Local search engine optimization is becoming an increasingly important part of growing your business—and for businesses with a brick-and-mortar establishment, it can even provide a greater bang for your buck than general SEO techniques (since your customers need to be in your physical area). But what techniques actually boost local SEO?
What are Local SEO Citations?
One of the most important factors Google takes into account when listing local results are local citations. Citations are simply a listing of your business’ name, address and phone number (NAP). Google uses these to determine which businesses are most influential, assuming that if there are quite a few references to a company, it deserves to be ranked more highly. A partial citation, containing only one or two of those elements, is better than nothing, but a full citation is always best.
Google also uses citations to come up with its own business listings, typically displayed on the right-hand side of the search screen (perhaps at the top, if you’re searching from a mobile). The more citations you have—and the more consistent they are—the more confident Google can be in listing your business name, address, phone number, hours and more.
5 Easy Steps to Get More Local SEO Citations
Here are the first five steps you should take when it comes to building local citations and boosting your local SEO:
- Don’t Be Lazy About Your NAP Habits
Your business’ NAP is your identifier, and it needs to be identical each time you list. Be consistent in your abbreviations (for example, using “Ltd.” or “LLC” exactly the same way each time); decide whether to use floor, suite or office numbers in your address; and choose a standard formatting for your phone number.
- List in Standard Directories
The first way to go about getting local citations is to list yourself in local directories. If you’re not sure which directories are reputable (non spammy), check out where your successful competitors are listing to get started.
- Get Other Citations
You can get other local citations folded into your content marketing strategies and everyday networking. Guest blogging (on reputable sites), getting backlinks (again, on reputable sites) and getting local press are all good ways of getting citations. Also consider joining your Chamber of Commerce or other networking groups that list their members; citations don’t need to be hyperlinked, so even a plain-text reference to your business works.
- Pay Attention to Social Media
Your business’ Google+ local page is the place to start, and you’ll want to make sure your information is listed correctly. Also engage your users on social media and ensure that platforms allowing check-ins or photo mapping (foursquare, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter) have your NAP.
- Encourage Customer Reviews
Since Google’s layout features reviews so prominently (and other major search engines do the same), genuine customer reviews are an important part of both local SEO and improving your conversion rate—causing the people who come across your link to click on it and then to actually become your customers.
It’s a common misconception that directories are the only option for building citations. How do you go about getting local SEO citations for your business? Share in the comments.