How To Boost Your Local SEO
Ranking well in Google’s local business pages is becoming more important, especially for traders and brick and mortar businesses. However, competition is also increasing, as more small businesses identify the need to rank and start on their SEO campaigns. Fortunately, with a little SEO know-how, it is possible to outrank the competition simply by adopting some good practices and tidying up your local business profiles.
Avoid Citation Inconsistency
Possibly the most important ranking signal for local SEO is citations. Citations are mentions of a company’s name, address and telephone number (NAP) details on authority web directories, social media pages, review pages and other websites. Google uses these to determine how popular a business is, so gaining some good quality citations can provide a reasonably quick way to boost rankings in the local search results. However, many businesses fail to maintain consistency when creating business listings.
NAP inconsistencies are one of the most important negative ranking factors in local rankings. To make matters worse, most companies are failing to optimize their NAP in listings – this is of course great news for competitors who have hired SEOs to manage the process, as they will leave no stones unturned.
Inconsistencies can be varied. They cause problems because Google is just a machine and machines look for patterns to determine association. Inconsistencies do not provide a clear link and therefore trust is reduced.
You would have thought that a company would always write its name correctly, but this is often not the case. For example, imagine that Clarks shoe shop was a new company trying to rank in local search. They may have a series of business listings using the following names:
- Clarks Shoes
- Clark’s Shoes
- Clarks Footwear
- C. & J. Clark
- The Clarks Shop
- C. & J. Clark International Limited
Their company name is C. & J. Clark International Limited. Their website homes gives the name “Clarks Footwear“; however, many people refer to them as just Clarks. The Wikipedia page calls the company C. & J. Clark. On Yell.com they are called The Clarks Shop.
For Clarks, this is not really very important because their brand is well established already. However, for a plumber or architect who has just opened a new business, these inconsistencies could seriously hamper their digital marketing efforts.
The same problems are seen with company addresses. Sometimes a street number is included, but not the floor, or a street name varies (High Street or High St. for example), or is omitted completely. Often, the only guaranteed part of an address is the post code, but sometimes even this is mis-typed or left off altogether.
Phone numbers are another problem. Google will display a company phone number in the search results if it is sure that it has the correct one. But when numbers vary between office phone and mobile phone, sometimes with international codes, sometimes with spaces and other times without, the signals to Google are weakened and a number may not be shown at all.
Fix Citation Inconsistencies
The first stop in optimization is to fix all citations that you have direct control over, such as social media details, and then authoritative directories such as Google+, Bing Places, Yelp and Foursquare.
Next, tackle the main directory listings on sites such as Yell, Thomson Local and Scoot. Also suggest changes within Google Maps if your business is listed in map display.
Many citations are automatically created, so ensure that the information on your website matches that of official company listings, such as on Companies House if you’re based in the UK. Ideally, your brand name should match your official company name, or at least be very similar (omitting only ‘Ltd.’, for example).
Improving business citations can be a challenging task, but it is often worth the time and effort. Authoritative websites will understand your desire to display the correct company name, so in most cases they will oblige.
There are many other important ranking signals to help boost your local SEO. To learn more, contact FSE Online today.
Danny Hall is a Co-Director for the well-established search engine optimisation agency, Freelance SEO Essex. Danny has worked within the SEO sector for many years, providing digital marketing services for both local and national businesses.