Step-by-Step Guide to Local SEO

February 18, 2015

After Google’s pigeon update last July – Local is king! Yes, there will likely be a change in Google’s search algorithm soon, but with more and more people searching on mobile devices, local SEO doesn’t seem to be going anywhere.

Whether you're a small business owner wanting to improve your digital footprint, or a marketer just getting started in the industry, just the term "SEO" can be scary. And it is! But luckily, there are tons of great articles explaining the basics of local SEO. Below are my favorites:

While all of that information is insightful – I found there isn’t a great step-by-step guide for users who are just getting started. So, I decided to make one.

Tools of the trade

First, you need to get the lay of the land. What information is out there already? Is it accurate?Below are a list of tools to help you evaluate your local SEO situation.

  • Moz Local is a service that scours the internet and pulls all your info (or citations if you want to be fancy) from many services like Google, Facebook, Yelp, Foursquare, and The Yellow Pages.
  • Universal Business Listing is like Moz Local – just not as pretty looking, but still a great tool to double-check your listings.
  • Google webmaster tools – you'll need a gmail account (which you can also use for a Google Plus page). I like using webmaster tools for local SEO because it links out to Google My Business and My Business Locations (more about those later).
  • Bonus Local Plug: If you are an Indy business owner, Fight for Small is a great initiative by inSourceCode that will help you get your business online or improve your online pressence.

The downside with most of the tools above is that many charge a monthly subscription fee. I’m cheap, so I don’t pay for those – instead, I use them as a starting point and utilize each service individually. My other pro-tips:

  • If you have multiple locations, use Google's My Business Locations. This is a tough one to find – so use my link to get there.
  • If you are a marketer and doing local SEO work for clients, Bing has an agency account type that allows you to manage multiple businesses from a single account.
  • Yahoo pushes their Localworks service if you try to claim your business with them. It's actually about half the cost of Moz Local and is a similar service. Here's their pricing.
  • Get as many good reviews as you can. These can help a ton – but you want to be sure they're from real customers. Don't fake it: real folks and search engines are better and better about sniffing out inauthenticity. 

My 11-Step Checklist

Getting started can be tough. The following checklist is assuming you are brand new to the digital world and have little to no web presence.


  1. Confirm accurate business info is on your website. (Hopefully you have one!)
  2. Head to Moz Local and search for your business. If your business shows up, that's good!  It means you have some online presence. Just work your way through all the services in the following order. If nothing shows up – jump to number three.
  3. Create a Google Plus/My business account; record credentials.
  4. Create/claim & optimize Google My Business Listing in your Google Account
  5. Create a Facebook Page; record credentials
  6. Create Bing Places account; record credentials
  7. Create/claim & optimize Bing Local Business Listing in your Bing account
  8. Wait 3-5 days for info to propagate through the interwebs.
  9. Double check your listing on Universal Business Listing
  10. Double check your listing on Moz Local
  11. Rinse and repeat.

That's it! You're ready to SEO like a champ. If you have any tips that I missed or questions let me know in the comments below.

Cover image via Robert Couse-Baker on Flickr. Licensed under Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0).

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