Search engines are always evolving; one must embrace these changes to stay afloat in the ever-changing search landscape. Whilst Google, Bing, Yahoo!, DuckDuckGo and move forward, citations have remained one of a growing list of elements that your website will need to consider in order to improve its visibility. In local search terms, citations are one of the major contributing factors to a visible presence in local results. According to Moz:
“A citation is any web-based mention of your company’s partial or complete name, address, and phone number (NAP). A “structured citation” refers to a listing of your business in an online local business directory such as YP.com, HotFrog, or Best of the Web.”
The practice of building links/citations has changed drastically in recent years, but there are a few ways in which you, as a local business, can use your location as an asset.
1. Try ‘Googling’ your location and your location + businesses
E.g. “Witney Businesses”
When doing this search for my local town, I instantly have 8 sites that list local businesses and services in my local areas – these are easy win places to get a quick citation and the local nature of these online mentions will back up your fight for a decent place when people perform localised searches.
Extra credit: Make a list of the companies you see appearing on these sites and search for those businesses in Google to find additional places they are being mentioned – this will uncover some more opportunities to get your business listed.
2. Search for your service + location
E.g. “Carpet Cleaners in Witney”
This will highlight some of your competitors; if you don’t already know them, it could well spark some ideas.
Jot down the sites that come up during your research and from there you have a couple of options to look into:
– Use a free link tool to analyse the websites that are pointing at these similar sites.
– Try searching their phone number and/or address, which will bring up more citation sources.
3. Get Involved
Note down a range of local organisations/establishments; try thinking about local Churches, Universities, Hotels, Retirement homes, Schools etc.
With this list, figure out ways your business may be able to help these organisations. Many of these sites are seen by Google as pillars of the community, and therefore really great places to get cited/linked to from, reinforcing your business presence in your locale. Leveraging the power of .edu websites (schools, universities, etc) has long been the holy grail of SEO.
Eg: A local plumber could offer their services to the local church; hairdressers could help pamper the residents at the retirement home; a florist could run flower arrangement lessons or help local school children grow their own garden. By offering your specialist service to the local community, you could be listed as a partner/sponsor/organiser on established websites, as well as making a positive impact to the community.
Extra credit: if you do become active locally, a quick email to your local newspaper will usually result in a reply; local news outlets crave content. They will be more than happy to give you a few column inches, as well as a mention/link from their website. This is great online and offline PR!
4. Local bloggers & discussion boards
Use you locality to your advantage! Search for and build a relationship with bloggers based in your area; meet for a coffee or strike up a conversation over social media. Knowing that you are local is a sure fire way to guarantee a response. Recommend a local café or restaurant to underline the fact you are a real person.
A few ways to find local bloggers:
– Search Google. Use either the main search or the blog search section to help find people near you. Combined with some search operators you should be able to find a plethora of blogs in your vicinity.
– Followerwonk is a free tool that searches twitter profiles for terms you define; stick your location in the search bar and see what comes up.
– Meetup is a great site. Find a local meet up and just get to know the people there; they will more than likely be tech savvy and own a blog or website of their own.
5. Competition Alerts
Set up a Google Alert, or sign up to Talkwalker and create an alert for your competitors; add in their business name, address and phone number. Now you will get alerted every time they are mentioned online – anywhere!
Extra credit: try setting up national alerts for terms used in your industry; this can help give you ideas for content to create and provide a great platform for you to piggyback on national news and could even help you score some major local coverage.