Guest Post: Adam Steele is the CEO at Nightlite Media. His expertise includes SEO, social media and email marketing. This is Part 3 of Google Local Results Changed the Game.
In my last two posts, I explained the 5 W’s of Google Places (who, what, when, where & why), as well as how to go about optimizing your own Google Places page. A year ago, this information would have been enough to earn you a first page ranking, and in some smaller niches and/or cities, this is still the case. HOWEVER, if you want to play with the big boys, and take your Google Places optimization to the next level, then your next step is to learn off page ranking factors.
Off page ranking factors covers a huge scope of potential topics. First, it is important to understand the difference between off page and on page factors. When it comes to Google Places optimization, on page factors include your website and Google Places page. For simplicity, we have only covered your Google Places page, which was the topic of my last post. Off page factors include major link building. That is, building links on other sites, and having them link to your website. In this article, we are going to focus on one type of links: citations.
Citations are occurrences of your business information online. In fact, it doesn’t matter where online it appears, as long as the citation includes your business name, address and phone number (NAP). A common misconception is that a citation is a profile on a local business directory such as Yelp, Superpages, Insiderpages, Judysbook or Citysearch. While these are excellent sources for citations there are not citations themselves. They are local business directories.
Local business directories are certainly the most common place to create citations for a lot of reasons including: it is free, easy, authoritative, of high quality, traffic-rich etc. For all these reasons, we will focus on these directories and go over what you need to know about them.
Firstly, yes, they are FREE – well mostly. Many of these directories offer everyone a free business profile, which allows them to add their business information, pictures, videos, link to site etc. Not a bad deal! However, these directories stay in business because they hope to sell you extra incentives, including advertising, better ranking on the site and a multitude of other products and services. Do not be surprised if you receive a call or several email solicitations immediately after signup. It is a necessary evil I am afraid. For those of you who want to entertain these offers, I suggest you tread very carefully. Most aren’t worth their weight.
Creating profiles on local business directories is dead easy, but you shouldn’t take the easy, quick route. Although I haven’t proved this yet, it is my feeling that a more complete profile will lend more authority. That is, Google treats a bare bones profile differently than one that has been carefully completed. This may not be the case right now, but I have no doubt that in future this will be the case. So go ahead, add pictures, videos, great content, etc. Another good reason to create these carefully is accuracy. Any inaccuracies in your business name, address or phone number will hurt your ability to improve your Google Places rank.
Authority and quality fall in the same boat. When I say authority I am usually referring to the credibility that Google has assigned to a website, or in this case the local business directory. All the more popular directories have lots of authority, which is in part, passed off to your business when Google finds your business information on it. For all intents and purposes, it is considered a ‘vote of confidence.’ By this, I mean that a link or citation from these directories will have a positive effect on your rankings. Google has deemed them quality websites.
If a local business directory has all the before mentioned characteristics then it also will be traffic rich. What does this mean to you? Well, many of these sites attract consumers looking for local
businesses. If consumers are able to find you, and in a good light (thanks to your robust profile), you may score yourself some extra business. In fact, I find that my clients tend to receive 3-5% of their traffic from these directories. If their monthly traffic is 1000 visits, 30-50 extra visits is nothing to scoff at.
Here is a small list of the more popular local business directories:
These are just some great directories you can submit your business to. There are literally THOUSANDS. Per usual, we have a reward for your readership. We want to send you a list of 100 of the best local business directories online. This is the list that we submit our clients to and one that we have carefully cultivated over the last 18 months. Send me an email firstname.lastname@example.org and I will quickly send it your way.