According to the 2011 Local Search Ranking Factors survey put out by David Mihm, getting local citations was the most recommended off-site activity for small business owners looking to increase their SEO efforts. If you’re not actively trying to increase your number of local citations, you may fall behind a competitor who is.
First off – what’s a citation?
A local citation is any appearance of your business name alongside its address or phone number. These citations serve as clues to the search engines to help them understand who you are (are you the same James Crest Florist they already know exists on 123 Main St. or a new one?), where you’re located, and which queries and neighborhoods you’re relevant for. We’ve long known that the engines were using these all-important indicators for ranking, and David’s survey shows that it’s time to take them even more seriously.
And that means scooping up citations on as many trusted sites as you can. So…where do you look? Here are six places to start.
1. The Big Dogs
If you’re just getting started building citations, your first stop should be to check out the Most Important Citation Sources located in David’s Local Search Ranking Factors report. Hit those 10 first and you’ll be well on your way to building up some important search signals.
2. Local Search Engines
You’ve already taken the steps to perfect your business listing on Google Places and Yahoo Local (right? Please say yes?), but what about the small local search engine and third-party data providers like Localeze of Best of the Web? If you haven’t, I’d recommend that you make it a priority to do so. Not only do they serve as trusted citation sources, but they also feed information to the bigger search engines. As a small business, you want as many sources as possible all giving Google the correct NAP (Name, Address, Phone Number) for your business. This is how you begin to build trust.
3. Local Blogs and Business Directories
Keep an eye out for blogs associated with your neighborhood that either featured local companies, have an area directory, or create industry-specific lists. This is another great way to build up relevant citations and to expose your business to new customers at the same time. Because blogs are typically very well crawled, these can be powerful signals for the search engines.
Similar to local blogs, look for local business directories associated with either your state, your city or your specific town. This is another good way to show the engines what neighborhoods your business is relevant to.
4. Article Directories
Are you using article submission sites to pick up some low-level links or build expertise? If you are, then you may as well find a way to work in your business address so that the article will also count as a citation. These directories tend to be very well-indexed by the search engines because of the influx of new content always coming in.
5. Social Place Listings
Thanks to the local wars, you can now create a business listing on FourSquare, Yelp, Facebook, LinkedIn and virtually every other social media website on the planet. If the site allows an option for you to enter your NAP, take advantage of it. Don’t spam your profile information, but if there’s an option to add it, don’t let it pass by.
6. Where Your Competitors Have Citations
If you’re trying to build up citations, it’s never a bad idea to take a look at what your competitors are doing to see if it makes sense for you as well. You can perform some Google searches to see where the competition is listed or you can use a tool like Whitespark’s Local Citation Finder to let you search by keyword or phone number. If you’re using the free version it will take some time to run it, but once it does you’ll have a prioritized list of places to attack for citations.
Those are six places I’d recommend small business owners look at to increase local citations and, in turn, search rankings. Which sources do you swear by?
Great article and the basis for all things local search optimization. You would be surprised at just how many businesses are not aware of the 1. the importance of this and 2. Google, Yahoo and Bing Local services…
thanks for this,
Nice, actionable article that gives SMBs a concrete set of 10 places to go and get a citation (if they visit the link to David Mihm’s report).
Searching for the companys phone number can also reveal several unexplored citation sources.
Local trade associations and similar sites listing local companies can also be very helpful.
This seems to be the topic of the week over at our company. Thanks for the article!
Great article and some solid ideas for picking up more local citations. I tried out whitespark and it seemed to return 0 results with each search. Maybe it’s just a glitch right now. Would be great to have a tool like that to find new places to list local businesses.
Wow! Great info at just the right time. I do have a posting on google places but the rest of this is a wonderful checklist. I will start conquering it tonight. Thank you for such a thorough list of resources!!! If you have any ideas for SEO for online retailers I’d be interested to see that as well !
Williams Tax & Financial Seevices
I really appreciate all the great info from this article. I’ve been doing my own SEO and had great sucess until recently for a couple local keywords. I feel like I’m armed and ready to dominate again! Thanks
Just wanted to let you know that David’s link is broken. All that is missing is the L for the .shtml 😉
I’m not affiliate with David, but his information has helped me immensely. I didn’t want anyone else to miss out when they stumble upon this article.
Thanks, Stephanie. I fixed the link. The second link actually worked, it was only the first that did not work.
Hi Lisa, I was bit confused on Local citation how to does it for my money website, though your article has cleared my issues, I am much thankful to you for giving such a good insight on “What is Local Citation and How to work on them”… As per suggested links for Local citation finder i will give it a try and see how much effective it is for me.
Great article Thanks, I feel that all my energy in building a local, niche directory may eventually be worthwhile 🙂
Nice article. Hits a lot of good points and reminders. All these are important and have to be constantly be monitored