Did you know that local SEO citations can be the key to building your business’s online reputation?
Local citations are business listings or mentions in online directories and review portals.
Citations serve the dual purpose of making your business more visible to local customers and boosting your Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) performance. They are typically free to acquire.
A lot of people assume that local business citations require minimal effort or are not terribly important. However, it is possible to build and optimise local SEO citations to generate results in line with your overall digital marketing strategy.
In this post, we will discuss everything you can do to ensure you are making the most of your citations.
Read on for insight!
1. Claim Your Google Listing
The first place to begin when it comes to building local citations is Google itself. Thankfully, Google makes it easy for all business owners to begin building a solid online presence.
Claiming a Google My Business listing enables more than simply your business title to appear in relevant search results.
When customers search for a business or other local services, Google-verified businesses appear as a blue “card” to the right of search results.
This outlines key details about each business, including hours of operation, a website address, and contact information. Most cards have images of business exteriors and interiors.
A Google listing additionally ensures that businesses appear on Google Maps itself. This can be valuable for companies seeking to engage with tourists, visitors, and locals who wish to navigate to their commercial location.
Claim your Google listing by navigating to the Google My Business registration page. Click “Get Started” and supply your business’s name, physical address, and contact information.
It is imperative to be as accurate as possible with these details. The single most important thing about building and optimising local SEO citations is consistency.
Google must verify your business’s physical address either through email or by sending a postcard to that address with a verification code.
Once you receive this code, navigate to your Google My Business dashboard and select “Verify Location” next to your business title. Enter the code and enjoy your live listing!
2. Optimise Your Google Listing
Claiming your Google citation is essential. But simply verifying your business and going live with your listing is only part of the optimisation process.
Google is constantly optimising its listings to better serve local businesses. Companies can now do more than merely upload their contact information and pictures.
If you offer specific products, for example, you can advertise these (as well as their cost and delivery methods) on your Google listing. Listing managers can also “tag” their business according to relevant characteristics, such as a “women-led” corporation or “wheelchair-accessible” institution.
Google Posts is a feature of listings that function much like Facebook status updates or Instagram posts. Use these to advertise events or promotions. Some listing owners use Posts to share holiday greetings or personalised messages with their clients.
Lastly, Google listings can also display the results of Google customer reviews. Listings will display the average of the reviews received on a one to five-star scale.
Reviews are key to navigating life as a local business owner. Given the fact that 90% of consumers turn to reviews before whipping out their wallets, displaying Google reviews on your listing is critical.
Optimise your Google listing by filling out every information field possible. Upload clear, relevant images of your business exterior and interior. Enable reviews and ensure that all contact details are accurate.
Make use of Google Posts if these are relevant to your business, too!
3. Choose Your Other Local Citations
When it comes to local SEO citations, businesses have quite a lot of options. Local citations include popular review platforms like Yelp or Angie’s List. But they can also include listings in directories and mentions on blogging platforms and in newspapers.
Do your research wisely here, thinking about the citations that are most likely to be relevant to your business’s industry and niche.
If you are in the service industry, you will likely want to register your business on review platforms that rate services. These include (but are not limited to) Yelp, Angie’s List, E-Opinion, and TripAdvisor.
If your business specialises in specific products, consider product-oriented review platforms like ConsumerReports, Amazon Customer Reviews, and TrustRadius.
Companies that do not offer specific products or services should definitely consider citations on the national business registries. Social media offers businesses an additional means of obtaining customer reviews and visibility. Facebook business profiles currently enable reviews and ratings.
If your company is part of a specific industry niche, you may want to register your business title in industry-related directories. For example, Finances Online is an online directory of B2B and finance solutions.
When obtaining these citations, fill out all available information fields, just as you did for your Google listing. Make sure that contact details are consistent across all of these platforms, particularly web addresses and phone numbers.
Enable reviews for review platforms.
4. Manage Reviews and Comments
Simply claiming local citations is insufficient. It is essential to constantly monitor these citations, ensuring that information remains accurate.
This is particularly vital for Google listings, as users can actually modify information about your listing. This is part of Google’s belief in validating customer experience and response.
User reviews should also not go unmonitored. In fact, reviews offer business owners an excellent means of engaging with their clients and building a positive reputation. Responding to negative and positive reviews demonstrates a commitment to the customer experience.
Be sure to respond to all ratings comprehensively. In your responses to comments and reviews, be gracious and professional.
These responses also provide a great opportunity for some local Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). Incorporating location-based keywords such as “wedding venue in Oxford” into your responses themselves further optimises your content for greater visibility.
5. Keep Things Updated
Nothing dissuades customers from a business more than an outdated listing, whether that listing is on Yelp or on Google itself. If anything changes about your business, including commercial address and website information, it is vital to update your listings accordingly.
Should you renovate your business, upload pictures of your building’s new look to your Google listing as a cover photo. If your logo changes, change your Google listing profile photo to that new logo.
Local SEO citations function much like a social media account. If you remain inactive, your followers and customers will notice. They will be less interested in businesses that do not seem committed to their experience.
Google Posts on your Google listing are a great means of keeping things visibly updated. Use these to advertise events, notify your customers of product changes, and show activity.
6. Don’t Overlook Your Website
At the end of the day, these local SEO citations serve as a means of getting more clients through your front doors. They can also function as channels for organic traffic to your website.
For this reason, it is imperative to keep your website in line with your citation efforts. All contact and service information on your site should be consistent with what you are presenting on local citations.
But a professional, user-driven site is also more likely to actually impress and retain the organic traffic your citations are generating.
Consider investing in professional web design services to ensure that your site is easy to navigate and built to impress.
Additionally, because many local citations are accessed by mobile devices, it is essential to have a mobile-friendly website. Opt for a design that is responsive and suited for mobile access.
Lastly, a solid local optimisation campaign can help leverage these citations you have so carefully gathered and maintained.
Optimising your website content for location-based searches, such as “Yorkshire copywriting services” can make your website extra visible on search engines.
7. Request Editorials or Guest Blogging Opportunities
Yet another means of boosting your local visibility involves seeking mentions in newspapers and on blogging platforms. An editorial in a local newspaper or magazine can broadcast your business to the community in a powerful way.
The same goes for writing guest posts for prominent blogging platforms, particularly those that are well-known in your industry. Writing for a platform like Entrepreneur.com, for example, may be a phenomenal solution for business owners and entrepreneurs looking for coverage of their expertise.
Begin by brainstorming guest blogging platforms and publications that could showcase your work and your authority. Request access to these platforms with an email or an in-person chat.
We recommend following this step once you have a solid website and many citations in place already.
Final Thoughts: Making the Most of Local SEO Citations
Local SEO citations can be a central component of your digital marketing plan. They can increase the number of local customers you acquire. Citations can also inform purchase decisions and establish a certain reputation in your industry.
For this reason, it is important to build citations beginning with a Google listing. Once you are on Google Maps, register your business on review platforms, directories, and other relevant sites.
Monitor and update these listings frequently, responding to user comments as possible. Keep your website in shiny, mobile-friendly condition, and consider guest blogging opportunities for more visibility.
At DMD Design & Marketing, we are well-versed in getting you and your business on the map. Start a conversation now to learn more about our local SEO services!