Understandng SEO Citations and Local Marketing
SEO citations are online references to your business’s name, address, and phone number, often abbreviated to NAP.
They can also be referenced as NAPW when the business’s URL is inserted as well. They are used to validate that your company is real.
The more your NAP appears linked to your business, the higher up in the search your business will be, and the more people can learn about your service.
The most important thing is that the citation matches the information on your Google My Business (GMB) page.
You need to be completely consistent with your details in order for citations to work for you, right down to how many spaces you use between data and capitalization or phone number formatting.
In addition, you will only receive partial credit if you vary what information is listed.
So, if you list the company name and phone number in one place and the business name and address in another, they won’t get the same credit as if both are identical.
This is important to keep in mind as you build your SEO citation strategy.
Once you know the answer to the question, “What are SEO citations?” you need to understand why they are important.
The main reason that local citations are so important is that they are the primary source used when determining the order of the SERPS.
If an organization is mentioned frequently, they make sure that it gets a higher ranking.
In addition, these citations are used to ensure that your organisation is real.
They want to make sure that the information in their local profiles are accurate so that people continue to consider them to be a reliable source of information.
If they are able to find the identical details on multiple sites, they feel pretty confident that it is a real company, and they will allow the business to rank higher in searches.
What Makes Local Search Important?
Finally, citations are important because they provide searchers with more locations to find your business online. It’s basic marketing; if you have your business citation listed in many different indexes, it is likely that more people will come across it.
Name recognition leads to brand familiarity
, which leads to business and sales.
Where Does Google Look for Citations?
One of the most obvious places to submit your details are directories.
If you have a painting business, you might have your details listed in a number of different indexes as part of your advertising campaign.
This is where you need to make sure that your details are identical. If you say E. in one listing and East in the other, they don’t match up. You need complete consistency in your profiles.
There are many additional sites where checks for this information takes place, including social media sites, chamber of commerce sites, press releases, news releases, articles and guest-post bylines, image and video descriptions, forum sites, and many others.
What this means is that you need to make sure that your citation is consistent no matter where you list it.
The only way that all of your citations will be connected is if they are identical in every way.
What Can Hurt Citations?
Any inconsistency at all can hurt your local SEO citation.
If you have “Road” on one citation and “rd.” on another, this will be seen as two different citations.
You could have 20 citations with slight variations, and they will not be viewed as the same business.
It is absolutely critical that you make sure that every time your citation appears, it is identical in form right down to the last character or space.
In addition, using more than one phone number will hurt your ranking.
Even if you have more than one number for your business, you need to pick one for all of your citations.
t is the only way to ensure that the citations are all connected.
You don’t want to change the name of your business or use multiple forms of the name.
If you think that you can add variety to your business name to add in a few important keywords, that is a mistake.
This is viewed as spam, and you will get penalized for it.
The best way to get higher up in the search is to choose one format for your NAP or NAPW and stick with it no matter what.
How to Start Making Local SEO Citations
Before you even get started, you need to decide where you will keep your citations organized.
You really should have a spreadsheet or some document that lists all of your citations.
Then, you want to start with your own site.
You need to determine how your details will be written, and you will keep this identical format throughout.
On your business site, make sure that your address details are listed on every page.
You should have your city, state, and phone number in the title tags whenever you can; replace “contact us” with a title tag for your contact page.
Then, make sure that the way you list your account details is identical to your other posts
Now that your business matches up to the Google Business Directory, you can take it further.
Gather a list of all of the free indexes that are available for your industry.
You can submit your profile, making sure that it is identical to your main profile.
If you want to find out which sites are used the most in your industry, you can search a competitor.
For example, if you have an Italian restaurant, you can run a search for your keywords and the town where your business is located.
For example, search “Italian restaurant in London.” When you see the results, you want to make a note of the indexes that show at the top of the search engines.
These are the indexes that rank the highest to locate Italian restaurants in this location.
How Are Citations Different From Backlinks?
Citations and backlinks will both help your website to rank up in the SERPs over your competitors, but they are two different things.
The reality is that having both successfully optimized for search and citations will raise your website up in the SERPS.
While a citation is basically your business listing, the NAP (name, address, and phone number) or NAPW (name, address, phone number, and website URL), a backlink is another site that links to your site.
