Real businesses today have a presence or footprint online. As a business, we naturally create this as we interact with websites in the normal course of business. So, how do we create the most authoritative digital footprint we can?
We create the most authoritative digital footprint by interacting with and setting up business profiles on only the most authoritative websites online.
In this article, we are going to walk you through how to do this. And we will try to focus you on the things that will benefit you the most.
Just a brief suggestion before we get into this article. If you’re reading this article because you are trying to learn how to do local SEO, I recommend starting with my overview article “How To Do Local SEO – An In-Depth Overview!” If you are more focused on learning just the Off-Page part of Local SEO, I recommend starting with my article “Off-Page Local SEO – What Is It?“.
What Is A Digital Footprint?
A digital footprint is the information about a person or business that exists online as a result of their activity on the internet. In its broadest sense, it includes both information you intentionally put out there and search history, websites you visited, and even personal information unintentionally left accessible from online transactions.
Off-Page Local SEO deals with the part of our digital footprint, that is, the information we intentionally put out there on the internet about our business. We focus on the most influential and authoritative sites that will get the most customers and pass the most authority back to our website.
A common question people often ask is if Domain Authority is still relevant. The short answer is obviously yes, very much so. The higher a website’s domain authority, the easier time it will have to outrank its competition. For a complete breakdown of why that is, see my article “Is Domain Authority Still Relevant?“
Business Directory Listings
We talked about setting up your business profile in business directories, such as Yelp, when we talked about the importance of having name, address & phone number (NAP) citations as identical and consistent as possible across the web because search engines use that information to verify that the NAP information on your business website is correct.
I recommend my article “How to Build Local Citations – A Complete Guide!” for a detailed explanation of how to do local citations.
However, this article aims to emphasize the importance of only setting up these profiles on the most reputable (in other words, high domain authority) business directories.
The higher the domain authority, the more Google trusts that its information is accurate, which helps on the citation front. But often, the high domain authority ones will also pass some of their domain authority to your website when you link to it in your profile.
Don’t get me wrong, this is not the same as a link from a high domain authority website that you have no affiliation with or control over. Those links would be much more powerful.
But still, these high domain authority directories pass authority to your website 1st because Google expects businesses to set up profiles on them, but also, many of these links back to your website will still pass some authority onto your site.
So, I recommend you add Moz’s domain authority extension to your Chrome browser to see each website’s domain authority. And set up profiles with as many of those with the highest domain authority as you can find.
Also, these directory listings will help your website the best if you fill out everything you possibly can in each profile. Link to your website. Write original keyword naturally rich business descriptions for each one. And geotag and optimize the images you upload.
The most important business directory to be in is your Google Business Profile. From it, you can get dofollow links from at least 5 of its sections. To learn where all these are, be sure to read my short article “How to Get The Most Google Business Profile Backlinks!“.
Social Media Profiles
Pretty much everything I just said in the above section regarding business directories holds true for social media sites such as Twitter, etc. They are NAP citations, so enter all that identically as you have done everywhere else on the internet. If you have been spelling out street in your business addresses on your website and in the directories, do it also (anywhere online) when filling out social media profiles.
Focus on the social media sites that have the highest domain authority. Just like with business directories, not all will pass authority when you link to your site, but many will. And Google will trust you more because by setting up as many high-authority social media profiles as you can, you are doing what Google expects local businesses to do.
You will also want to geotag and optimize the images you upload with these. You will want to fill out the profiles completely. Be especially sure to include long, well-written (naturally keyword-rich) business descriptions. Mention all your products and services.
If you would like a list of the most authoritative general business directories and social media websites to be in (you definitely want to be in all these), see this list (do both do-follow and no-follow) by Brightlocal.com.
The Most Authoritative Footprint Of All
Many industries, such as dental, have their own industry business directories. Also, some cities have local business directories. These are the most powerful directories you can be in because they give you authority in your industry and city, which are huge at helping get you in the Google Maps 3 pack.
Likewise, industries have associations and magazine websites you can join and get powerful links to your website. These give you huge authority in your industry.
On this page, Whitespark.ca has a list of recommended citations to get per industry. Their list includes the normal, most popular directories and social media sites in which most businesses in each industry generally have citations and some specifically for that specific industry.
And finally, join your chamber of commerce. Yes, I know it costs. But the backlink you get to your website will give you a ton of location (city) authority, which is really powerful in Google Maps. Spend the money.
Again, remember that anywhere your NAP information is listed online, it needs to be listed identically wherever it is, including your website.
What All This Will Do For Your Business!
First, local businesses like Broad Street Auto & Tire (in the above image) are usually in local business directories and generally have at least several social media pages. Because you are a local business, Google will look for these, and if they don’t find them, they won’t rank you very well because it does not seem very credible to Google. When you are trying to build authority, credibility or legitimacy is part of that.
Second, If you focus on as many of the directories and social media sites that have the highest domain authority as you can find, the most possible domain authority will be passed to your website from the links in those profiles.
Going through all the steps to build an authoritative digital footprint for a local business is one of the most important factors in modern Local Off-page SEO because it creates a baseline of credibility and trust for the search engines. Most local businesses set up business profile pages in all the best business directories and social media sites to help search engines believe your business is legitimate and not a scam.
I appreciate you reading all the way to the end of this article. I hope it was beneficial to you and provided you value. If so, please share this article on your social media and email it to friends who would benefit from reading it.