A key to local rankings is the formation and establishment of local trust in your specific city or target region. One of the ways we achieve this is by local business citations. A citation is simply where any combination of your business name, address and phone number is located on local business directories, websites and even social platforms. The most famous version of this is yell, or the yellow pages.
Citations are mainly about connecting Google and your local brand. If your website is featured on a number of high authority local business directories, this translates to Google that you are a trusted business in that specific region.
Local SEO citations can be categorised into two broad groups, structured or unstructured. Inside these groups there are sub-categories that all play a different role for local rankings. Managing structured and unstructured citations ensures that your organic visibility improves in your target locations.
Structured citations are when your business information, or NAP, is placed on a business listing directory. This is where you submit your verified business information and in return gain a citation. Structured citations tend to be of a higher quality, usually with formatted pages that include schema data to improve search engine recognition. These make up the majority of local SEO citations and are the most effective for local search results.
Maintaining your structured citations is extremely critical to the success of your local rankings. As we will discuss below, having accurate citations that match across all platforms is key. The more citations that match, the higher your website will appear on search engine results pages.
Unstructured citations are where your NAP information are published on any other platform that is not specifically a business listing directory. These are mostly found on blogs, online magazines and newspapers. Unstructured citations are often less rigidly formatted and can only contain a snippet of your business information.
Although these type of citations are more relaxed and less effective for search engine rankings, they still improve overall trust. Again, accuracy and having matching information is crucial for success.
As briefly mentioned above, the most important factor that determines the success of your local rankings is the accuracy each citation. Only with the matching NAP information across all structured and unstructured citations will you see the benefit. That is why HQ SEO have developed our local business citations management process below.
There are also a few very key elements to remember when building these citations, this is again something we have tested and developed extensively at HQ SEO and continue to test for local clients. This process is one of many in our full campaigns that can guarantee a 10X return on investment.
Managing your NAP information across your citation sources can significantly improve organic search traffic visibility. First you must ensure the business’s name, address and phone number is the same on every citation source. You must also ensure the business has the same information that is present in the schema markup on your website and Google business page for that local business. If any of this information misaligns even slightly, this results in no additional trust, or increased rankings in Google. This can even cause major issues later down the line.
After your NAP information is consistent across all platforms, we improve the overall quality of each citation. This will include adding a lot of unique content and additional features to each citation source. Although the primary goal of a citation is to have your business name, address and phone number present, we also want to get the most value out of each specifically created citation.
To do this we must create completely unique content between 50-200 words related to your business. This content cannot be copied to the other citation sources. This is a mistake we see a lot which results in an issue explained below. Additionally, you must ensure you have implemented any extra fields and data attached to each citation source. This can usually be elements such as; your website URL, star or review ratings, photos, categories, opening times and more.
Finally, arguably the most important step, you want to ensure all of these citation sources are indexed in Google. If you have a URL, or citation source, that is not indexed, it provides no additional value. These are pointless to create, especially if these citation sources have duplicate content. This can result in deindexation and hence will provide no additional value.
A major force in our citation building services and local SEO strategy is Google My Business (GMB) page optimisation. Claiming and setting up a Google My Business listing can increase your chances of being included in the Google Maps section. This is vital, as this section is present above the organic search results.
Many businesses fail and make the mistake of avoiding this vital free Google service. Over the past few months Google has overhauled their GMB service to include some great features that can attract customer attention. When combined with our citation building services, your local search results will sky rocket.
Google My Business is a free tool that complements your own website and by providing Google with an identity for your business. As mentioned earlier, this can result in your business featuring in Google Maps search results in your target area. It has never been more important to set up a GMB listing. Especially with 97% of customers looking online for local businesses in 2017.
If your business is targeting multiple locations, it is imperative you correctly set up your Google My Business pages. Yes, pages. Using one GMB page for every location simply does not work. For the most efficient multiple locational targeting, it is best practice to set up seperate GMB pages for each location.
When our citation creation and Google My Business page optimisation is combined with our other local SEO services, you will see your local organic search traffic increase significantly. Do not just take our words, see our case studies. If you have any questions about citation creation, or auditing, feel free to get in touch.