Owning a business is hard, and it’s even harder when you are also trying to get your local business a visible presence on Google and other major search engines. If your business’ focus is highly competitive on a local level (like automotive repair services, HVAC services or pizza delivery), you could face challenges since both you and your competitors are doing your best to get that sweet spot on the top of Google’s localized search results. While building quality links and creating a well optimized site is very important factor, you must not forget the importance of having good local citations for your business’ website.
Exactly what is a citation?
A citation is any reference to your local business, including your business’ name, address, phone number (commonly referred to in the search world as NAP) and any other related information, regardless if there is a link to your website or not.
For example, let’s say you run a plumbing business called “Leaky Faucet Plumbing” that operates in Mesa, Arizona. Your address is 123 Fake Street and your phone number is 602-555-5555. You have a website, LeakyFaucetPlumbing.com, and you want to drive local customers to contact you for their plumbing needs. You head to YellowPages.com and submit the necessary information to have your business listed in their directory for Phoenix, Arizona. After going through the process and YellowPages.com verifies your business, your business is listed. You now have your very first local citation.
Pretty simple, isn’t it? Local SEO and Citation building doesn’t have to be overly difficult, but the rewards you will reap will be vital for your online presence.
What should be considered as a citation?
Any online mention of a business name can be considered a citation. But what matters more is what kind of citation is being implemented on a site. Citations can be divided into two different categories: structured and unstructured.
A structured citation is a standard business listing like the ones on review sites like Yelp and the Better Business Bureau. These citations must always contain accurate name, address and phone number information (also known as NAP information). Additional information like store hours and days of operation can also be provided.
An unstructured citation is any mention of a business that isn’t on a standardized directory. An example of an unstructured citation is the mention your business on a newspaper’s article or a mention on a blog post. This kind of citation can help boost local branding for a business.
The value of a citation lies in how they are referenced by search engines to determine a business’ location and then indexed within the results. In addition, there is another factor that will come into play when producing custom search results based on the locality: the proximity of a citation to an end user’s current location.
Are there other factors to consider when building your citations?
One factor is the category of your business. While there are online services that offer general citations directories, there are reputable places that are specific to a certain kind of service. For example, eLocalPlumbers.com is a directory specifically geared towards plumbers.
Another factor is locality. If we look back at the Leaky Faucet Plumbing example, it would be best that the owner of the plumbing service gets citations from pages that are locally-based (like the Mesa Chamber of Commerce, blogs of local radio stations they advertise on, etc.). If the owner of this business put his time and energy into getting citations from these kinds of directories and pages, his local ranking signals would be boosted greatly.
It is important to think about these factors while you are making up a strategy to build citations for your site. Thankfully there are resources about these citation factors, as well as tools on how to determine which are the best citations for your business (depending on locality and business category).
So what are the ten best places to get a citation from?
While it is advisable to get citations from platforms according to business category and/or locality, there are some places that are great to obtain citations from, regardless of your business’ focus or location.
Start with these 10 platforms and then move on to building citations on niche platforms and relevant websites.
What if I’m unsure about my business’ citations?
If you’re still unsure about your business’s citations (whether it be fear of situations like duplicate or poorly structured citations), consider watching our SEO 202 tutorial: How to Perform a Citation Audit for Local SEO. This video provides a step by step process to ensuring that your business’ information is accurate and consistent across all of its citations.
So in the end, getting citations for your local business may sound tough, but it really isn’t. Getting ten citations to start off the process is easy if you put a bit of effort into it, and you’ll end up seeing the results in the long run.