When optimizing your website for local search, one of the most important things you can do is make sure your business is listed on all relevant sites and local directories.
If your business has been around for a while, you are probably already listed on many online directories, such as Google, Yelp, Bing, and Yahoo. As soon as you publish your business on Google Maps, a few local citations will get automatically generated. Search engines now provide local information — directory listings, reviews, maps, reviews, ratings, and more — within the search results themselves.
Local SEO is a complicated subset within the SEO practice. If you are unsure of any of the terms used in this blog, Moz has provided a helpful glossary to understand local SEO terminology.
What is a citation?
A citation is a mention of your business anywhere on the web. Your business citation usually includes your name, address, and phone number — or NAP for short. Sometimes URL is added to the end to create the acronym NAPU.
In addition to SEO value, the more high quality sites that list your business information, the more customers will see it and contact you. In addition to structured citations found in local listings such as Yelp and Google Maps, you can also receive unstructured citations from simple mentions in forums, social media, blogs, question and answer sites, video descriptions, and other online publications.
Keep in mind that mentions on higher quality sites like government sites are far more valuable than a random blog.
Do citations impact SEO?
Yes, search engines take into account brand mentions across the web when measuring the trust and authority of a brand.
Links from local directions and other relevant sites (known as local citations) are important ranking factors and should be obtained whenever relevant.
Having lots of citations is great, but you they can do more harm than good if they aren’t accurate and consistent. For a citation to be valuable, the name, address, phone, number, and URL must match the information in your Google My Business listing.
Local Listing Submissions
Enhance your local listings and SEO by ensuring accurate, consistent, and relevant info about your business. The most important bits of information to focus on are your name, address, number, and website.
Business Name – Use the exact same business name everywhere you are mentioned on the web. Pick one way of writing your business information and stick with it. For example, if you attach LLC to your business name, make sure it appears that way everywhere. Never try adding keywords, categories, or locations after your business name — it may be rejected as spam.
Address – Like your business name, your address is essential for appearing in local search results. You can test your address by performing a Google search of just your address. If you notice any mapping errors, you can usually “report a problem” by clicking on a link at the bottom of the map listing.
Phone Number – For the main business number, choose a unique local number. Be sure to include the area code in your phone number. Avoid using 800 numbers or different tracking numbers. If you change numbers too frequently or use a non-local number, search engines may lose confidence in your business listing. Inconsistent information may also lead to the automatic creation of duplicate business profiles.
Website – Many times, local listings include your website. For most businesses, your website is simply the home page. If you have multiple locations, however, it’s best to have a separate page on your website representing each location.
Another important piece of information that appears in many local listings is your hours of operation. If you change your hours for any reasons, you will want to make sure it is updated on all local listings.
What is a citation campaign?
There is no single provider of local business information for the web. It’s important to monitor and update your business information across the web. A citation campaign is the process of building, auditing, and optimizing local citations on a variety of directory sources.
We recommend starting with your Google My Business listing, reviewing the format, and then using this as your template when you update citations across the web.
With these tools, you can perform a quick audit of your local SEO citations and submit updated information for any potential citation errors.
It’s a good idea to reach out to websites that would benefit from listing your business. When citations are added to the rest of your SEO efforts, you can pull ahead of the competition.
Contact VitalStorm today for in-depth auditing, cleaning, and building of your local business citations. It’s just one part of our Social/Local strategy.
Before starting your social media and content marketing, we will set up, synchronize, and optimize your online profiles on Facebook, Google My Business, Yelp, and 50+ local listings. This includes getting listed accurately on all relevant, maps, directories, and apps.