Discovering Local Citation Opportunities – Whiteboard Friday
Posted by randfish
Local SEO has become increasingly important for all business, but small businesses are affected the most. As the percentage of mobile searches increases, Google's algorithm begins to assume that more and more of them have local intent.
This week, Rand discusses Local Citation and the best ways to utilize the resources out there for your local SEO. He also mentions our new BFFs, GetListed.org! If you haven't already gone in to claim your business' profiles, do that now (or after the video).
"Hi, everyone, and welcome to this edition of Whiteboard Friday. Today we're talking about discovering local citation opportunities. So, as many of you might be aware, we are tremendously excited here at SEOmoz to welcome David Mihm and GetListed.org into the family. We're excited for the future of what those tools and resources are going to be. There's already some fantastic information that I urge you to check out on David's site and on GetListed.org.
But I wanted to get really specific today and talk about the local citations themselves. So some of you are probably aware of what goes into local and map style data. Local and maps data is really important because, as you're probably aware – you might have to follow me over here – the search results, if I do a query in here, there's oftentimes an organic set of results and then what we sort of call the "Local OneBox".
The Local OneBox will have some results that are like, "A, B, C, D", and they'll line up to a map that's over here on the right-hand side. Sometimes these can kind of dominate the results. Depending on where you are, especially if you're on a mobile phone, Google is going to assume that a lot of your queries have a local intent behind them.
Many queries that are done from the desktop now are assumed to have local intent, and certainly anytime you add a modifier – a city name, an address, a ZIP code, those kinds of things – Google is going to think local intent. This means those local results can dominate a lot of search queries, and a ton of searches today are already resulting in a lot of these local types of listings.
Now, local listings use a different algorithm, and that different algorithm is made up by a number of different things: structured and unstructured citations, which are the big important ones we're going to be talking about today, as well as things like reviews, the geography, your business name, links that come into your site. Links sort of are varied in importance as to how much they matter for local. They matter somewhat. We're not exactly sure quite how much, but it's not zero. These determine your local ranking in the five-pack, three-pack, seven-pack, eight-pack, whatever it is, and the map rankings.
There's one interesting thing that I want to note about this before we get specifically into citations, which is remember that this data all applies to one listing if you're doing it right. A lot of the time people are doing it wrong.
So I got to spend my morning here at SEOmoz on a help team working with Joel. One of the queries we answered through the help ticketing system was someone who had some challenges because her business name down in South Florida was in several different locations, or was listed in Google and in Bing with several different locations, incorrect addresses, incorrect ZIP code, all this type of stuff.
That creates a lot of problems, because Google can't identify and say, "Aha, this all applies to this." It's, "Oh, well maybe some of these structured citations are for this, and then these are the structured citations are for that, and I think this review applies to that and not to this one." You don't want that. You want everything going all to one place. Just like with classic SEO, you want everything to be on one domain, hopefully one sub-domain, and in sub-folders.
Some citation tactics, you need to find citations, both structured and unstructured citations, structured citations being the ones that are very formalized, that Google is sort of sucking in and recognizing as formal addresses, and unstructured being more of the sort of casual mentions and references to a business location. Sometimes they might include an address detail or a phone number detail. But they're usually not in that clean sort of name, address, phone number, location, all that type of stuff. They don't have the schema.org markup. They're not coming from necessarily a trusted local citation provider, something like that, but still very important. In fact, unstructured citations oftentimes, David will tell me, are the factor that's pushing a ranking over the edge and letting it appear in the maps pack or letting it rank higher.
So I want you to start with some competitive queries. This is the obvious one, but search for businesses that are ranking next to yours. You want to be searching for their name and/or the address. For example, if I were searching for SEOmoz, I might search for SEOmoz itself, minus site:SEOmoz.org. I might also search for 119 Pine Street #400, 119 Pine Street, and SEOmoz Seattle, those kinds of things.
I want to do this off their website. So I'd probably add the query string minus site:SEOmoz.org, so as not to get overwhelmed with results from the domain that I'm reference checking against. This will show you lots of places where that site, where that local business is listed.
SEOmoz is obviously not a great example because we're a web business, so we're all over the web. But for a local business, this type of query can work really well.
Also, look at reviews from around the web. That section appears on the Google+ local page. So if you pull up the Google+ local listing for any local small business, you will see, sort of around the middle before you get to the reviews, it will show you this, "Reviews from Around the Web." It'll show you a few different sources, sometimes three, sometimes four.
You can also find a few that are sometimes different in the "More Reviews" section, which is on the knowledge base OneBox. So that would be if I perform a search query for, say, if you search for David Mihm, you'll actually see a nice photo of him up here. Then you'll see "More Reviews," and it'll say places like Yelp or CitySearch or those types of things. Check both of those. They can show you places where your competition is listed, where you might not have a listing, great citation source.
Events, press, bios, and beyond, these are going to be very unstructured reviews typically. But anytime your business or yourself are going to be mentioned anywhere around the web, on some other website, you should try to employ your full address, phone, and business name. So this means if I knew that SEOmoz were in a very competitive battle for local rankings, I probably would have my bio say this type of stuff.
I would make sure that on social sites, even if there's not a formal address field, that I have some information. So I wouldn't just say SEOmoz and what we do. I would say, "I work at SEOmoz. Here's the address and the phone number." I would include both of those in the description or whatever of where I work.
Other places you can do this – job ads, anytime you're putting out a job ad, press releases, events that you host or sponsor. Places where you make a charitable contribution will often have a listing, and you can get that listing to include your address and phone number. If you can't get both, you can go for the phone number or just the address.
This is a lot like link building. You want the link to be in a certain way. You want it to point to a particular page. You'd like that link to contain certain anchor text, and for local the citation is all about connecting up the business information properly as it appears.
Last tip for this, use broad categories. One of the things that I see people doing in local a lot of times is they get very obsessed with, "Well, I'm a certain type of tax attorney, and here are the five people ranking against me. Here's where they have their citations, and I'm done."
But if you can broaden that out to say things like, "I'm not just going to query tax attorneys. I'm going to look for attorneys, and I'm going to look for lawyers. I'm going to find all the listing sources for all the folks in there. I'm also going to broaden out by not just looking at who's appearing in that little OneBox. I'm going to click down to 'More Results' from the maps page and keep scrolling down, keep finding more and more places and see where they're listed using the competitive searching systems."
You can also run broad searches for the query that you're looking for plus city name. So, for example, things like, I might say, "tax attorney Seattle", "attorney Seattle", "lawyer Seattle", and then I'd look at all the places that are listing. Those can be opportunities as well for either structured or unstructured citations that can help move your rankings up.
When you do this, dig into the far back of the results. A lot of the time, I see that the top 20 include a lot of places where everyone is mentioned. But 50, 60, 70 results in, I'm still finding gold in terms of citation opportunities.
All right, everyone. I hope you've enjoyed this edition of Whiteboard Friday. I hope you'll check out GetListed, which is a fantastic tool. It can help you with some of this stuff and certainly with your local listings, and I hope you have good luck getting your citations and your reviews in order. Thanks everyone. Take care."
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