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Optimizing my Google+ Local Listing: What are citations?

Before you go crazy about Google+ Local optimization, ask this simple question of your business: Would people search for a business like mine in a local area? If you’re an emergency plumber, that’s probably a yes. If you’re a business who sells laser printer cartridges online, probably not.

How confident can Google be in recommending your business as relevant when a user searches?

This is important because Google+ optimization is really important for a locally-searched business and an important part of a good marketing plan. The goal is to get in with those “maps” listings that are shown high up in the listings (see pic).

optimizing for google local listings

Ranking well in Google Local results can be an economical way of getting into “page 1 results”

You can spend your whole life researching and trying to explain the whole equation for getting your business to show in those results, but for today I’m just going to explain the concept of citations since most SEO professionals agree they are a top contributor to good rankings on Google’s local listings.

An anecdote to paint the picture:

I’m looking to hire someone to work for my company and I get an application from Robert Dwyer from Denver Colorado. Everything about his CV suggests he’s great!

I see that he’s worked at some places common to people I know so I send a note to a bunch of friends to ask if they know Robert Dwyer from Denver CO and whether he’s good to work with. I get these responses from 5 friends:

  • I’ve worked with a Robert Dwyer and he’s great. But he was from Denver, North Carolina
  • I know of an R.Dwyer from Denver. He was not a reliable worker, but I can’t be sure that’s the person you’re asking about
  • I know Bobby Dwyer from Denver CO! Great team player!
  • My wife worked with Robert Dwyer at a company in Boulder CO
  • I worked at the company he put in his CV but I’ve never heard of him.

How much confidence do I gain about that person based on this information? Or more to the point, can I be sure I’ve learned anything at all (good or bad) about Robert from this exercise?

So let’s bring this back to Google+ Local. When you create a business listing on Google+, you make it as accurate as possible. But you don’t have any relationship with Google just because of that – they don’t know if you are who you say you are. So how confident can Google be in recommending your business as relevant when a user searches?

They ask around too.

So here’s where it’s important to have other websites vouching for your information. If you have an accurate business listing on other business directory sites (like Yahoo, Yelp, yellow pages, merchantcircle, etc) then this helps to create a consistent picture that Google has the right info about you – especially that you’re Name, Address, Phone & website details are accurate. And that added confidence can contribute to higher rankings.

So think back to the Robert Dwyer example, and imagine the impact of having different phone numbers advertised on different websites for your business. Imagine if you sometimes use “Inc” at the end of your business name, sometimes “Incorporated”, sometimes “Inc.” (with a stop) and sometimes you drop it altogether. Confusion, right? Or certainly no rankings boost that results from consistent business data.

So next time you get the opportunity to clean up your business information on a small business directory site, don’t think about the small number of users who search there. Think about maintaining a consistent image for when Google crawlers visit that site.

WordJack Media provides a wide range of website design and online marketing solutions to clients throughout Canada and the US, including Collingwood ON, Ottawa ON, Barrie ON, Miami FL, Lakeland FL, Orlando FL, Charlotte NC, Hickory NC, Asheville NC and more. Contact WordJack Media today for more information about how we can help your business win on the web!

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