Local Listings are the foundation of your local SEO efforts; without it, Google would not know where your practice is, what services you offer, and ultimately whether or not to show you in the search results.
Yet, they are often overlooked or worst of all, assumed accurate.
While many factors contribute to SEO, citations are the foundation on which you build your practice. Backlinks, content, and website optimization returns are not maximized if your citations are inaccurate.
While you can certainly pay a company to do this for you, with a few steps you can get the ball rolling and take care of a few.
Step 1: Identify someone in your practice or business to lead this effort.
Claiming citations takes time and coordination with directories, so you need to assign this work to a specific individual who will own it from start to finish.
Step 2: Identify your registration email
This is an important step, and the email must be on your website domain. For example, email@example.com would work great. However, firstname.lastname@example.org will not. Ideally, a shared office email address to ensure coverage.
Step 3: List everything you want added to your citations.
Name, address, and phone numbers are a must. But do not stop there, directories allow you to submit hours of operation, photos, Social media URLs, alternate phone numbers, categories or services you provide, special offers, and a host of other things specific to each directory. Gather all of this information before you begin; this will make your life easier down the road.
Step 4: Start creating and claiming your business listings!
For the purposes of this blog, we will focus on Google (it’s the most important anyways; but you should definitely take care of the Top 10 to 15 directories: Moz has a great list here).
Log into your Google account, navigate to Google My Business, type in your Business name, and select your business. At this point you will find out if this is claimed or not; if it is, you will have to request access and follow the steps Google provides. If not, great! You will either be updating the listing or adding your business by clicking “Add your business”.
Remember when I mentioned to select someone who will own this? Well, once you have done all of the above, you will be mailed a verification code from Google to confirm you are really the owner of this business. Once you receive the code (takes about 5-7 business days), you will be able to start managing your listing on Google and will be officially verified in the eyes of Google.
When you take the time to do this work, make sure you complete your profile, every little bit helps!
Addressing your foundation will go along ways in helping grow your practice’s visibility online, so get started – it matters.