Local SEO 101: Use Local Citations to Give Your Business a Huge Boost in Traffic
How your website ranks on Google and other search engines can make or break your business. That’s especially true if you own a local business with a large number of competitors.
If your website is buried beneath all of your competitors’ websites, you’re missing out on a huge number of potential customers. After all, the vast majority of customers who search for a local businesses on Google never venture beyond the first page of search results. If your website isn’t on that first page, most customers won’t even know your business exists. One way to boost your site’s search ranking and ensure your business stays near the top of the food chain is by utilizing local citations.
What Are Local Citations?
Local citations are mentions of your business on external websites — i.e. any time your business is cited on a website other than your own. Local citations can consist of any combination of details about your business including your business name, physical address, web address, and phone number. The most effective citations will include all four of those details.
Why Local Citations Matter
Boosting Your Search Rankings — Google and other search engines use local citations to help categorize businesses and decide where to place them in user search results. The more citations a business has, the more likely it is to appear near the top of a user’s results.
That’s why it’s best to have as many details as possible included in each citation. For one, it helps ensure that search engines properly identify the citation as being relevant to your specific business. If a citation merely includes your business name, the search engine may mistakenly attribute the citation to a different business with the same name.
Additionally, every citation that includes a link to your website further helps boost your site’s search ranking. Essentially, search engines interpret every backlink to your website as an endorsement of your business. Backlinks make your website appear more legitimate and authoritative in the eyes of search engines, so they’ll improve your search ranking accordingly.
Boosting Your Customer Base Directly — In addition to SEO benefits, local citations help your business reach new customers directly. Every citation that includes your business name is essentially an advertisement of your business. Every user who sees a citation that includes your phone number or website will potentially reach out and become a customer. Every user who sees your business address will potentially make note of it and visit your business in person.
How to Acquire More Local Citations
If your business is popular, you’ll receive a number of citations organically from local publications and reviewers. However, if you truly want to have an edge over your competition, you should actively try to increase your number of local citations. There are two primary ways to do so:
Reaching out to Influencers — No matter what kind of business you own, there’s most likely a number of online publications dedicated to your niche. Search around the web to find publications dedicated to posting industry news and reviews relevant to your business. Then, reach out directly to the editors of those publications to see if they’ll include a local citation of your business in one of their future posts.
Of course, it helps to offer incentives. For example, if you own a local restaurant, offer free meals to the editors of local food blogs in exchange for published citations. If you own an e-store or other business that sells material goods, offer free products to editors who own local websites relevant to your niche. In exchange for the free products, ask the editors to publish reviews that include citations.
It’s also a good idea to offer unique incentives to each publication’s readers. For example, you might offer a “50-percent off” deal for all customers who use a promotional code including the publication’s name. That way, the editors will be able to offer their readers a unique benefit in exchange for citing your business.
Customer Incentives — There are a multitude of huge websites that publish customer reviews including Google, Yelp, and Facebook. In addition to acquiring local citations from established publications, you should also actively try to generate as many positive customer reviews on as many platforms as possible. That way, when customers research your business after coming across it in a citation, they’ll see it as reputable.
To boost your number of positive reviews, offer your customers special deals for posting a positive review online. For example, you might offer a discount or free product to every customer who emails you a screenshot of their published review on one of the major platforms listed above.
No matter how positive of an experience you offer, the vast majority of customers won’t take the time to post a positive review of your business on their own. However, if you offer them something for their time, you’ll start to see the reviews pour in. The value of having a large number of positive reviews across the web will more than pay for the free or discounted products you’re offering over time.