For local search, Google employs a different algorithm from the one it applies to national searches. Rather than listing business and organization entries like a traditional SERP, three specific entries appear at the top of the results.
The trio features home-page titles and links, as well as buttons to make a phone call or calculate directions (in mobile search results). People refer to this as the “local 3-pack”; if you can get your business included in it for various keyword terms, you’ll enjoy higher brand visibility and traffic.
For the most part, local SEO draws upon national SEO strategies to be successful. You’ll still need to publish high-quality content on an ongoing basis and build inbound links for your domain.
But you’ll also need to consider how your firm is presented in local citations. Generally, this requires an ongoing management process, but you might ask, how often you should be managing your citations, and what does the management process entail?
Local Citation Basics
If you aren’t familiar with the concept, local citations are descriptive entries of your business on a third-party directory, review site, or similar website. These can involve structured or unstructured formats.
For example, some sites use structured formats that present the business’s name, website, address, and phone number, while others simply write two short paragraphs about the company. Either way, Google aggregates these local citations and uses them to generate conclusions about your business.
It’s vital for the information to be accurate, consistent, and honestly reflective of what your business does.
The Local Citation Cleanup Process
Most local SEO strategies start with what’s known as a local SEO “cleanup,” and this is typically included as part of the setup process for a new campaign. This process is designed to help you inventory the local citations your business possesses already, get you established on the major outlets where your firm doesn’t have a current presence, and correct any glaring errors that could adversely affect your visibility or reputation in search results.
This is arguably the most important part of the process. Identifying, correcting, and/or removing errors should set you up for the indefinite future. After all, you don’t often change your web domain or business address. But there are benefits to managing your citations on an ongoing basis as well.
Benefits of Ongoing Management
Let’s assume you’re able to clean up most of your local citations in one sweep. You’ll correct any errors you find and ensure you’re listed on some of the most popular third-party directories. Shouldn’t that be all you need to keep your citations in order?
Hypothetically, it should; but here are some of the worthwhile benefits to regularly managing your citations:
- New citation addition. First, you’ll be able to snag new citations. The quantity of local citations you get may not play a direct role in how high you rank, but most new citations will be accompanied by an inbound link, which will boost your domain authority and make you rank higher. Additional citations will also give you more visibility across the web, which can earn traffic and brand awareness even in non-search channels. Plus, the more citations you have, the less one bad citation, with missing or inaccurate information even if it’s positive, will damage or change how your business gets listed in search engines.
- New error correction. As new local directories and review sites emerge and attempt to list your business, the chances for errors in your firm’s listings increase. Ongoing management will empower you to find, identify, and correct these errors proactively before they do significant damage to your campaign. Think of this as a kind of miniature local citation cleanup, which you perform at regular intervals as the state of your online landscape changes.
- New requirement fulfillment. Occasionally, local directories and review sites may change how they present your information. They may transition from being structured to unstructured, or rearrange how they format your details. If they introduce a new field or category, it’s in your interest to fill it in with accurate information. In general, the more details you include about your business, the better. This doesn’t happen often, to be sure, but you’ll want to pay attention and take action whenever it does.
- Easier change commitments. Occasionally, your business will change. You might not move, but you may change your hours, your specials, and other information now and then. Ongoing local citation management helps you stay on top of such changes, and makes it easier to update all your profiles at once. You may also want to push changes to your local citation portfolio as part of a transformation of your overall SEO strategy. For example, if you identify new keywords to target, you might seek to update your company profile (especially for unstructured entries).
How Often to Take Action
The easiest way to manage your citations is to let someone else handle them for you. Many firms, including Strider SEO, offer monthly packages that allow for semi-constant local citation monitoring and easy methods to change details about your business.
This hands-free management requires little attention from you on an ongoing basis, but provides everything you need to keep your local citation status in balance. If you choose to manage your local citations yourself, you won’t need to check your status every day.
New third-party directories emerge in a steady stream, but these won’t ever be your highest priority for local SEO. Aside from those new opportunities, not much is going to change for your operations on a regular basis. Checking on your local citation backdrop once or twice a month should be sufficient, aside from additional efforts whenever something inside your business changes.
If you’re still confused about local citations and are not sure where to start, or you just don’t have the time or resources to manage them yourself, contact Strider SEO today. We’ll clean up your local citations and help you monitor your standings over the long term.