Align Your Small Business Citations to Improve SEO

Your business can have a local office to attract visitors and a local phone number to attract customer calls, but the digital era has added an extra corner to the local business triangle: online search listings and directories. When it comes to optimizing your business web presence for local search, relevant content and keywords are probably the first things that spring to mind. Your local vanity number is also useful, as the bridge between a memorable contact number and the familiarity of a local area code for customers. What might be less immediately obvious, but no less important, are the structured citations of your business. [caption id="attachment_2085" align="aligncenter" width="539"]Image example of local mobile search results Local mobile search results, informed by business listings and citations[/caption]  

Size Up Your Small Business Citations

A citation is any instance of your company name, address, and/or phone number online, with or without a link to your site. A structured citation is one found on a reputable business listing site, such as Merchant Circle, Yelp!, or Yellow Pages. Despite sounding complex, building your structured business citations is a simple yet effective ways to boost your local SEO. There are more than enough business listing services to keep you busy, so it makes sense to judge how well you're doing on the most popular sites first. Take into account the following factors as you size up your citations:
  • Make sure that you are the registered owner and editor of each site listing. For regular maintenance, it makes sense to keep a master spreadsheet with URL and log in IDs for each citation source.
  • Ensure that each instance of your business appearing on a listing site includes the complete name, address, and phone number (NAP).
  • Establish a consistent version of that NAP combination to use on each and every listing site. Discrepancies can throw off search engines when they attempt to match up different listings to your business location.
  • Select the relevant business categories for your listing, especially those that relate to specific services that you offer.
  • Pay extra attention to enhancing local listings for heavily trafficked sites like Google, Yelp, Foursquare etc. This includes uploading attractive photos of your business and ensuring that opening hours are complete and accurate.
With an initial review and regular maintenance, your business can have structured citations contributing to your local SEO results within weeks.

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