Citations that boost your SEO are a critical component of your local SEO strategy. But before you can get any value out of those local citations, you have to make sure that you actually have local citations. Then you need to ensure that those citations are doing the best work possible for you.
So, in this blog, I’m going to give you a check list for each of these things: how to build your local citations and how to optimize those citations.
How to Build Your Local Citations
Here are a few strategies that you could implement tomorrow to help you increase the number of local search citations and boost your local SEO:
1. Learn from your competitors. You can find out who your online competitors are by searching the keywords and phrases that you want to rank for. Take note of the companies who rank in the top spots for those searches. Then, do a search on each of those companies, and note the directories and citations that they have. Finally, work on getting your business cited on each of those directories.
2. Make a note of all the industry-specific citation opportunities you have. Often industry magazines, professional organizations, conferences that have sponsors (or who want to highlight key speakers or attendees) have places on their websites to list relevant businesses. To build this list, you can ask colleagues in your office about what magazines they receive or what conferences they attend to start generating a list to pursue for citations. These opportunities for citations are extremely important, because they not only get your name in front of a very relevant audience, but they help to establish that your business is an authority in the industry.
3. Decide the important general citation opportunities available to you. Sites like Yelp! or the Better Business Bureau have citations for a lot of industries. But as a result, lots of people know about them, and search engines give a lot of weight to their listings (and reviews). So make a list of major citation sites that you want to make sure you have a listing on.
4. Find opportunities for citations on local sites. Often a city’s Chamber of Commerce or locally minded organizations want to promote local businesses. Check out what websites have listings, and submit your information.
These can be especially important in reinforcing (to potential customers and search engines) your identity as a local business that’s rooted in the community.
5. Fully and accurately fill out your Google My Business page. This is more than an average citation. This is the major search engine’s directory against which all other directories are compared. It is absolutely essential to make sure that you have all your information listed fully and accurately here.
6. Hire a service to manage your local citations for you. If you are really strapped for time, you can hire a service to manage your local citations. But be extremely careful. The quality of service varies widely, and the price tag can be steep.
How to Optimize Your Local Citations
Getting local citations is great. But you have to make sure they are working for you (and even more importantly, that they’re not working against you). Here is a checklist to make sure your local citations are optimized:
1. Make sure all your information (especially your name, address and phone number) is consistent. In order to ensure this, you’ll also need to find all the citations that are already online. Don’t assume that you know all of the places that you’re cited. Then make sure that your name, address, and phone number are correct in your current listings as well as the new listings you’re planning to obtain.
This is especially important if your business has had a different phone number or physical address in the past. It’s also good to check if any other businesses that were previously located at your address or had your phone number have out-of-date listings with some of your information. This accuracy and consistency is not only essential for making sure your citations help your local SEO. It makes sure that your citations don’t hurt your SEO. An inaccurate listing is worse than no listing at all.
2. Try to get as much valuable information in the citation. All citations will include your company’s name, address, and phone number, but some will also include additional information, such as a back link to your website. Be sure to consistent with your website link (e.g. https, www, or non-www). Whenever possible, get as much valuable information into the citation as possible.
3. Prioritize which citations are the most important to pursue. Although the opportunities for local citations are endless, your time is not. And not all citations are created equal.
You need to figure out which citations are most important to keep current so that you don’t fritter away your time getting cited on obscure websites.
When you are trying to prioritize what citations to actively pursue, think about the authority of the domain where it’s listed, the likelihood that your potential audience would see the citation, and the relevance of the list to your business geographically or in the industry. These are going to get you the most return on the investment of your time.
These simple tips will help you get started building and optimizing your local citations. But if you’re ready for an in-depth analysis of your local SEO strategy, contact me for a free consultation.