What do you need to know about local citations?

Posted by Rebecca Appleton on 22 Aug, 2017
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If local SEO is important to your business, or if you have physical bricks and mortar locations, local citations should form a part of your optimization strategy.

 

You’ll need to know what local citations are, what they can be used for and how to accrue them if you’re going to put them to work for your business. Read on for our guide to everything you need to know about this locally-focused activity.

What are local citations?

The name might sound a little complicated but, a local citation can be easily described. It is simply a mention of your business name, website address and physical address on other websites. Not all local citations will include all of those pieces of information (although the more complete the citation the better). It can be any combination of your business name, its phone number, street address, zip code, phone number and website URL.

Where can you find local citations?

Due to the nature of the information contained with a local citation, you’ll find them in various places around the web. This means there’s lots of options for creating local citations too. Common sources of local citations include directory sites such as the Yellow Pages, Foursquare, Yelp, Google My Business and Apple Maps. In addition to general directories, industry specific sites such as TripAdvisor, local newspapers and social media profiles such as your Facebook Business Page and Instagram profile are all sources of local citations.

What do local citations do?

Trust: As you might expect, local citations are useful for consumers who want to find a local business. They are valuable to businesses because of their local SEO power. Local citations are used by Google and other search engines to verify your business – both in terms of its authenticity and its address and contact info. The more local citations you have, the more credible your business appears. If all citations provide the same address, phone number, zip code and website, the search engine can also be confident that the information it is presenting to its users is accurate.

Mobile: As local search and ‘near me’ searches become ever more popular due to mobile browsing, this usefulness and accuracy becomes more important. If you are competing against another local business for a Google Map listing spot, Google is more likely to rank your site higher than your competitor if all factors are equal, but the competitor has fewer citations.

Visibility: If your business doesn’t have its own website – if you are a handyman or gardener for example – local citations become even more important. Not only do they give the search engines validated information about your business to index you for local search, they also provide you with a web presence where otherwise none would exist.

How do you build local citations?

Knowing that local citations are important for your local search positions and overall discoverability online, you may be wondering how you can start accruing them for your business. There are a number of sources and you should keep in mind that the more complete your citation the more valuable it is. So while it may seem tedious or time consuming to constantly input your full address with street name and zip code, full business name and phone number with area code over and over again, these full citations are the most trusted and more useful.

Try these sources to build high quality and authoritative citations:

1. Data Aggregators

There are four main data aggregators for local citations in the USA:

  • Infogroup
  • Neustar Localeze
  • Acxiom
  • Factual 

These aggregators scour the web for local citations and then feed the data to search engines. It's often easier to use a service to submit to data aggregators for you, or use one of the other methods below.

2. Local indexes

There are lots of local indexes such as Yelp and Foursquare. The more of these sites you can submit your site too, the more local citations you’ll accrue.

3. Directories and blogs

The internet is packed with both general and industry-specific directories. These offer an easy way to build citations.

4. Use a citation source listing

Bright Local has a list of the top 50 local citation sources in the US. You can work through each of these in turn to build 50 local citations for your business.  MOZ also has a list of the top citation sources by US city and category which is useful if you have exhausted the general citation sites above.

When you begin building local citations, don’t forget the importance of consistency. A complete local citation will include the full address of your business, including zip code, the phone number, site URL and business name. If you begin building incomplete citations, you’ll undermine the credibility of the data, which can be counterproductive to your efforts.

 

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