A few years ago, building citations was the most commonly talked about area of local SEO. Over the years though, it seems Google isn’t valuing them nearly as much, but they are certainly still a big part of the game.
Everyone knows to build listings or citations on big sites like Yelp, Manta, YP, FourSquare, and others.
The problem is… everybody knows that. Your competition knows it, local businesses know it, everyone already knows!
In this post, you’re going to learn:
- How To Build the STRONGEST Citations your Competitors Ignore
- Using Web 2.0’s to Boost your Rankings
- Why Inactive Social Profiles are Still Necessary
- Using Press Releases For Exponential Citation Growth
- How NoFollow Blog Comments can Boost Rankings
- And A Cool Little Trick I’ve NEVER Seen Anyone Talk About… EVER
Not sure what citations are? Might want to check this guide first.
Local SEO Tricks To Boost Your Rankings
One of the first things people tend to do is analyze the competition against the client and look at citation opportunities.
Usually they’ll look at and claim the top 50 citation sources, and probably call it a day.
That may work in less competitive areas, but when you’re wanting to compete in very competitive industries in cities with large population, you need more than the top 50. In fact, you’ll see many that are ranking with HUNDREDS of citations.
Playing this game of catch-up, can be very tedious, take a long time for all of them to be indexed, and you’re going to be waiting a decent amount of time for results.
The average SEO client stays with a company for 3 months. That’s awful. Granted, the majority of SEO freelancers and even companies offering SEO services, have no idea what they’re doing. I’m sure for the better companies out there, the average lifespan is much longer.
You need something that can work better, and faster.
These 6 things I’m going to discuss, will help you get better results.
Using YouTube as a Citation Source
I’ve discussed this before, but when I analyze different SERPs I still see very few people utilizing Youtube.
A few years back, Youtube Videos and Youtube SEO were talked about all the time. Google stopped ranking the videos as high as they used to be, so people started ignoring it again.
Getting additional search traffic or leads via video is great, but it’s not why I’m mentioning this as a strategy.
I’m talking about using YouTube as a citation source.
Sure, you can create a channel and let that be all you do, but why not go a bit further?
Here’s how you do it:
Step 1: Create The YouTube Channel for the Business
Pretty straight forward, make sure you fill out as much information as possible.
Step 2: Sign Up With Animoto
Animoto allows you to create video slideshows with music, using images or video. You can use images from your gallery or client’s gallery. You could also use stock photos.
In case someone actually watches the video, you’ll want to use different text in the video, like a call now 555-555-5555, and basically hyping the business up.
Their system is pretty easy to use, you could create a large number of videos in no time at all.
Step 3: Upload and Optimize the Videos
One of the first things I do, is change the video file name to “keyword-city-state abbreviation” before uploading.
The title of the video should be related to the industry and location, and include the phone number. For example, if it is a landscaper in Dallas TX, I would title the video: “Landscaper in Dallas TX, CALL 555-555-5555”.
I do this for a couple reasons.
1.) Chances are without additional work, the video isn’t going to rank on page 1 anymore. If it does, I still included the phone number, which would increase calls, even if people didn’t watch the video.
2.) Even if it doesn’t rank, you’re building a strong case of co-occurrence and co-citations by mentioning the target keyword, industry, city, with the phone number of the company.
Now, you’ll want to add the video description.
You can write whatever you want in the description, of course it should be related to the business and industry as well as location.
The title gave you a partial match of an unstructured citation, now you want to use this space for a full citation. After your description, include the business Name, address and phone number. If you wish, you can link directly to a service page, or home page, it doesn’t matter.
Bonus Step: You already have the videos… why not do the same stuff on other video sites? Vimeo, DailyMotion, etc. are all strong sites you can use for your citations. The good news is, very few of your competitors will ever be doing this.
You can also use this as part of a parasite SEO strategy I mentioned in a blog post not too long ago.
Web 2.0’s Can Give You a Boost
Ahh, it takes me back to the glory days of mass spam working extraordinary well to rank pretty much anything.
We’re not going to use Web 2.0 style sites for backlinking though. In fact, you don’t need a backlink at all in order to benefit from them.
The purpose the Web 2.0 will serve is that you create a branded or keyword loaded account. Most will allow you to create your own “blog post” or content, others will just be a profile that you can give a description of you or the business.
All you need to do, is drop the NAP somewhere. Business name, address, and phone number. If it’s in the form of a mini blog post, go ahead and drop a link as well.
Remember, the key here is to build citations other people are ignoring. Some will focus on backlinks, but it’s the citation value you will benefit from more than a backlink when it comes to local search.
To get the biggest bang for your time, make sure to populate information that is related to the search terms/topics you’re targeting. If they allow mini blog posts, then a short “Best industry in city, state” type post well work great.
Here’s a list of top web 2.0 sites you can use for SEO purposes:
The Importance of Social Even if Inactive
Look, I understand.. why would a roofer spend time on Twitter? Why would an accountant be investing a lot of time on Instagram? Maybe there are outlier cases where people turn a profit on those properties, but come on, we know that certain social properties are a better fit for specific industries.
Just because Instagram has a ton of people on there, doesn’t make it the ideal medium for every small business on the planet. Right?
While I would never advise most clients to spend time marketing on Twitter, I wouldn’t ignore the platform entirely.
The fact is, these properties have value, even if they aren’t directly bringing in customers.
When it comes to local SEO, we’re going to use these properties as a source to build very strong citations and links.
Your clients, or your business should be on the following social networks, even if you don’t intend to use them for marketing purposes:
- Google+ duh
- LinkedIn (company page)
If I’m missing an obvious one, let me know. Of course, there are more obscure networks that may be worth setting up as well.
