So you’ve created your Google My Business page, made sure all your NAP (Name / Address / Phone) data on your website is correct, optimized your Google Business page as much as possible, and even began optimizing your site for local specific keyword terms. If you’re like most rookie SEO types out there, you might think you’re done! After all, these ARE among the most important aspects for ranking in the local search rankings, right?
Unfortunately, while crucial, these are also among the EASIEST things you can do to kick start your Google Local campaign, meaning that everyone who knows anything about local SEO is doing exactly this. So, in this increasingly competitive world of SEO, what can you do to make sure you stay ahead of the curve and succeed in the local rankings? The answer, fortunately, is quite easy; Local Citation Development.
What are Citations?
Citations, in essence, are very similar to your NAP data; a combination of your URL, address, phone number, and brand name. However, instead of building these on your site, local citations are your NAP data listed on a variety of different listing sites throughout the web, thus becoming outlets where you can further spread your brand name and all relevant data concerning your business.
Why are they Important?
Though Google certainly considers Google Business and your website as important signals for local ranking, citations and brand name mentions throughout important listing sites on the web are also taken into account (particularly since the most important ones require definite proof of business ownership). Furthermore, many listing sites automatically create profiles for businesses, using data aggregators and other services to list your data, which can oftentimes cause incongruity amongst your local citation data. This can confuse Google, and easily cause a negative impact on the local rankings you receive.
In other words, the more you spread your CORRECT data throughout these listing sites, the more Google understands that you are indeed in the service area you claim to be in. When combined with the links these sites most often provide, as well as the many other signals Google uses to determine local ranking, this can easily improve your stock in Google Local and rocket you to the top of the rankings.
How to Build Local Citations
There are literally thousands of local listing sites on the web, some more or less important or authoritative than others. Fortunately, there are also a variety of citation management sites out there that, for a price, can take control of some of the most important citations and provide the correct data for all (including Google) to see; however, this should not be the only way you attempt to govern your local citation data. Here are a few of the most common and easiest ways you can take control:
- Yext: As already mentioned, there are certain citation management sites that will take control of your listings for you, so you can provide the correct data and thus improve your ranking stock. Yext.com is one of these sites. Using Yext, you can input all the data you desire, for multiple locations, while also providing banners, social media linking, URLs, and even employee bio information. This info—that you fill out—is then spread throughout 50 of the highest ranking listing sites on the web, so you don’t have to go through the trouble of creating profiles and managing them yourself. Best of all, if you ever change locations or make any other similar changes that might affect your NAP data, you can go to their easy to use hub and make the change in one place, rather than visiting all 50 sites and changing them one by one. This also helps if any of the sites that Yext manages procedurally created a profile for you with incorrect data (which does happen more often than you think). It’s easy to use, expedites the entire process, and is perhaps one of the most important tools you can use for your local SEO campaign. The only drawback is it can be VERY expensive (at 35.00 a month—per location—for the lowest subscription level). However, if you have the money to implement a local SEO campaign, you should have the money for Yext. It is truly a must have for any local business.
- Major Aggregators: Unfortunately, Yext doesn’t cover all major citation sources, as many use third party data aggregators to retrieve their data (as these are much more reliable than people simply filling out their information by themselves.) So, to continue your citation development journey, it’s important to take advantage of the two major Data Aggregators on the web: Acxiom and Factual.com.
Many, many listing sites on the web don’t even allow users to create profiles and update their own data, instead relying on these two sites to update the data they list for them. As such, you absolutely MUST create profiles with Acxiom and Factual and update the information they provide; else, potentially incorrect information may be spread throughout hundreds of websites on the web. To do this, simply visit https://mybusinesslistingmanager.myacxiom.com/ and http://factual.com/, create your profile, search for your business, edit your information (if it exists) or add your business (if it doesn’t), and you’re well on your way. Just remember; for Acxiom, you will have to provide documents proving your business’s location. Have that ready for when you create your business listing.
- Manual Searching: Again, the previous two methods are quite common—though not everyone takes advantage of them—and may not provide you with the ranking success you desire. That’s why you must continue your campaign by searching manually through the web for relevant niche citations that your business belongs to. The Better Business Bureau is a great place to start, as are some local chambers—though both cost money. Once you create profiles on both of these exceedingly important listing sites, com offers a fantastic list of niche citation sites for 41 business categories. Almost all of them are high ranking sites, and all of them will help you improve your Google Local campaign efforts.
Don’t Forget Local Citations when Running a Google Local Campaign
Remember; if you want true success in the Google Local search results, local citations are extremely important. Make sure to utilize all of the above methods, while continuing to search for even more listings that might not be listed above. It may be time consuming, but it is crucial to your success.
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