A Little Background
In years past, you could buy an ad or two in the local newspaper, put your business name in The Yellow Pages, and maybe nail hand painted signs to telephone poles. Your chances of capturing local business was as good as the competition’s. Then, along came the wonderful world wide web, which practically killed off all physical copies of The Yellow Pages and pushed all local inquiries to search engines.
The new twist here is that search engines, such as Google and Bing, rely on local citations to formulate their rankings. You’re probably anticipating a bunch of convoluted jargon from here on out, but the Beginners Guide to Local Citations for Small Businesses is here to simplify, not complicate.
What the Heck are Local Citations?
In the most basic sense, a citation is a “mention” of your business name, address, and phone number on a webpage other than your own. A listing on Yellowpages.com or Yelp would qualify. One caveat that should be mentioned is that a web page lacking all three members of the NAP family (name, address, phone number), counts only as a partial citation, which is important in the SEO world. As we have seen, these citations play heavily into search engine rankings. Also, local citations are just as, if not more so, important to businesses lacking a website. This is how customers find you!
What’s in a Name?
No need for a 12th Grade English flashback; you will not be asked to explain what Shakespeare meant when he had Juliet utter those lines. The point being driven here is how crucial consistency is to the citation/ranking process. When it comes to your business name, you want to maintain uniformity across platforms. For instance, if you were the operator of ABC Plumbing, a Google+ profile for ABC Plumbing would only confuse the issue if you were listed elsewhere as ABC #1 Plumbing. It probably goes without saying that your business related phone number and/or address should follow suit.
The Template of Doom
Before sprinting out across the internet on your digital legs, take a moment to hammer out a spreadsheet or two. This will help to ensure that vital consistency just mentioned. If this sounds like the absolute worst way to spend a Saturday night, there are companies, such as Moz Local and Yext, offering this service. Budget conscious businesses can take the DIY approach. For this option, there are free templates out there, but you’ll never get that Saturday night back. Regardless, the essential information required boils down to:
- Your Name: Or name of the business owner.
- Email Address: The one associated with the business, not the Ashley Madison account.
- Company Name: The exact name as it appears on your website, and Google+.
- Address: The same address on all other sites, down to the Suite or Floor Number (if applicable). Check for Typos.
- Phone Number: Make sure this is the Local number.
- Landing Page Link: Here is a good spot to insert a link to your landing page for that particular office or physical location.
- Check for Typos!
To Be Continued
In the next installment of the Beginners Guide to Local Citations for Small Businesses we will look at the ins-and-outs of listing with local citations, the importance of scoping the competition, and making the citations translate into dividends.