By Lydia Barley
Local citation building is crucial for driving traffic and increasing search engine rankings. Hence why citation building should be included in a business’s or SEO agency’s marketing strategy. Many business owners however aren’t actually aware of local citations, and therefore exclude them from their marketing strategy. Leading to missed opportunities. Today we will discuss everything about local citations; what they are, the different types of local citations, why they’re important, how to build them and a few tips for building them.
So, to start off, we will first look at what local citations are.
What are Local Citations?
A local citation is any mention of your business’s information on another website. This includes references to your business that do not include a link to your website. A local citation usually includes the name, address and phone number of a business. This combo is known as NAP (Name, Address and Phone Number).
What are the Two Different Types of Local Citations?
The two different types of local citations are structured citations and unstructured citations.
A structured citation is a reference to your business found on a site that has a dedicated place (or structure) for your business’s contact information. Structured citations are found on sites and local directories such as Google, Yelp and the Yellow Pages.
An unstructured citation is a reference to your business on a site that does not have a dedicated place for your business’s contact information. Unstructured citations are those found on sources such as blogs, press releases, articles, guest posts and government websites.
Why are Local Citations Important?
1. They help boost search engine rankings
Local citations are used heavily in the ranking algorithm for local search results. Google wants to provide searchers with the most accurate information, therefore it searches for businesses that present a consistent presence across the web. This is where the citations come in, they show prominence, authenticity and relevance so that search engines are confident about leading local searchers to you. From a local citation Google corroborates what is said about your business from multiple sources and can then understand if your business exists, if it’s legitimate and if what you are saying about your business is accurate. When Google trusts your business, your business will rank higher.
2. They help legitimize your business and drive traffic
Aside from a ranking standpoint, citations help legitimize your business. A potential customer is far more likely to take a business into consideration if they have established online citations listed in several directories. When these local citations are accurate customers will have many points of access to your phone number, your address and your business name. This could translate into more phone calls, more traffic to your website and more physical traffic to your business.
How to Build Structured Local Citations
There are many paid tools that can assist you in finding local directories to submit your business’s information to (such as Whitespark). In this article we will discuss 3 ways to find directories for free.
1. This one may seem obvious but think about the directories that first come to mind. Write a list of all the directories that you can think of. Once your list is complete, reach out to these directories and share your business details with them. Often the directories that are top of mind for you will also be top of mind for your potential customers.
2. Then use Whitespark’s list of top citation sources by country. This list provides the top 30 (or 50 for the USA) citation sources for the USA, Canada, the United Kingdom and Australia. Submit your business details to each of the citation sources that are relevant to you.
3. Finally, if you’re still on the hunt for more directories. Do a quick Google search. Rather than just searching ‘local directory’, search for city specific sources and industry specific sources. For example, search something such as ‘Perth business listings’ or ‘accounting business directory’.
How to Build Unstructured Local Citations
You can build unstructured citations actively by reaching out to different people or businesses and working with them. Examples of this include submitting content to local newspapers or online articles, getting featured on blogs or sponsoring events. All of which may result in them referencing your business. To find people or businesses to work with, first look to industry leaders, influencers, trusted news providers and industry related blog pages.
Another way to build local citations is inactively. Rather than seeking out people to work with, you can gain local citations by making people want to voluntarily talk about you. People will want to talk about your business if you produce standout content or if your business is popular or newsworthy.
Tips for Building Local Citations
1. Ensure that your listing details are accurate– Inaccurate details can not only negatively impact your search ranking but they can negatively impact your reputation and drive away potential customers.
2. Optimise your listing with additional features– If the website allows you to do so include additional details on your business such as your hours of operation, your category/industry, a business description, a link to website or photos of your business.
3. Focus on your Google My Business listing– Not only will this be a win for your search ranking but most customers start with looking at GMB listings not with local directories such as the Yellow Pages, so focusing on your GMB listing can generate more traffic.
4. Consistency is key– If Google sees varied information about your business, it is unsure what to trust, which may negatively affect you in the rankings. Should your business move, ensure that all your citations are updated.
5. Ensure that you include the 3 most important types of information– These are your business name, address and phone number. Partial listings can still assist in increasing your rankings, but it’s far better to have the full NAPs listed instead, for both your ranking and for generating more leads.
6. Ensure that your local citation sources are credible and trustworthy– From a search perspective, citations from untrustworthy or ‘dodgy’ sites can negatively impact your rankings. From a customer perspective, having your business associated with a dodgy site can reduce the customer’s trust in your business.
While it can take up a lot of time, building local citations for your business is an absolute must. Doing so will put you a step ahead of your competitors in terms of both search engine rankings and driving traffic. So, next time you’re sat with your marketing team or meeting with your SEO agency, bring up local citations and ensure that they’re a part of your marketing strategy.