There is definitely a right way and a wrong way to build citations for your local search engine optimization profile. Do not lose visibility within the major search engines because you do not know the rules of the game. Here are some of the ways in which you can immediately improve your local citations and gain the visibility that your business deserves.
Make sure that your citations are completely consistent on Google.
All of the citations that you put on Google should be completely consistent down to the letter. This platform should be your priority. Google is responsible for almost 90 percent of the traffic and visibility on the Internet, so getting it right here is essential. Make sure that you do not outsource this part of your search engine optimization. Do it yourself so that everything is correct down to the letter; save the independent contractor money for something that is less important.
Make sure that your Google Maps, Google Local and Google Business profiles all list the same address, phone number and other contact information. Local numbers are definitely preferred over 800 numbers if you have one.
Understand what your citations are meant to do.
Once you have all of your citations correct, you need to understand exactly where they will show up so that you can format them to code. You are looking to get mentioned by bloggers, data aggregators, sites that are region specific, directories that are specific to an industry and horizontal directories. Believe it or not, all of these platforms have very similar formats. If you pay attention to your formatting from the beginning of the process, you will find syndication of your information much easier as it goes down the line.
Make sure that your listing is correct on the other major search platforms as well.
Although Google is definitely the most important search platform on the Internet, the others are not to be taken lightly. Yahoo Local, Bing Places and Apple Maps can expose your business to niche audiences. Some marketing experts believe that Yahoo Local is actually better when it comes to local marketing then Google. Regardless of the platform that you prefer, all of your citations must match on each of them. The major search engines take information from each other. If your citations are not consistent, then you risk losing face with one or more of the other search engines.
In general, you want to stay away from special symbols. These tend to confuse the major search engines, and they will not list your business correctly. Spell out “and” instead of using the & symbol, for instance.
Make sure that you list the local number along with your 800 number. You may not think this makes a huge difference, but the major search engines can actually tell the difference between a local number that corresponds to your zip code and an 800 number that does not.
Do not confuse links with citations. Your citation is the contact information such as your address and your phone number. This is the information that will actually increase your ranking within the major search engines. Links will not have the same effect.
Once your citations are completely consistent on all platforms, you may actually consider marketing to paid platforms. This builds your local citations in a way that is considered organic while spreading consistent information to new customers who see your address and phone number online.