Here's the audio version of this post:
If you are a business owner in your community, you have probably heard about something called a local citation. You may have wondered what this term means. In simple terms, a local citation is any mention of your business on the internet. They can range from a partial citation such as a mention of your company name all the way to a complete citation that includes the company name, address, and phone number.
Does a Citation Need to Include a Link?
While a link back to your website within a citation can be helpful in giving your website an extra data point for search engines, it is not necessary in a local citation. Even without the link back to your website, the Google algorithm will still identify that your company was mentioned through the local citation information and give you credit for the mention. The more often your company is mentioned other websites, the greater your local ranking will be on search engines.
Why Are Local Citations Important?
There are two main reasons that local citations are extremely important for your business. The first is to verify that your business exists to search engines such as Google. If the only mention of your business comes from your own website, many search engines will struggle to verify that you have a legitimate business. By having your company name mentioned on other reputable websites, the search engines can easily verify that your business exists.
Local citations will also help you to establish prominence for your business in search engine algorithms. Have you ever wondered how search engines rank the pages that are displayed at the top of the results list? The algorithms for these search engines factor in citations when ranking local search results. The more citations your company has on the web, the higher your company’s listing will rank in search results. The key to ranking higher in the search results is to get your company name and information mentioned as often as possible throughout a variety of websites.
Are Some Citations More Important Than Others?
While having your company name mentioned anywhere will help you, having it mentioned on certain websites will help more. For example, having your company mentioned on the white house website will be more beneficial than having it mentioned on a small-scale blog. Citation value is separated into different classifications of importance.
Core Search Engines
Search engines are not distributors of business data. They receive the data and categorize it when determining how to display the information in search results. These include Google, Bing, and Apple Maps.
Primary Data Sources
These are the data collectors that verify information from a variety of sources and distribute the information to other sites. They include InfoGroup, Acxiom, Localeze, and Factual.
When looking at citation options to get your business more attention from search engines, it is important to consider the quality of the citation.
Consistency Is Important
When it comes to local citations, it is important that each citation for your company lists accurate information. To do this, you will want to look at each site that features a citation for your business and make sure that there is only one listing and that the listing contains accurate information about your business. You will want to focus most of your attention on the Core Search Engines, Primary Data Sources, and Tier 1 sites. You should then verify your tier 2 citations as well to ensure accuracy within those sites. Tier 3 and 4 are the lowest priority when verifying citation accuracy as they will not make or break your SEO.
How to Build Local Citations
There are five important steps to follow when creating citations for your business. It is important to follow all five steps to ensure the best possible results.
Finding Citation Sources
There are a few ways you can go about finding citation sources for your company listing. Which option you choose will depend on how much time and money you have to devote to the project.
Hire a Company
If you have the money to invest in the project but lack the time to do it yourself, hiring a company to do the legwork for you is a great option. These companies will find the most reliable citation sources for businesses in your local area and compile a list of the top citation sources for your local area.
Search for Citation Sources
You may also choose to search for citation sources on your own. This process can be lengthy but the rewards for your company will be great. Begin by finding the top national citation sources. These may include:
- Google My Business
- Apple Maps
Once you have compiled this list of national listing sites, you can then look for citations based on your business category and location. Begin a search that contains your company type, city, and state.
Review that results of other citations for similar businesses. You can do this a general search or search out specific competitors and review their citations. This will help you to determine which direction to go while creating your own citations. You can accomplish this by searching for the following:
- (city) Business directory
- (city) Directory
- (city) Business Listings
- (keyword) Directory
- (keyword) Business Directory
- (keyword) Business Listings
When determining how to best optimize your local SEO, citations are considered one of the basic foundations for any company. Citations should be created before you focus on engagement, content, and link building. One of the greatest parts of local citations is that you never have to worry about them again unless any part of your business information changes. These changes may include moving to a new location, new phone number, make changes to the company name, etc. If any of these things occur, it is important to update your citation listings to maintain the most accurate information.