At its most basic level, a local citation may be defined as a ‘mention of your business name and address on other webpages.’ If used properly, local citations can easily become the backbone of any strong local search engine optimization (SEO) strategy.
An important example would be that of an online yellow pages directory where your business is listed, without any obvious link to the same. Other examples can include a referral on the webpages of an area’s chamber of commerce website. In fact, a local citation can include just about any business organizations in a specific area, as long as there are no direct or obvious links to the business’s own website.
Some of the more important local citation sites include the following:
- Google My Business
- Apple Maps
- Angie’s List
Broadly defined, there are two main categories of citations:
These can usually be found in a local business directory. As a small business owner, you will have control over the information found in such citations. In this case, you will be able to submit your business details and also update the data as and when necessary.
Some examples of these kinds of structured citations can be found on:
- Local yellow pages directories
These citations are automatically created whenever your business information shows up on any site that is not specifically related to a business directory. Such local but unstructured citations can be found on magazine blogs, social media newspaper sites, review sites, and the likes.
Local Citations and Search Engine Algorithms
These days, local citations have also started playing an increasingly more important role in the ranking algorithms of the most popular and powerful search engines such as Bing, Yahoo, and Google. They now help ensure that your website climbs steadily until it manages to win its spot in the top ten rankings lists of the search engines.
Google’s latest algorithms give precedence to local citations over global ones so that viewers can have instant access to the data they need. This way, they won’t have to waste their time going through sites that offer irrelevant information for products that are available thousands of miles away. In short, the greater the number of local citations, the higher your chances of making it to Google’s first page for your specific product or service category.
A citation from a portal such as Superpages.com (for instance) that is already very well indexed, popular, and well-established can certainly go a long way in verifying your webpage. This will, in turn, give a certain level of authenticity to your business, at least as far as the mainstream search engines are concerned.
These citations are even more important in many small scale generic level businesses where there is low competition such as local service providers (plumbers, cable repairmen, electricians, and carpenters for example). Basically, people who tend to work alone and don’t have large, SEO-enabled websites to advertise their services and expertise. In such a case, the search engines would be unable to extract reliable and useful information from the website even if it exists because the service provider’s online footprint will be minimal at best.
This is why a search for a florist’s shop in downtown NY, for example, would not have the web footprint required for Google to find it and place it in its top ten listings. In this case, the only way to make it to that coveted top 10 list is via information contained in local citations.
Why Local Citations Are So Important Today
Let us take the example of someone looking for a seasonal florist in Tampa. If a person wants flowers for their wedding anniversary in Tampa, they would not be interested in flower mongers in Australia. Here, multiple entries taken directly from local information directories will provide them with the information they need to guide them to the nearest follower shop in Tampa. The main pages of large flower retail outlets would not matter to him if they are too far away from his geographic location.
This means that the prospective customer would only be able to get in touch with the right person courtesy the information present on local directories such as email addresses and telephone numbers. Once they have access to the contact information of the florists, they would be able to get in touch with them directly and get their queries addressed.
In such a scenario, local citations are all the more important since they are a very clear and present validation of the fact that the florist can actually be reached very easily by anyone living in the vicinity. In fact, this is the main reason why the business has been included in the local directory.
After all, fake citations will not be able to gain access to the town’s business index. Lastly, it won’t serve any purpose either because fake information on local resources will quickly be noticed and removed.
Local Citations in the Media
The power of a local citation becomes very clear when used in a prominent local newspaper or blog. After all, journalists and other experts would hardly be expected to write about a business that does not even exist which makes them an excellent source of local citations.
Even a random search for a particular service will generate multiple links to pages that provide the desired information and reviews regarding the quality of the services of the local business. Furthermore, they can also be used to determine the availability and the business hours of any particular service provider in that area or locality.
If you were to acquire multiple citations and backlinks from popular news websites, you will easily be able to improve the rankings of your business. This holds particularly true amongst local search engine listings where these citations matter the most. The more the people write and share blogs, news reports, and press releases, the easier it becomes for the search engine to guide your clientele to your place of business.
