How To Use One Simple Tactic To Crush Local Search

local-business

Average read time: 3 minutes.

tl;dr – Use local citations to boost your visibility in search. Here’s a list of my favorite citation sources.

Local Search Can Be Overwhelming

Small or local businesses often struggle gaining visibility in search engines. Without a solid search engine optimization (SEO) strategy, business owners can feel lost when considering the array of techniques used to increase their exposure to potential clients. If that’s you, here’s an often overlooked method for making sure your name pops up near the top of search results to help keep customers coming in your door.

Simply put, you can maximize your online exposure by creating as many local citations in business directories as you can. A citation is any mention of your business, and it’s relevant details like name or address, on other webpages. Examples of these kinds of citations would be the online yellow pages or perhaps a local business directory or something similar. Anywhere your business’ information appears can has a positive impact, even if there is no official link to your site.

Local-search-optimization-citation-list

I put together a list of my favorite citation sources, it’s free…grab it.

Getting Started

There are a number of steps to amassing these local citations, but let’s start at the beginning by claiming your business in all the appropriate local business indexes. Since each index may have a slightly different claiming process the goal of this article is to give you a more general sense of what you’ll need to do.

The first step in claiming your business will usually entail making sure your business doesn’t already exist on their index. Finding out that your new business is already listed, even if you’ve never created a listing, occurs more often than you might think. More than likely your business has done something on the web and a listing for it has appeared somewhere so it’s natural that an index may have already “found you”. Either way, you’ll most likely be instructed to enter your business name and/or phone number to determine if there are any previously existing listings. Don’t worry, by the way, if your business already appears in an index and you didn’t put it there, you can easily “claim” your listing. After a verification process, you’ll have administrative access to your listing or “citation”.

Whether your business is already listed or not you’ll next need to provide the appropriate information and details about your business. Examples of the types of data you’ll be asked to provide include business name, address, phone number, URL, and more. You may also be asked to provide information on the types of categories and genres your business fits into. Double-check your entries to make sure the information you are providing is 100% accurate. Your business needs it’s core information to be the same wherever you are listed.

The next step is usually a verification process of some sort. This can come in one of many ways but there are a few very common methods. One is with a phone call to the business line where you’ll be asked to verify a PIN number provided by whomever is attempting to verify you as the owner. Another method is a verification postcard sent to the business address also requiring a PIN number. If you use this procedure be sure you check your mail regularly. You wouldn’t want to miss it! A third method would be via email with a verification link.

Attention To Detail And Patience Are Necessary

One of the most common questions about registering your business with a business index is how long will it take for the listing to appear online after the verification process has been completed. Every citation source is different. Some may verify and post your listing within minutes. Others take days. Some local citation websites have more arduous review processes and it may take months before your listing is approved. Patience is a virtue in this case, simply wait for the listing to appear. It is important to avoid making changes if at all possible because in many cases this will instigate a “re-verification” which means more work and more time spent. While it is possible to make some changes without re-verifying you should be aware of what you can and can’t do.

If you have many different listings to claim at once it’s probably a good idea to develop some sort of system to keep track of where you are with each one and what the next steps might be. Creating a spreadsheet or some type of ledger might be a good idea.

These citations are very important, as they contribute signals to the ranking algorithms used by search engines. Businesses with more local citations will often be ranked higher than business with fewer or none. Not all citations are equal in value either. Citations from well-established, high-traffic sites are considered by the search engine as a more reliable way to verify your business’ information and categorization. The more certain an engine is on your business, the higher you will rank.

Citations can take on even more importance in fields where many businesses don’t have websites or a large web presence. Take carpentry, for example. Most carpenters don’t have websites themselves so a search engine has very little information to draw from. Citations then become much more important as a way of verifying and ranking your business. Local citations also provide proof that a business is part of a particular community.

Get Organized And Get Going

In short, local citations serve you well to establish the validity of your company and, if executed properly, can greatly increase your search engine rankings. So get out there, claim your listing, verify your company, and get those citations. You’ll see your search rankings improve in no time.

Ready to get started? Grab this resource, my favorite local citation websites.