How Local Citations can boost your business’ search rankings

Just a few years ago, when you wanted to find a local dentist or contractor or any type of local business, you had to search for the business type plus the city name. For example, if I wanted to find an Italian restaurant in San Diego, I would have had to search for “italian restaurant in san diego”.

But nowadays, it’s much simpler to find local businesses because of local citations like The Yellow Pages (remember when they used to have phone books? You don’t? Look it up… it really used to be a thing just like fax machines and land lines), Yelp, Foursquare and other services.

Local citations from these sites can be very powerful if you do them the right way. Yet, if you make a simple and very common mistake, they’re absolutely worthless. Let me explain.

I’m going to give a little shout out to a neighborhood Italian restaurant that I believe in one of the top three Italian restaurants in San Diego if it isn’t #1… Lorna’s Italian Restaurant. And hopefully they’ll see this article and make the necessary changes to their citations to get better rankings.

I live about two blocks from the restaurant so, if they are doing everything correctly, they should be listed #1 in Google’s “snack pack” since I have my browser set to my location but they are not:

As you can see, Lorna's doesn't show up
As you can see, Lorna’s doesn’t show up in the “Snack Pack” but other restaurants farther away from my house do.

First of all, let’s see how they show up in Google when we narrow our search to “92122”:

italian restaurant 92122 Google Search

As you can see, they only have 38 Google Reviews with an average score of 4.3/5 compared to the top three Italian restaurants in San Diego which have an average of 105 reviews with an average score of 4.4/5. The first thing they could do is reach out to their fans and ask them for positive reviews on Yelp, which is the most important local citation for restaurants, as well as sites like Foursquare.

Next, they need to make sure that their Name, Address, Phone Number (aka NAP) is exactly the same for every citation because this is how Google makes sure that the business being talked about is the same business. After all, there’s probably a pretty good chance that there is another “Lorna’s Italian Kitchen” somewhere in the United States but it won’t have the same phone number or address. But here’s something really important… these listings are not the same:

Google NAP:

Lorna’s Italian Kitchen
3945 Governor Dr
San Diego, CA 92122
(858) 452-0661

And this example:

Lornas Italian Kitchen
3945A Governor Dr.
San Diego, CA 92122

Can you tell where the differences are? Here are the differences in red:

Lornas Italian Kitchen
3945A Governor Dr.
San Diego, CA 92122
(858) 452-0661

There are problems with the possessive apostrophe in “Lorna’s”, the suite number, the period after “Dr”, and the parentheses around the Area Code

Those might seem like really small differences because they are, but Google is really finicky about them to the point that if a citation doesn’t match exactly what they have listed in their SERPs, they won’t count it. Therefore, it is critical to choose one exact version of your NAP. Do you abbreviate your street’s suffix (i.e. “St.” for “Street”) or you do spell it out?

And here’s another weird thing about Google Business Listings… they prefer this format for phone numbers: (555)-555-5555. As you can see it has both the parentheses and the hyphen. I know. It’s weird.

The second part of this method of ranking local sites in the Snack Pack simply has to do with sheer numbers. You need more listings than your competition. So let’s see how many citations Lorna’s has versus their competition:

local citations

As you can see, Lorna’s only has 39 local citations versus their top competition which has 193! That’s only 20% of their competition. But here’s the good news: even their competition is not using all of the 242 available citation sources so Lorna’s has an opportunity to outperform their top competitor!

If they simply submitted their business to all of those business sites, they’d probably outrank their competition because their competition isn’t doing everything that they can do to keep their top spot.

BTW, if you live in the San Diego area, there’s a wonderful Meetup group where I discovered a lot of the SEO stuff I know, it’s called The Digital Marketing for San Diego Businesses Meetup. You should join.

I’m going to show you how Speedy Joe does SEO

Search engine optimization strategiesYou want to know the key to being successful online?

It’s all about taking action instead of “over thinking” things.

For example, I’m creating this blog to show people how to rank sites quickly and effectively. And most people would spend a ton of time making this site look pretty. That’s a complete waste of time.

Take Google for example. Does it really look as pretty as a 90% of the other sites out there? No!

There are millions of sites that look better than Google but none are as big or dominant.

And it’s the same thing with Facebook. Or just about any news site out there.

Hell, look at Reddit and tell me that it looks great. It’s freaking horrible.

But the point is that the look of a site means nothing. It’s all about the content because high quality content will always rise to the top just like cream. Frankly, in any business, the cream just about always rise to the top.

However, even if your business is in the cream of the crop, there’s also a good chance that it’s not at the top of the cream, right? And if it’s not at the top then it’s likely your prospective client will choose one of your competitors.

So, when it comes to ranking in the search engines, think of the “cream” as the sites that land on page 1 for a search term and the “cream of the cream” as the #1 result. You want your site to be the cream of the cream because the #1 spot will grab 40% of the traffic, the #2 will receive 40% less and so on and so forth kind of like this:

Traffic from the top spots

As you can see, just by being in the “cream of the crop”, you’ll get traffic but if you want to get a significant amount of traffic (10% or more of the total search traffic) then you need to be in the top three spots. Just look. The #3 spot gets 125X more traffic than the #10 spot.

Simply put, I don’t give a shit about looking good or pretty… I only care about the results for my bottom line. That’s what I’m going to deliver to you here.