Local Citations: The Best Way to Increase Search Rankings in Your Area
Over the past two years, Google has become more and more focused on locally relevant search results. For local businesses, this is very good news! It means that, in many ways, it is easier than ever before to out-rank large, national competitors for your most important customers: local customers. While on-page SEO factors are still important and a strong link profile can help, the most important links that Google and Bing use for local rankings are citation links.
Aren't Local Citations Just Links Anyway?
Yes, in many ways they are, but they are a specific type of link that Google has determined is one of the top indicators of a highly relevant, local business. These links are from a specific type of website and they often contain sets of information that are similar between them. If you are a locally-focused business, leveraging this type of link is critical to your online success in your hometown or city. Any business with a local office can benefit from citations. They often take time to build, but it is often time well spent.
Types of Citation Websites: National, Local, and Industry Specific
Some citation websites are national. The following list is by no means comprehensive, but it is a good start and shows you the type of websites that are important.
- Google Local
- Bing Local
- Yellow Pages
- Yahoo Local
Local citations and industry specific citations vary depending on your city and business, but with a little bit of hard work these can be added as well. When looking for Google search operators and the software provided by Whitespark can both be invaluable tools in your search for citation opportunities. The best and most straightforward advice for this search is to:
- Don't try to game the system. Just look for sites that cover local business or your type of business. It takes time, but is often just that simple. (Websites covering both are rare, but are often the best. Be sure not to miss them!)
- Remember, some sites are not just good for your rankings, they can bring your business visitors on their own. Angie's List and other quality local review sites are great.
- Avoid sites that are just spam. No link is often better than a very bad one.
Name, Address, and Phone Number
When you are building citations, being consistent is one of the single most important factors. Every time you vary your information, your are getting less benefit from that citation, or even worse, Google believes it is a different business and you receive no benefit at all.
You Should always use the same format for your business information. Descriptions can and should vary between your citations, but the details of your business should be identical. For example:
- Mary's Software is not necessarily the same as Marys Software, Inc.
- YourName@YourBusiness.com and Contact@YourBusiness.com are different email addresses.