Research shows that a a large percentage of local buyers use local search to find businesses around them they are in the market for in order to read local reviews from their friends and neighbors. Upon reading favorable reviews, the purchase, sale or transaction is made in person. This is why local citations are so important. The more places you have your business correctly listed and available to be reviewed online, the better your rankings are plus the higher chance your customers will read and leave reviews for your business.
While there are many ways to rank higher in search engines, building local or hyper-local citations is the best strategy for online businesses with brick and mortar or service area businesses (that is businesses that service customers at their location). This used to be a big issue in systems like Google Places but has been since made very friendly for all types of businesses,
What are local citations and why are they important?
Citations are simply listings of your business on online platforms such as directories, relevant commercial websites, social media and blogs among others. Today there are hundreds of more important platforms on which to list your business. Customers are now on not just desktop but mobile search, mobile apps, GPS systems and more.
A well done and complete citation should mention the business’ formal name, its address as well as contact information, preferably a phone number. This is known as the NAP – Name Address Phone Number.
See this article for another in depth explanation of how local listings improve local SEO rankings:
This information is provided primarily to help clients locate your business or get in touch, but it also helps improve your website’s ranking on local search engines. Engines like Google constantly review local business information across major listing aggregators and assign your business scores and ranking weight based on many things – one of them being the consistency of your business listings, the other being the number and relevancy of your listings.
Smart tips for building accurate and efficient local citations
Several factors should be considered when preparing to build citations for your business in order to ensure the information is accurate and beneficial – wrong and inconsistent information may get your business’ website flagged.
Here is a step-by-step guide on how to build local citations:
Determine your business’ NAP
Again, NAP stands for name, address and phone number. This is the basic information that you should cite on different platforms regarding your business.
Caution should be taken here to avoid providing wrong or inconsistent information. To this end, the business name used in the citations should be your business’ formal name as it reads on official mail or as listed with the USPS. Changing the name by adding certain details, like the name of the city it is located in will make it irrelevant to your website, as it will be considered as another business by the search engines.
In addition, ensure your address is fully explained to ease customer’s task and time of finding you – and increase their time browsing, shopping and buying! To do so, of course include details such as the state, city, building where the business is located, but also the floor and even the room where necessary. However, these details can be safely left out if your business or its location is very distinct. Use description areas to describe marking characteristics your customers should look out for.
“Look out for the giant yellow truck!” “Across from the Mercedes Dealership”
The phone number should also be correct and consistent. Unlike changing the business’ name, using multiple numbers will cause the search engines to flag your information as they may consider it suspicious. List opening hours, payments accepted, interesting attributes of your business, services or products provided, price levels and anything else someone may want to know. You may want to think “What would I want to know about my business if I were a customer?”
You can also cite additional contact information such as email addresses, fax numbers, blog links and social media links.
Most modern local websites and platforms are fully integrated with social media and don’t forget most social media profiles are a great way to list your business and get the Local SEO benefits.
Social Media platforms it is worth it to put a local listing on:
Finding the ideal platforms to cite on
Citations would be useless when put on irrelevant platforms. As such, you have to identify the ideal online platforms where clients and potential customers are bound to visit and cite there.
Again, the best place to start with is on your social media portals like Google+, Facebook and Twitter among others as all your friends and associates are bound to see it. Search engines visit social platforms every second of every day. To get your local business seen fast by everyone – get on these platforms now!!!
Even if Facebook or Twitter is not your favorite platform, hire someone or suck it up and start using it for your business today. With millions upon millions of users (approaching billions) there are bound to be customers in your area using these platforms.
Blogs are also excellent as they are rapidly growing in popularity. To find the relevant blogs on which to cite, simply type the name of your city before the word blog and hit enter. You will be presented with a list of the top local blogs, and you can then proceed to choose those that are most popular and relevant to your business.
Upload SEO friendly images to every listing you create. Google loves images as content and using techniques like ALT tags and Geo-tagged images can greatly improve your rankings.
Repeat this with multiple search engines, as some people prefer to use search engines like Bing Places and Yahoo Local in addition to Google Places.
Most importantly, ensure that you build local citations on the platforms where your rival and competitor websites are as traffic to these websites would be relevant to yours too. This could also give you the edge on ranking higher on Google. Make sure you list with the leading websites to get more exposition – type a keyword relevant to your business and competitive websites will be listed.
You can then choose the best websites for your business or niche proceed to register and cite your NAP.
Making the citations
You might be surprised to find information regarding your business in some of the platforms you choose for citation, eliminating the need to build local citations. Some websites have scan and autolist businesses or an employee at your business might have filled out a profile in the past. If this happens you can CLAIM your listing and take it over. After you do this it is important that you inspect them and make the relevant changes to avoid inaccurate and inconsistent information.
Continue to slowly create listings on the top website you have chosen to list your business on and as the weeks go by you will build a well made, authoritative local citations portfolio. Again, check that all the information is correct and consistent. Using a service like Crush Local or Bright Local citation building will take this process out of your hands and into the hands of professionals for just a couple dollars per listing.
With these factors in mind and a commitment to steadily building local citations every month, it will be no time at all until your rankings are improving, your traffic is up, you are getting more reviews and you are starting to realize the true ROI behind local SEO services.
#local citations, local citations seo