In this day and age, when competition is tough, businesses have to do everything to stand out and enjoy an edge over their competitors. And, you will be surprised how something like SEO has so many facets to it. Local SEO for small business has taken a new meaning ever since Google updated its local algorithm in 2015. The Pigeon update actually brought about a shift – one from completely local to organic factors.
A survey conducted a few months after Google changed its algorithm shows the importance of local SEO for small business. In fact, the results of that survey are valid even today.
It cannot be emphasized how important Google search engine optimization is for local businesses. However, if businesses are not focusing on local SEO citations, they are missing out on a lot of traffic.
What are Local Citations?
Local citations refer to websites that offer visitors information related to local businesses. These cities let website visitors to filter the information based on state, city, name of the company and business type. In other words, sites are like business directories, modern-day Yellow Pages.
Local citations are integral to SEO marketing and search engine spiders use the information available on these websites to rank businesses for local searches performed by users. You can say these online directories offer valuable SEO backlinks.
Importance of Local Citations
Search engine optimization tips always mention that local citations are part of any successful SEO strategy. Even if these citations do not include a link to your business and only state the name and address, they are considered important by search engines. This is because invariably these sites are established and indexed websites. That is why it is imperative that you ensure your business details get listed in high-quality citation sites.
Did you know that Google trusts local SEO citations even if prospective customers do not go to these websites to glean information about a business they are interested in? And, this very premise makes citations an important aspect of SEO.
Here is an example to show you the importance of citations:
This example clearly shows that online directories like Yelp, Angie’s List and Yellowpages make it to the top of search results. While people do visit trusted and popular directories to find local businesses, a majority of the searches is done through Google and Bing, and these citations rank high in local search results, making them important for local SEO optimization. Hence, local businesses should ensure their business details are listed on these sites as a part of their SEO. It will give their search engine results a major thrust.
Things to Consider
If you are performing local search SEO for your business, it is important that the name of your business, address and contact numbers are consistent throughout all the citation sites. This is because any discrepancy in this information will confuse search engine spiders. As a result, search engines will not know which information to take for local search. Hence, your business will not appear when researchers perform a search related to your niche.
This means you need to get your SEO right for local search. As a part of your business SEO optimization strategy, you should do the following:
Determine the official name of your business that you want listed in online directories
The precise address that should be mentioned in citation websites
Make sure that local area code is prefixed to your phone number. Avoid using toll-free numbers as citation websites are about local businesses
Finding Popular Citation Sites
Google wants to give users quality and correct information. The key here is quality and that is what local SEO for small business is all about. As a part of your strategy, you should be focusing on high-quality citation sites. There are numerous local directories, and you will find that some are trustworthy while others have no credibility for search engines whatsoever. If you end up listing your business in untrustworthy sites, the result can be disastrous. It can bring down your local search ranking.
One of a best ways to ensure you select the right local citation websites to list your business on is by downloading the Moz toolbar. This toolbar lets you see the following:
- Page Authority
- Domain Authority
- Spam Score
What you need are local listing sites that have high Page Authority and Domain Authority scores, but low Spam Score.
Perform random business searches for your competition. This will throw up citation sites in the results. Make a note of these sites and make sure your business details are listed on them, as well.
Remember there are general and niche-specific citation websites. You can opt for either one or both, depending on what is right for your business. This should be part of local SEO strategy. Most SEO marketing experts recommend listing business information in quality niche online directories as well.
Your local SEO marketing efforts should not stop with a few local citations. Instead, you should try and make sure your business gets listed on as many quality sites as possible. While this can be long process, you will begin seeing results almost immediately. This is because these sites give you credible SEO backlinks, which help search engine rank your website.
The Bottom Line
When you make local SEO a part of your bigger SEO strategy, it will help your business website rank higher in local searches. This will translate to more leads, which you can convert and generate more sales.