What are local SEO citations and why do they matter?
A local citation is any mention of your local business online that includes your NAP. That’s Name, Address, Phone number. In the good old days, the Yellow Pages was the main place that you had to make sure your NAP was correct. Customers can’t stumble upon your listing or your store if your information isn’t correct.
If the book printed with wrong information, you were out-of-luck for a whole year or two. That could really hurt your business. Today, the NAP is just as important. But the Internet is where customers, businesses and tech companies like Google source and distribute this information. And if it’s wrong, it can have similar severe consequences.
How Online Local SEO Citations Influence Customers
Despite what you might have heard, people actually do want to buy locally when they can. Many people, including Millennials, have an inherent trust for businesses in the community. They like the idea that they can walk into your showroom. They can speak to someone face-to-face if they have a complex question or something isn’t right with their order. You can’t do that on Amazon.
They want to support local jobs. They understand that supporting their community is good for them and those they care about.
Your NAP is how people find you. It helps people understand which reviews are yours and which belong to a business with a similar name. Consistent local SEO citations allow them to tap your number on their smartphone to instantly call you. They can plug your address into GPS to visit your store.
Yes, customers rely on local SEO citations in many ways. But search engines like Google need them as well.
How Online Local SEO Citations Influence Search Rankings
Much like the customers, Google uses these citations to:
- Determine that you’re really a local business
- Make sure you appear in local searches. Get preferential treatment over national companies trying to increase market share in your area.
- Judge your online reputation as a whole. How deep and broad is your reputation? In which categories and circles are you most respected? Do people think highly of you? Or do you get poor reviews, mentions, etc.?
Google gathers this information to develop an opinion of you. And Google’s opinion matters because they incorporate this into their algorithm. It influences how visible you are in search results. If local SEO citations are inconsistent or not present, then Google may not “count” some partial citations. These should be yours when they weigh your online reputation. You won’t rank as highly in searches without them.
According to Statista, approximately 12% of retail sales now happen online. And 88% of people who visit a local business through search results on a mobile device will physically visit that business within 24 hours. If you’re not visible in local searches, you miss out on a lot of business. And it probably goes to your competitors.
Now, that it’s clear why monitoring SEO citations for consistency is so important, let’s explore what you need to monitor and how to do it.
Types of Local SEO Citations
Local citations fall into 3 major categories, as follows.
Major Local Business Data Platforms
Businesses, SEO professionals and marketers (which includes SEO professionals), can intentionally and strategically submit NAP to the many directories online.
You’ll find millions of directories online. So it’s important to know which ones are important. You can waste a lot of time with mock directories and even directories that hurt your SEO. This kind of directory is often covered up to the neck in ads that destroy the customer experience.
Some of the most important directories include:
- Google My Business (Most Important!)
Additionally, review sites are vital as these are where your customers go to learn about how you handle customer relations. Some of the top ones include:
- YP (Yellow Pages)
To start, make sure you have a complete and consistent NAP in each of these locations. In the case of Facebook, Yelp and Google My Business (GMB), you can also manage your business page. Add images, videos, and descriptions. Encourage customers to help you fill out the pages with reviews, photos, and videos of themselves visiting your business.
Geo-Based or Industry-Specific Platforms
Remember that we mentioned the depth and breadth of your reputation? Having consistent local SEO citations across different types gives your online reputation this depth that helps Google understands how truly authoritative you are in your industry.
Seek out other data platforms that are local and/or industry specific. These will be unique to your area. Digital marketers who specialize in your industry and have familiarized themselves with your area will know which sites to focus on.
These may include things like:
- Chamber of Commerce
- Your local Better Business Bureau (BBB)
- Furniture retailer, manufacturer, designer, salespeople, etc. associations
- Guilds and Clubs
And last but not least, monitor your local SEO citations on the Internet as a whole.
The Internet Community
The Internet is huge and there are at least a million different places you might get mentioned by someone else. You can actively create citations around the Internet. But there will be many that you don’t actively create. For these mentions, you need systems in place to be aware of them.
Not tracking these local SEO citations that others create for you would be like this scenario. You spend your whole senior year getting laughed at because of a nasty, false rumor without knowing who started it. What would that do to your reputation? What would your prom date prospects have been? And you wouldn’t even know why people disliked you.
Knowing is always best. You can proactively correct misinformation, prevent damage to your online reputation, and clear up confusion only if you know about it.
Other locations for local citation information
- Social media – Create your own posts as you expand your online presence. Tag your location in these posts. But also, know what posts people are creating about you. These are called “mentions”.
