A continuation from last week's Tip of the Week #1 about Auto Repair SEO where I provided a link to Your Local SEO Checklist For 2012. This short article has lots of great advice that I will continue to squeeze out for you.
Item #2 is an easy SEO action. Citations are now extremely important in SEO. Every mention of your business counts towards your website ranking. But if they aren’t all the same you don't get credit for them.
What Are Citations
A business 'Citation' is any mention of your business Name, Address, and Phone number (called your NAP). Your NAP may or may not include a link to your website. In the past you needed a back-link to get search engine credit. Now search engines give credit for any mention of your business citation. But to get full credit your citations need to be consistent (all the same) across the Web.
Where to Get Citations
The link to Myles Anderson's 'Top 50 Citation Sources For UK and US Local Businesses' post is well worth checking out. It does focus on the travel industry but is a good example that can be modeled for any industry.
Importance Of Citations
The chart #1 'Significance of Citations' in Myles Anderson's article is also very interesting. Notice that your citations are considered the 4th and 5th most important SEO factors in your Local Search ranking! And they are close on the heals of your Google+ profile (see Tip Of The Week #1).
Just like your website's backlinks, the quality of the website your citation is found on has a huge effect on the the SEO value of the citation. A citation on your local chamber of commerce website has far more value than a citation on your brother Bob's bike repair shop website.
Consistency between citations and the NAP used on your website is key! Make sure all your citations are accurate and match your website. Since many of your citations are created automatically by websites copying other websites, an incorrect citation keeps getting spread across the Web. The sooner you get your citations corrected the less work it will be to correct them.
How To Clean Your Citations
You can correct and create new citations one at a time or use paid service providers like Localeze, UBL, GetListed, etc. to do it for you. DO NOT use one of those “Post to 1,000s of websites” services. Most of them are scams and all are blacklisted by search engines.
To start I would stick with the websites that allow you to create a citation or profile for free. Paid citations need to be selected very carefully as most are not good value and a big waste of money. AND search engines are discrediting most paid citations and links as they consider them a form of search engine manipulation which will get your website penalized. And be patient... some websites take six months to process manual correction submissions!
DIY or Pro
Same old story. DIY with many cautions... if you don't have the time for DIY work hire someone who can select the best format for your citation and write a good business profile that will conform to the requirements of as many websites as possible. This one area of SEO where hiring a pro is worth it.
If your DIY efforts are not done correctly it can be a huge waste of your time and even harm your SEO. Also, some websites do not accept manual correction submissions and the only way to get your citation corrected is to hire an approved citation cleaning service. Robert Maxim is recognized as a trusted citation update source and can get all your citations corrected and much quicker than DIY manual correction requests.
Hope this helps,