As the search engines continue to evolve there is one element of search that continues to remain at the focal point of personalization, and that’s local. Now more than ever it’s crucial for small businesses to stand out amongst the local competition, but to get there you need to make sure the search engines know you belong. The first way to do this is to claim, optimize, and complete your local listings on the big 3.
The next step is to begin gaining local citations that not only work to help search engines identify where you are located, but also to help drive external reviews and ratings. To help get the ball rolling I have put together and essential list of nearly 100 local citations sites that you can begin submitting your small business to in order to give it a boost in it’s local citation profile. (download the entire list in a spreadsheet at the end of the post)
While this may seem overwhelming at first, it’s important to recognize that by no means should you complete all of these in one sitting. Like link building for SEO it’s good to build up slowly over time. After claiming your local listings on the big three, you can then branch out and do a handful of these at a time. I personally shoot for the big players in the local search ecosystem a month or so after claiming the core business listings. Then from there I do a handful more each month.
As you work through this list, or any list of local citations sites, it’s important to remember that keeping your NAP information consistent is crucial. I personally open the claimed Google Places listing for the business I am working with and work directly from that so as not to mess up any of the information associated with the business. The slightest deviation can be costly in that it may not count as a citation and in many instances may cause the search engines or other local portals to generate duplicate listings for your business.
The list of citations sources above is compromised of general local portals, as you work through this list be sure to integrate niche specific sites as well. For instance in the medical field some of the key players are sites like Vitals.com or HealthGrades.com. Once you’ve exhausted this list you can turn to tools like Whitespark’s Local Citation finder or simply run queries like [“Your Street Address” -site:yourdomain] to find potential new opportunities to list your local business information.