Local Citation Building Replaces Link Building for Small Business SEO

Link-building has long been a primary task in the process of improving the rank of a small business website and increasing targeted traffic. That has changed with the implementation of the Panda and Penguin modifications to Google’s ranking algorithm. Links to your website from low quality directories or thin blogs will no longer help your website’s link authority, and will no longer improve your rank on Google. Using the wrong link building strategy, especially with keywords in the anchor text, can actually earn you a penalty now.

So how does a small business gain more targeted traffic to its website? Well, luckily at the same time Google was making it impossible to get cheap and easy link authority, it was also transforming the results for searches that could be remotely interpreted as having local intent. Local results tied into Google Maps/ Google Places/Google Plus now dominate these results and push just about everything else, out of sight, below the fold. Being number one in organic results for these listings no longer guarantees any traffic. So in order to get that traffic, you need to get on the map! That is, you need to optimize your Google Places/Plus listing, and promote it with both structured and unstructured citations.

But before you do anything take a NAP!

Ok, don’t actually take a nap, but take your NAP (referring to Name, Address, Phone Number) very seriously. Decide exactly how it should appear in all citations, and stick to it. If you don’t your efforts could be seriously dissipated.

What is a citation?

A citation is the information about your business that appears on another website. The citation does NOT have to link to your website to be considered in your ranking by Google.

Structured Citations

Structured citations are sets of  formalized data in a consistent format, such as Yellowpages.com listings. These are usually found on the website of a trusted provider and often written in standardized schema.org markup.

Unstructured Citations

Unstructured citations are casual references to your business location on another website. They could mention your city, phone number along with your business name.

Citation Building is the new Link Building

As with link building, the task of citation building has its own learning curve and set of best practices. Next time we’ll cover Best Practices in Citation Building. In the meantime, check out this informative talk by Rand Fishkin at SEOMOZ. Also, see how you are doing right now with this free analysis by YEXT.

Comments or Questions? Please join the discussion!

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