This is Local?… and I’m gonna ask you just one more time… And it’s Local? (pardon the Portlandia reference)
Google is constantly learning who you are, and they certainly know where you are. That’s why folks are now inundated with local results for many Google searches… especially searches involving a type of business. Have you noticed your search results looking different? How bout that 7-pack of local listings planted right in the middle of the page? It’s no mystery why Local SEO is becoming so important. Searches for local businesses account for 20% of all searches in Google.
Google knows this, and they recognize the significance of local listings. Furthermore, there is eye-tracking data to prove that people are indeed drawn to these local listings. Check the heat map below taken from Search Engine Land:
Crucial for Businesses
So what does this mean for business owners? It means you better get crackin with your local business directories to build citations. Citations are “mentions” of your business in terms of business name, address & basic info on other websites. To be clear, we’re not referring to general link building. We’re speaking of listings in specific types of sites, such as directories and associations. There doesn’t need to be a link to your website to constitute a citation, aka a “web reference.” For example a citation would be a listing of your company’s basic info on Yelp, Superpages, or another online directory.
Major search engines such as Google use these citations as a major factor in their ranking algorithm. Portals like Superpages are well indexed by the search engines, and citations there can provide search engines with certainty of your business category and information. Furthermore, people do actually use these directories to directly look for businesses. So you want to be there when they do.
Okay, Okay, What Do I Do?
Start listing your business! *But make sure you list it consistently. As Search Engine Land states, “if you have “Street” on your Places page, make sure it’s “Street”, not “St.”, across all citations as well.”
Oh yeah, did we mention that if you don’t have a Google Places page, then you need to get one… yesterday.
Below is a great list of directories to submit your business information.
- City Search
- Urban Spoon and OpenTable (for restaurants)
- Yellow Pages
- Angie’s List
- Express Update USA (formally infoUSA)
- Yahoo Local
- Trip Advisor
- Merchant Circle
- Dex Knows
- Insider Pages
- Shop City
- Judy’s Book
- Yellow Bot
I Want More
The above list is a good foundation, but by no means comprehensive. They are the bigger more general (though important) directories. You can do your own research to discover other listing opportunities that may be valuable. Here’s some things you can do:
- Check on what the competition is doing for local SEO
- Search “their business name and phone number” in quotes to find where they’re listed
- Search their business name with the address and city name
- Make sure your complete contact info is listed on all of your networks
- Facebook, LindedIn, Google+, etc.
- Check on local bloggers that may present a list of companies to their audience
- Search “your city name + blog”
- Search “your city name + (your niche) blog”
- Check national blogs that have local satellite blogs such as…
- The Knot
- The Business Journals
Local Newspapers & Directories
- Submit to your Local newspaper’s business listing database
- Search “city name + directory” or “city name + business listings”
- Narrow it down to searches like “Charleston plumber listings”
Lastly, if you have the dough, Whitespark has a local citation finder that does most of the dirty work for you.
Most of this information was pulled from Search Engine Land. They also provided the following links:
- Top 50 Citation Sources For UK & US Local Businesses
- 10 Unorthodox Ideas For Local Citations & Links