There are many different factors to consider when composing or tweaking a Local SEO campaign for small businesses. Although some value can be assigned to a variety of processes, one of the most important factors is the management of local citations, which we have attempted to explain here in detail.
What Is A Local Citation?
A ‘local citation’ is a collection of information about your business in the form of the business name, address and phone number (NAP), usually found on free business directories throughout the web. Understanding the importance of your web based citations is one major step in improving your local SEO. Through the use of citations, you can optimise your visibility and presence on the internet and make it easier for customers to find your services.
Before we can improve our citations, we must first understand them on a conceptual level. It is therefore important to consider that citations on directory pages ideally want to maintain accurate information about your business, so that they can be considered a reliable resource. The reliability of a web directory is what drives traffic to their pages; it is certainly no coincidence that the directories with the highest domain authorities are also the ones with the most accurate and clear information.
Citations reside at the core of improving local SEO because most customers use a wide variety of directory sites to look for services in their local area. Many directory sites will have categorisation for specific areas and cities and also categories for specific types of services. It is important to make sure your citations fit within the most suitable categories for your business so that they can be easily accessed.
The first step in improving your local SEO is to decide your approach in finding your incorrect citations.
The plan should be based on making the citations uniform in nature. Figure out how you want to portray your business and remain consistent. Edit each citation listed and make sure that the address, contact number, contact email and business name are the same in every citation. Remember, even a small inconsistency can create problems for your SEO.
Talk of consistency is fine, but none of it matters without due knowledge of the actual process. After you have obtained a list of citations and created a plan, before you edit a citation, consider the following:
What is the domain authority of the website?
Your site will benefit from receiving citations and links from higher domain authority websites and respectable directories. Domain authority can be easily checked on the Open Site Explorer by Moz.
Low domain authority sites may reflect badly on your website, especially if the site is of a noticeably poor overall quality. Consider where you want your business to be displayed.
Is the directory relevant to your business?
Consider how the directory organises its categories – is it possible for you to be visible in your desired category? Will consumers looking for the services that your business provides find your business? If the answer to these questions is ‘no’ then it may be time to reconsider if the citation of your business is needed on this website.
Can the incorrect citation be changed or deleted?
Sometimes, you will encounter a degree of difficulty in editing a citation. This may be because of poor website design that can make editing a citation confusing, difficult and occasionally impossible. In these situations, you must assess if the time or money that may be required to edit the citation (some directories hide editing functions behind premium service subscriptions or one time payments) is worth the investment. Don’t be afraid to contact the directory in order to have your citation changed or removed – sometimes this will be the only option.
How easy will it be to change the citation versus the quality of the directory?
This is a duality that is important to consider. If difficulty of changing the citation outweighs the quality, it is important to focus instead on deleting it entirely. It’s better to have fewer consistent citations over a large quantity of inconsistent ones.
Keeping A Record
As you progress with your citation plan, it will become increasingly important to keep a record of your activity and progress. You should ensure that you have the exact page of your directory listing recorded, alongside the overall domain, and a record of if the citation is correct or not (sometimes a listing will take several days to update and it is important to note this). Additionally, it is helpful to record the data of a sites domain authority and page authority as this will allow you see which citations are most effectively supporting your local SEO, which is useful information for businesses that have a network of websites.
To summarise, improving your local SEO is all about having coherent, consistent and correct citations. To make sure your service is being found by a high(er) volume of consumers, nothing helps more than having clear contact and business information. On a step by step basis, it should look something like this:
- Scan the internet for your incorrect citations
- Create a list of these incorrect citations and a template for a correct citation
- Go through each website changing the listings according to your template, documenting it
- Be patient as the process can take a long time
- Benefit from having a record of many consistent links to your website!