In other words, Google uses the citations to verify that your business is legitimate, and backlinks show how frequently your link appears on other sites and a sites popularity
Before you run out and paste your link all over the Internet, you need to understand that the traffic you receive is impacted by the quality of the backlinks you have.
ou want credible, authoritative websites to link back to yours because it raises your website’s bar as well.
Are Backlinks as Important as SEO Citations?
Both backlinks and citations are important, but they achieve different goals in your online marketing strategy.
Your citations will improve your visibility in local and map rankings, while your authority backlinks will help you with organic rankings.
With backlinks, you are getting inbound links from other websites.
The more credible those websites are, the more credible your website will be considered.
n turn, they will boost your online visibility in search engines, which translates to leads, conversions, and sales.
You will want to use both of these local search tools to improve your search position and traffic to your blog or site.
Start with your citations for local search and map listings, and incorporate backlinks into your strategy to bolster your credibility.
How to Build Your Local Citations
Once you have determined the exact format of your profile and included it on every page of your website, you will make sure that you enter it in the GMB directory.
There are two types of citations: structured and unstructured.
Structured citations are listings in formal indexes, and unstructured citations are partial references on blogs, online news, and other sources.
You can submit your citation to formal indexes and receive a citation.
Some of these indexes are websites that have business information, such as:
Once you are ready to begin building your citations, you should designate an email address for this.
It is ideal if the email address uses your company domain rather than a generic domain.
Remember that you can submit your citation to any website, but you want them to approve it.
When you use your company URL, it will hold a higher place than one that uses a generic URL like Gmail.
As stated before, make sure that your account details are identical in every submission.
This cannot be overstated because inconsistencies will defeat the purpose of what you are trying to accomplish.
Although there is a difference of opinion as to whether or not Google will count RD and Road as the same thing, it is best to pick one and stick with it for every submission.
Next, you will need to select your category, and you want it to be consistent on all of the sites you choose.
his might be simple if your business is a restaurant, but if you cross over different industry categories, choose the one you want to use and stick to it.
In your directory submission, include as much information as you can.
You can include photographs, your logo, a complete description of your business, your business hours, and links to your social media.
The more information you can provide, the more verifiable your business becomes.
Don’t forget to verify your listings.
One of the reasons to designate an email address specifically for your citations is that it will be organized and simple to click the links and verify your listings as they come in.
emember that your information will not go live until you have clicked the link to verify it.
Finally, remember to keep track of all of your submissions on the spreadsheet you started in the beginning.
ou will have all of your submissions and information in one place, and it will make it a lot easier to add to it later on and keep track of it, as well.
How to Find Sources for Your Citations
After answering the question, “What are SEO citations?” you will find that there are different methods to building up your citations, and you can actually find lists online that will tell you the top sources in your country or area.
If you are feeling overwhelmed by the entire process, you can source it out.
There are businesses out there that will handle all aspects of SEO (and backlinks) for you.
However, if you are ready to get it done on your own, you can organize it and make it happen.
Start with your GMB listing.
Many people say that this doesn’t count as a citation, but the reality is that without it, your citations will be a whole lot less meaningful.
It can be argued that this is the citation that is the most important because Google is a dominant force in local searches.
Next, you want to develop a list of your primary structured citations.
This includes search engines,
pages, and apps that build directories specifically for business listings.
Consider the following examples:
● Apple Maps
There are others, but you will want to compile a list of all of the web pages that will benefit your business.
You cannot have too many; the more citations you have, the higher your rankings will be in the search.
You can create and manage a listing on any and all of the above sites, even if that is the extent of what you do.
Bear in mind that some sites are free (and you should take advantage of all of those), while others require a fee for your listing.
hen determining where you should pay for listings, consider the impact on your business.
The next step is to compile a list of sites that are specific to your industry and your geographical location.
Lawyers, doctors, and travel services all use these sites to get citations.
f your industry has sites that provide listings, you want to find them and get your citation included.
Sites that are specific to your geographical location such as the chamber of commerce (US), local business associations, and community centers, networking groups and this will give you more citations as well as exposure to potential clients who are looking.
Again, some will charge you, and others will be free.
You should be flexible and willing to pay for a citation that will bring you traffic, but pass on those that don’t bring you any direct benefit.
