There’s a whole lot of confusion about what local SEO is and why local SEO is critical. I frequently see people freeze like a deer in the headlights when I say “local citation.” So let’s clear up the confusion.
There are lots of local directories that have the possibility to submit a free business listing to their site. This business listing within the local directory is referred to as a citation. If you’re not searching for citation building opportunities in local directories, then you are probably not doing local SEO!
Normally, the local business directories will link back to your website and we recommend linking to a particular location page if you have one. Some local directories do not link back to your site. And that is ok. They may or may not have additional info, also, like geo-coordinates, client testimonials, business hours or more.
Like it or not, Google’s local rank factors and other search engines use these NAP references to rate the internet credibility of your business. The amount of citations mentioned in several areas across the local SEO ecosystem influences your local ranks and whether you’ll show at the local three pack. In addition, it verifies to Google the NAP they have on file for you, if it matches, is probably accurate and they’re more confident in promoting this info. Before getting started you’ll want a comprehensive guide to local SEO.
This local SEO strategy works best when you’ve got individual place landing pages which are optimized for local geo appended key words. This is referred to as a local on-page SEO strategy that ties into your citation construction campaign.
Google and Ipsos did research that showed conversions were more than two times as likely after customers did a local search.
What it really comes down to is this: Just how many times your local business is listed on a local directory. A citation for local SEO is just like saying a list on a business directory.
So, let’s dive into getting the local citation out there.
How to Do Local Citation Building
The first and most obvious place to begin is on directories that are online. Consider three distinct directory arenas: locally-based, review websites, trade or industry-specific, and broader. If you do not have the time to manually build out all of the listing yourself you’ll want to check into hiring SEO experts to deal with your local SEO services. If you’re a small business this is vital to literally get on the map!
Locally, check out your community and neighborhood hubs.
Review websites include Yelp, Angie’s List, Judy’s Book, TripAdvisor or Wedding Wire.
Trade business directories should certainly include the local chamber of trade and professional association sites. Your business will dictate the rest. By way of instance, are you a lawyer? List yourself on FindLaw.com. Authoritative, niche sites like this help search engines confidently categorize your business. A vertical like restaurant, auto repair, or resort creates a good deal of sense to calculations.
Most directories offer a free choice. The kicker is that you can not link back to your site. Superior enough. For SEO purposes, you are really focused on the mention anyway. Just pay for a list if the traffic it will generate (and theoretically convert) will justify its cost.
Broader options include local business platforms such as Google My Business (absolutely your most important platform, for the record), Apple Maps, Superpages, Factual, Bing, CityGrid, Acxiom, Localeze, Facebook, Yelp, and much more.
Tricks of the trade:
- Set up a special email address for this purpose only, as they will spam you to death from here on.
- If asked to select a business category, make certain to keep yours constant.
- Confirm your listing if that is an option. This builds more credibility for you.
- Overshare! –give them what they ask for (and a few they do not, if applicable). Email addresses, business description, store hours, pictures, you name it.
- Vertical Measures, a content marketing site, argues that these are the 10 most important sites for citation building.
If you are new, start with this local citation listing:
- Google My Business
- Bing Places
- Apple Maps
- Yellow Pages
- Better Business Bureau
Afterward, size up the competition. Do some digging. Find out where your competitors are listed.
It’s simple. Sort your competitor’s business name and zip code to Google in the following format:
“Competitor’s title” AND “zip code”
Yes, the quotes are necessary.
Then get your pencil and paper ready.
Write down each local listing you see of these that you’re not on. Do this for the first ten pages of your competition. You could end up with as many as 100.
What’s next? You guessed it. Get busy putting yourself into every one of them. Some can be as simple as a fast form, others might require inquiring, a telephone call, or submitting a site or post to them.
From there, spread your wings and fly!
Consider coordinating citations–places that are not business listing directories, in other words. Press releases, profiles, post quotes, forums, and a whole slew of different resources can carry your NAP. Pitch to sites as a feature article or make a splash on social networking. Get news-worthy!
These unstructured citations are the most powerful. If they are on respectable websites, it is the best form of PR. If they are on platforms you do not readily acquire customers from, it opens you to a new pool of possible clients.
Value quality over quantity. A bit about your business from a college, government organization, or prestigious news supplier will go far.
Once your citations are constructed out, know that you are not done. In actuality, you have only just begun. Now, you’ve got three choices for citation management: do it yourself; outsource it or automate it.
