What is an SEO Citation?
A citation is a mention or listing of your business’s name, address and phone number otherwise known as your NAP. Google uses these references to your business, just like a backlink when evaluating the authority of your company’s online presence. Where they differ from links, the citations don’t have to have a direct link to your website in order for you to get credit for them. When it comes to SEO, a Local Citation is when your company is mentioned on other websites and other places on the Internet. Local citations factor in significantly in helping you to rank do well in local search results. In these citations, your business listing contains your business Name, Address and phone number (NAP) along with other details. There are a lot of websites like Yelp, Facebook, Mapquest and Yellow Pages where businesses can create free local business listings.
Make a NAP (Name Address Phone number) Sheet
Part of the reason for getting local citations is to validate to the search engines that you are who you say you are. This is why you want your information to be exactly the same. Make sure if your address is 123 South Main Street Bentonville, Arkansas 72712 that that is the way you reference it every time. Not, 123 S. Main St. Bentonville, AR 72712-4307 or any variant. You don’t want there to be any confusion. I use a spreadsheet and copy and paste every time. What info should you include other than name, address, and phone number?
- Business category
- Business Description
- Main email address
- Hours of operation
- Driving directions
- Images (links to)
- Videos (links to)
- Logo (link to)
- Payment forms accepted
- Links to social and other forms of media
- Fax numbers
- Alternate phone numbers
Why Get Citations?
SEO and online marketing, in general, is a lot more important to small, local businesses than they usually realize. Citations- any online mentions of your business- have a significant impact on your local rankings, as well as your visibility across the web. Your local citation is anytime there is an online mention of the Name, Address, and Phone number for a local business. Citations can happen in many places such as local business directories, on various websites and apps, and even like social platforms like Facebook and Twitter. The local Business Citations help people on the internet discover local businesses, but they also have a big effect on specific area search engine rankings. A local business can and should actively manage their citations to ensure their accuracy. There are a lot of ways to get your name out there, and a lot of strategies to follow- you just have to figure out what to focus on.
Of course, Google search results are crucial to your marketing. But before you start working on your rankings, AdWords, etc- be sure that all of your information is consistent on Yahoo, Bing, Mapquest, and any other search engines. Once that’s worked out, you can start to work on your local citations on Google. As mentioned before, citations are any mention of your business, whether that includes a link or not. Having more and more instances of your company’s name increases your prominence online. There are several different kinds of websites you’ll want to be mentioned on, and you should try to cover as many as you can. First, regional internet sites, like a tourist website for the city your business is in, can be beneficial. Try to get your information on as many of these as possible. Then there are local business directories like Yelp, Yellowpages, etc. This can provide plenty of citations, as well as testimonials and reviews of your business. Finally, you’ll want mentions of your business on blogs, newspapers, and other independent websites. Try to get your business into lists found on individual blogs, ads in the paper, and articles. Having your name and information so prominent across several different kinds of websites will help you exponentially.
In case you don’t realize how important citations are to your business, they make up about a quarter of all the factors that go into your local search rankings. There are a lot of things you can do to try and manipulate and boost your ranking, but in the end, the number and prominence of citations you have will help you immensely. But maybe you don’t know what all to include in a citation. There are a few main things you should include when listing your business somewhere. Of course, you always have to have the name, address, and phone number of your business. That’s a given- and be sure that these are consistent across the web. Don’t change a single parenthesis of your phone number, don’t format your address differently, etc. In addition to those basics, you can have good-quality, pleasing photos of your business. You can also place importance on the categorizing and location of the listing. When creating citations, pick categories that you know will be relevant to your potential customers. Think of things they might be looking for that you can provide.
The different types of local citations
Local Business Directories- Local business owners can create citations and have them listed on a number of different directories. Some of the main ones include Google My Business, Acxiom, Localeze/Neustar, and Infogroup. They can also be popular social and review-oriented sites like Tripadvisor, Facebook, and Yelp. Area / Industry Specific Directories- In addition to building citations on the major local business directories serving all industries, your business can create listings on sites specific to your industry and geography. Examples include the chamber of commerce websites, professional associations, and guilds. The Wider Web – Addition citations can be procured in other places like blogs, news sites, apps, maps, government databases, and more.
All of the above types of citations can be developed via the use of automated software (like Moz Localor Whitespark), by filling out forms directly on the platforms manually, or via other methods of PR/marketing to various platforms. Here’s a bonus, citations and local business listings can and do appear without any action being taken on the part of the business. Listings can result from an automated mean. Small businesses, especially startups aren’t always aware of how local SEO can affect their websites- especially when it comes to citations. It’s your job to get your company’s name out there as much as you can, mention it all across the web. Give sites your information easily and accessible and you will see increasingly positive results.