Change is the only constant in local SEO. As your local brand or local search marketing agency grows, you’ll be onboarding new hires. Whether they’re novices or adepts, they’ll need to keep up with continuous industry developments in order to make agile contributions to team strategy. Particularly if local SEO is new to someone, it saves training time if you can fast-track them on who to follow for the best news and analysis. This guide serves as a blueprint for that very purpose.
And even if you’re an old hand in the local SEM industry, you may find some sources here you’ve been overlooking that could add richness and depth to your ongoing education.
Two quick notes on what and how I’ve chosen:
- As the author of both of Moz’s newsletters (the Moz Top 10 and the Moz Local Top 7), I read an inordinate amount of SEO and local SEO content, but I could have missed your work. The list that follows represents my own, personal slate of the resources that have taught me the most. If you publish great local SEO information but you’re not on this list, my apologies, and if you write something truly awesome in future, you’re welcome to tweet at me. I’m always on the lookout for fresh and enlightening voices. My personal criteria for the publications I trust is that they are typically groundbreaking, thoughtful, investigative, and respectful of readers and subjects.
- Following the leaders is a useful practice, but not a stopping point. Even experts aren’t infallible. Rather than take industry advice at face value, do your own testing. Some of the most interesting local SEO discussions I’ve ever participated in have stemmed from people questioning standard best practices. So, while it’s smart to absorb the wisdom of experts, it’s even smarter to do your own experiments.
The best of local SEO news
Who reports fastest on Google updates, Knowledge Panel tweaks, and industry business?
Sterling Sky’s Timeline of Local SEO Changes is the industry’s premiere log of developments that impact local businesses and is continuously updated by Joy Hawkins + team.
Search Engine Roundtable has a proven track record of being among the first to report news that affects both local and digital businesses, thanks to the ongoing dedication of Barry Schwartz.
Street Fight is the best place on the web to read about mergers, acquisitions, the release of new technology, and other major happenings on the business side of local. I’m categorizing Street Fight under news, but they also offer good commentary, particularly the joint contributions of David Mihm and Mike Blumenthal.
LocalU’s Last Week in Local video and podcast series highlights Mike Blumenthal and Mary Bowling’s top picks of industry coverage most worthy of your attention. Comes with the bonus of expert commentary as they share their list.
TechCrunch also keeps a finger on the pulse of technology and business dealings that point to the future of local.
Search Engine Land’s local category is consistently swift in getting the word out about breaking industry news, with the help of multiple authors.
Adweek is a good source for reportage on retail and brand news, but there’s a limit to the number of articles you can read without a subscription. I often find them covering quirky stories that are absent from other publications I read.
The SEMPost’s local tab is another good place to check for local developments, chiefly covered by Jennifer Slegg.
Search Engine Journal’s local column also gets my vote for speedy delivery of breaking local stories.
Google’s main blog and the ThinkWithGoogle blog are musts to keep tabs on the search engine’s own developments, bearing in mind, of course, that these publications can be highly promotional of their products and worldview.
The best of local search marketing analysis
Who can you trust most to analyze the present and predict the future?
LocalU’s Deep Dive video series features what I consider to be the our industry’s most consistently insightful analysis of a variety of local marketing topics, discussed by learned faculty and guests.
The Moz Blog’s local category hosts a slate of gifted bloggers and professional editorial standards that result in truly in-depth treatment of local topics, presented with care and attention. As a veteran contributor to this publication, I can attest to how Moz inspires authors to aim high, and one of the nicest things that happened to our team in 2018 was being voted the #2 local SEO blog by BrightLocal’s survey respondents.
The Local Search Association’s Insider blog is one I turn to again and again, particularly for their excellent studies and quotable statistics.
Mike Blumenthal’s blog has earned a place of honor over many years as a key destination for breaking local developments and one-of-a-kind analysis. When Blumenthal talks, local people listen. One of the things I’ve prized for well over a decade in Mike’s writing is his ability to see things from a small business perspective, as opposed to simply standing in awe of big business and technology.
BrightLocal’s surveys and studies are some of the industry’s most cited and I look eagerly forward to their annual publication.
