- Warning: This is a long post - skip to the bottom for recap/cliffnotes. -
People have been asking for SEO tips, so I want to share something today that is specifically focused around "local SEO"
How would you like to show up higher in Google when people nearby your business search for your keywords?
For example, you run a juice bar, and you want to show up on Google Maps and high in the organic search results when people search "juice bar Christchurch".
You probably do local searches every day - when looking for a business in your area that can solve your problems or give you what you want.
Good local SEO can mean higher foot traffic, more phone calls, and more website visitors - basically, more customers.
So how can your business do better at local SEO and rank higher for these searches?
One of the most effective ways is to build more (and more consistent) citations.
A citation is an online reference to your business’s name, address and phone number (NAP). It can also include other data like open hours, payment methods accepted etc.
An example of basic NAP citation data would be:
“Sam Frost - Digital Marketing Consultant, 02102781721, 123 Example Street” “
Basically, Google uses citations to evaluate the online authority of your business.
Google doesn't want to show a business phone number, address, open hours etc in its results only for that to be inaccurate - that reflects badly if someone drives across town to go to a business, only to find it has moved somewhere else!
Combine effective citation building with actively seeking reviews on Google for your business (I’ll be giving more tips about this soon) can really help grow your business.
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Basically, citations are a little bit like backlinks, but with a specific focus on benefiting your site in local search results by "corroborating" business info. However, unlike a backlink your citations don’t need to be clickable/hyperlinks.
This means it can be lot easier to build citations and get great local SEO results for your business.
By increasing the number of citations your business has, as well as the quality (through more relevancy and consistency) you will see a positive impact!
So how do you build citations for your site? Here’s a quick guide:
1. Ensure you have NAP information listed on your website.
2. Ensure you have claimed your Google My Business listing, and that it is updated and complete.
3. Ensure your NAP information is consistent on both (I’m going to stress the consistency angle a lot here).
4. Place this consistent information on your social media profiles.
5. Add your business to “general” online biz directories. NZ examples include Hotfrog, Zenbu, Cylex. There are heaps of these and I can provide further examples in the comments below.
6, Get your business listed on location or trade specific directories. For example, Christchurch has the “Rebuild Christchurch” website. Tradies can get listed on NoCowboys etc.
7. Upload promotional videos for your business to YouTube and other video directories, ensuring your NAP data is in the video description.
8. Continue to seek out new citations on a regular basis.
Once again, I want to stress the massive importance of consistency. Let’s look at phone numbers as an example. My business phone number is 02102781721, so I want to list that phone number in as consistent a format as possible. This means writing it on my citation listings that one way, and not as 021 027 81721 or +642102781721 - pick a format for everything and stick with it!
I’ve seen local businesses get incredible results from active citation building (as well as ensuring relevancy/consistency when building them).
* Citations are listings of NAP (name, address, phone number) and other key business data.
* You don’t need a clickable backlink for a citation to count - this means it can be easier to get citations than backlinks.
* Citations help Google verify the legitimacy of your business, resulting in better local search rankings, more traffic, more customers etc. All good news! Remember, Google wants to show businesses for local-term searches that are legit - by having lots of quality citations, you can prove this legitimacy to Google.
* Consistency is key - use the same format for everything. I suggest creating a “swipe file” of key data for all future use.
* Start with your social media profiles, then general business directories, then local/trade ones, and then other sites like video upload sites, image sharing sites etc where you can add your info.
* Always be looking to build more citations.
* Keep a record of where you have built them, so you can go back and edit later if business info changes. Make sure you keep login info for directories etc. I recommend creating a separate email account for citation building efforts.
As always, if you’ve got any questions about this please ask in the comments below. I’m going to be producing some videos on this topic in the near future, as well as providing examples of good citation opportunities - so stay tuned.