Getting local search traffic from Google has become more difficult over the past few years. From the constant algorithm changes to the reduction of the Google Local Pack from seven to three results, businesses have had to constantly be improving their local results.
This is why it is more important than ever to have the right strategy in place to help you navigate the ever-changing waters of the search landscape. It is best to be prepared for these changes.
Therefore, when we saw the recent Brightlocal survey, we saw it was time to re-evaluate the importance of local citations for your business.
What are Local Citations?
As we discussed in the Local Search Ranking Factors article, citations are “the listing of your business name, address, and phone number (NAP) on third party websites. For example, Yellow Pages listing your retail store name and address on YP.Com is an example of a citation.”
Citations were more important a few years ago when Google had less factors in their algorithms. Yet, they are still one of the top 5 ranking features for Google Local Results.
Additionally, 33% of search experts according to the Brightlocal survey stated that citations are a crucial component of your Google local results. Although this number is down from 55% from 2015, citations are still significant to getting ranked on Google.
A quick aside! In the future, as citations become easier to verify, the importance of reviews on your Google Local listings increase in value. Right now they only account for 8% of your local search algorithm according to Moz.
Not only are reviews valued by Google, they are also one of the things that consumers look at first when considering your establishment.
Just do not neglect reviews on your Google local account, because they will become more valuable in the future. For now, focus on quality citations.
Remember, 61% of smartphone users do not leave their home without their mobile devices. With so many mobile users armed with GPS, they need an address to make sure they arrive at your retail establishment ready to purchase and not complain how they got lost.
Therefore, let’s discuss how you can improve your citations to ensure more local traffic and happy customers at your door.
How do I improve my local citations?
- Consistent Structure– The first key to quality citations is that your name, address, and place must be the same across your directory listings and on your website.
That means when we want people to discuss Shout on their local directories they use the same address, 54 Porter St., Prahran, VIC 3181, as we have on our website. Plus, it helps that this is our real address where we conduct business.
Finally, make sure that Google has the information correct on their site. By claiming your location on Google My Business, you can ensure that Google has the correct address for you.
Note: Google sends a postcard to your location within 2 weeks of you setting up the address. Make sure to respond to the URL listed. This verifies your address with Google, so they know your business is legit.
- Quality of the Citations– One of the biggest discoveries from the Brightlocal survey was the fact that 86% of local Sydney SEO experts felt the quality of the citations was more important than the quantity.
In essence, if you want more citations for your website, do not run out and purchase one on every directory you can find.
Instead, focus on claiming local listings from high-quality directories. The directories that can help you the most have an established presence and are not the ones that do not abuse Google’s algorithm.
Furthermore, do not just go to broad directories. Concentrate on niche and industry directories that are relevant to your business.
The more relevant the directory, the more Google trusts the source.
- Industry/Category- While this is probably a bit basic, it needs to be said. How you categorize your site on Google Plus Local is vitally important to your results.
Just like you do not want your business address to be incorrect, you also do not want your company’s industry to be mislabelled.
As location technology improves, Google might move away from the citation model. However, at the moment they still rely heavily upon citations to understand more about the business you operate and where you are located.
Mobile searches ensure that citations will continue to be an important part of the local search process.
Therefore, focus on finding the quality citations your business needs to improve their results.
If you have any questions about how to do this, contact Shout for a free consultation session. Our local SEO agency can provide you with the insights you need to improve your local citation quality.