When it comes to devising local SEO strategy for businesses, one of the first factors to be considered are citation listings.
Put simply, a citation listing is a website (often, but not excluded to directories) where a business’s general information is listed. The minimum information required is usually the company name, address and phone number - commonly referred to in the world of organic search as NAP. Often sites will allow for other information, such as company email address, website URL and a company logo. The amount of information that a business can provide is entirely based on the website the company are trying to list themselves on.
For a citation to help with a local SEO strategy, it’s crucial that the NAP matches exactly on a company’s websites and on their Google+ Local page. With this in mind, it’s vitally important that businesses ensure that all citations are 100% consistent across all websites they are listed on.
What Is The Importance Of Citations?
Much like links and reviews, citations are one of the leading factors that Google uses when deciding whether to rank businesses within their local search results. According to a Moz report, citations actually account for 15.5% of the total local optimisation factors that govern how well a website will rank.
Citations from authoritative, well established websites (e.g.Yelp) help to increase the amount of information search engines have about a business’s location and contact information. Put simply, citation listings help search engines confirm who businesses claim to be and do what they claim to do. If a company has accurate citation listings across a range of websites, then the information provided is likely to be correct, then Google can be more confident in displaying a company’s information to users. Citations also help to validate that a business is a part of a community. It’s impossible to fake membership in a chamber of commerce, or being written about in a local online newspaper/magazine. Generally speaking, businesses with a greater number of quality, accurate citations are likely to rank higher than businesses with fewer citations.
Where Can You Get Citations?
Possible sources for citations include:
- General and local business directories
- Niche, industry specific directories
- Social sites – e.g. Facebook, Twitter
- Local blogs
- Prominent local websites – e.g. Chamber of Commerce websites
Citation building can be a relatively tedious, time consuming affair, so fortunately there are a range of citation building companies who specialise in the sourcing and creation of citation listings. One of the leading names in this industry is Whitespark, who for a relatively small fee can find and create all of your citation listings for you. Alternatively, if you wish to manually create your own citation listings, Whitespark’s local citation expert Nyagoslav Zhekov has created a list of the top citation sources, all of which should be considered when creating listings.
Beware Of Duplicate Listings!
When a business has more than one listing for a single location in a directory, these listings are considered duplicates. These duplicates can detract a local business’s ability to rank and so it’s vitally important to ensure that duplicate listings don’t exist. If there is a situation in which duplicate listings do exist, it’s always best practice to contact the Webmaster to get these listings removed.
Local citation listings for businesses operating in a given town or city can be an extremely powerful way of ensuring that a business's site is visible and can be found for locally driven searches. Whilst citations aren’t necessarily the be all and end all of the local SEO game, accounting for 15.5% of total local optimisation factors means that they are certainly something which any local business should be looking to capitalise on!