So far our series on Local SEO (a topic which is so important for local businesses like vet practices) has covered Google Places, optimising your website and local online advertising. Part four covers citations of your business across the web. This is an area which most of the practices we work with know needs some attention, and usually it's just a case of a some time and a good clean up!
What is a Citation and Why is it Important?
A citation is simply a mention of your business name on websites that aren't your own. This doesn't even have to be a link.
Citations are an incredibly important part of you local SEO campaign. They tell Google that your business / business website is so important / trustworthy / useful that all these other websites are talking about you!
The Rule of One
Each website and each page of each website had an authority (DA: Domain Authority, PA: Page Authority). For example the BBC has a domain authority of 100 (out of 100, as does Facebook). Not many others do (even Twitter hovers around the 98/99 mark most of the time). If you can get just one citation from a website with a high domain authority, it can make all the difference (see how to do this below).
Citations MUST Be Identical
What is important is that all your citations are identical. An example I've used in part one of this series was that if your practice is called 'My Veterinary Practice Ltd' then each citation should be written as that (and not 'My Vet Practice' or 'My Vet Practice Ltd' or even 'MyVeterinaryPracticeLtd'). Each slightly different version of your business name will divide your ranking power. Business phone number and address citations are also important for local SEO so ensure that these are also uniform.
Where to Add Citations
There are a huge number of platforms that you can add your NAP data (Name, Address & Phone number) to. These are generally categorised into tier 1, 2 and 3 in terms of how important they are to have a presence on. Below we have listed some of the general platforms alongside some vet-specialist platforms that you should ensure you have correct NAP citations on:
Tier One includes: BT Directory, 118 Directory, Companies House, Thompson Local
Tier Two includes: Yell, Yelp, Qype, TomTom, Touch Local
Tier Three includes: Bing, Yahoo, Scoot, CityVisitor, BestOf, HotFrog
How to Improve Your Citations
There are hundreds of websites that you can add your citations too. But before you start your campaign to do so, you should check and correct all existing citations first. Check all tier one data providers manually (it's worth the time). Google search your business name (including several variations of it), and search further than the first page of Google!
There are tools you can pay for which will lessen the workload by finding existing citations for you and allowing you to edit them all from one dashboard. These include BrightonLocal.com and WhiteSpark.
Other Ways to Get Valuable Citations
Data providing websites (usually directories) are not the only places to get your business NAP data cited to help your local SEO.
Press releases can be incredibly valuable. If your news is worthy of being published in the local press this will help hugely with local SEO (and your local reputation). A good example of this is with the winners of the Best UK Vets award. As part of the prize, the practice had a locally held awards presentation attended by local news publications. The news story got published across many well ranking local press websites as well as national veterinary publications. If you want to be part of Best UK Vets 2015, follow this link to discover how.
Recruiting? If you're looking for new staff, use the job ad to help your local SEO efforts too! Add your correctly cited NAP data to the advert.
Hosting an event or raising money for a charity? Ask the charity to cite your details on their corresponding events page too (especially if they are a well known charity with a likely high domain authority).
Get creative with citations but never, NEVER, get spammy (for example adding them to the comments of irrelevant blog posts or forums). Some questionable SEO agencies use this tactic so if you're outsourcing, be sure to ask exactly what the agency's SEO tactics are.
If you need any advice or would like to get the citations on your Vet Help Direct or Any UK Vet listing altered or added, please contact us.