local SEOAs the owner of a local business, standing out from the crowd in the search engine results can make a massive difference to your bottom line.

Whether you offer local plumbing services, hairdressing, surveying or financial advice, you need to be thinking about what local internet marketing techniques you can use to get you at the top of the search results.

There isn’t one simple solution for local SEO (search engine optimisation) and, yes, it does involve a lot of time and effort to rank at number one but before you spend hundreds or thousands on employing a local SEO company to get you up in the rankings, there is one thing you can do to improve your Local SEO that doesn’t require an in-depth knowledge of the latest local internet marketing techniques:

Build up Your Local Business Citations

So what’s that when it’s at home?  Put simply, local business citations are mentions of your business name and address and phone number (NAP) on other webpages—even if there is no link to your website.  And before you say, isn’t that just local business directory listings and I thought all those backlinks didn’t work anymore, well that’s partly true.  Back linking has to be done very carefully now, to avoid being penalised by Google, but your objective here is not to get backlinks.  (Those you get are unlikely to hold much weight anyway).  This is about getting you mentioned as consistently as possible across a range of websites.

Citations from well-established and well-indexed websites help increase the degree of certainty the search engines have about your business’s contact information and categorisation.  Businesses with a greater number of citations will probably rank higher than businesses with fewer citations.

So how do you go about getting local business citations?

  • Create a spreadsheet so you can keep track of your listings together with the login details.  Here’s a simple spreadsheet you can download. Local citation template
    Keep it somewhere you consider safe.
  • Create and save the information (e.g. descriptions, list of services, etc.) that you have used or plan to use for each site.
  • Know that there are 6 basic types of sites you’ll want to get listed on:
  1. Data-aggregators (e.g. Factual).
  2. Horizontal directories (e.g. Yell).
  3. Industry-specific directories
  4. Region-specific sites
  5. Social media networks (facebook, foursquare etc)
  6. Sites where you can get an “unstructured” citation, like a mention in a newspaper or by a “local” blogger.
  • Get yourself a coffee and get to work on your listings.

Oh and one more thing, I’m guessing it would help if I give you a list of top UK citations sites.  I hope you don’t mind but rather than recreate the wheel, here’s a great list of UK citation sites as a good starting point.

And as I’m a South coast, Hampshire based business, to help my local business owners along, here’s a couple of Hampshire and West Sussex based directories you should get listed in:

http://www.easthantsbusiness.co.uk

http://www.ihampshire.co.uk/

http://www.hantsbusinessdirectory.co.uk/

http://www.iwestsussex.co.uk/

http://www.sussexlocal.net/localdirectory.html

Citation building isn’t the most exciting task in the world and probably something to do in bite-sized chunks when, or if, you ever get a spare 20 minutes.  But it is one to do methodically and keep coming back to, to make sure your listings are up to date.  It can only help in your local SEO efforts and you never know, you may just get business if your new listings ranking highly on the search engines in their own right.

For more information or help with your local SEO, give Yvette a call.