The reason these are beneficial even if you don’t intend to use it as a solid piece of the marketing puzzle, is because most of these will allow business information, NAP, links, or hell, just your brand name will do a lot of good.
Most businesses have citations from a FB page, but that’s usually the extent of it. If you can setup your company on these platforms, include a phone number or anything that would be a partial citation, it gives you a big advantage.
Bonus Tip: To get the most strength possible, you’ll want to at least start following other people in order to get some followers in return. This isn’t necessary with the LinkedIn Company Page and others, but when it is a follower oriented site, getting followers, and following others will boost the strength of your page.
Maybe it’ll make your citations and partial citations stronger, but it also strengthens the property for branded searches which can assist in proactive reputation management. Bottom line, there’s no reason not to do this.
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The Power of The Press Release
Remember when Matt Cutts said press releases are done? Well, he also said guest posting was done, “stick a fork in it”.
Sure, many press release sites have been using nofollow links, and maybe Google has devalued what they think of press releases in some cases but luckily for us, they still play a MAJOR role in local SEO.
With local, Google cares about relevance. Location and industry relevance. They care about the use of co-occurrence, and with the progression of machine learning, the more instances you can create between your business, industry (and keywords), and location, the better you are in their robotic eyes.
So why exactly do press releases work?
- They can bring in traffic
- They get syndicated
- They can get picked up by local media (BOOOM!)
- A few backlinks get passed onto you
- And the MASSIVE potential for rapid citation growth
Let me share a quick story on how I used this specific strategy for a roofing contractor a while back. This thing alone, brought in about $80,000 in sales within the first week.
He had a large local company, in tornado alley, so storms were common and residents in the area has a regular need for his services. A lot of other roofing companies would come into the area after a storm hits, basically storm chasing to get more business.
We just started SEO on his site, and we wanted to use press releases for the purpose of citations, nothing else. Well, he told me about the situation with storm chasers, and we used that as a press release. Something along the lines of “Local Roofing Company Warns Residents About Potential Fraud”.
In the press release, we gave advice and tips on how to determine whether a company was actually local to the area, whether they were licensed, and how to know who you can trust. It was basically a fluff piece, that soft mentioned him as the owner, and mentioned the company name. We also included his phone number and address.
The goal here, was just to tie in his keyword topics, his name, and business name, and get a lot of citations in the process.
It worked very well, but the SEO benefit wasn’t seen in the first week he generated over 80k in sales. He generated sales from the press release, because it was picked up by a local newspaper, with an interview, and he also did a segment on a local news channel’s morning show.
Worked out great for him, even though the initial goal was simply to use this for citations and co-occurrence.
You could do the same.
Here’s a couple tips for your press release:
- Come up with an intriguing headline
- Always mention the business owner’s name
- Include the name of the business, address, and phone number
- Content should be relevant, and try to make it appealing and helpful, that way you have a better chance of it getting picked up by a major outlet.
There’s a lot of press release services out there. You can submit and syndicate them yourself, or you can use a service like PRweb, or my friend Carl’s service, Press Synergy.
Using Blog Comments To Establish Relevance
Remember the days of blasting 20,000 blog comments and hoping for a boost?
Don’t worry, those days are still gone, and aren’t going to help your local rankings, unless you do it in a very different way.
The comments you want to have should be local media, news sites. Most cities have some sort of newspaper or site for local news. Most also have a comment system like Discus, or use FB comments or maybe their own native comment sections.
The strategy here, is not to use these as citations, but to establish relevance.
Remember earlier when I said that Google cares about the instances that tie a business, business owner, industry, and location together? Well, this kind of helps that process along.
You can comment on location relevant content, as “John Smith Roofing”, or if they allow a website to be linked in a comment section, “John Smith” with the link to your website. If the commenting platform allows for some sort of bio, or about me section, make sure to tie the name to the business. Doesn’t matter if the comments are nofollow or not.
In some cases, the commenting platform won’t allow a profile, bio, about section, nor will it allow a profile link to your business website. In this case, you will want to use a 3rd party site, like about.me or maybe your Google+ profile to link to your platform profile, in order to act as a co-citation.
For example: citynews.com allows you to login to leave a comment on an article. You have a profile, but they don’t allow any extra information, links, bio, etc.
Use About.Me or your Google+ Profile so you can link to that citynews.com profile. This ties the business information, to the business owner, and creates a strong location relevant foothold.
This is particularly useful in higher competition areas, or to get a bump from the B spot to the A spot.
The Best Kept Secret For Partial Citations
One of my favorites, that nobody ever talks about or uses for that matter.
Have you ever Googled a number that called you, to see who it was because you didn’t recognize the area code or the number?
Chances are you’ve found some sites that log activity of certain phone numbers. They let you know whether it is a telemarketer, scam, bill collector, etc. They allow comments about what the phone call was like.
Maybe these sites aren’t helpful for bill collectors, collection agencies, or telemarketers, but they sure can be a unique source of citations for a business.
You can use 800notes, okcaller and others, to submit the phone number and say who it is, what company it is, what they do, etc.
Great partial citation there that nobody ever tries to get!
SEO is always changing, new trends pop up all the time, then die. New algorithms get rolled out, new guidelines to abide by.
The thing I like about Local SEO, is that the more things change, the more they actually stay the same. No matter what update comes out, Google wants to see relevance. Machine learning is going to play a large role in search in the future, and the more relevant you can become to the location, and industry, the better.
You may think Google can’t understand the links between some of the things I mentioned, but they certainly can. Try it out for yourself, the rankings will speak for themselves.
Thoughts and comments are always welcome!