Local SEO focuses on increasing rankings in Google’s local 3-pack of results. Just like increasing rankings for natural search, marketers have the opportunity to improve where they show in local results. And a successful local SEO campaign typically consists of these 4 components:
- Google My Business
- Citations & Directory Information
- Maintaining Consistent Information Online
- Acquiring Reviews from Customers
Most small businesses who provide a service in their local community leverage these 4 components into their local marketing strategy to pull in traffic and customers from Google’s local results:
While it may be easy to create a Google My Business profile and validate your information via postcard, the other aspects of a local SEO strategy require a keen understanding of why citations matter, where to look for citations and how to resolve inconsistencies in online data.
Why Does a Local Citation Matter?
Local citation sources like Yelp, Yahoo Local, Bing Places, Facebook and Yellow Pages help Google validate your core business information. Just like we use backlinks as part of an off-page SEO strategy, citations act as a source for Google to further understand your business.
You can also think of a citation as a reference – the more references you can have talking about your business, the better.
How Many Citation Sources Are There?
While there may be hundreds of local directories and citations to add your business’s information to, there are a handful that are critical and can sometimes be difficult to obtain. For this reason, local business owners tend to hire an SEO agency or specialist to acquire difficult citations (again, just like difficult links) and manage the presence of their business on those citation sites.
Also, there may be specialized citations depending on the business type. For example, a 55 plus community would want to list its information on 55communityguide.com or topretirementcommunities.com as they are very tuned into the audience.
How to Find Missing Citations
The first step to understand how your business could perform in a Google local 3-pack is to run a scan of missing citations. You likely already have a Google My Business, Yelp and Facebook page built, but where else could you be acquiring high quality references to your business? A quick Google search will show you the most valuable citations available.
Once you know where your business is missing references, it’s time to create these valuable locations.
Resolving Inconsistent or Duplicate Information
In addition to missing citations, it’s important to have accurate information across the internet. In most locations you are allowed to have a name, phone number, website, address, select a business category and add a description of your business. Of these fields, it’s important to maintain accuracy for the NAME, ADDRESS and PHONE. You have likely heard your SEO consultant refer to this as “NAP”.
If your citations have inaccurate or duplicate information, it can prevent you from achieving better results in Google searches. This is because Google crawls these different sources and looks for consistent information, which is then used to grade your Google My Business page.
Don’t Forget About Review Management
Once your GMB profile starts to rank and show in localized results, you are on your way to obtaining new customers. As you start to service these new customers, they will begin leaving reviews for your business to advise future customers. Negative or positive, it’s imperative you manage reviews and respond to appropriately interact with customers. Even just a quick “Thanks!” can go a long way in customer satisfaction and retention.
If you can control the conversation with your customers, you’ll maintain the reputation of your brand.
Just like citations, you can expect to see reviews from dozens of different locations, but there a key few that are most important to your business. For instance, if you work in real estate, you probably expect reviews from Zillow, Realtor or Trulia. Be mindful of reviews coming in from Google and Facebook, and be careful with review spam. Remember that authenticity is
important as well – never post your own reviews or solicit reviews from sources who are not your customers.
Equally important to responding to reviews is using a campaign to acquire new reviews. You should be thinking about a review every time you interact with a customer. You can even automate asking for a review through email marketing or text message marketing. In any case, you should always be considering reviews.
Local SEO & Review Management
For the average business owner, the marketing activities described here may be a bit overwhelming. While you’re an expert in your trade, we’re experts in ours and can help you with your local marketing strategy including Google My Business verification and optimization, sourcing and claiming citations, and managing reviews from one convenient dashboard.
If this sounds like a problem you have been trying to solve, please contact us to find out how to get started.