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Local search engine optimization (SEO) requires building local citations. According to Moz, local citations are one of eight ranking factors for local searches. A local citation, of course, is a listing for a local business. It contains information about a particular local business. When building local citations for your business, there are a few critical mistakes you should avoid making.

1) Skipping Optional Fields

Don’t skip the optional fields when building local citations. Local citations are available on directory websites, customer review websites, online mapping services, and certain social media networks. To build a local citation, you’ll have to enter business-related information in various fields. Skipping optional fields means the local citation will contain less information about your business for search engines to learn and digest.

2) Not Claiming Profiles

Always claim profiles for your business when building local citations. Many of the websites that support local citations allow businesses to claim their profile. You can claim your Google Business Profile, for instance, and your Yelp Business Page. Failure to claim your business’s profiles may result in inaccurate information. Users may edit your business’s profiles with inaccurate information, confusing search engines.

By claiming profiles, you don’t have to worry about other users editing them. You’ll have exclusive control over your claimed profiles. Other users may leave reviews on your claimed profiles, but they won’t be able to edit your business’s information on them.

3) Ignoring Duplicates

Don’t ignore duplicate local citations. Your business may have two or more local citations on the same website. If you encounter any duplicate local citations such as these, you should either delete or merge them. Duplicate local citations are often prohibited. Furthermore, they’ll dilute your business’s exposure. Some users may stumble upon an original local citation, whereas others may encounter a duplicate local citation. To deal with duplicate local citations, delete or merge them.

4) NAP Inconsistency

One of the biggest mistakes business owners make when building local citations is name, address, and phone number (NAP) inconsistency. NAP consists of three essential pieces of business-related information. Whether included in local citations or other forms of content, search engines assess NAP to calculate local search rankings.

NAP inconsistency involves different formats for your business’s name, address, and phone number. If you use the “BLVD” abbreviation in your business’s address, for example, you should use that same abbreviation for all local citations. Avoid using any alternative abbreviations, and don’t spell out the word “boulevard.” Your business’s local rankings may suffer if you aren’t consistent when entering this information.

5) Choosing the Wrong Category

Make sure you select the right category when building local citations. Most websites will require you to select at least one category. This category should accurately reflect your business’s operations. If you choose the wrong category, search engines may not understand your business. They may assume your business operates in a particular industry when it operates in a different industry.

6) Not Linking to Website

If your business has an official website, you should link to it when building local citations. The goal of local SEO is to rank higher in the local search results. You may want your Google Business Profile to rank higher, but you’ll probably want your business’s official website to rank higher as well.

If a local citation has a URL field, you can link it to your business’s official website. The local citation will include the address to your business’s official website. These in-citation links can boost your local SEO strategy.

7) Adding Irrelevant Keywords

You should avoid adding irrelevant keywords to your local citations. Some websites will allow you to add keywords in the form of tags to your local citations. Other websites will allow you to enter a custom description, including keywords. While there’s nothing wrong with adding keywords to a local citation, you should only add relevant keywords.

Irrelevant keywords could be considered spam by search engines. Search engines have smart systems in place to detect spam. If they believe a local citation contains irrelevant keywords to manipulate search rankings, they may filter the local citation. Therefore, you should only add relevant keywords when building local citations.

8) Automating Submissions

It may sound like an easy way to save time and energy, but you shouldn’t automate your local citation submissions. Some services offer automated submissions. For a small fee, you can submit your business’s information to hundreds of local citation websites at once. Automated submissions, however, aren’t always accurate. They may contain information in the wrong fields, or they may simply use the wrong format. Manually submitting business-related information takes longer, but it will allow you to build better local citations.

9) Building and Forgetting

Local citations aren’t something that you should build and forget. They require maintenance. If any of your business’s information changes, you’ll need to update your local citations. Your business may move to a new location, or it may switch phone numbers. Regardless, you should update your local citations to ensure they are accurate.

You can also respond to customer reviews when updating your local citations. Google Business Profiles are local citations, and like many other types of local citations, they support customer customers. If a customer publishes a review on Google Business or another local citation website, you should respond to the customer.

10) Not Promoting

If you don’t promote your local citations, search engines may not know they exist. Search engines must discover your local citations before using them in their local ranking algorithms. Failure to promote your local citations may prevent search engines from discovering them. You can promote local citations in blog posts, feedback surveys, email newsletters, YouTube videos, social media posts, and more.

Local citations can have a positive and lasting impact on your business’s local rankings, but only if you build them correctly. Some of the most common mistakes when building local citations include skipping optional fields, not claiming profiles, ignoring duplicates, NAP inconsistency, choosing the wrong category, not linking to your website, adding irrelevant keywords, automating submissions, building and forgetting, and not promoting.

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