In the world of SEO, local SEO, which for some businesses, is, sadly, frequently overlooked. Which is more than just sad, for a business that relies on local customers only – restaurants, bars, all kinds of service businesses etc – it can be a SERP rankings killer.
Why? Optimizing a local business’ presence for nationwide, or global, search is often rather pointless. If you run, for example, a hairdressing salon in Birmingham, people in London will have no interest in finding you, unless they happen to be making a trip there and need a quick trim.
The people who should be able to find you easily are those who live and work (and yes, maybe visit) Birmingham and are looking for a great new salon. That’s where great local SEO comes in.
As an agency that deals heavily in local SEO – it’s really where we started out – the first thing that the Pearl Lemon SEO team will tell you is that it is very different to national or global SEO. The second thing they will tell you is that it isn’t easy, and that anytime you can employ a good tool or SAAS offering to help your local SEO efforts it can only be a good thing.
BrightLocal has been around for sometime. In fact, it’s fair to say it’s approaching being a granddaddy in the SEO tool niche, having been founded in 2009 by Ed Eliot and Myles Anderson. It’s got a lot of very loyal users, as well as more than a few critics. And the big question is, does this now decade old tool still have something great to offer to SEOs and the businesses they serve? That’s what we are going to take a look at here.
BrightLocal Feature Set
Extensive Keyword Analysis
Even in local SEO, keywords rank right up there in terms of importance. It’s therefore important not just to monitor your own property’s keyword performance but that of your competitors as well (so you can ensure you are also targeting the ones they rank for). BrightLocal allows you to add a large list of keywords (although just how many varies by plan level) so you can monitor how they are performing for you not only in multiple locations but also across several search engines.
Keep Track of NAP Data
Maintaining good NAP – name, address and phone number – data and listings is a must for any local business. Bad information is something Google (and other search engines) has a real problem with and will downgrade you in the SERPs to certain degree if they find it.
BrightLocal is a huge help here, and its NAP monitoring features are certainly some of the most useful and effective it has to offer.
Essentially BrightLocal matches your up to date, correct NAP listing data across over 1,600 national citation reference points to ensure all of that data matches and will autocorrect it where it does not. It will also help you submit in places you have missed quickly and easily from within the main dashboard, something that can save hours of tedious copy and pasting and/or boring data entry.
Faster Google My Business Optimization
As far as local SEO goes, having a well-optimized, continuously updated Google My Business page is an absolute must. BrightLocal walks you through all the important steps to do that and notifies you as soon as new reviews are posted, while also allowing you to keep an eye on your top competitors pages as well, so you can see at a glance what they are up to (and what you can then do better).
SEO Rankings By Location
Going back to that Birmingham hair salon. Birmingham is probably not the only place they would like to be found easily. West Bromwich, Halesowen, Dudley, Walsall, Wolverhampton, Kidderminster, Lichfield and Cannock, to name just a few, are all towns within a 20-mile radius of Birmingham city centre, so getting found in searches in those locations can be a real business booster.
The problem is that search engine results in Birmingham aren’t the same results that visitors are seeing in these surrounding areas. BrightLocal makes it easy to follow keyword results and rankings by location, so you can work on ensuring that your business is being seen not only in your immediate area, but in these adjacent locations too.
Multi-Location Search Rankings
Local businesses with multiple locations can provide real headaches for SEOs. BrightLocal simplifies the process of track rankings and NAP data for multiple locations, and will help out with Google My Business too.
There are a lot of places people can leave reviews about your business. And ideally you need to keep track of them all, especially any negatives that you will need to address as quickly as possible. BrightLocal helps you do this (the number of platforms you can monitor varies by price tier from three to fifty) and also offers you a single website badge that leads to a number of review platforms website visitors can review your business on with a single click.
BrightLocal Ease of Use
If a tool is too hard to use, or has a terrible interface, it’s just not a great tool, as you’ll end up wasting tons of time trying to figure out how to use it. So how does BrightLocal stack up?
The fact that everything is in the cloud, accessible from a single site is a definite plus. The main dashboards for the primary features – Rank Checker, the SEO Check-Up, CitationTracker, Google Local Wizard, CitationBurst, ReviewBiz, and ReviewFlow – are relatively easy to navigate and there are help videos everywhere you click.
Ah, the nitty gritty, the pricing. At the time of writing BrightLocal is priced as follows
While the Enterprise plan is excellent for SEO agencies with multiple clients for a solo local business – with too busy for too much SEO owners and staff – the single business tier may be all that’s needed at first, and given that you can test drive the service free for two months – and get a lot done in those two months, especially in terms of NAP submissions and corrections and Google My Business optimization BrightLocal is certainly worth a shot.
Who is BrightLocal Best For?
BrightLocal is an excellent tool for SEO agencies, SEO consultants, and any SMB local business. For agencies and consultants the white label reporting feature is a nice touch, and for businesses who are not working with an SEO agency yet, it can provide a good introduction to SEO.
The downside for them however, is that monitoring everything, even within the BrightLocal interface takes up quite a bit of time, so a business serious about local SEO – which does cover a lot more ground than BrightLocal monitors, especially offsite – may be better off hiring professional local SEO help, at least at first.