Google Local Search and Citations

If the word citations dredge up long forgotten memories of MLA, APA, and Chicago styles from term papers in school, rest assured we’re not talking about those citations. And while those three styles are still the gold standard for term papers, the world of local search marketing and citations changes rapidly. What worked in 2015 may not possibly work as well in 2016 due to a host of factors. With that said, citations are simply a note of your business and pertinent information anywhere on the internet. Seems simple enough, right?

A quick search online for local search marketing and or citations will deliver back many, many guides and how-tos for DIY local search marketing. But much like a term paper, what seems straightforward at first can quickly spin out of control.

What is Local Search and Citations

Today’s age of the internet and its infinite space for information means there are hundreds of local search directories to choose from. This is a far cry from the day when everyone received a copy of the Yellow Pages on their doorstep each year. Called aggregators, these directories are websites or programs that collect related items of content and displays or links to that content.

Major directory providers include:

  • Yellow Pages
  • Yelp
  • Angie’s List
  • Merchant Circle
  • Google
  • Bing
  • Yahoo!
  • Facebook

A common acronym you’ll see is NAP+W. No, it’s not promoting taking a nap during the process, though it may cross your mind once or twice. Having your business’s name, address, phone number, and website (NAP+W) is the long version of a complete citation. Although any mention of a business on the internet with or without a link, sometimes as quick as the company name, is considered a citation. But the more information that can be filled out for a citation, the higher it will likely rank in search results. Another caveat is the more places your business is listed consistently, meaning all formatting is the same regardless of location, the easier it will be for search engines to find your business.

The Value of Local Search Marketing

The value is nearly infinite as more than half of Americans have replaced the telephone book with the internet and online searches. One way to look at this change is it’s your chance as a business to reach out to your current and potential customers, both reminding and telling them you’re around.

To start getting the most value from local search marketing, the best place to start is to have a complete listing in all major search directories. Whether you decide to stick to the major search engines or seek out specific directories, adding images and video will help boost your listing in rank. Having customers post online reviews about your company is also beneficial in your local search ranking.

But, though the value doesn’t have an exact monetary figure attached, it can drop and quickly. If your business has moved, changed contact telephone numbers or anything else associated with a citation has changed, it needs to be updated on all listings. Search engines will be confused on what is the correct information if one listing includes the new but the rest the outdated. Instead of taking a stab in the dark on what’s correct, the search engine will opt to rely less and less on your listings altogether.

DIY or Hire a Marketing Agency

One thing to keep in mind through this process is that local search engine marketing differs from usual SEO due to the word local. Local results undergo constant changes to what factors rank better, what is or isn’t needed to be ‘seen’ by search engines. At this point, you might be thinking “Alright, I’ll have the intern monitor our listings and fill out the citations.” Well, there are a few more things to know.

Filling out a local listing for even a handful of aggregators is time-consuming and tedious. Though the study was done three years ago, Local Search Association/Burke Inc. found consumers want more than the NAP+W in their search results. More than 50 percent of respondents also want general proximity to their location, hours of operation, prices, and general product or service information. Nearly one in three would like to be able to read online reviews or ratings, compare features or services, and what forms of payment your business accepts. That’s a long list of tasks for the intern.

Elevare Knows Local Search

What gets picked up in local searches may be changing rapidly, but Elevare can help you stay up-to-date. Our team knows that on top of the changes your company may not have the staffing to handle local search and citations in-house. Putting our strong background in search engine optimization, local search, and creativity with your business goals will get results!