How can you be sure that you’re getting the recognition you want (and deserve) online? Well, there are several easy to use tools—and most are free or low cost—that help create and monitor stellar local SEO. What you want to be able to do is identify the tools that are going be easy and efficient to use, while still yielding useful, actionable information.
There are several great local SEO tools available, but we’ll walk through five, in particular, that you can leverage for some useful insights:
1. DIYSEO Local Report Card
This easy to understand report is customized specifically for your business. Using keywords, business type, industry, desired location and overall objectives the DIYSEO Local Report Card  shows businesses their ranking on Google and tests their local listings on the major local search engines: Google, Yahoo, CitySesarch, Yelp, LocalEze and MapQuest.
With simple emoticons, a green smiley face and a red frownie face, the Local Report Card, provides a quick reference showing businesses where they are doing well and where they need to improve.
Bottom Line: DIYSEO Local Report Card is still in BETA testing but is free to use and provides a quick and easy snapshot of your businesses local efforts. DIYSEO also offers SEO planning programs for low monthly subscription costs.
2. Generate Local Adwords & Keywords
Not sure exactly what keywords will help you with your local campaign? As its name, this easy to use (and free) tool helps you establish local keywords based upon your already established list. You can narrow the list down through a list of exclusions and parameters.
Bottom Line: If you already know the keywords and adwords that have been working for your business, Generate Local Adwords & Keywords  by 5MinuteSite is a great tool to help transform your words into locally recognized keywords.
3. Local Search Rank Checker
Tracking Google Local, Bing Local and Yahoo Local, the BrightLocal’s Local Search Rank Checker  provides you with a comprehensive report analyzing your business’ local rankings, showing you your previous ranking for both the local and standard search engines. Additionally, this tool tracks four different types of results including local search, organic, directory search (such as Yelp) and secondary searches.
Bottom Line: Depending upon your package, the Local Search Rank Checker can track up to 100 keywords and schedule your reports to run automatically, either weekly or monthly. Packages for this easy-to-use platform start as low as $9.99 per month, but users can first take advantage of a free 30-day trial.
4. Local Citation Finder
Developed by Whitespark and based around a process outlined by Garret French, Local Citation Finder  helps businesses find the best locations to list their businesses for better local rankings. This tool shows up to 245 citations and provides a great organizational tool to allow you to keep track of the citations you already have. This platform is supported in 41 countries and reports can be run multiple times to show growth.
Bottom Line: This is a particularly good platform especially for businesses that don’t have a robust Web presence but also gives SEO professionals the opportunity to identify quality citations that are being missed. With a free version available, users can choose from a variety of packages that best suit their needs.
5. Google Places Category Tool
If you’re looking to expand the categories for your local SEO, this is a great tool that helps categorize your SEO keywords into different sectors. For example, if you’re selling shoes, you may also want to consider using keywords such as boots, sandals, orthopedic shoes, footwear, or tennis shoes.
Bottom Line: The Google Places Category Tool  a very basic tool, but at a fantastic cost – free. You might be surprised with some of the categories and synonyms that it produces for your keywords, giving you alternative options.
It’s not a local tool, strictly speaking, but I just got a chance to take a look at a tool at SERPs.com  that offers some nice reporting around organic traffic, keyword rankings, and what’s changed and local/small businesses and startups will likely find the tool really useful.
Do you have a favorite we didn’t mention? Share with us which tools are changing the way you do local.
UPDATE 1/11/2013: DIYSEO is now UpCity .
SEO  Photo via Shutterstock