It’s important to employ local search engine optimization (SEO) tactics so that potential customers searching for your services in their areas can quickly locate your business when searching online. The same is true for current customers who need to find your information when it has changed or they have misplaced it. Make sure your information in online directories and on your website is accurate and up to date. Outdated contact information can decrease your rankings on the search engine results pages (SERPs), making your website harder to find, and cause users to lose trust in your company.
A local citation is the online listing of the business name, address and phone number (NAP). This listing can be on various types of websites/platforms such as local and geo business directories, Google My Business, and social networking sites, among others. You may also hear citations referred to as online directories.
Citations serve to help people find local businesses that fit their needs. Another valuable benefit is for local SEO because it is one of the most effective ways to acquire high-quality backlinks that stick. Backlinks are links back to your website from other websites. The higher the domain authority (DA) of those sites linking into yours, the more trustworthy search engines will judge your website and therefore your organic (meaning, naturally occurring, not paid) rankings may improve. Backlinks are extremely important for rankings.
If you have ever tried link building for SEO then you know it can be time consuming and often ineffective if the links don’t stick. Plus, you typically have to acquire links slowly over time so that search engines are not alerted the links are not being obtained naturally such as through true editorial links. Using citations to gain links is one of the most effective link building strategies you can do quickly.
The first step is distributing your business information to directories, social sites, etc. You’ll first want to check if your listing already exists and if the information is accurate. You’ll also want to suppress any duplicate listings that are not as comprehensive. More on that later.
There are several paid subscription tools that you can use to help you push your business information out there quickly. These paid tools are also an efficient way to manage your business directory listings on the internet to ensure no duplicate or incorrect information is published. This can be especially helpful if you have multiple locations. If you would rather save the money and invest your time instead, you can opt to manually do this yourself and pick and choose which directories to upload your information to, profile pages to claim, etc. The downfall is it’s time consuming, even if you only have one location, and you may not know about a lot of directories you should be taking advantage of being listed in.
Additional information you may be able to submit for your listing includes a logo, images, links to social media pages, payment types accepted, hours, keywords, categories, and featured messages about your business such as a tagline and description. You’ll want to get that information ready and utilize all the relevant fields to provide people who will see the listing with as much information as possible.
While you are distributing your business information, or immediately after, check to ensure there is not a duplicate listing out there. If so, suppress it with some exceptions. An example of an exception being if a dentist individually lists themselves along with the main practice name. In that instance, it’s fine to have two listings at one address because it’s beneficial to have the dentist’s name listed as well since people may be searching either by dentist name or by practice name.
Duplicate listings may appear if you have moved addresses so it’s important to update or suppress any listings with outdated information. There can also be duplicate listings out there with incomplete information such as a missing suite number in the address or missing telephone number so you’ll want to suppress those and show users the most complete information possible.
Local SEO is important for all businesses. There’s a lot of competition out there but optimizing your listings, website and reviews will help you stay a step ahead. Contact us if you would like help with an effective SEO strategy for your business to ensure your website is found exactly when potential customers are looking for your services.