Small businesses looking to increase footfall or generate more leads should consider incorporating local SEO citations into their marketing plans.
A local SEO citation is a mention of the name, address, geographical coordinates, and phone number of a local business on the internet. It can be mentioned in a tool, such as ‘Google My Business’, or on a citation-specific web directory, such as Four Square.
Why do this?
Why use local SEO citations?
Local SEO citations are the fifth-most important ranking factor for local SEO. In 2004, Google started to separate ‘local SEO’ from ‘country-level SEO’ with a distinct ‘local search results tab’. It has continued to evolve over the years, and now occupies a prime position on search results pages.
If you are a small business, that’s where you should be aiming to be, and SEO citations will help to get you there.
In case you are still twiddling your thumbs with scepticism while considering local SEO, then here are 10 key benefits of using local SEO citations to boost your business.
Get more local customers
Well, that’s kind of like a no-brainer, isn’t it?
According to a recent statistic, a whopping 97% of people who are using Google, use it to seek more details about a local business. That’s a lot of local potential customers trying to find a local business or service like yours. Each one of those could be a lead, a sale, or a repeat customer.
Local SEO citations, such as your business name, address, and phone number (NAP), inform the Google crawler of the geographical location that your business is based.
The next time a local customer runs a search trying to find a service or a business that closely matches yours, Google detects it and presents it in the local search results box.
Presto! You just made a sale.
Here’s a more interesting statistic. 46% of all Google Searches in 2020 were linked to local businesses and services. That’s almost one in every two searches.
Get access to customers with ‘Buyer Intent’
‘Buyer Intent’ can be defined as the likelihood of a potential customer making a purchase, or subscribing to a service. Think of it as the difference between a window shopper, and a person who walks into a store with the intent to buy something.
Large corporations often spend millions of pounds aggregating ‘Buyer Intent’ data, so that they can reposition their services and offerings according to what’s most likely to result in a sale.
With local SEO citations, you get access to customers with buyer intent, served on a platter.
According to Nectafy, 88% of customers who run a local search will visit or call the service within the next 24 hours. Those are odds that most businesses would readily pay to get.
It helps build trust
Here’s a hypothetical scenario. You’re searching for a restaurant online, and happen to find a newly opened one with fancy, appealing branding. You are almost tempted to walk-in, but you decide to reserve a table first.
However, much to your surprise, the phone number for the restaurant that’s listed on Google is incorrect, or has changed.
How likely are you to trust the place and still visit it?
Chances are, that you won’t. Neither will your customers if your citations are outdated, or just don’t exist.
Local SEO citations help a business build trust and authority in the eyes of potential customers. Few people would want to deal with a business that’s off-grid or appears to be least bothered about verifying their credentials online.
That’s not all. It also an indication to Google that your business exists, is functional, and is legitimate. When the same citations appear repeatedly on multiple reputed websites that Google trusts, it considers it as a trust factor or signal. This should help boost your business rankings in local search queries.
More reviews. Even more customers.
Bright Local reveals that 87% of consumers read online reviews to determine which local business to engage with. Customers love to recommend a business that they have had a positive experience with.
Both, the quality and quantity of positive reviews can influence a potential buyer into doing business with you.
Updated citations encourage customers to leave a review. The more reviews you have, the more eyeballs your business receives.
Hack your way to Page 1 of Google Serps
Its never easy to rank for a competitive keyword phrase on Google.co.uk. But add a specific geographical location to the keyword phrase and it suddenly becomes a ‘Local Search Query’. This makes it easier to rank for, provided you use local SEO citations.
Let us explain that.
‘Best Plumbing Services’ is a very broad, generic search term, that will be extremely hard to rank for on Google.
But the ‘Best Plumbing Services in Ely Cambs’ will trigger a local search query instead, bringing up businesses that are based in ‘Ely Cambridgeshire‘ and nowhere else.
Any plumbing business based in Ely Cambs with their citations in order, should show up for this search term.
These results are displayed in what’s generally called ‘The Three-Pack Local Search Results Box’. It’s the top three local businesses ranking for a specific query, and it shows up on Page 1 of Google SERPS.
It’s hands down, one of the easiest ways to hit page 1 on Google.
Why compete against a billion-dollar brand from halfway across the world, when you can compete with your neighbourhood competitor instead?
Increase Visibility and Traffic from other platforms
Local SEO citations are not merely about Google either (although Google does dominate the search business with a 91% share).
There are other local marketing platforms that are popular among shoppers, such as Yelp, Yellowpages, Apple Maps, and TripAdvisor.
If your competitor proudly occupies the top spot on Google local search, you can always direct your effort towards these smaller, albeit, reputed platforms, which command their own loyal reader base.
Some of these platforms will also allow you to set up targeted advertisements and enhanced listings for local shoppers. You can use these features increase awareness about your business, or to generate more leads.
In time, the Google algorithm will auto-detect your citations on these sites, which should help improve your rankings on Google as well.
Get the community advantage
There’s a growing movement among consumers to shop local, since it helps local communities foster.
If you’re a proud local business that contributes to the community cause and buys from other local vendors, why not proudly flaunt it as part of your credentials?
Local SEO citations are a great way to let shoppers know that you support other local businesses. This will reflect positively on your business reviews, and help you foster lasting relationships with local shoppers..
In a nutshell, that’s repeat business.
Not to mention that it might present you with something more advantageous, such as sponsorship opportunities for a local sports team.
It’s a low cost, high ROI marketing model
Local SEO can be more cost-effective as compared to other forms of digital marketing, such as SEO, Pay-Per-Click advertisements, or running social media campaigns.
While there are no case studies that we can present to support this theory, it is a generally accepted fact amongst marketing agencies.
This makes it perfect for small businesses, doesn’t it? Spend less time and money, get more traffic and visibility.
Tap into the fast-growing world of Mobile Search Traffic
The share of internet traffic originating from mobile devices has steadily increased in the past decade. It accounted for a whopping 50.81% of global website traffic in 2020, according to Statista.
It wouldn’t be too far-fetched to assume that a large chunk of this traffic would have location enabled on their mobile phones. That’s a lot of people running searches that can be geographically pinpointed to precise locations.
Here’s another statistic to add to that. It’s estimated that 82% of online shoppers click on the ‘Near Me’ option while searching for businesses.
Gain an edge over your competition
A lot of the technology that drives local SEO is fairly new, like Voice Search or Google Maps. For those who were unaware, Google Maps also allows users to directly engage with businesses.
Voice Search is slowly, but steadily increasing in relevance and popularity.
With the Covid-19 Pandemic, more and more people are switching to hands-free search technology to avoid touching contaminated surfaces. According to Perficient, 55% of users are using Voice Search already.
How many businesses optimise for Voice search though? Not many.
Local SEO citations are a great way to optimise your business for voice search. The next time a user runs a voice search on their smartphone asking about a store or a business nearby, your business can show up in the search listings.
Chances are that your competitors are still unaware of this new technology. But now, you are. It’s a great chance for you to get a head start and gain an edge over your competition in local SEO.
As you’ve seen, local SEO citations can be a game-changer for small businesses that have a limited marketing budget. There are plenty of benefits, and you don’t want to be missing out on these. We reviewed some of them in this article, but the pros of local SEO citations are even more.
Speak to us now to see how we can help improve your rankings in local search with local SEO citations. They can grow your website’s presence significantly because word of mouth is the most trusted advertising.