some direction for your own practice by the time you’re done reading what they have to say.
If we’re in the post-citation era, what’s replaced them? This article provides some ideas, noting some important parts of the local search ecosystem that have nothing at all to do with Google. It’s a bit dense, but in my opinion it may be one of the most important local SEO articles you read this year.
Producing highly-relevant, locally focused content can really help with local SEO. It isn’t easy to do gracefully, or well. This article came with lots of ideas. I am especially a fan of the “guide to local xyz” type content, as long as you keep it relevant. A “Guide to Pet-Friendly Neighborhoods in Seattle” is great if you’re a dog training company and looney-tunes if you’re a lawyer.
Personal tip: think beyond blogs, as they’re sometimes counterproductive for local.
Authority is what separates the 3-pack businesses from the forgotten businesses. While some of the tactics behind authority-building are familiar the mindset represents a shift. It’s not about how many links you build, for example, but how those links fit into your overall authority portfolio. This guide gives you a pretty good primer on how to manage and think about that portfolio.
While experts will find this post pretty basic, it’s a great 2019 primer for newbies. Since local SEO is always changing it’s always a good idea to find the most recent one you can. This one is thorough, easy to understand, and organized enough for you to truly use it just like a checklist.
I wouldn’t say this is a newbie-friendly resource just because a whole 50 point audit is an awful lot of to-do list for the kiddie pool. It’s a solid resource for those who are ready to take a deeper dive, though.
Schema is an important weapon in the visibility wars, so you don’t want to neglect it. I found this in-depth guide on using it specifically for Local SEO to be very helpful.
If, like me, your eyes start glazing over whenever people start talking code, never fear. There are a lot of WordPress plugins that let you get into your schema without forcing you to be a tech genius.
Whiteboard Friday is always a treat, and that doesn’t change when the Moz writers tackle local SEO.
While it’s not strictly necessary to take a deep dive into the algorithm to get local SEO done, it certainly helps, especially when you’ve got a location with some significant challenges. This article will lay it all out for you in a very way that’s very easy to understand.
Has your GMB listing gotten suspended? Don’t panic, just check out this Staylisted post so you can fix the problem.
Is your GMB listing just fine? Read this post anyway so you can keep it that way.
Top Local SEO Experts of 2019
As with last year, there’s necessarily some overlap between the bloggers and the experts. And truth is, I couldn’t find too many people to kick off the list. Mike Blumenthal, Phil Rozek, Dana DiTomaso, Joy Hawkins, Ben Fisher, and Andrew Shotland are all going strong. Follow the blue links to follow ’em on Twitter.
This year I’d also like to draw your attention to:
- Jason Brown – Fighting hard to stop crap on the map. If there were a superhero devoted to fighting review fraud, it would be Jason Brown.
- Tim Capper – Being a Google My Business Top Contributor and Product Expert gives Tim a real edge when it comes to telling you how to up your Local SEO game.
- Carrie Hill – Wander around the Local SEO sphere long enough and it starts to seem like you’re seeing Carrie’s name and face practically everywhere. She’s just joined the Sterling Sky team, so I expect we’ll see even more great stuff from her in 2020.
- Tom Waddington – With his pulse on local, he’s always sharing changes to local search results and local service ad updates that help the community.
- Brodie Clark – From Australia, Brodie provides some good insights and thought pieces on the roll out of new Google local search features.
- Krystal Taing – Another agency guru who knows local like the back of her hand. Krystal is a great webinar presenter and source of local search knowledge.
- Miriam Ellis – Miriam produces some of the most innovative strategy and tactics for everything local. Crushing it year after year on the Local Moz blog, every single one of of Miriam’s posts are a must read.
- Brian Barwig – If you ever need a lawyer….marketer, Brian is your guy. He always knows the strategies lawyers should be utilizing on local search.
- Colan Nielsen – Having been in the industry, Colan has a ton of practical experience working with his clients on local. He has seen first hand all of the changes of the local search results and how to position his clients for success.
- Claire Carlile – Taking over the local expert scene in 2019, Claire has a ton of expert advice for small business owners on how to establish themselves on Google My Business.
- Greg Gifford – Pop Culture and local search guru. Greg is someone who not only educates, he also entertains.
- Barry Schwartz – The godfather of Google updates, if there’s a change to a local search feature, layout or volatility in rankings, Barry will report on it.
2019's Best Paid Tools for Local SEO
With citations more or less “out” as a ranking factor anyone is going to pay much attention to, most of last year’s tools are “out” with them.
I’d humbly draw your attention to Grade.us as tool #1. Last year I was leery of “tooting our own horn,” but c’mon. You need a solid, intuitive, and fun review management tool, and Grade.us checks all the boxes. Reputation is just turning into an even more important ranking factor, so. We’re just gonna forget modesty for a minute and say check it the heck out already.
Tool #2: Ahrefs
I did a survey of marketing agencies that I eventually avoided publishing. I was asking them about their favorite tools and ended up with like 70 of them. All different. That said, Ahrefs was the only one that got mentioned again…and again…and again and again and again.
It’s not strictly a local SEO tool, but local SEOs will still find it invaluable. The software lets you spy on competitors, identify content opportunities, and more.
Tool #3: Answer the Public
This tool is my best freaking friend, seriously. If you’re a brick-and-mortar business trying to find content opportunities this tool is invaluable. Just look for ways to localize the content wherever and whenever you can.
Tool #4: Zip Sprout’s Local Sponsorship Finder
I am going to continue to bang my drum for the value of sponsorship marketing for local businesses. You’re a local business. You need local links. You need to meet people face-to-face. You need people to think well of you. You need to get your name out without interrupting them. Sponsorship marketing lets you do all this while building your authority.
This tool lets you browse over 60,000 local opportunities. You select a location, they tell you who is looking for sponsorships near you. Easy peasy lemon squeezy.
Tool #5: Help a Reporter Out.
Yes, it’s tedious as hell to go through the opportunities every day. On the flip side, eventually you’ll hit on some opportunities and you’ll get some high-value links. They may not be local, but they will advance your authority.
Side note. When you make a pitch, don’t just go “Hey, blah blah blah, here are my credentials, let me know if you wanna talk.” I use HARO all the time as a journalist as well as a source, and I’ll tell you that the folks who get quoted are the ones who answer the questions I put on the query.
While there are purists who would sneer at me and tell me this is lazy, I should always call or set up a Skype meeting or whatever, I’m a person who shrugs and says that I live in the 21st century and I like rewarding people who know how to connect in an electronic medium.
Why would I put in a bunch of phone calls for a quick quote when I’ve got 10 great ones right there just waiting to be used? Why would I waste the expert’s time by asking for information they’ve already given me?
Writers who can help you are looking for your expertise, and are not usually writing hard-hitting pieces where it’s vital to capture your emotional responses or whatever. Make their lives easier, get the backlink, everyone wins.
I ain't gonna drop the mic, I'm gonna pass it!
What are your favorite local SEO resources this year? What did I miss? Let us know in the comments below or shoot me a shout-out on Twitter. I can’t wait to hear from you!