What Are Local SEO Citations?

If you own or operate a business in 2022, you no doubt understand the importance of having a well-established web presence. That doesn’t make establishing yourself online easy – there may be some terms or concepts you’ve heard about but don’t quite grasp.

 

Take, for example, the term “local SEO citation.” You may understand the concept of SEO (search engine optimization), but you may not completely comprehend why it’s so important, particularly for local businesses. You also may not understand how local citation figures into your company’s SEO approach.

 

In this post, we’ll define local SEO citations, answer the question of “What are citations in SEO?” address why they are important, and talk about some strategies for optimizing the value you get out of it.

What is local SEO citation?

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In a bygone era, we had the phonebook where every person and business had their contact information listed for public consumption. Now, the internet – and more specifically, search engines – fills that role.

 

Citations are the inclusion of your company name, address, and telephone number on any website that you do not own or operate (think of Google). This combination is known as your NAP information. Any time there’s an update to this information, you’ll want to provide it yourself anywhere you’ve made a citation.

 

You provide this information to Google when you fill out a Google My Business profile, which includes this information as well as any other relevant data you’d like to include (more on this later).

 

The NAP information in your Google My Business profile is used by Google’s local algorithm as a signal of relevance and verification that you’re a legitimate local business with a physical location at the address you’ve included as part of your profile.

 

It enables people to know where you are and how to get in touch with you – two critical components of reliably connecting with your customers. After all, if they don’t know where you are or how to talk to you, they’re going to have a hard time buying from you.

The importance of citations

Citations are a crucial component of local SEO. Building citations and monitoring citations are crucial operations that search marketers include when managing a local SEO strategy.

Your citations assist Google by verifying your location. The more citations you have, the more likely Google can tell that your location and other information is indeed accurate. When Google sees your business’s website appearing in numerous sites it regards as trustworthy, it pushes you up in its local rankings. 

Simply put: the more places your legitimate info turns up on local websites, the more validity Google will give you. It gives your site credibility that Google rewards with better positioning in search engine results.

Which citations are you looking for?

The specific citations you’re going to want for your business will vary depending on your type of business as well as your location. Since each metropolitan area has its own significant reference websites, there is no official record of must-have business citation sources. This is where you’ll likely need to do some research in your area, talking to fellow business owners or doing some internet sleuthing on your own. 

 

Sources you might want to look out for can range from your area’s chamber of commerce website, locally-focused trustworthy online databases, or even business directories based in your locality. Don’t just look for places that support your locality – look for industry-specific sites as well. The farther you can niche down, the better. 

 

A local citation example may also include citations recorded via social media sites like Google or Facebook as well, but you’ll need to perform some research to find the citations that will be most accessible to your target market.

How can you get your citations to show up in a search?

Citations can appear on your site even if you don’t add them directly. When it comes to gaining listings, many relevant and authoritative local directories or websites accept data sources from others, so your information will immediately populate.

If you’ve just opened your business, you can include your information on these relevant citation sites in one of two ways:

 

  • Enter it manually. Adopt the DIY approach. You or someone on your team enters the data one by one into the listed sites. It’s a time-consuming process, but it ensures that your information is correct across the board.

 

  • Have a vendor do it. There are several services that will submit your information manually for you. If you don’t have the time or capacity to manually update your information to citation sites, you can hire a service to do it for you.

Citations can also offer more information about your company than just the standard NAP information. You can include features like your business hours, a detailed explanation of your firm and the work it does, your branding logo and colors, and how people can get in touch with you. Anything that helps you provide more information and value to the customer is likely a good bit of data to include.

Prioritize accuracy and consistency across your entire web presence

Because citations form the cornerstone of your SEO, it’s critical to make sure they’re accurate. Be certain your company’s name is written correctly and does not contain any extraneous phrases. In addition, ensure your phone number and address are consistent on all your websites. Google’s algorithm sees inaccurate or redundant NAP data in several citation sites as a warning sign.

 

When your NAP data is inconsistent—perhaps because you moved to a new location or changed some type of information—you’ll need to correct your citations by replacing the erroneous data. This can be done manually or with the help of an outside vendor. 

 

The bottom line is that local SEO citation is essential to your success as a local business. Beyond its necessity, however, it can also be an inexpensive but also valuable component of your online marketing strategy.

 

Done right, local SEO citations can help you attract your target audience, giving them the vital information they need to buy your product or service.

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