Local citations will help you improve your local search rankings and reach more clients. Learn how to build citations and all about best practices here.
Every small business needs to have a local SEO strategy to help them stay ahead of the competition. Part of this strategy should include managing your local business citations. In this article, you’ll learn more about citation building and why it’s important, and we’ll go over some best practices of which you should be aware.
What Are Local SEO Citations?
First things first, you need to understand what local SEO citations are.
A local citation simply refers to any time your business is mentioned online outside of your website. It includes mentions of your business’s address and phone number in addition to mentions of your name. You may also see this called NAP (name, address, phone).
Why Are Citations Important for Local SEO?
There are various reasons that you should work on building citations, but basically, it all comes down to the fact that it will improve your local rankings.
Citations are a key ranking factor for Google and other search engines. Simply put, search engine algorithms see more citations as an indication that your company is relevant. From a search engine’s perspective, citations verify that your business information is accurate and that your business exists.
More citations will lead to you appearing higher in local search results.
You can also think of local SEO citations as a way of piggybacking off of major websites. For example, Yelp consistently appears at the top of the search results page for local business searches. If your Yelp information is accurate, your business might appear on page one—thanks to Yelp’s efforts. You won’t necessarily get a website click right away, but potential shoppers will at least know that your business exists.
As a bonus, local citations are usually completely free, although some will be paid. This makes them easier to fit into local businesses’ budgets.
How Citations Help People Find Your Business
As we’ve already mentioned, one of the biggest advantages of local SEO citations is that they help people find your local business. But how, exactly, do they do that?
To start, citations are a form of local link building that helps you rank higher on Google. If you rank higher, it is more likely that potential customers will see your business if they search for relevant keywords. That is especially true if you use geo-targets so you show up in searches for local businesses on search engines.
Citations also ensure that customers can find your store, especially in cases where someone knows the name of your store but needs your phone number, address, or website.
Maintaining your citations ensures that someone who searches for your business will find accurate information. If they can’t contact you, they will just use search engines to find other local businesses instead. Avoid this by adding your business information, including your business’s name, address, and phone number, across various directories.
Types of Citations
As you work on citation building, you will notice that there are two main categories: structured and unstructured citations.
A structured local citation is when your company is mentioned in a directory or search. For example, this includes Google Business Profiles (formerly Google My Business), Facebook, Bing, the Better Business Bureau, and Apple Maps. It also includes industry-specific directories.
Most of the best practices and tips mentioned in this guide refer to structured citations, as these are the ones you have the most control over.
An unstructured citation is when your company is referenced somewhere online. It may or may not include contact information or links. The most common example would be when your company is mentioned on a blog post or an external website. Unstructured citations can also include mentions on social media.
Unstructured citations are more valuable if they come from a local source. This is especially true if the source in question is popular and has a strong reputation within your industry.
Local Citation Best Practices
As you incorporate local citation building into your marketing strategy, keep the following best practices in mind.
Provide All Relevant Information
Remember, your local SEO citations can do more than just boost your search engine ranking. You also want them to provide useful information for clients or potential clients. Information you should consider providing in citations includes:
- Business name
- Phone number
- Email address
- Opening hours
- Description of business
Consider Linking to Your Location Page
Your local citation should always include a link to your website. While you can link citations to your homepage, that may not be most useful for searchers. By taking users right to your location page, you save them a step.
Be Consistent With Your Citations
Ensure that every single citation you create is accurate. Double-check it for typos.
If your information isn’t consistent across citations, this will hurt your Google ranking.
Claim or Verify Your Business
There are numerous directories online that don’t gather information directly from business owners. Instead, they gather information from Google or other resources and post it on their website. Make sure to visit these websites to claim your business and ensure that information is accurate.
Verifying your business on these business directory pages will increase your legitimacy. It also allows you to take more of an active role in what websites are saying about your business. If you find a business directory page that shares out-of-date or inaccurate information about your company, you can work with the necessary parties to get that information updated.
Follow the Rules on Every Website
As you work on citation building, you will add your business to a long list of citation sites and directories. Each directory is likely to have slightly different rules. Make sure you follow them. Otherwise, you risk your business being removed from the list.
Record Your Logins
Many of the citation sites where you add listings will require you to create an account. Make sure to keep a master list of all of your login details. You don’t want to be locked out of your accounts.
Remember that you may not always be the person to log in and update your listings. As such, it’s best to choose an email address that someone else can log into when creating your accounts. So, use a general email for your business instead of a personal one.
Incorporate relevant keywords. Consider doing local keyword research to see what keywords to include in your description.
Quality Is More Important Than Quantity
While quantity is important, the quality of your citations is much more important. Focus on ensuring your current citations are accurate and consistent before creating new ones.
Consider Citation Management Tools
If you feel overwhelmed by the idea of creating local search citations, consider using a citation management tool. There are numerous options available. Just make sure to choose one with a variety of citation sources that work for your business. You also want to look for tools that help with tracking and duplicate suppression.
Don’t Cut Corners or Costs
While you want to stick to your budget and not spend too much time with local citation building, you also don’t want to cut corners or costs. Remember that mistakes and inaccuracies will hurt your search engine ranking and the ability of customers to find you.
It may even make sense to use a citation building service, although you will have to evaluate your budget and the results.
Encourage Customer Reviews
As mentioned, online reviews are one excellent source of local citations. While you don’t have total control over these—it’s up to your customers to leave them—there are things you can do to increase the likelihood that customers will leave reviews. Be sure to encourage your customers to leave reviews. You can do this through various methods, from offering incentives to using platforms like Podium to boost reviews.
Common Places to Build Local Citations
There are endless options of where to build local citations. You will want to start with the basics, like social media pages. From there, add your business to other directories and listings.
The following are some common citation sources:
- Google Business Profile
- Apple Maps
- Bing Maps
- Local directories, such as your town’s website
- Industry-specific directories
- Review websites (Encourage online reviews from customers)
Don’t let that extensive list overwhelm you. Start by adding your address and phone number to a handful of local searches and directories. Focus on quality over quantity.
Maximize Your Local SEO With Podium
Every local search marketing plan should incorporate the use of citations. If you’re not sure where to get started, consider trying Podium. Podium will help you increase your reviews which will boost your local citations. This, in turn, will help you improve your local search rankings and reach more clients.