- Blogs and Vlogs (video logs) – Create your own blog and video content that include mentions of the location in text as well as location tags, location alt titles, etc. But you also need to know what’s being said about you on these platforms so you can address it.
- News sites – If a local online newspaper writes a feature story that mentions you, a good journalist would always reach out to you for comment. But you still need to verify that the information that makes it into the article is accurate. Submit a revision request to the journalist or publication.
- Apps – People use apps today for all kinds of things from tracking sales events to keeping people informed about business-hosted concerts to price matching. This information needs to be accurate so that you can benefit from these tools. This is especially important if you created the app. Apps need regular updates to stay useful.
- Maps – Want more foot traffic into the showroom? The maps that people use online to find you need to accurately show your location.
- Government databases – Many government entities may publish your NAP.
- Your Own Website – Don’t forget your own site. Keep your site up-to-date. If you mentioned an old location in a blog post two years ago, but that showroom has since moved, update that ASAP. Use headers and footers that allow you to update most of the NAP across your site all at once.
As part of your local SEO strategies, actively create citations in locations like these and track those that you don’t create.
What is a Complete Local Citation?
While contact info is the most important, that’s not all that you need to monitor. Other misinformation could be negatively impacting your business right now. If you’re not monitoring, you may not even know. This expanded NAP includes:
- Hours of operation, including holiday hours. Yelp and Google will send you a reminder to update holiday hours as the holidays approach. Don’t ignore them. And if you’re not getting reminders, check your account settings.
- Your business category. If you primarily sell post-modern vintage furniture, your citations need to reflect that, not just say “furniture dealer”.
- Description of your business
- Coordinates for GPS
- Response to reviews… They matter to customers. Unanswered bad reviews mean you’re not listening.
- Payment information & Financing Options
- Logo, taglines, brand colors/fonts, etc. that people associate with your brand
- Social media and website links
We’ve shared tidbits along the way regarding the various ways you will monitor Local SEO citations. Next, let’s take a look at ways to efficiently organize the monitoring process to ensure it’s done consistently and done right.
How to Monitor Your Citations Effectively
There are 3 primary methods for monitoring. Some cost more in time and may require a part-time to a full-time dedicated person. Others cost more in technology investment. And we’ll share how you can save on both.
Manual Local Citation Monitoring
In this method, you’ll write down a system for regularly checking citations. This plan should include a list of all the places you need to build and verify citations as well as track mentions and citations created by others. Also, write down the frequency and expected time investment so that you can appropriately budget time and resources.
Some citations may not change much and can be checked semi-annually. But others will be in constant flux. You may need to dedicate time each day.
Manual monitoring works well for startups with time on their hands and little revenues coming in yet. Doing this manually is a slow, tedious process. Established businesses generally don’t benefit from the manual. There’s too much for a single person to keep up with. For established companies even small ones, semi-automated is a better option.
Semi-Automated Local SEO Citation Management
A semi-automated approach employs online Software as a Service (SaaS) tools, some of which offer the limited capability for free but may require significant investment if the whole tool is needed. A furniture company should do their homework to invest in the best SaaS tools (You may need more than one). And be prepared to make the most of that tool to get your money’s worth.
Semi-automated helps you achieve important citation creation and management faster, but the downside is that SaaS tools can be cost-prohibitive for a single business that uses them in a limited capacity.
Fully-Automated + Expert Monitored SEO Citations
In this scenario, your furniture company is full-invested in industry-leading tools that slash the time investment to a fraction what it would be while delivering superior results. You just put your information into a tool once. Then these systems automatically update that information in all the right places. They also track mentions and expanded NAP locations for errors and things that need to be addressed.
They can then alert the human who is trained to use these more advanced tools. The human handles the things that the tool cannot like thoughtfully and carefully responding to negative reviews or social media comments.
We do not recommend that you automate that. Or you could end up with a serious PR disaster as Progressive Insurance did. People once flooded their Twitter account with tweets related to a negative news story. The account automatically responded with the Progressive lady, Flo’s cheerful face. It was accompanied by a perky comment about how valuable their customers are. Infuriating!
Generally, full automation only makes financial sense when you work with a marketing company. They have invested in these tools and the training to use them. Because marketing companies work with several companies nationally, they can spread the cost of these tools out. This makes them much more affordable and accessible to clients. On top of that, they have the expertise to get the most out of SaaS tools.
The Best Way to Manage Local SEO Citations
Soar in the local search rankings by creating and monitoring your local SEO citations. MicroD can help. We have the SaaS and proprietary tools as well as the furniture industry seo experts that retailers need. And put these tools to work for you. We help you dominate the local search results faster, reach more customers and get more foot traffic into your showroom. Contact us today to learn more.