In the last few months I’ve been faced with related questions such as, “how many reviews does my business need to help ranking in the local search results?” and “how do I get to the top of Google’s local business listings?”.
In fact, we had a business mention to us that they’ve been working on their local Rankings for almost a year building “citations” but that they’ve had just about no luck.
Now, there were two major problems with this, #1 – The word luck with SEO and #2 – Inconsistencies with their Citations.
I get it, you’re not ranking, here’s why.
Your local business listings when being ranked look like this:
There’s two main factors that primarily affect your rankings in this listing:
- NAP Listings (Name, Address & Phone Number) Consistency, primarily from business directories like YELP, True Local and Google+, Facebook or your own website. We’ll get into this below!
- Reviews on Google+ and other websites that represent your NAP the strongest (Focussing on Google Plus, Facebook and Yelp).
The most common mistakes with NAP
When ranking, in local SEO (Search Engine Optimisation), the most tedious and time consuming process by far is going through every business directory listing and ensuring all the information (Your NAP) is unified across every site. This shows Google your presence and local authority. However, more often then not the issue that arises with NAP is when:
- When your business changes phone number or you have multiple phone numbers.
- Your business has changed office address.
- Your business name is represented differently across different sites.
The issue here is Google can then make incorrect assumptions about your business. For example Google may think you have multiple locations or worse, an entirely different business. The sure way of guarrenting this doesn’t occur is by ensuring the supporting “references” to your business should reflect the information on your website.
It’s simple, ensure whatever is on your website is also reflected on every other site that references you.
When it comes to your business office address, ensure that it’s identical. You can’t have 12 Old Cleveland Road, Carina, Brisbane on one site while on two others you have your previous address, 2 Cleveland Street, Carina. This will appear that your business has different locations or it may be confused with another business located at your old address resulting in lesser ‘citation power’.
The business’s name is the most common issue that I find when doing a ‘citation reference’. Lets take an example of Joes Super Plumbing. Every location must be in full “Joes Super Plumbing”, but what happens when we find “Joes Plumbing”, “Joes Super”, “JoePlumber” and other variations that negatively affect the NAP of your site?
You don’t rank.
By going through every reference on the internet you can correct your NAP and once you have completed this, you can continue building up your citations.
How do I Find my Existing citations?
This is the strategy we utilise at CheckyWeb:
#1 – Identify all the websites where your Phone number, Address and Name is located.
To do this we use a few different methods. The first is by identifying these through google search. This can be done by going to google.com.au and utilising the search query for your phone number, your address and then business name as well as all of the past variations. Then go through the first 10 pages and start gathering all of those results into a document.
Most people get annoyed at this point and go isn’t there a faster way…
An amazing piece of software we utilise to help cross check our references is Bright Locals – Citation Tracker and for the average Australian you can get by with the $26-$27 plan per month to help generate you your report and you end up with something like this.
#2 – Identify any duplicate citation entries on websites. More often than not we see duplicate entries on YELP or True Local like below.
While having various different incorrect duplicate listings may appear to be a tactical advantage (to look like your business covers more ground in multiple locations), it often does more damage than good. The two main reasons this causing damage is
- That lying about location affects your NAP as we’ve talked about above.
- Getting reviews. IF you have two YELP accounts you’ll probably be splitting your yelp reviews. An account with 30 reviews looks far more impressive than 1 with 12 and one with 18. Keep it simple.
#1 – Recover login details of all those sites that have citations of your business. This can take up to a few weeks. Certain sites and business directories can take a while to respond back to inquiries you send about account recovery. For those sites that don’t have logins, create accounts and “claim your listings”.
#2 – Update all of your information and fill the pages as much as possible. If it can take pictures, PUT pictures in. If it holds a long description ensure you have a long description in there. The more filled in, the more professional it often looks.
#3 – Manually contact websites with no login ability, asking for the alteration. The approach is important here. If you don’t seem legitimate or just do a “half arsed” attempt they’ll most likely just ignore your request, they don’t HAVE to update your information. Remember, your asking for a favour, so make sure it’s clear you’re putting in the effort to ask for it.
By having a strong approach to ensure accuracy in your NAP and focusing on getting customer reviews on the likes of Google+, Yelp and Facebook, you’ll claim the title as #1 in your local search results. This is one part of the approach to our Full SEO Strategy at CheckyWeb and while this will help with local business rankings, it won’t be as effective for increasing rankings for general SEO.