Local searches currently make up more than 20 percent of Google’s search traffic, and local listings have become far more prominent in Google’s result pages. If you want your local business to rank well, you’re going to need more than just a well-optimized Google Places page. You’re going to need citations, or consistent online listings of your business information. In her article on Search Engine Land, Erin Everhart offers some suggestions for landing these local SEO citations.
Join the Local Directories
Local directory services offer two advantages when it comes to local search. Not only do they provide solid citations for your business, but they provide another means for potential customers to find you. Some people may rely on search engines to find their local businesses, but many still prefer to go straight to the directory listings. “Each industry will have its own set of aggregators,” writes Everhart, “and doing a search for ‘City [name] + industry’ will help you find your options.
Some of the major directories you should definitely list your business in are Yelp, Superpages, City Search, Yellow Pages, Angie’s List, Express Update USA, Yahoo Local, Merchant Circle, Dex Knows, Insider Pages, Localeze, Shop City, Judy’s Book, Yellow Bot, and Kudzo. Travel-related businesses should consider Trip Advisor, and restaurants should include their listings in Urban Spoon and Open Table.
See Where Your Competitors Are Listed
For local SEO, you should always strive to be listed in the same places your competitors are. Searching for a competitor’s business name and phone number will bring up some additional places where you can list your business information. Everhart suggests localizing the results by searching on the phone number without the area code, or searching on the business name, address, and city name. “You’ll likely need to click through a couple of pages in Google,” she writes, “since the first page will be results related to that business specifically.”
Take Advantage of Social Media and Local Blogs
Social cues are a major factor in local listings, so you shouldn’t miss the opportunity to list your business information on Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, Foursquare, and any other social networks you can. Local bloggers often include a page for local businesses or vendors, so you can come up with another list of potential citations by doing a search for industry-related blogs in your city. For example, if you’re a restaurant, you should search for “city name + food blogs” or “city name + restaurant blogs.”
Finally, check for any national blogs that have localized counterparts. For example, The Knot includes local vendor databases where wedding-related services (caterers, venues, florists, hair salons, DJs, transportation, etc.) can list their business information.
Check Out Local Directories and Newspapers
“Local newspapers and local directories are an easy way to grab a citation,” writes Everhart, “and these typically have a higher value since they’re focused only on one area.”
Many local newspapers have business listing databases where you can submit your information. In addition, if you host any local events, the calendar listings in your local newspapers can be an invaluable citation source.
By conducting a search on “city name + business listings” or “city name + directory,” you can come up with a list of local directories. In addition, the PPC ads that inevitably show up on the results pages can provide you with a number of additional places to list your business. Make sure you list your business with your city’s chamber of commerce website as well.