Finally, you will want to build some unstructured citations.
This might be a mention in a newspaper, a blog post, or on someone’s social media page.
You can actually take charge of this as well by submitting material to be published.
Make sure that you embed your citation in your post or article.
More and more directories allow businesses to include the website URL in the citation, which is a huge benefit.
Getting links back to your site is a huge part of SEO, and when you can submit your link with your citation, it basically does double duty.
In fact, some sites will display the link as a “dofollow” link, which further boosts your SEO.
Always provide your NAP (name, address, and phone number), but whenever the option exists, make sure that you insert the website URL because this will further boost your visibility.
It is really important to make sure that your profiles are relevant, have reviews, and are up to date.
Search engines have programs that crawl through sites to develop an accurate idea of what your website is about as well as how legitimate it is.
When it finds inconsistencies, this counts as marks against you.
Inconsistencies will actually harm your rankings, so you want to avoid it.
If your business experiences any changes in name, address, phone number, or website, make sure that you go to your spreadsheet and update every listing out there.
There are additional reasons for this. Customers are known to lose trust in businesses with faulty or inconsistent information.
In our current world, customers don’t want to investigate to find out how to get in touch with a business; instead, they will move to the next one on the list.
You definitely need to make changes across the board if any of your information changes.
Additional Ways to Add Google Citations
In addition to all of your submissions and blog posts, articles, and social media listings, there are things you can do to further get your reputation out there.
For example, if you make YouTube videos, you can add your details to any description of the video.
This gives you citations built into your video content marketing plan.
You can open an account on a photography website such as Photobucket and upload the same photos you put on your website or another directory listing.
Make sure that you submit your NAP or NAPW to their tags.
If you run ads in any online publication, you can place your details there, as well.
Content marketing is a great way to not only start link building, but also creating high quality content improves traffic. Basically, anytime you upload any article to the internet, insert your account details because you are getting another citation, which will only add to the list and improve your search results in the SERPs. Make sure it's keyword focused
How Many Citations Does a Business Need?
It is hard to answer this question, as there is no data that says how many citations a business needs.
However, there is a lot of data that shows how many citations businesses have.
What your specific business needs are will depend on your size and your industry.
or example, businesses in the hospitality industry make significant use of citations, whereas smaller one-person businesses use fewer citations.
One study looked at over 100,000 local businesses, and found that the average number of citations per business was 81.
hey also found a strong correlation between the number of citations and how high the business appeared in the Google search results, which suggests that businesses should have as many citations as possible.
Facebook is one of the most widely used platforms for citations, as it is simple to create a business page and make sure that your citation information is accurate.
ven if you do nothing more than create and maintain the page, it will be out there, and it will give credence to your business.
Local SEO Serves a Dual Purpose
The bottom line is that local marketing is beneficial to businesses in more ways than one.
First of all, by submitting your citation to directory listings and other resources, you are
growing your market
You are creating visibility for your brand, and you are extending your reach to find new clients.
In addition, you are building your online presence through credible and reliable listings, which in turn builds up your credibility and reliability with the search engine.
The more Google can “prove” that you are a legitimate and trusted business, the higher they will place you in the rankings for searches.
This further increases your visibility and has the potential to further grow your customer base.
It may seem like a lot of work, but in the end, it pays off.
rowing your presence both amongst your local customers and online will ultimately help your business to be more successful.
If you start out with organization as a priority, maintain your spreadsheet with all of your citations, and update them as needed, it will not require
more time than it is worth
Building credibility and trust is the key to any successful business, and by taking the time to ensure that your citations are accurate and appear in all of the right places, you will be better off.
Despite what some will say, you can not use PPC to outperform your competitors. No matter how good or big an agency, it's crazy to think that moving forward is as easy as just use PPC to pay, as if Google is that simplistic.
The truth is, the companies that see success research. They learn what great relevant content actually is in terms of keyword analysis.
They research based on a each individual case to determine what resources will help small organisations prevail.
If you're looking for a guide to help your company move forward, then speak with our agency and get a detailed analysis based on you're actual goals and targets. This isn't a push button audit, but a strategic roadmap providing you with the tools you need to succeed. No matter how small your business, using the right terms, having sound structure and a knowledgeable guide will help you see success.