If you run a business, you will want to ensure that you have accurate, up-to-date local business citations pointing to your business. Executed correctly, these can be a ranking factor in local search engine rankings and drive traffic to your business. For example, you have the potential to show up on the first page search rankings for keywords like, “lawyers near me,” using a good law firm SEO strategy.
Done incorrectly, and they can cause you and your business a rather big headache.
Here, we will look at precisely what a local business citation is, how it can help your local SEO citations for higher rankings, and make sure it is correct.
What is a local business citation?
In its most basic terms, a business citation is an online reference to a business. It always contains three key pieces of information: the business name, address, and telephone number–often referred to as the ‘NAP.’
Its primary purpose is to inform potential customers where a business is and how to get in touch with them. However, it does help your local SEO rankings of the business. They are usually on local business or service directories, websites and apps, and social media. They may include the link to your business, but this is not essential for a local business citation.
That is pretty much all a citation is – simple, hey?
What are the different types of local citations?
There are different types of local business citations. These are:
Business data aggregators platforms: According to Moz local, Local business owners and marketers can create local SEO citations on various relevant local business data aggregators that exist to publish this type of structured data. Core platforms include Google My Business, Acxiom, Localeze/Neustar, and Data Axle formerly known as Infogroup. Publishing on key local business listings on popular social and review-oriented sites like Facebook and Yelp may help boost local rankings.
Geographical or industry-specific platforms: As well as building business citations on large-scale business platforms that cover whole cities, states, and countries, as well as including businesses from all industries, there are industry-specific citation platforms and directories for industry-specific sectors or locations. Depending on how tight your target demographic is, this may be very useful for your business.
The wider web: Perhaps not as beneficial as the above because of the sheer scale, but it still helps towards ranking factors. Citations on blog posts, news sites, and government publications and applications are also helpful.
When it comes to the above platforms, citations and business listings can be submitted manually by the business owner through contacting the marketing department or filling in online forms. However, they can also appear on sites without the business having to do anything. Some sites collate information themselves to put on or use automated data aggregation, so unstructured data flows from one location to another. While this means listing your business on more sites, it can prevent you from checking whether their information about your business is correct.
What is in a local SEO citation?
A local SEO citation has three core elements: the business name, the address, and the phone number. However, other information can be included, such as:
- Link to the website
- Opening hours
- Driving directions
- Description of the business
- Images and videos
- Accepted payment methods
- Reviews and owner responses
- Social media links
- Email addresses
Why are local business citations important for SEO?
For obvious reasons, they help your customers get in touch with you, but as we have mentioned, they are beneficial for local SEO purposes.
The search engines like Google consider them a vital piece of information, and as well all know, when it comes to ranking, accurate and precise information is always king. They help determine how you compare to your local competitors, so if you have citations, but the store down the road doing the same thing, doesn’t guess who will be favored by Google? And, as with standard links back to your business, the more citations your business has, the better.
They also help you to prove that your business is genuine and legitimate. Many of the higher quality and reputable websites that will allow a citation for your business will ask you to provide some evidence or verification – perhaps a letterhead or a phone call, or an invoice. Although it is another thing to do, it is crucial because it will benefit your site. In fact, in many cases, the harder it is to get a citation, the more valuable it will be because they will be websites that have more clout with Google and are much less likely to be manipulated or incorrect.
The three things that all businesses are concerned with, no matter what scale they operate on or what product or service they offer, are reputations, ranking, and revenue. Local business citations have a significant impact on all three, which is why they are effective for every business.
Active versus passive management of local citations
Businesses can take one of two approaches to the management of their local citations. Both of these have advantages and disadvantages.
You are contacting business directories and websites to submit your structured data and regularly checking to ensure that your information is correct and up to date. It also lets you monitor how your business is being represented online and respond to reviews or comments.
This advantage is that even without doing anything, your business will probably appear on some citation sites. However, by taking a passive approach, you cannot be sure that the information about your business is correct, which can be detrimental if it is wrong. Potential customers will not spend more time looking for accurate information elsewhere.
As you can see, an active approach to citation management is almost certainly the better option of the two.
To conclude, local citations are incredibly beneficial to the SEO of your business. The more information about it online, the higher it will rank in search engines. The higher it ranks in search engines, the more visible it is. The more visible it is, the more traffic there is. The more traffic there is, the more sales there are– and that is revenue.