Are you taking advantage of Google and other search engines’ new focus on local search engine optimization (SEO)?
If not, it could be costing you sales.
Over the past two years, search engine results for local products or services have changed drastically and often come back with maps of your local area and corresponding “map points” for local businesses.
Obviously, being included in those valuable top listings can improve your business. How can you get one of those prominent positions? By building credibility through online directories and links.
The Trustworthiness Factor
Google’s ranking formula places a lot of emphasis on the trustworthiness of your website and the information on it. They have to; otherwise “spammy” websites would dominate search results and we would never find what we are looking for.
So how does Google measure the trust and credibility of your business online? A key component of its ranking formula is what is known as “citation sources.” A citation is loosely defined as a link from an authoritative source or directory, review site or local pages directory. Citation links help establish trust with Google through the validation of business information. And, in addition to helping your local SEO ranking, citation sources also provide another big benefit: They drive visitors directly to your website. This is especially true if the website or directory is a local resource. Many of these sites offer reviews and/or customer feedback that can play a key role in your online branding efforts.
Make sure your business is included in directories, such as those mentioned in the box on this page, and make sure every citation accurately represents your business address, phone, website URL and other pertinent information
Building Your Local Connections
Local citation sources are extremely valuable and it pays to have a strategy for getting listed in local directories and with credible local organizations.
Here are a few sources you should connect with to build local links:
- Social Media. Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn communities will help you network and find like-minded people who may be willing to link to your site
- Associations and Organizations. Are you a member of the Chamber of Commerce? Better Business Bureau? Local organizations like these will link back to your site and help search engines trust your site. Don’t stop there. Contact other local groups with which you are affiliated or that have credentialed your business.
- Directories. Finding local directories should also be easy. Just search for such terms as:
- Your City + “Directory”
- Your Zip Code + “Directory”
- Your Neighborhood + “Directory”
- Local Blogs and Websites. Blogs are another way to build local connections and trust. To find them, search for terms such as:
- Your City + “Blog” or “News”
- Your Zip Code + “Blog” or “News”
When you locate a site, offer to guest post information or request the local site link to yours as a valuable “local resource.”
The Key Is Consistency
As I mentioned earlier, it’s vital that the specific information about your business be listed the same way every time. Your website should include your address and contact information in your footer, so local listings that you have worked hard to build can recognize your business.
Last but not least, it’s important to consistently measure the effectiveness of getting listed on these sites by carefully noting when you created new listings. You should be tracking website metrics using an analytics program (Google analytics is free) and then you can measure changes and improvements.