Local citations are imperative for a strong local SEO campaign. However, what exactly are local citations and how are they employed?
Local Citation Defined
Local citations are basically business directories where customers can come to learn about your name, address, and phone number.
When all of these factors are present, they can be referred to as a Name, Address, and Phone (NAP). Knowing the name and address is essential for user experience and it send signals to the search engines that you are a legitimate operating business. Effective citation building is a tactic that is employed by the largest SEO agencies and individual digital marketers. Without using local citations, you will be at a disadvantage.
So how exactly do you do this optimally? Local ranking isn’t just adding citations and working on your on-site optimization. Leading SEO experts claim that citations are actually responsible for 25% of local ranking results. Let’s break down how to quickly and efficiently list your business in these citations.
The Accuracy of NAP
Consistency is key when it comes to fixing your business citations. Whenever you add any information to your site, social media, or any external platforms make sure that all factors relating to your business are all consistent. When your name, address, and phone number are accurate on all platforms you will see great results in local rankings. Double check this before moving forward.
Other factors not relating to name, address, and phone number such as website URL, operating hours, logo, images, and business descriptions are not as important in local rankings but are helpful and should be included as much as possible. Consistency in the NAP format is the tried and true method and should be prioritized.
How to Get Local Citations
Citations are essentially any place online that displays your business name, address, and phone number. Let’s brainstorm a way to get these citations and references.
1. Google First – GMB
While some may consider Google a “no brainer” when considering what is a citation, it is important to realize that this may actually be the most important place to manage your NAP. Your Google My Business citation is worth its weight in gold. Make sure that it is claimed, accurate, updated, and optimized.
2. Core structured citations
It is not difficult to get listed on several high-quality platforms. These can include most search engines “local” listings, applications such as Apple Maps, and high value local directories such as Yelp or Yellow Pages. Managing these core citations can be tricky. Doing so manually can be time-consuming and paying a third party could be expensive. There has been a rise in automated citation management. There are several popular services such as Moz Local and Yext which builds key citations and also notifies the user when there are changes in the citations. The prices for core citations are variable. Some offer them for free, while others require a fee.
3. Citations That Are Unstructured
Any unplanned citation can be referred to as an unstructured citation. If you are written about in a local news article or tagged in a blog post, those references would be considered unstructured citations.
Unstructured citations are more difficult to acquire. You can try and get these by putting yourself out there more. Engage with others on social media, try to get a blog written about you, or submit your writing to a local newspaper. Unstructured citations can be achieved by just networking and speaking about your product.
You could choose to instead focus on networking and getting in touch with noteworthy publications. These unstructured citations can hook new readers and buyers to your business. When your business wants to delve into new markets, unstructured citations are definitely one easy way to do so.
4. Geography and Niche Citations
Depending on your industry and the physical location of your business, additional platforms may offer opportunities for building high-valued structured citations.
Take advantage of business niche citations. You can leverage the industry you are in or the city that you are a part of. Targeting these factors can lead to lucrative citations for your services.
For example, TripAdvisor is a hub where any traveling site can get a free citation if they play their cards right. Health Professionals can contact sites like HealthGrades.com and get featured. Think about what services you provide and what your business model is, then find the sites that cater to that demographic. This tactic will help you build your citations.
Community places, business associations where you reside, and websites operated by the chamber of commerce are all places where you might be able to get listed.
As stated earlier, the citations can either be free or paid. Self-reflections and calculations have to be made before you pay for any citations. Will this bring me more traffic? Will this be enough to cover the cost of paying for the citation? In what time period?
5. The Website
This may come as an obvious reminder, but your website serves as the focal point where all future consumers will go to learn about your product. If your information on your site is incorrect, it will have a cascading effect on how you rank and the quality of your citations. Have weekly audits to make sure that nothing on your site has changed.
6. The true purpose of citations
- To be seen by your consumers and to persuade them to use your services
- To help you rank higher and be seen by more potential customers
However, there is one main goal when you do citations on any platform.
The overarching goal when creating citations is to provide trust cues with accurate information to anyone that comes to your site or looks you up on a search engine and finds consistent information on your business.
The Perils of Outsourcing Citation Building
Citation building is a serious task that could bring a lot of value to you and your company. If you are thinking about partaking this endeavor be sure that you are ready and prepared to be meticulous with everything that you do. A small mistake could actually complicate your local rankings and may take additional time to come back to your quality prior to the incident.
Some things to consider when you are outsourcing citation building is
- Where are you submitting citations and my business information? Is this a high value website?
- Are the citations being placed in the correct directory? If you are building citations for a hair salon you don’t want to add your business information to a home improvement website that does not match intentions.
- Is the service updating existing citations with the correct NAP or are they creating a duplicate listing and leaving old information on the web?
- What kind of a report will you be provided after the citations are built? Will you be able to access them and update them in the future?
Last but not least there is really no way to know when or if Google will be indexing the page where your citation is built. It may take days or months before some citations are recognized by the search engines.
Create A Comprehensive Citation Profile
The best way to execute a solid local citation campaign is to create a comprehensive profile by listing on top business directories, niche business directories, and local directories to ensure you cover all of your bases. Before you begin you may want to invest in a citation audit to see where your business is currently listed and view NAP errors. When you begin your campaign clean up old citations and keep the NAP consistent and you will reap the benefits of your efforts. Happy submitting