This guide is aimed at small businesses with little to no experience in SEO and requires very little technical ability to implement.
Have you ever typed in a local search on Google and wondered how to get your business into the Google Maps snippets? If you don’t know what that is, go to Google and type in something like “Plumbers in Hull” or take a look at the image below:
This section appears above the Organic Search results and can be a very lucrative source of new customers! To get your business listed you first need to setup a Google My Business page. It’s straight forward to get setup. First pick your industry and fill in your basic contact details. Make sure the information you enter is consistent with what’s displayed on your website. So your Name, Address and Phone number line up across profiles.
“Local search is powerful for small businesses: four out of five consumers use search to find local information, which means if your business isn’t optimized for local search, you could be missing out on 80% of your potential customers. In short, local SEO is critical if you want your business to stay relevant.”
– Kelsey Smith, Hubspot
Even though you’ve got a business listing you’re still unlikely to visible in the list. Here’s two simple ways to climb up the list:
- Ask your customers to leave you an honest review, reviews are a very important factor in how highly you rank.
- Create local business citations on business directories.
The first point is quite straight-forward, call or email your previous customers and ask them to leave an honest review. The second point requires a little more labour…
Local Business Citations are references to your business name, address and phone number (NAP). Google uses them to evaluate to whether or not your business details are accurate and credible. Here’s an example of citation for our business:
Loud Digital, Waffle 21, Colonial House, Swinemoor Ln, Beverley HU17 0LS 01482 770585
A good example of a local business directory is Yell, where you can list your NAP. Local citations do not need to include a link to your website.
Here’s some of the different types of citations:
- Business directories (Think Yell, Thompson Local etc.)
- Local Newspaper Directories (For example your local paper)
- Industry specific directories (TripAdvisor for restaurants, Check a trade for traders etc.)
- Prominent local websites (particularly if they’re related to your industry)
- Social Profiles (Facebook, Twitter etc.)
How can I discover local citation opportunities?
We’ve put together a list of general directories you should consider using at the end of this page. Another effective method is to check what your competition is doing. To do this Google search your competitions name and their postcode. For example to research our local citations you would search “Loud Digital HU17 0LS”. Then setup your own optimised profiles on the same websites. If you’d like to go into more depth about local citations then here’s a good Google My Business Guide that’s worth a read.
What to Remember
When you create a local citation remember to list the following, consistently across each profile:
- Your Company name (This should ideally be your branded trading name)
- A local phone number (this is local SEO! no 0800 numbers)
- The physical address where your business is located (Again make sure it’s local to the area, don’t use a virtual address)
Recap: how do I get the top spot in Google Maps?
In most cases to claim the top spot you just need to make sure you have the following:
- More reviews than your nearest competitor
- More citations or higher quality citations (the more complete and relevant your citations are the more value they will generate towards your rank)
This strategy doesn’t apply to obscure or rare industries that don’t display Google Map listings. If you are in an obscure industry then you would be better of investing your time in general SEO by answering local search queries better than anyone else, we’ve got a guide that helps you do exactly that.
Good examples of industry’s this works for in the UK are:
- Estate Agents
- Home Improvement services
- Car Dealerships
- Driving Instructors
- Cleaning Services
List of Business Citation Directories:
- Apple Maps
- Google My Business