Editor’s Note: This article was originally published by Web Marketing Today. Practical Ecommerce acquired Web Marketing Today in 2012. In 2016, we merged the two sites, leaving Practical Ecommerce as the successor.
The rapid growth of smartphone usage has reinforced local search as an important marketing channel for location-based businesses. The basic building blocks of a local search-engine-optimization strategy are as follows.
- Getting your business listed on Google+ Local and local directories (here’s a local directory list from HubSpot) using an identical and consistent name, address and phone number.
- On-page SEO. Content, title tags and rich snippets “LocalBusiness” schema mark-up.
- Genuine customer reviews on Google+ Local and other review sites such as Yelp and TripAdvisor.
- An active Google+ business page.
- Acquiring local citations that provide location signals to Google.
This article intends to cover the last point: how to acquire local citations as a by-product of marketing. In my experience, most businesses that actively engage in marketing just need to be aware of the SEO layer of their marketing activities, to accomplish both objectives.
1. Join your Local Chamber of Commerce
Chambers of commerce (or boards of trade) serve as a support platform for local small and mid-sized businesses. They run expos and events, share their mailing lists with members, and provide joint-venture opportunities to their members. Practically all chambers of commerce link to their members’ websites. A backlink from a local chamber-of-commerce website offers quite a strong local citation.
2. Join Local Networking Groups
Local networking groups provide members with contacts, business referrals, and local exposure. Most networking groups would list all active members on their websites. Be sure to ask for a link back to you website on your listing.
3. Run Local Events and Syndicate with Event-listing Websites
Organizing local events is another effective means of marketing that has local SEO benefits. Use event listing sites such as Eventbrite, Meetup, Eventzilla, Splash, Facebook Events, Yelp Events, Patch, TicketLeap, Festivals.com, CitySeeker, Ticketbud and Zvents. They all provide links to your websites that also provide local SEO citations that help validate your business’ locale. For more, see “How to Use Facebook for Event Marketing,” a previous article.
4. Sponsor Local Charities and Causes
Sponsoring a local charity or cause should be founded on genuine interest and concern about the plight or issue of the charity. Most all charities have websites that list events and sponsors. Getting a link from a very local charity website serves as relevant local citation.
5. Get Local Press (With a Link)
Regional news websites, and radio and television stations cover local news about people and businesses. Getting an interview or feature in news story offers helpful exposure for your business. Getting a link with the feature serves as a significant local citation for your local SEO efforts.
6. Start a Scholarship for Local Schools or Colleges
If your business can financially support partial or full scholarships in local schools and colleges, it would almost guarantee a website mention — a potentially strong local citation.
7. Participate and Recruit in your Local University’s Job Fair
Most universities run graduate and temporary job fairs. They tend to promote their job fairs on both their website and on social media, because they want a good turnout from students. They would typically list (and link to) websites of participating companies.
8. Participate and Recruit in Local Job Fairs
Cities and towns tend to run specialist recruitment fairs. Even if you are not actively recruiting, consider participating in the job fairs for brand exposure and marketing purposes. Job fair organizers would typically list participating companies on their websites with a link.
9. Get Listed on Website of you Local Suppliers or Partners
Endeavour to reflect existing business relationships with local businesses on both your partners’ and your website. A local builder, for instance, can have a “Trusted Partners” section on its site where it lists electricians, plumbers, decorators, and architects that it works with. This could be reciprocated on its partner websites (not as a means of link exchange) but to indicate a genuine business relationship and a local citation.
10. Be Controversial: Fight a Cause
The more controversial you are (within reason), the more exposure your business is likely to get, with the help of the local press. This is especially effective when addressing local issues. Joining the conversation, and taking the lead for change puts both your personal and business brand in the fore. If picked up by the local press, your opinion and conversations could also be discussed in local blogs and social media with possible links to your website.
11. Buy Local Products and Services
Doing business with local business and suppliers would result in some businesses listing your business as a client or supplier on their websites. This would serve as a local citation.
12. Advertise on Local Classified Sites
Listing jobs on local classified sites attracts not only local talent but with a link to your site, another local citation signal that should help your local SEO efforts.
13. List on Location-based Mobile check-in Services
Every local business should have a location-based check-in service listing for marketing and customer engagement purposes. Claim your business’ listing wherever possible and ensure that your business name, address and phone number (NAP) are identical to what you have on your Google+ local listing and website.
Location based services to consider include: Foursquare, Facebook Local, Yelp, AroundMe, and Everplaces. The most important platform to claim your business’s listing would be Foursquare; because it has emerged to become a location data provider for location based mobile apps.
14. Run a Groupon or Living Social Campaign
If group buying is part of your marketing or customer acquisition strategy, you would be delighted to know that they are a viable source of acquiring local citations for local SEO. Websites of group buying services such as Groupon and LivingSocial are structured by city and state. Groupon, for instance, has the following local listings.
- New York City: http://www.groupon.com/local/new-york-city
- New York: http://www.groupon.com/local/new-york
- Restaurants in New York City: http://www.groupon.com/local/new-york-city/restaurants
All of those are specific to the state of New York and New York City. All listing pages on group buying sites have a link to the listing company’s page.
15. Get Social: Twitter, Foursquare, and Facebook Local Business
My final tip is to become active on social media. Reach out to local customers, the local press, bloggers and other businesses via social media. Share your progress, challenges, causes, events, and offers. Strive to build a tight-knit local audience and following on your social media account so that you start and participate in locally themed conversations. Don’t view social media as a means of acquiring links. Rather, view social media as a platform for establishing and nurturing local relationships for your business.
Notice that all of the above 15 tips are about marketing. It is vital to place the SEO layer of citation and link building while participating in normal marketing activities.
Do you have any other tips that for local citation building? If yes, please share them with me in the comments area.