Whitespark’s blog doesn’t publish as frequently as I wish it did, but their posts by Darren Shaw and crew are always on extremely relevant topics and of high quality.
Sterling Sky’s blog is a relative newcomer, but the expertise Joy Hawkins and Colan Nielsen bring to their agency’s publication is making it a go-to resource for advice on some of the toughest aspects of local SEO.
Local Visibility System’s blog continues to please, with the thoughtful voice of Phil Rozek exploring themes you likely encounter in your day-to-day work as a local SEO.
The Local Search Forum is, hands down, the best free forum on the web to take your local mysteries and musings to. Founded by Linda Buquet, the ethos of the platform is approachable, friendly, and often fun, and high-level local SEOs frequently weigh in on hot topics.
Pro tip: In addition to the above tried-and-true resources, I frequently scan the online versions of city newspapers across the country for interesting local stories that add perspective to my vision of the challenges and successes of local businesses. Sometimes, too, publications like The Atlantic, Forbes, or Business Insider will publish pieces of a high journalistic quality with relevance to our industry. Check them out!
The best for specific local marketing disciplines
Here, I’ll break this down by subject or industry for easy scanning:
- GatherUp (formerly GetFiveStars) can’t be beat for insight into online reputation management, with Aaron Weiche and team delivering amazing case studies and memorable statistics. I literally have a document of quotes from their work that I refer to on a regular basis in my own writing.
- Grade.us is my other ORM favorite for bright and lively coverage from authors like Garrett Sussman and Andrew McDermott.
- Tidings’ vault contains a tiny but growing treasure trove of email marketing wisdom from David Mihm, whose former glory days spent in the trenches of local SEO make him especially attuned to our industry.
- Tom Waddington’s blog is the must-read publication for service area businesses whose livelihoods are being impacted by Google’s Local Service Ads program in an increasing number of categories and cities.
- DealerOn’s blog is the real deal when it comes to automotive local SEO, with Greg Gifford teaching memorable lessons in an enjoyable way.
- JurisDigital brings the the educated voices of Casey Meraz and team to the highly-specialized field of attorney marketing.
- Nifty Marketing’s blog has earned my trust for its nifty local link building ideas and case studies.
- ZipSprout belongs here, too, because of their focus on local sponsorships, which are a favorite local link building methodology. Check them out for blog posts and podcasts.
Schema + other markup
- Touchpoint Digital Marketing doesn’t publish much on their own website, but look anywhere you can for David Deering’s writings on markup. LocalU and Moz are good places to search for his expertise.
- SEO by the Sea has proffered years of matchless analysis of Google patents that frequently impact local businesses or point to future possible developments.
Best local search industry newsletters
Get the latest news and tips delivered right to your inbox by signing up for these fine free newsletters:
Follow the local SEO leaders on Twitter
What an easy way to track what industry adepts are thinking and sharing, up-to-the-minute! Following this list of professionals (alphabetized by first name) will fill up your social calendar with juicy local tidbits. Keep in mind that many of these folks either own or work for agencies or publishers you can follow, too.
Share what you learn
How about your voice? How do you get it heard in the local SEO industry? The answer is simple: share what you learn with others. Each of the people and publications on my list has earned a place there because, at one time or another, they have taught me something they learned from their own work. Some tips:
- Our industry has become a sizeable niche, but there is always room for new, interesting voices
- Experiment and publish — consistent publication of your findings is the best way I know of to become a trusted source of information
- Don’t be afraid of making mistakes, so long as you are willing to own them
- Socialize — attend events, amplify the work of colleagues you admire, reach out in real ways to others to share your common work interest while also respecting busy schedules
Local SEO is a little bit like jazz, in which we’re all riffing off the same chord progressions created by Google, Facebook, Yelp, other major platforms, and the needs of clients. Mike Blumenthal plays a note about a jeweler whose WOMM is driving the majority of her customers. You take that note and turn it around for someone in the auto industry, yielding an unexpected insight. Someone else takes your insight and creates a print handout to bolster a loyalty program.
Everyone ends up learning in this virtuous, democratic cycle, so go ahead — start sharing! A zest for contribution is a step towards leadership and your observations could be music to the industry’s ears.