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If you’re a local business - or a business with lots of customer-facing locations - then local citations are your key to being seen on Google and other search engines. 

In short, citations tell search engines where to find your business, when it’s open and what it’s called. Users nowadays expect to find out business locations and opening hours with a quick search - so you should meet their expectations.

So while you may not be able to compete on a national scale for your boutique cake shop - you can certainly compete with local businesses just by appearing in the right places online. And that might be all you need.

NAP consistency

Quite simply, NAP stands for Name, Address and Phone number - so NAP consistency is basically making sure you are giving the same information everywhere your business is listed.

This is important because any inconsistency could confuse customers, or lead them to the wrong place. Worse still, it could harm your rankings if search engines interpret your listings as incorrect. 

Conversely, lots of consistent citations tell Google that the information can be trusted, and you will be more likely to rank well as a result.

The main places you need to consider are:

  • Google itself (and other search engines, such as the oft-neglected Bing)

  • Facebook and other social media that allows business pages

  • Directory listing sites, such as Yelp 

It’s good practice to keep a record of where you have business listings, so that you can update them all quickly if anything changes.

Additional business details

Some directories allow you to add additional detail about your business, which is great - it means you can tell people more of what they need to know.

But this is one place where things can start to come unstuck if you’re not careful about keeping things consistent - and you’ll need to make sure you’re keeping everything up-to-date, too.

What if I find local citations that are incorrect?

Google, Bing and other search engines are quite good at filling in local citations themselves (or more accurately, they are normally filled in by locals). This means occasionally business owners will come across a page for their business that they aren’t in control of. 

This can be a particular problem with multi-location businesses where one location takes precedence over others. Suddenly important phone calls are going to a small branch, instead of your head office.

Luckily you can claim control of these pages. It usually involves proving you are the business owner, by having a unique code sent to a phone number or address associated with the business. Once you’ve verified that you are the owner of the page, you can update any incorrect details.

Local citations as a conversion rate optimisation tool

Citations aren’t just a case of helping customers find you - they can give your online conversion rate a boost, too. For example, retailers with local branches are much more likely to get a sale if they make the products available for collection in-store. It’s just another way to remove the uncertainty that might stop someone becoming a customer.

To learn more about Conversion Rate Optimisation or organic SEO, follow our link here

This article was created by Higher Ground User Experience Agency

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