What can I do to help my website in local search results?

What are citations and why are they important?

For certain keyword searches people are looking for a business that is close by. The challenge for the search engine is to try and understand which businesses are local to that person. A network of local citations from other businesses in the same location will help support your website.

Before building citations ensure your businesses name, address and phone number (NAP) is consistent across your website and especially in your Google + local listing. Use local business schema markup (http://schema.org/LocalBusiness) for your address and phone number on your website.

It is likely that you will have an untapped resource of potential local citation sources that you never realised you had. Here is my list of quick wins for helping your websites listings in local search:

Current Relationships:

Brainstorm a list of people you already know in business:

  • What do you sell? Do your suppliers have a site that lists their distributors, ask them for a link to your site? Make sure it includes your NAP.
  • Do you use other local businesses? You will be surprised how many people you work with, trades people, accountants, IT company, cleaners, your SEO company. Ask them for a testimonial or a review.
  • Are you part of any local groups or professional organisations, university alumni – offer to be a case study / success story,  your local chamber of commerce will usually have a business directory make sure you are listed.
  • Friends and family? Have you worked for them could you reach out to them and ask them to leave you a review on your Google+ Local.

Job Citations

When you are next hiring are there any local online job boards that you can use? Does the local university / college have a job board, it’s a perfect way to get a high quality link from a .edu website.

Build New Relationships

If you read industry publications connect with the writers. You will find their social media accounts through their author bio on the website or a quick Google / twitter search of their name. Share their stories among your followers, add your own comments and include their twitter handle so they know you have mentioned them. Over time you can then reach out to them and ask if they ever need any industry opinions.

Other options for free PR opportunities are Source Bottle  and HARO. These will both send you out emails with stories people are writing that they need an expert opinions for. It’s hit and miss who gets back to you, make sure you reply to them with an overview of what you can offer and your experience.

Online Local Citations

Google + local is a must. I know you have done that already…

FourSquare Reviews: Offer rewards for customers who check in.

Use Google Maps to search for places your competitors have listings for their NAP and then replicate them for your business. Use these search parameters to find them:

  • Cityname + Competitor name
  • Competitor Address – site:competitordomain.com
  • Competitor Telephone – site:competitordomain.com

In real life to be successful we have to work hard to build relationships with friends, family and especially our business relationships. We survive in the world by helping people in various capacities; in return they support us back. Leverage the relationships you build in real life to help support your business online.