Citations: The Secret Sauce of Local SEO
Your local organization is just one of many out there. We all want to show up well in Google and Bing, but unfortunately, there is only one #1 ranking and only ten rankings on the first page of results. So, what decides if your church, school, or business is ranked #1 or #51 and can you do anything to improve your rankings? (I’ll give you a hint…you can )
There are four big factors that determine how well your local organization ranks in the local search results like Google Maps.
- You Listing’s Content. Your organization’s name, the description you include in your listing, and the categories you choose play a significant role in your rankings. Try to use your city name and any descriptive words you want associated with your organization (I.E. “family church”, “Christian school”, “craft supplies”)
- Your Location. I know you can’t really do anything about this, but how close your organization is physically located to what the search engines consider the center of town has a big impact on your rankings. If your location isn’t in the city your want to target, that makes it even more difficult to rank well. There are, however, things you can do to overcome this as we’ll talk about in a minute.
- Positive Reviews. Ratings and reviews, both on the search listings and other local listing sites can have a significant impact on your rankings. The more the better. This is one of the ways you can overcome not being located in your city’s town hall building. You can read more about the importance of positive reviews in my previous post, Church Marketing Round Table Follow Up Tip – Church Reviews.
- Local Citations. The more citations your organization has around the web, especially from quality, authoritative websites, the better. Having many citations can have a big impact on your rankings. This is very important for churches, schools, and businesses in large cities and this is what I want to talk about today.
What Are Local Citations?
Local citations (sometimes called Google citations) are simply listings of your organization with its name, address, and phone number. The listing can appear pretty much anywhere to qualify as a citation and does have to include a link to your website, though it can and it’s better if it does. The important thing is that your church, school, or business is cited (referenced) and the citation includes your address and phone number.
Why Are Local Citations Important?
There are 2 reasons Local citations are important to the search engines.
- Local citations send a signal that your organization is real and has a real location. Many local citations also indicates that your organization is well known and important. When the major search engines started their local search options, organizations quickly realized that showing up in those local search results would bring more traffic. So, organizations started creating listings, even if they didn’t actually have a real local presence. This is essentially spam and wasn’t good for the search results. The search engines realized that if an organization is referred to on other sites with their local contact info, they could use that to confirm whether an organization is real and thus whether they really deserve to show up in the local search results.
- Local citations can indicate an organization’s popularity and importance. If a local organization is referred to frequently on many websites, then the search engines see that as an indication that many people know about them and consider them worth noting. This causes the search engines to think that the organization is popular and important and thus worthy of a high search ranking. In this way, citations help improve local search results in a similar way that links help websites to rank better in the general search rankings.
Who Needs Local Citations?
- Any local organization that isn’t ranked #1 for their target keywords in their city
- Any local organization that is in a large city with lots of similar organizations
- Any local organization that wants to improve their rankings for searches in the towns near their town
How Do You Get Local Citations?
You can get local citations in a variety of ways. The most common methods of getting citations are setting listings in local listing sites and doing things that are news worthy. By doing something news worthy, a organization can have stories written about them in newspapers (most of which have online versions now) and blogs. If you are contacted by someone wanting to write a story about your organization or you find a story online about your organization, ask them to include your contact information with your organization’s name. Other than that, you can go out and get local citations by setting up listings in local review sites, church locators, school directories, business review sites, and directories.
Hopefully, this is enough to get you out there getting local citations. If you’re still unsure or you don’t really have the time do this, we can help with that, too with our local citations service.
Are you having trouble ranking well in the local search results?
Do you have any questions about local citations?
What local citation sites do you think are the most important?