Google has just released a mobile site algorithm update.

This may not sound like particularly exciting news for your business. However it raises a vital point around local businesses online visibility that you really need to react to so you can benefit from it.

Google’s mobile site update is designed as just another step towards its long term goal of providing people searching on the move with highly relevant results. These results will be based on the context of the search, and the location they are currently in.

By delivering great location-based results, people can tap into the products and services in their actual locality, using conversational-based search.

Local Citations Can Be Your Key To Local Search Success

MDG advertising constructed a report around how local consumers use of mobile devices to find and interact with local businesses:

59% of local consumers use Google at least once a month to find local businesses and established the reputation of them.

50% of all mobile searches are undertaken with the aim of finding local results.

Finally, and most astonishingly, 61% of those mobile searches resulted in a locally-based purchase. [source]

Now that I’ve got your attention with this hard data, you can see why appearing high in local search results on mobile devices is key to your success. That’s where working hard to get local citations into your search engine optimization work can really help.

Citations should form part of a successful local optimization mix:

  • On page optimization
  • Off page optimization (link building)
  • Local citations
  • High quality reviews
  • Google+ local presence
  • Social signals (social networking sites such as Twitter)

Citations is the area that many local businesses do not take full advantage of, so let’s explore what a local citation is and how you can steal a march over your competitors.

What Is A Local Citation?

Most business owners think of building links when they think about trying to raise their search engine results presence. A local Citation is a mention of your business online that is not necessarily an actual link to your main site.

Citation can be any mention of your business in various forms, but always featuring some variation of your business name, address, and phone number.

Even just one of these, such as a phone number, can be a citation, but you should work to get your name, address and phone number in as many locations online as possible.

A citation matters in terms of appearing in search engine local results pages because testing by respected industry experts such as David Mihm suggest that up to 25% of local ranking factors are around mentions of the business in a local context that are not in the form of weblinks. [source]

Many local businesses are being advised that it’s not all about link building to get search engine presence, but about getting your brand name and other details into relevant places in order to influence local search results. With Google moving towards improving their mobile-based local search results, it is essential you become one of those local businesses taking action now.

Local Search Citations Can Lower Your Marketing Spend

As well as being essential for competing in local search results, there is also a financial aspect you can benefit from. Linkbuilding, blogging and other search optimization strategies can take time and money. Getting citations can be far easier and therefore far cheaper, because you can place a citation in more locations online.

Some of the key places you can place your local business listings are also free:

  • Local business directories
  • High-quality global directories
  • Your Google business listing

In addition to these you can also work hard to get your business mentioned in places like local online news sites and blogs. It’s about using the free resources available and networking to get your self mentioned as often as possible and as consistently as possible.

The Key To Local Citation Success Is Consistency

Before you embark on spreading your brand as far and wide as possible in order to demonstrate you have a strong local business presence, you need to make sure that what you are going to spread is consistent.

Ideally, you want every citation to include your full company details wherever possible.

A tip here is to look at your main website domain registration information. Make sure it is up-to-date and that it reflects your current physical address. Then check that your Google local listing, that will highlight you on Google maps, matches that domain address. It’s getting key basic information like this right that will allow Google to see consistent business and location information.

If you have moved locations, trying to tidy up online before you start spreading new Citation information. Ask if information can be updated so that you build a consistent information presence.

What Are The First Steps I Should Take To Maximize My Local Citations?

As we discussed, cover the basics first:

  • Make sure relevant Google signals contain the right information
  • Make sure all your existing citations reflect your current business information
  • Look for quick wins, such as local business listing directories
  • Start a networking strategy to get mentions from local people and businesses
  • Talk to a local search marketing company about how you can build citations into a successful overall strategy

So this is great news. Local citations allow you to build your brand online and drive more traffic to your main website, without having to look around to find places to post links, or undertaking more involved and expensive strategies immediately.

I ask you to do a search for your own local business right now and see just how large or small your current presence is, in terms of citations. Then do a search your main local competitors and compare.

If you need any help, the team here at Media Proper have helped many local businesses to improve their online presence.

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