What Are Local Citations?

Local citations are listings of a business’s online information. 

Building local citations should be one of the strategies for expanding your business’s visibility and authority online.

A local business wants to be found online by its target customers. 

One way of achieving this is to be listed on relevant online directories. 

Building citations on relevant and high-quality directories gives prominence to your NAP (Name, Address, Phone number) accuracy across the internet. 

There are two main reasons for building citations:

  1. Increase your visibility on the digital platforms your consumers use so they can find accurate information about your business and connect with you
  2. To ensure that search engines like Google find and display an accurate representation of your business on quality platforms, which improves your chances of ranking well for key search terms your customers are using

Keep Citations Accurate

Keeping Citations Accurate

If you have key business information listed accurately and consistently across the web, then you are more likely to be viewed as an authoritative site by Google.

You want Google to see exactly the same information across a number of trusted websites. 

This trust can be passed on to your business. 

NAP citation consistency is particularly important to gain the maximum search engine benefit of local citations.

For this to occur, your business name, address, and phone number must be accurate across all of the websites on which your business is listed.

Over time your citations may become outdated, such as due to a change in phone number or address.

When this happens, it’s important to update this as soon as possible. 

If you accidentally direct potential customers to your old business location this could result in frustration and the loss of a sale. 

  • According to a report cited by BrightLocal, 93% of consumers become frustrated by incorrect information in directory sites.
  • Another 80% of consumers say they lose trust in a brand if they discover inconsistencies or discrepancies in contact information or the business name online.

Don’t be one of those businesses promoting inaccurate information online.

Where to Build Citations

Where to Build Citations

One of the more obvious and essential citations is on the main search engines.

Google Business Profile is very important for your local business visibility and authority.

But don’t forget some of the other big ones: Bing Places, Yahoo Local and Apple Maps.

List on generic directories like Yelp, Facebook and Yellow Pages

You also have smaller, local directories that are specific to your location and type of business. These tend to have fewer listings. But what they lack in size they make up for in being hyper-targeted and relevant to your business, and the local customers who may be looking for you.

Different Types of Citations

Different Types of Citations

There are two main types of citations: structured and unstructured.

Structured citations basically involve having your business information (NAP) on a business listing directory. 

Citation sites are essentially business listing directories where you can submit your business information and get a citation. An example for Australian businesses would be truelocal.com.au.

An unstructured citation is your business information (NAP) on any site that’s not specifically a business listing directory. 

Examples of where you might find unstructured citations include blogs and magazine or newspaper sites.

If you have good relationships with other complimentary local businesses in your area, they might be willing to give your business a mention on their website or social media pages.

Are Citations Same as Backlinks

Is a Citation the Same as a Backlink?

You might have heard of the value of backlinks, or links from other authoritative websites back to your website. This can definitely boost your business in the online search listings.

A citation does not need to link back to your website to be valuable. 

The value is in the mention of your business on the citation or listing. 

Google can see that your business was mentioned through your NAP listing. You get credit for this mention. 

The more mentions of your business that are out there on the web, the more prominent your business appears to Google. This will help your local business ranking.

Poorly executed citation-building or ignoring citations completely can mean fewer customers for your business.  

You’re unlikely to be visible in the Google+ Local results or elsewhere in local search as long as your citations are a mess or non-existent.  

That is a wasted opportunity.

Best Practices for Building Citations

Best Practices for Building Citations

When building citations to help boost your business online to your local customers, there are a few best practices to remember:

  • Research all the main business directories in your local area and for your business category. Look at where your competitors are being listed as well.
  • Make sure all your current listings, including any social media or website information are accurate and consistent to begin with. Don’t use a personal email address like a gmail address. This does not inspire authority for your local business, either with Google or your customers.
  • Follow the rules of citation sites. These will be enforced.
  • Claim all the good free listings, but also consider paying for listings on citation sites that are proven to be influential and reputable – especially if your better-ranking competitors are listed on them.
  • Try to remove any duplicate and near-duplicate listings of your business that you find.
  • If you find a listing with incorrect NAP + W info that’s been claimed by someone else try to claim it and then fix it. Another test is to Google your phone number to see if there are any search results that come up for businesses that aren’t yours. Also search for your business name, and your address (if your business is the only one located at that address).  
  • Keep a track of your citations and logins on a document or spreadsheet. Include a copy of the additional information such as descriptions and list of services that you have used or plan to use for each site. Have a copy saved in the cloud as a backup. 
  • Don’t submit a listing to a directory before thoroughly checking to make sure you’re not already listed there. If you’re listed and the listing isn’t correct, claim and fix it.
  • Claim and owner-verify your listings (or have someone do this for you) whenever possible. Having ownership of your list can often enable you to add additional information to your listing, and it’s easier to make changes.
  • Keep your business categories consistent on the sites. Choose the category that best describes what your business does.

Is Your Business Set Up for Citations

Is Your Business Set Up for Citations?

Are you confident that your business is optimized for citations?

If not, or if this is an area you haven’t paid much (or any) attention to, it’s time you considered this further.

A strong citation profile is one of the simplest, most effective ways you can optimize for local search and authority. It should not be ignored.

If you need help with identifying the best citation sites, or local directories, and with claiming and submitting your listing, let me know. Contact me at: tom@perrypromotions.com.au.

To your online business success,

Tom Perry

More information: BrightLocal & Whitespark

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