You Must Verify NAP Consistency
NAP is an acronym for Name, Address, Phone. Whichever format you use, you have to make sure that it is always as consistent as possible. The more powerful search engines use the data that you have provided, which means that entering the right information in the right format increases the chances of your website popping up in the results for geo-targeted searches.
This also means that should your NAP be inconsistent in any way, the search engine won’t be able to verify your business information when crawling across the web. And, while search engines are getting better about being able to recognize things such as Dr. is the same as Drive, in order to avoid any kind of confusion, best practice should always be to make one hundred percent sure that your business name, phone numbers, and address are consistent everywhere.
The power of local citations should never be underestimated when it comes to increasing your online visibility.
Basic Local Citation Types
A typical local citation can be any number of combinations that include the following vital pieces of information:
- Company name, and website
- Company phone number (alone)
- Company name, phone number, and address
- Company name, phone number, address, and website (if available)
- Company name
- Company name and phone number
This combination of contact details covers most of the relevant aspects of a local business and helps their customers connect to them in the real world as well.
Different Ways That Local Citations Can Help With Site Visibility
The power of local citations should never be underestimated when it comes to increasing your online visibility. This holds particularly true if you don’t have a large and powerful SEO optimized website that can generate massive hits on its own. Under the circumstances, it is absolutely crucial to ensure that you have the relevant local citations to help and guide your target audience to your business. These citations can help in the following ways:
1. A Steady Improvement in Local SEO Rankings
Local citations usually have a massive impact on your localized search engine optimization efforts. Unless you are a global conglomerate, local SEO listings are the only things that matter in terms of increased visibility. The more the local citations, the faster and higher you climb up the ranks since they will help the search engines to verify your business’s services and other information.
They are used by a search engine to keep tabs on your site’s prominence and authority. This means that the more often your company’s information appears online, the more visible will it be to the search engines and they will rank it accordingly.
2. Increased Site Traffic
The higher you rank, the greater will be the visibility in local search results. Additionally, the more visible you are, the more you will be able to increase your website traffic. Best of all, your visitors will be part of your target audience. For this reason, you can be sure that your baseball equipment store in New Port Richey, FL will not attract people from South Africa.
You don’t even need linked citations here. Merely sharing your contact information will help make sure that the people who want to deal with you are able to do so without any hindrance.
3. Local Citations Help Create a Positive Image
These citations will help you establish an element of trust with regard to search engines as well as your target audience. It is a great idea to have multiple websites–especially trusted, popular, and high-authority ones–citing the same information regarding your services and your business in general. This will tell the search engines and, by extension, your customers that your website and your business can be trusted to deliver on your promises.
4. Local Citations Will Aid in Increasing the Prominence of Your Site
Prominence has been defined by Google as how well-known your business is. This makes it an important local ranking factor.
Google has the capability of taking into account prominence even from an offline perspective. For example, it can recognize that a landmark in a town or city is important even when it does not have its own website. However, this term is more commonly referred to as information that Google has about any business found on the world wide web such as various links, articles, and online directories.
The more the reviews and positive ratings, the greater the probability of improving your business’s local ranking. This is because Google uses the review count as a scoring factor when determining the rankings of a site into its local search listings ranking.
According to a study conducted early last year, Google uses many different parameters to determine its local citations such as the quantity, velocity, and diversity of these reviews. Taken together, these reviews — along with other factors — determine whether or not your website will make it to Google’s first or second page.
5. More Opportunities for Third-Party Reviews
A great online reputation via positive mentions across the web goes a long way towards propelling you to the front page of the search engine ranking list. A citation site that does double duty as a review site can significantly enhance your online standing and goodwill.
It will allow your consumers to both rate and describe their experiences with your business. Getting positive reviews will increase your credibility and more people will trust you enough to give you their business.
In light of the above, we can safely state that local citations are the key to growing your business and ensuring that it thrives in today’s highly competitive era. If leveraged the right way, the power of local citations can drive your target audience to your business, both online and offline.