Tags: citation building, Local SEO, seo for home builders
This post was written by: Anna Chandler
Citation building is an important part of your Local SEO campaign, citations being both a key factor in ranking algorithms and another way for buyers to learn about you before they get to your website. But it’s also a little complicated – and definitely time consuming. Read here for our what, why, and how complete guide to citation building for home builders.
What citation building is. Simply put, citations are mentions of your business name and address on other websites. There’s a wide variety in the type of citation sources: the obvious, like the Yellow Pages, to the relatively unknown, like Fixr.com (for contractors). Some are ones you have to create yourself, like Zillow, while many are automatically (if incorrectly) generated for you. And some just include a name and address while others let you post a company bio, photos, even video. Arguably the most important citations are the really big ones, like Super Pages, and the very local, like your Chamber of Commerce or local Better Business Bureau website. Check out this long list of citation sources for examples.
Why citation building matters. Correct citations improve Google’s confidence about who, what, and where you are. The more sites that agree with your data the better you’ll do. In fact, Moz found that “other factors being equal, businesses with a greater number of citations will probably rank higher than businesses with fewer citations.” It’s also the case that buyers might find you on a citation source; searching through Yellow Pages, for example, or on your LinkedIn page.
With the long list of features most citation directories let you post, they really should be seen as mini-websites: virtual storefronts or online model homes that sell your brand before buyers get to your full website. Obviously if someone is searching for you we want to make sure they’re getting the correct information. And the more we can offer them (like photos or links to your Facebook page), the better.
How to build citations. It’s a very detail-oriented task. You’ll need to go site by site, and there are literally hundreds. Start by selecting the most important, or Googling your company name or phone number and see what comes up.
On each site, first search for your company name (and variations); if there are multiple accounts for you delete all but one. If none exist yet you’ll need to create it, but that’s a rare case. More often you’ll find a company profile and claim it. Usually that only requires creating a profile, but sometimes you’ll also need to verify that you are the appropriate business with a phone call or postcard.
Once you’ve claimed the profile, it’s time to flesh it out. First triple check that your most basic information (NAP – name, address, and phone number) is correct. Then you can go about adding hours of operation, a description, and more. It is very important that this information is consistent. A little variation like “Ave” or “Avenue” won’t matter, but accidentally typing (817) instead of (816) is going to hurt you.
That’s why we recommend keeping a directory spreadsheet. Write out all of the information you could possibly include, like business categories and a generic sales email, and just copy and paste. In this document you’ll also want to keep track of each citation website, the login credentials created for it, and a link to your profile. That way you can easily log in and check on it later. It often takes a few days for a citation to actually change after making edits, so you’ll need to work backwards and forward. In fact, go back and check your previous work on a routine basis – sometimes weird things happen.
While working, you’re not going to see an immediate effect. All of those third-party sites have to be re-indexed before the search engines notice the change, and then those all have to percolate together. Just like an organic SEO change, it will take 3-6 months at minimum to start seeing a difference. But if done correctly, you will see your Local SERP’s rise – and with it, the possibility for new lead generation.