If you want your practice website to rank higher than your competitors’ sites, you have to optimize your business listings and ensure that your local SEO citations are pulling accurate, verified information.
Here’s what you need to know about your citations to improve your local search rankings:
What are SEO citations?
Anywhere your practice’s business information is listed, is an SEO citation. Citations generally only require your practice’s name, address, and phone number (NAP), but most sites allow a number of other optional business information.
Citations are included on business directories, social media platforms, and various websites. The four main citation sites are Google My Business, Yelp, Facebook, and Apple Maps. Others include Bing Places and directories like Healthgrades.
There are two types of citations that comprise local citations: structured citations and unstructured citations.
Structured citations are (quite literally) citations displayed in a structured format. These citations are much more common than unstructured citations. With structured citations, every business’s listing is structured consistently, across-the-board. These citations are usually presented with different fields of information that are filled out manually, or disseminated using a data aggregator (a system that uses an automated process to update information on multiple sites at once).
Examples of structured citation sites:
- Google My Business
- BBB (Better Business Bureau)
- Apple Maps
Websites that mention your practice and business information, without a structured ‘field’ format, are considered your unstructured citations. These can include partial business information or complete information. It can take a while for search engines to index this information, because it’s not in an easily-recognizable format, but these citations are still just as valuable as structured citations.
Examples of unstructured citation instances:
- Blogs that mention your practice’s name, phone number, and address in the content
- Third-party sites that reference your practice
- If a local news source included the following statement in a press release or article, “eNox Media is located off of N Tampa St in Downtown Tampa”, this would be considered an unstructured citation
Why are local SEO citations important?
If you want new patients and current patients to be able to find your practice location and contact your team, your business citations are critical. If your practice name, address, phone number, or map marker is listed incorrectly on Google, there’s a good chance that your prospective patient decides to contact your competition (who has accurate citations) instead.
Local Search Rankings
When your practice’s business citations are listed accurately, this tells Google (and other major search engines) that your business is established and trustworthy and should therefore be rewarded with a higher search ranking. If your practice isn’t listed on any trusted business directories, is only listed on one directory, or has inaccurate information on any directories, search engines will likely ding these listings.
How do I build my orthodontic practice citations?
We’re going to be honest here- building citations is an arduous process. Every citation site has a different sign up process, a different way to claim your listings, and a different way to create your listing accounts.
It can take months to properly build your business citations without the help of an expert. Practices may use data aggregators to distribute NAP information as well as manually submitting information to core business directories.
Once you add your practice information to these directories, you may have to verify phone numbers and addresses. This often means calling your office phone numbers and providing a code that verifies the location, or sending postcards to the physical locations with codes that verify the address.
While the process of taking the time to claim your different citation listings, verify that all business information is listed accurately on every site, and go through the process of verifying each phone number and address may seem daunting - we promise it’s worth the effort. One inaccurate listing can make the difference between a new patient and a lost lead.
If you don’t have the time to manage your online presence in house, give us a call! Citation management is one of the many ways we help orthodontists improve their online ranking.
Or if you’re ready to do a little spring cleaning on your citations, download the free template below. We’ve compiled a list of the top citation sites in an easy to use tracking template. Simply fill out a tab for each location as you claim and update your listings.
Don’t let your competitors’ listings rank higher on the local Google pack than yours! Verifying your local citations is inarguably a complex process, but the impact it has on your local rankings makes it an incredibly valuable process.
Partner with an award-winning marketing agency with almost two decades of experience optimizing orthodontists’ local search rankings. Let’s get started with your complimentary discovery session.