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Local SEO Basics

In this article, I’ll be covering local SEO and what it means for your estate sale company. I'll be breaking down common terms and discussing the role citations play in local search placement.  

First, let’s make sure we have a good understanding of a few terms:

  • Local Search: Local search returns results that display for a user, based on the area in which that user is located. When conducting a search, you’ll often notice a section of local business results. If you try typing in a city name followed by “electrician,” you’ll notice the paid results toward the top of the page, followed by local search results (see example below).
  • Citation: A citation is the addition of a company’s name, address, phone number, or other contact information to a website that displays data in a listing format. Think Yelp, Google+ for business, or Yellow Pages. Citations should be a piece of your SEO pie. Search engines use citations in their calculations of what to display to a user in reference to their location. Citations become important when we think about local SEO and how it determines your company’s placement in local search results.
  • NAP: This is an acronym for name, address, and phone number.  You’ll see this term used a lot in regard to local SEO and citations.

Before you start creating citations, you’ll want to keep in mind that if you don’t have a physical address - or if you only have a P.O. Box - it may be hard to complete a citation, since some types of citations require a physical address. If you use your home address, you’ll be broadcasting where you live to the world, so you may want to move on to a different type of citation that doesn’t require a physical address. Without a physical address for your company, you’ll be more limited in the types of citations you can create, but that doesn’t mean you should give up on local SEO. P.O. Box addresses can also cause issues with local search. They’re considered a negative in Google’s eyes, so you definitely DO NOT want to use a P.O. Box in the process of creating your citations.

How and where do I start building citations?

The first thing you’ll want to do is make a list of your business information. This list should include your name, address, city, state, postal code, phone number, alternative phone numbers, mobile phone number, website address, company description, email address, logo, images, URLs to social profiles, and your business type. This advice comes directly from a great blog post by Casey Meraz on “Finding and Building Citations Like an Agency.”  He includes a fantastic, free spreadsheet you can download to use as a guide when gathering your information. A spreadsheet will help to keep your information accurate and uniform as you create citations for your company. Once you’ve gathered your information, you can start creating your citations.

The first place I’d recommend starting is Google My Business. You’ll create your business listing and Google + for business page here. Fill in the available fields with all the appropriate information from your spreadsheet. If you don’t have a physical address, you’ll want to sign up as a “service business.” Next, sign up for Bing Places, which works similarly to Google My Business.

After you’ve signed up for Google My Business and Bing places, you can start adding other citations to your list. Here’s a link to a great article that lists 70 local search categories and the best citation ideas for different types of companies, based on research conducted by Moz and Whitespark. Categories for estate sales and auction companies aren’t on the list, but it’s still a great resource for comparing industries and generating ideas and examples.

Here is a short list of citations you may consider:

There are hundreds of citations you can create. Some sites are better than others. Many require payment for placement, while others offer free services. It’s best to start out slow and make sure to grab the major players such as Google and Bing before you move on to other websites. You may start seeing results just by creating a few citations on some of the more popular sites. 

Information Accuracy:

One of the most important things to keep in mind when you’re creating citations is that your information is uniform and accurate across the board. This helps Google and other search engines when determining local search results. Always remember that Google rewards accuracy! 

How do you know if your information is uniform across all your citations? One way to check your accuracy is to go to all the major directories and search for your company to see what details are available. Then, you can fix any inaccuracies and add any omitted information. Another way to check your accuracy and consistency is to utilize the free tools and services that some SEO companies offer. There are a few free tools below that you can use to check your citations for accuracy. You’ll need to keep in mind that these companies will try to sell you their services, but you can still utilize their free tools to help narrow down potential problems in your posted company details that need to be corrected, without having to pay for specific SEO services.

Accuracy Checkers: 

You can also use a service that checks for information accuracy and builds your citations for you. Services such as these are generally paid services and aren’t absolutely necessary, but they can help you speed up the process. In some cases, it can be cheaper to hire a company than it is to purchase citations on your own. One thing to keep in mind is that, if you use paid citation-building services and you decide to cancel, your citations will sometimes be reverted to the way they were before you started paying for the given service. Check out this great blog post by BrightLocal that breaks down and compares a few major local SEO service providers.

Here are five SEO service providers that specialize in Local SEO: 

Final notes:

You’ll need to make sure that you pay attention to the comments sections on the sites where you’ve created your social profiles. Don’t just create the profiles and leave them forever unattended. Reviews can make or break your company. Make sure you pay attention to the reviewers who leave comments and that you respond accordingly. Google loves Google+ reviews when it assigns local placement in Google search results. Both excellent and negative reviews are shown to have a direct impact on your company’s search placement, so you’ll definitely want to try to capture as many excellent reviews as possible. Here’s another great tool from Whitespark you can use when asking for reviews from your past clients.  

Make sure to keep social media profiles like Google+, Facebook, and Twitter updated with content. This could be as simple as posting your sales when they occur or posting pictures of unique items for sale. On EstateSales.NET, you can easily share your sale on the aforementioned social media sites via the buttons in the final step of the sale editor. You can also use a social media management software to make this easier.  Check out our article that outlines social media management software and what it can do for your company.  

Search engine optimization can take months or even years to develop. More than likely, you won’t see instant results, but it isn’t uncommon for you to start seeing some progress within a few months.

I hope this information inspires you to get started in increasing your company’s advertising profile using local SEO. When conducting research for this article, I was especially excited to see the opportunities that are available to companies in the estate sale and estate auction industry. There’s never a more opportune time than right now to start pursuing the many benefits that local SEO can offer your company!

Please feel free to comment with your experiences, thoughts, questions, or concerns.

By Matthew Ellison

Marketing Guy at EstateSales.NET

 

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