If you decide to manage it plan to reevaluate your listings (and your competitor’s) every six months. Better to go ahead and pencil that into your calendar today –a very necessary best practice.
How To Do a Local Citation Audit
There lots of reasons you may run an audit in their local citations. Have you ever failed to keep up with your citations? Perhaps you have changed one of your business details: telephone number, title, business hours? Have you got a business that works in numerous cities and might end up in disarray if not kept a close eye on?
…Perhaps you have been procrastinating coping with your citations?
Regardless of the reason, audits are significant. Inaccurate or duplicate citations is bad business. It hurts your SEO rankings and provides the wrong information to prospective clients.
If you’re planning to do this by yourself, imagine combing the net. Having a fine-toothed comb.
You will want to get every instance of your NAP, make sure its consistency and accuracy, and make corrections. A discrepancy as seemingly minor as”Road” vs.”Rd.” can penalize your business.
We won’t lie: it is time-consuming.
There are services which can do this for you for a few hundred to a few thousand bucks. The turnaround time is generally between 6 to 10 weeks.
But if you would like to do it yourself, you can find free tools, such as Moz Local, which will inform you how your business appears across a few big search engines: such as Google, Bing, and a dozen or so others. Yext also provides a similar service to scan significant directories. Synup includes a free scan feature that shows your business’s NAP across best citation resources and will also identify incorrect listings.
Check government sources also –they are given credence by search engines. The Better Business Bureau and the Secretary of State’s Filing for Business. Are you listed as a “DBA”?
Now comes the fun part: tidying up.
How to Do Local Citation Cleanup
Let us face it. Your NAP will get screwed up somewhere along the way. Some will get superimposed, or your previous address may nevertheless be recorded, or your telephone number is just flat out incorrect. Using a constant name, address and telephone number across all local directories is vital to your local rankings.
Therefore, when you have scanned for all your listings in an audit, it is decision time. Decide how you would like your NAP to look (probably the way you have it on your site ) and stick to it. Every listing, every mention. In actuality, ensure that each and every worker writing about your business is writing it the exact same way.
I will repeat this because it is important: To get a citation to earn you points toward your SEO, it has to match exactly into the name, address, and telephone number on your site in addition to your own Google My Business page. That’s right. That means the difference between leaving out flooring number inside your address or”Inc.” in your business name will hurt your SEO.
A partial citation (such as your business name and address, but no phone number) will still earn you a couple of points but you’re going for the big three. That will earn you the most”charge” from Google.
Fix your data in important data aggregators first (such as Acxiom). The bright side is that a large part of these significant directories are interconnected. When you fix one, often times, it is going to fix others automatically. These significant data aggregators will usually confirm your changes throughout the telephone number associated with your business so standby.
Then, focus on your own local or industry-specific sources.
Delete any duplicate listings.
Know that some websites will be more challenging than others to correct. Some will let you maintain your citation on the place; others will want a telephone or email. Draft a template which can easily be copied and pasted to save you time.
Synup urges something like:
State the Problem — replicate listing, incorrect NAP etc
Supply Link for reference
Provide the connection of this replicate citation (if you want a copy citation to be eliminated )
Give a time period and Request a notification mail when the problem is fixed
Name & Business Name
Bear in mind this is not likely to always happen overnight. Google, for instance, may take up to three times to upgrade your stats.
Going forward, it is sensible to create a strategy and nail down the specifics for the inevitable: mergers/acquisitions, transfers, rebranding, new telephone numbers or email addresses, etc.. You may not foresee these events occurring today, but if they inevitably do, you’ll be glad that you have a seamless method to clean up behind yourself. Ensure that you have a running record like a Google doc to monitor all of your citations and have your username, email, and password handy.
Finally, your freshly-scrubbed local citation work should be the marketing of your business. Log in frequently. Encourage reviews. Respond to complaints, feedback, and photographs. Keep the door of communication open and your existence alive and recent. Make a splash in local headlines and generally give local news outlets something positive to discuss in regards to your business.
A solid presence with local may be accomplished by building a number of citations in many different top-tier to lower grade local directories.
My advice would be to clean up what is out there. Audit your presence. Then, put some elbow grease into get it pristine and consistent.
Following your ducks are in a row, then work on beefing up your citation existence online.
In no time, you will be reaping the benefits of a fresh, consistent, positive local citation existence.