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In order to rank in search engine results, you need to be relevant to the search query input and you need to be authoritative on the search query subject. While relevancy will generally overpower authority, if two pages are equally relevant, the more authoritative one will win the #1 spot.
The relevancy part is usually the easy part. You just need to create tons of website content that’s specific to your industry and your target market (there’s a reason we blog every day, you know!). Because you own your website (hopefully), you’re in complete control of this side of the equation. And even if you don’t have time to create all of this website content, there are plenty of high quality content marketing companies (like Blue Corona) with professional copywriters who can help you out.
Where things get a little harder is the authority part. Google needs to see you as an authority in your industry and your target market. Unfortunately, Google isn’t going to go out and taste test the bagels from your bakery or see how well your HVAC company repairs an air conditioner.
So Google does the next best thing—it relies on other online signals such as external links, citations, directory listings, and (good) reviews. Google sees these online signals as a vote of confidence for your website, and also as proof that your business actually exists (Yes, there are fake businesses out there looking to steal our money. Sorry to have to be the one to tell you that.).
And if you are a local company, local news and media coverage are extremely valuable for SEO.
Citations vs. Links
I mentioned earlier that Google relies on online signals such as external links and citations to determine your authority. While there are many ranking factors that appear to contribute to local search, experts agree that citations matter more than links.
So what’s the difference between citations and links? Whitespark explains it well:
“A citation is any mention of your business out on the web, with or without a link. It can come in various forms:
- Company Name, by itself.
- Company name & phone number.
- Company name, phone number, & address.
- Company name, phone number, address, & link.
“Even just the phone number by itself can be a citation.”
So why are local news and media coverage so valuable? Because Google takes into account citation quality (not just citation quantity). According to local SEO expert David Mihm, “A citation from your local community college or city hall is going to be infinitely more valuable than one from findbusinessesinyourcity.info.”
How to Get Local News & Media Citations
I think we’re going to find that “traditional” PR tactics are going to become increasingly helpful for SEO in the future. It’s hard to fake this kind of press, which is why Google likes using it as an authority signal when it ranks its search results.
While getting local news and media citations will be a bit harder and require a bit more creativity than, say, building a bunch of links via blog commenting and forum posting, here are few ideas to get you started:
- Post on local job boards
- Donate or sponsor local events
- Include full citations when you send out press releases to your local newspapers
- Offer to be a guest contributor for local media outlets
- Attract media coverage with scholarships, giveaways, contests, charity drives, and more
The best part? These tactics aren’t just good for rankings and SEO. They help to promote your brand while also enhancing your community. It’s pretty much win-win.
Need a Local SEO Strategy for Your Business?
If you’re like most business owners, you wear many hats. Between running the company, dealing with day-to-day issues, and still trying to make time for your family, there’s just not much free time left at the end of the day. However, as search engines update their local search ranking factors, it’s important you educate yourself so that you don’t fall behind the competition.
Blue Corona offers local SEO services to help businesses increase their visibility in local search results as well as rank for geographically-related searches. If your business needs a local SEO strategy, we can help. Give us a call.
About The Author: Blue Corona is a data-driven online marketing company with offices in Gaithersburg, MD and Charlotte, N.C.
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