Business citations are essential for every business that wants to keep pace with and beat out the competition in local search. They are a crucial component in SEO for any business that has a physical location, and they are also effective for those with only a virtual location.
A well-built business citation contains the essential information of your business, with your name, address, and phone number as the most important aspect. Optimized and relevant local citations help your business land local customers easily, and therefore, help boost your sales.
What Are Local Business Citations?
Local business citations are simply any mentions of your business name together with its fundamental information. Just like you used to list your business on the Yellow Pages many years ago, local business citations put your name on popular business directories across the web. These citations usually contain links to your website, which help attract and possibly lure customers to make purchases.
Citation building is the process of submitting information about your business online. The most critical business information to provide is the name, address, and phone number (NAP). Strong citation building develops and improves your local search authority and visibility of your business on local search engine result pages (SERPs).
Summary: Just like you used to list your business in the Yellow Pages, local business citations help your business get traffic to its website by being listed and found by customers on popular directory listing websites.
Components Of A Local Citation
There are many components that make up a local citation. As mentioned earlier, the name, address and phone number (NAP) is the most important information that should be contained in a business’ citation. Additionally, a citation should include a link to the company’s website page. The business may decide to incorporate extra elements of the business to the citation, and the more information you place on your citation, the better.
Additional information included on local business citations might be:
- Email addresses – Helping customers directly contact you, without having to use your website’s form.
- Hours of operation – Specify the time you open and close or if you take appointments only.
- Business description – List your business’ services and products, as well as its mission statement.
- Reviews – What are current and previous customers saying about your business? Reviews can make or break the customer’s decision to go with you or another company.
- Driving directions – Attach a link of your business’s location on Google Maps.
- Links to social media – Provide your Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest pages and links, so that potential customers can follow you to stay-in-touch.
- Forms of payment accepted
- Images and videos – Help market your products, services, and storefront by providing attractive photos. Many listings give users the option to upload their own.
Summary: The basic, necessary components of a local business citation are the name, address, and phone number, as well as a link to your website, but the more information that you provide, the better.
How To Get Started Setting Up Local Citations With Online Directories
Citations are best done using popular, high-quality local directories, like Google My Business and Yelp. Even popular social media websites like Facebook and Instagram are considered highly important business listing directories, because people are often looking for businesses on these top social media platforms.
Finding a quality and trusted citation site is key in setting up local citations, and it’s important to make sure to not land on a crappy online directory that can damage your local search rankings. Citation websites may be niche-specific or general. Though SEO experts advise that it’s most important to list your business information in niche online directories, it is also beneficial to utilize general citation sites, as well.
Keep in mind that SEO is a journey. As such, do not stop at listing your business details with only a few citation sites. Get your business information listed on as many quality websites as possible. The results for this are almost instant, as these sites give you credible SEO backlinks. This, in turn, helps search engines to rank your website.
Ideally, you’ll want to devote a small period of time, every month, to work on your business citations. While it may be difficult to find the time, as a business owner, to list your business optimally on many high-quality business listing websites, it can be done with the help of a marketing agency.
Summary: When you’re ready to get your business set up on local business listing websites, make sure to get on as many high-quality sites as possible, and it’s best to do this by allocating time every month to set up, review, and optimize.
Types Of Business Citation Websites
To fully understand the components and functioning of local citations, it is important to look at the different types:
Major local business data platforms – These are local citations created by marketers and local business owners on various important data platforms which then publish this data. Such platforms include Google My Business, Bing, and Angie’s List. Local business listings can also be built on social media platforms such as Facebook and Yelp.
Geo/industry-specific platforms – These are websites that help build local business listings of businesses in a unique, specific industry or geography. These may include commerce websites, niche search websites, and professional associations’ websites. For restaurants, industry-specific platforms include OpenTable, Zomato, and Trip Advisor.
The wider web – This encompasses all the platforms that give citations to websites and includes blogs, apps, news sites, maps or government databases. You can decide to develop these citations intentionally or earn them based on public interest or merit.
Summary: Your business should strive to be listed in three different areas of business citation websites: major local business data platforms, geo/industry-specific platforms, and the wider web.
The Importance Of Local Citations To Businesses
The importance of local citations can be summed up with 2 statements:
1. Local citations influence local search engine rankings either positively or negatively.
Search engine rankings are influenced by the number of citations a business accumulates. They are also affected by the accuracy of the information in online directories, the amount of information given, reviews by customers, and the quality of the websites in which the business citations are contained.
Search engines such as Google acquire the information of virtually every online business. When the search engine has confidence in the legitimacy of this data, the business stands a better position of ranking highly on their search engines. On the other hand, inaccurate and inconsistent information on online directories erodes the trust of search engines and ruin your ranking opportunities.
2. Local citations influence customers either positively or negatively.
Whenever customers get consistent and accurate information about a business, they end up trusting and creating a good relationship with the business. Accurate data is a metric most customers use to discover reliable businesses in their locality.
Once customers have confidence in your business, they can trust in your brand or product. Trust in the information given, along with great reviews of your business, will lead to inquiries about your business’ products and services from potential customers. They may soon be purchasing products or services your business, which marks the beginning of a long-term relationship with a customer.
Inaccurate citations, on the other hand, will ruin your chances of landing potential customers. With inaccurate citations, you are likely to misdirect customers and thus throwing away your chance of interacting with them. It only gets worse when your citations are inconsistent. These will make customers lose confidence in your business, which makes you lose your reputation and the chance of ever attracting customers.
Additionally, bad reviews are sure to push potential customers away. It’s important to keep a good eye on any reviews, respond, and build up a good reputation with great reviews.
Summary: Local business citations influence search engine rankings and customers either negatively or positively, and it’s up to you to get positive results from your business citations.
Get Started Improving Your Local Search Results Through Citations
Business citations are a great way to improve your local search engine results. Done right, you will get more inquiries for your business’ products and/or services, get more traffic to your website, and gain new customers on a regular business. Once you build up a strong portfolio of business listings, you can see amazing results.
It’s important to make sure that your business citations contain basic information about your business – your name, address, and phone number, as well as your website. If and when you can, you’ll also want to optimize your listings by adding lots of relevant information about your business and its products and services, as well as create a great reputation through positive customer reviews.
Make sure to stay accurate with the information given throughout your business citations, so that you become trusted among citation websites, search engines, and customers. If you make mistakes, provide inaccurate information, or list yourself on low-quality business listing websites, you can miss opportunities to gain new customers and lack trust from search engines.
Make business citations a vital part of your SEO strategy in your marketing plan, and take time each month to devote to building and optimizing your listings. If you don’t have much time to devote to this, it’s best to get assistance from a trusted marketing agency partner. In the end, you’ll gain more traffic to your site, increase conversions, boost sales, and grow your business.