Local Business Citations are the Key to Small Business SEO
Few small businesses or firms offering local SEO services understand the effectiveness that citations can have on their rankings. Sure, they know that they need to show up in local results on Google places. But do they know how to compete with the other businesses already ranking there?
Think about where you rank in the local listings right now. If you were rather late to the game, you’re not going to have a dominant position unless other sites help Google figure out just how big of a player you are in the market.
Use Local Listing Sites to Build Your Rankings in the Seven Pack
That list of local businesses is known as “the seven pack.” That’s because, typically, the results are shown in groups of seven. Search for any local business, such as “Plumbing Reading California” and you’ll see the seven pack prominently displayed.
There are three ways SEO gurus know how to boost your rankings. The first is the length of time your business has been present in Google maps. Just for you newbies out there, that’s what it was called way back before they changed the name of the service to “places.” You can’t really do anything to manipulate this. It’s the least important of the three.
The second way to boost your rankings is by completely filling out your business profile on places. Add descriptions of services and products, images, videos, and key words targeted to your service offering. This content should be just as optimized as the content on your site. This can help, but a competitor with an older listing can easily create a similarly optimized profile and maintain the lead.
Citations Provide the Key to Dominant Seven Pack Listings
This is what most small businesses and SEO gurus fail to recognize. You need to have citations for your business in all the right places on the web. The first and easiest place is by adding your company address and telephone number to your site.
Use this same information and register your businesses on as many of the following listings as possible:
- Yahoo! local
- Insider Pages
- Merchant Circle
If you can afford to do so, pick up listings with your local yellow pages directories. They tend to maintain separate online listings, and some of them are actually free. This counts as another powerful citation.
The more web 2.0 business review sites that reference your company, with the same address and phone number as listed on your site, the better.
It’s like having ten authority sites point a relevant link towards your low search volume keyword. It provides the massive boost you need to get a first place position in the seven pack.
There are a few other things you can do. Issue press releases that include your company’s telephone number and address. These count as valuable citations, too.
The important thing, here, is that you treat this process no different as link building for your key phrases. In this case, though, you are focusing on building “citations” that reference your company, its address, and telephone number.
Get more of these than your competitor and their listing can be as old and optimized as they want – you’re still going to win.