Local SEO tools – 7 great tools for optimizing Google Places listing

Optimizing your Places listing is very important in order to appear in searches. There are many factors in play that you can check out in David Mihms Ranking factors , some of the main points that you need to pay attention to are:

Associate your business with the proper categories;
Get a significant volume of structured and unstructured citations;
Get a significant volume of reviews of the business;
Optimize the description of the listing with the product or service keyword
Crawlable address matching Place Page Address
Now, how can I add the perfect categories to my listing or where can I find sites where I can add citations or reviews that will matter to Google?

Here is a list of some of my favorite tools that provide information for optimizing your Google Places listing and more:

Getting Categories right
Google Places Category Tool: Mike Blumenthal created this great tool which helps you search and choose the most relevant categories for your Google Local Business listing.

It is important to add as many categories as you can that are actually related to your business, but I do not really recommend making up these categories. So, it is important to find out what Google has already predefined as valid categories and make sure that we use those to describe our business. The problem is that Google doesn’t really tells us what the categories are. Here is where this useful tool comes in. Type in a word that describes your business and the tools tells you what are the predefined categories you can use, like you can see in the example below for the search “gym”:

Finding the citations and review sources:
Now that I have my categories defined, I need to get some citations. But what exactly are citatations? Citations are defined as “mentions” of your business name and address on other webpages, even if there is no link to your website. Citations are a key component of the ranking algorithms of the major search engines; they are the equivalent of links to organic rankings. Other things being equal, businesses with a greater number of citations will probably rank higher than businesses with fewer citations.

Here are some great tools to find sources of where you can get those mentions:

Whitespark Local Citation Finder: Excellent tool that finds citations for top-ranked businesses for specific local queries in Google:

Local Search Toolkit (http://www.localsearchtoolkit.com/lstk/): This great free tool, that not only provides you information about where your competitors are getting their citations but also information about the categories they are using and the number of reviews they have, the site’s title tag, number of photos, videos, whether it’s claimed and distance from city center for a query:

BuzzStream for Link Building is another great tool that that performs several searches in Google in order to find directories, or sites with guest post opportunities and product reviews.

Google: There is a great post by Rand Fishkin from SEOmoz where he gives examples of searches in Google (http://www.seomoz.org/blog/google-places-citations-5-tactics-to-earn-links-for-your-local-business) that can help you find citations:

Discussion Search + Local Keywords (http://goo.gl/RQzz8)
Image searches for: (http://goo.gl/UdmiE)
Competitors’ Business Names,
city + business type,
products/services + city and
All of the above with neighborhood names instead of city
Events Calendars, Sponsorships + Donations
City + events calendar http://www.google.com/search?q=salamanca+events+calendar
Local sponsorship + city http://www.google.com/search?q=local+sponsorship+salamanca
City + donations http://www.google.com/search?q=salamanca+donations+in+kind
City + Business Type + Listings / Businesses / Results http://www.google.com/search?q=salamanca+tapas+listings+OR+salamanca+tapas+bars+OR+salamanca+tapas+results

Crawlable Address that matches your listing
Schema Creator: Schema creator is a great and easy tool that you can use to create rich markup that will help localize your content. You can display your business address in schema.org format so that it is easier for search engines to understand and interpret that information:

General Analysis of your listing
Getlisted.org: gives a score to your listing from 0-100 depending how effectively your business is taking advantage of free listings at the major search engines and gives you recommendations on how to improve. The only information you need to provide is your business name and Zip Code:

Observation: Unfortunately this tool does not work as great for businesses with listings outside the United States

I hope you enjoyed this post and find these tools useful. If you want to add other tools to this list you are welcome to suggest more local SEO tools in the comments. Also if you want to give your opinion on any of these tools and share your experience you are welcome to do so. I hope you enjoyed this post and find these tools useful.

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