Are you trying to rank higher for local business? Have you been trying for SEO business success right in your neighborhood community? Then you can’t ignore local citations.
Local citations are defined as any web-based reference to your business’s demographics. It includes things like:
- Company name
- Phone number
- Zip code or postal code
- Phone number
- Website address
A local citation includes each of these items individually, and in combination with each other. So a local citation might include formats like:
- Company name
- Company name and website address
- Company name, address, and phone number
- Company name and website address
- Company name and phone number
- And so on
Your local citation isn’t a link back to your site. It doesn’t have to be a direct clickable connection to be valid. But the information has to be valid, and has to match from site to site to help you rank higher with SEO placement.
What types of local citations exist?
Citations can be divided into two categories: structured and unstructured.
Structured citations exist in directory format. These are business listing directories. These are sites you can submit your business and get a citation. They include things like:
Unstructured citations are places you list your demographics that aren’t specifically a business listing directory. Let’s say your local news organization does an article on you, and you include your listing information at the bottom of the story. This would be an example of an unstructured citation. There isn’t a link. The article simply refers to your business, and lists business-related information without providing a link to your site.
Why do you need local citations?
If you’re here reading this blog post, chances are you’re already striving for better SEO on your site. Citations help search engines verify that your business is a legitimate, fully-operating business.
When search engines like Google find your local citations on different sites, it signals that your business is up and operating; that people are referring you to their friends. The bigger the site you’re listed on, the more credible site you have local citations on, the more SEO love you’ll receive in the format of higher rankings.
According to the latest Local Search Ranking Factors Survey, citation makes up 10.82 percent of the Top 50 Factors that influence where a site will be placed in ranking. That makes citation something you can’t ignore.
Where can you get citations?
As you’re building up your SEO business success strategy, don’t leave out growing your citation outreach. Where should you start?
Start with Google.If you don’t have a Google My Business listing yet, what are you waiting for? Google is going to reward those that help build within.
Structured citations.Because getting structured citations is a fairly complex process, work your way through putting your local information on multiple platforms. These include Bing, Acxiom, Facebook, Superpages, Yelp, and more.
Geo- and industry-specific citations.Focus in on both your geographical location and your industry to find valuable places to include your information. For example, if you are in the hospitality industry, work with sites like TripAdvisor to get your information placed. Doctors, lawyers, contractors – each niche has specific websites that are directory-type sites that will help you raise your ranking.
Unstructured citations.These are the most difficult and time-consuming to get. But they are things that will help raise your ranking, increase your visibility within the community, and gain valuable publicity at the same time. Submit editorials to your local news sources. Use social media to connect with people within your organization. This is about building stability within your community.
Not all citations are created equal
But you probably already could figure that out. Google loves itself. That’s why your first course of action should be to ensure your website includes all of your current information, and you have all of your demographics listed on Google My Business.
From there, sites for citations are tiered according to how well they rank in Google.
A tier 1 site will have prominence in Google. These are sites that consistently rank well and come up in search placement. These include sites like Yelp and BBB, and also niche-specific sites like Lawyers.com.
Tier 2, 3, and 4 sites are lesser known and of lower importance. They can help build your SEO tactics within your site, but they’ll never rank well on their own. Getting lower tiered sites to list your information will help with longevity, but it should never be your top concern.
Pay Attention To Consistency
It may seem obvious, but it is important to strive for consistency as you input your information. That’s easy to do when you first start out online. But over the years, things change.
Have you moved to a new building? Do you have a new phone number? Or maybe you’ve changed your web address and have new branding? Those old listings can be quite pesky when they’re linked to past data.
If you’ve made a change, it’s essential to go back and update your information across the board. Be sure all core search engines and primary data sources are upgraded and accurate. As you move down in priority, change as you find the time. Tier 3 or 4 sites aren’t going to make or break your SEO strategy if they contain errors. Still, it’s important to replace data if it in any way impacts your client relationships. You don’t want to leave them frustrated, looking at the wrong information.
Track Your Local Citation Listings
Like every form of online marketing, the only way to ensure you stay on top of this strategy is to track your movement. Create a spreadsheet for where you list your information. This will give you an easy way to go back in the event some of your identifying data changes.
Be sure to use an email address associated with your business rather than a gmail or yahoo address. Listings using legitimate email addresses are more likely to be posted and made live if they have a domain email attached to it.
By creating a spreadsheet, you can also track more obscure information, such as what categories you list your business in, summaries of services and products, or graphics and photos you include with your listing. The more data you add, the more authoritative your listing becomes. But it can also make the process of using the same information on every site more difficult. A spreadsheet makes this process copy/paste, and gives you a chance to be able to quickly add your data anywhere, anytime.
Do you use local citations to improve your SEO success?
A strong citation profile can give you a boost in your ranking in Google and other search engines. The key is with consistency. Work at getting into the major directories and ensure you use the same data each time. Once it’s in place, you won’t have to think much about this strategy again, providing you don’t make any changes to your name, address, phone number, web addresses, or other basic information.
And if you have any questions about how local citations play into your overall SEO strategy, give us a call.