How to Improve your Listing with Local SEO


There are a lot of things to be taken into consideration when starting a business, and in today's technologically driven society, businesses that haven't properly partnered up with the resources and support systems available on the internet are leaving valuable exposure, traffic and profits on the table.

Today's customers begin their search online for the businesses or venues they're interested in. Often looking for a phone number, an address, a list of products or customer reviews. Therefore, businesses that don't have that info readily available or easily accessible online (or businesses that do but have a lack lustre site which displays it) are in need of a fresh approach... if you want to stay competitive.

If you own a local business, like a restaurant, a coffee shop, a bookstore, or any other type of business that requires customers to visit the physical location of your business, you need local SEO.

Unlike traditional SEO which has a more encompassing overview of rankings and digital visibiliyt, local SEO focuses on delivering your most important business information to potential clients that are in your geographical vicinity.

If you want to improve your local SEO listing, there are 4 important aspects to take into consideration.

  • You need a website -  Studies show that more than 60% of customers who search for a certain business online will eventually visit the business' website. Make sure the content available on your website is targeting your local audience. Information about your business, location, opening hours, and so on, should be easily accessible by your customers.
  • Set up "Google My Business" - This is a platform developed by Google that helps business owners select which information is shown whenever their business appears in the search results. It links your business to a Google Maps location, allowing you to add photos and videos, and even manage customer reviews.
  • Secure your citations - If you're familiar with organic SEO then think of citations as backlinks. However, unlike backlinks, citations don't need an actual link back to your website. A citation is simply a mention of your business name, phone number, address, and website.
  • Get customer reviews - Both quantity and quality of these reviews are important for the local ranking of your business. This means that you'll want as many reviews as possible from your customers, preferably positive.

Of course, Google won't only rely on these 4 aspects when ranking your page on the search list.

There are hundreds of different factors taken into consideration in the ranking algorithms. Some such additional factors that will support higher rankings in search include: keyword usage, content relevance, proximity, social media presence, and so on.

Negative factors include a wrong (or outdated)  business location, incorrect business class or category, a NAP (name, address, phone number) mismatched across citations or different pages, etc.

According to Moz, citations are among the top 10 factors taken into consideration in Google's ranking algorithm. That's why it's so important to build them correctly.

 As I've said earlier, a citation is considered to be any digital reference of your business.

While some customers will cite just the name of your business and other will cite your business name and address.

The most powerful citation you can get is a NAP as it includes all the important information customers are looking for...

Name, Address, Phone Number.

Unlike backlinks in organic SEO, you can build citations nearly everywhere and it will positively impact your site. Learn how to maximise your local citations here.

As a reference here are some local citation building best practices:

  • Do your own citations  - OR - hire a trained professionals who understand the importance of meticulous error free listings. It's easy to make mistakes if don't have a lot of experience with citation building and any mistakes will cost you in the long run. 
  • Utilise all resources and include complete listings on Bing PlacesYahoo Local, and Apple Maps
  • There are 5 basic site types that you will want to submit your listing to:
  • Data-aggregators (e.g. LocalEze).
  • Horizontal directories (e.g. Yelp).
  • Industry-specific directories (e.g. Avvo).
  • Region-specific sites (e.g.
  • Sites where you can get an “unstructured” citation, like a mention in a newspaper or by a “local” blogger
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    Keep your links and citations separate. Remember citations are simply mentions of your: Name, Address, Phone Number. They are strictly there to increase your relevance and prominence in a particular geographical territory. And while - yes, most include a link - few offer any credible PageRank. The value of a citation is simply to strengthen your association with your business and it's NAP info.
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    Each site will have specific rules that they will require you to follow to "complete" your citation submission - follow them.
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    As with most things in life, quality over quantity. Fewer, completely filled out, optimsied citations will always do more for your business them a bunch of half-asses efforts. Your submissions will take time to grow, and will continue to do so without your direct involvement, be sure that everything you put on the web is accurate and detailed. That way as they organically grow you can trust that the new submissions are of equal quality.
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    Paid citations are worth considering if you know that for certain the sites are influential and reputable and especially so if your competitors who have higher ranking SERPs are in them.
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    Some listings require owner-verification by phone and therefore cannot be delegated. ExpressUpdateLocalEzeAcxiomCityGrid, and YP are the main ones.
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    Do your best to ensure there are no duplicate (or near duplicate) listings. Remove any you encounter.
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    In the event that you come across a listing that you forget the password for, has incorrect information or that has been claimed by someone else, either try to reclaim it, or fix it. If you are unsuccessful, send feedback to the attached website (as a non business owner) pointing out the need of an update. And if that doesn't work, create a new listing with the proper information and have the one that is incorrect removed.
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    While Yext is a handy tool, it does not replace working on citations manually. It often leaves duplicate or inconsistent citations, additionally, when you stop paying the annual fees many listing go back to their original (pre yext) state. Manual efforts will ALWAYS outperform any machine.
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    Be sure your citation information adheres to Google's guidelines before you begin any submissions. While all the information MUST be consistent, formatting is less important.
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    Stay organised, create a worksheet with all of your information and which citations you have submitted you info to. Keep track of all logins. Google Drive is super useful for this kind of dependable organisation, that is safe and secure yet easy to share. Moz offers a great tool for this.
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    Monitor the true "value" of Yellow Pages, which typically use separate call tracking numbers. Their "results" are not a reflection of quality traffic and their big monthly bills can generate traffic that hurt . the consistency of your business online as well your rankings in SERPs.
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    Business with a toll free number or fax number - be sure to thoroughly check for sites which may have used either of those as your main phone line - rectify immediately. Including "alternate" phone numbers like a fax in addition to your phone number will not mess up your NAP-W consistency, so long as the main phone number is listed. 
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    Google MapMaker is a useful tool to reveal duplicate listings.
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    Enter your phone number into Google Search. Inspect other results that come up that are not associated with your business. Repeat this strategy for your businesses name, and address (so long as you only have one address listed) - this may reveal citations that need attention.
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    Always begin your submission process with your country's, city's and/or region's most prominent sites. Main information sources and the most important websites first such as - local blogs, websites related to your business category,  local newspapers and online news websites, as well as local listings and directories, such as your City Council website, Chamber of Commerce website, or other high authority local websites - then move onto the sites that 90% of the population has never heard of before. Factual is a good place to start your research. 
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    Do not use a forwarding URL. While it is allowed on most directory sites it is not prohibited on Google+ Local and you don't want any inconsistencies between the URL you want to use for you Google listings and the URL you use with your citations. 
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    Fill in as much info as you can (e.g. “services,” keywords,” photos, etc.) it gives contextual relevance to your business/listing.
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    For ease try including an upper-case letter and at least one number in every password, while not all sites need this level of security it will ensure all your citation passwords are the same - don't waste your brainpower and time on unique passwords for every citation site. 
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    Be sure to monitor both yours and your competitors citations.
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     Conduct a citation audit every few months. This will ensure you know which ones may need fixing.

Always keep in mind that the most important rule of building citations is to have a consistent NAP (name, address, phone number). 

If you're a brick and mortar business and you want to stay relevant in your community you need a website, a Google My Business profile and you need to put in the time and effort to ensure that web wide your business info is consistent and prominent in all the popular search spots. 

Do this and watch your consumer traffic continue to climb.

For a Local SEO case study and checklist be sure to check out our downloadable PDF here

To learn more about our local citation building services click here

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