Did you know that over 90% of consumers search online for local businesses? If your business has a physical store or location, local search engine optimization (SEO) is one of the most effective strategies to increase online visibility and gain more customers.
Local SEO includes numerous strategies, however, one of its most important aspects is local citations. In this article, take a closer look at local citations, their benefits, and how to build them effectively.
Local Citations: What Is It?
A local citation is any mention of your business on a local directory or third-party websites. It usually includes important details, including your business name, contact number, and address. Most of the time, it may also include other details such as your services and products, website and social media links, opening hours, and related videos and images.
Search engines like Google use local citations to verify data and determine web rankings. Meanwhile, consumers use search engines to search and compare local businesses. As a core part of local SEO, local citation allows you to build your online search visibility, increase website traffic, and ultimately get more leads.
In general, there are two forms of citations:
A structured citation is what most marketers think of when talking about local citations. It refers to any mention of your business’s primary details–name, address, phone number, or NAP– on relevant third-party websites and business directories.
An unstructured citation also mentions key information about your business. However, unlike structured citations, the data and information aren’t grouped. This type of citation is usually found on apps and websites that aren’t specifically designed as business listings or directories. For instance, any mention of your business on online reviews, blog posts, and news articles is considered an unstructured local citation.
Building Local Citations
Local citations can be highly beneficial for boosting web traffic and increasing brand awareness. That said, you may be wondering how to start. Below are some steps on how to build your business’ local citations online.
1. Hire Professional Services
Local citation building is time-consuming. There are hundreds, even thousands, of business directories and listings out there. Trying to do this on your own can use more of your time for running your small business.
In this case, you can simply hire a reliable citation-building service such as an SEO builder. These services will scour the internet for you and find the relevant online business directories for your company. They’ll submit a citation for your business while optimizing your existing citations. They also make sure that your NAP information is all correct. Learn more about citation-building services on sites like www.seobuilder.com/citation-building-services/.
By hiring an expert, you can save more time and use it for more important tasks to grow your business.
2. Prepare The Necessary Information
If you decide to build your local citation on your own or do half of the work, you need to prepare basic information about your business. Writing down all your business data in a single file on your computer can help streamline the whole process. This way, you can easily copy and paste the necessary information.
Here are some types of information required by most online business directories:
- Company name
- Phone number
- Niche/main category
- Opening hours
- Website address
- Social media links
- Brief description of your company
Take note that online business directories have different requirements, so check properly for the required information.
3. Submit To Online Directories
It’s easy and free to add or claim your business listings. That said, you need to focus more on the top online directories.
Some of these directories include:
- Google My Business
- Yellow Pages
- Apple Maps
- Bing Places
- Yahoo Local
In addition, submit your business listing on directories relevant to your business. For instance, if you own a café or restaurant, you should add local citations to TripAdvisor and Yelp. Meanwhile, an HVAC service company will benefit from listing their business on YellowPages and Angi. For hotels and rental properties, Zillow and Expedia are good choices.
You also want to be featured on hyper-local directories such as the local chamber of commerce and other local business association sites.
Before submitting your NAP to any online business directory, make sure that they’re relevant to your business to make it worth your time and effort. You can do this by visiting the website and checking the types of businesses featured in the directory.
4. Use Data Aggregators
In general, business owners need to submit their NAP directly to online business directories manually. This isn’t practical and only consumes too much time. In this case, you can use data aggregators.
Data aggregators are data mining systems that collect business information and share it with a multitude of website sources, saving you time and sources. Some of the most prominent data aggregators include Neustar Localeze, Foursquare, and Factual.
To boost your citations, simply search for your business on these aggregator sites and see if it’s already featured. If you don’t see your business, submit your business listing and correct NAP to the website.
5. Pursue Unstructured Citations
Unstructured citations are a different beast altogether as they come from third-party mentions. This means that someone needs to care enough about your brand to write about it. Thus, unstructured citations are more difficult to get than structured citations.
You can try reaching out to bloggers who are relevant to your industry. You can also contact local or national media outlets with a newsworthy pitch about your business.
Guest posting is another great way to get unstructured citations. Most businesses also use supplier pages that link to the companies they supply or supply them.
That’s it! As one of the major ranking factors used by search engines to evaluate websites, local citations, when done right, are extremely beneficial to local businesses wanting to get more visibility.
If you’re just starting with your local citation-building project, this guide has hopefully given you the necessary information to successfully build local citations to boost your website rankings and traffic.