What are local citations?
When your company name is mentioned on alternative websites and other places on the internet, is a local citation. They are greatly used to help rank your business in the local search results. Some businesses that use local citations are YELL, SCOOT, FOURSQUARE etc, where the company name is mentioned explicitly. This may not necessarily include a link to the company website. Though there is an avid mention of the company name, address and telephone number (also known as NAP). NAP is usually listed in plain text form and Google utilizes the mentions to evaluate the online sanction of your business. It invariably creates a strong web presence by sending important signals to the search engine. Local citations are extremely important marketing strategy for a business with a web-based presence.
Benefits of local citations
It is one of the key ranking components with Bing and Google. The greater the number of citations, the higher the ranking is. On the basis of local citations, Google actually decides the order of the business and eventually the ranking. Less-competitive niche businesses such as electrical and plumbing can greatly benefit from local citations. Especially when there are not many enterprises that advertise such services, search engines will use all the information that they can find. This helps validate a business for one that is a member of a particular prestigious business index. Google promptly verifies the authenticity and accuracy of the contact details provided in the listings. All information that is out of date, falsified or incorrect directly impacts the reliability of the business.
How does it work?
When your company information appears in a local area website and citation directories, rest assured that Google will pick up such information and most likely displays your business listing in the location. So, when an individual is searching for information on a service similar to yours, it is comfortably presented by Google. As the citations increase, Google feels more confident on the legitimacy of the business and automatically pushes it upwards to the primary listing.
What can you do to make it work?
The first and foremost thing you would be required to do is to get a Google+ Local Business Page set up. This also has to be claimed and subsequently optimized. Google mostly looks at credit hyperlinks and counts between websites to rank a particular business website within its search result. This is true for a traditional, organic SEO. The more the relevant links the greater the ranking of the website.
But in a localized SEO scenario, local citations along with hyperlinks are mentioned by a company to enable Google+ local map listing to display the results. These citations boost your already existing position established with Google+ and can even outrank competitors in the map packs.
Types of citations
These are some of the best kind of citations that a business could ever have. It is found mostly on the superior quality internet directories with business name and address are formatted correctly with the accompanied schema microdata. This additionally helps alleviates the search engine results. These are frequently known as IYP or Internet Yellow Pages which can be organized unlike the traditional yellow pages that currently exist online. Structured citations are necessarily in a searchable format and those which the users can easily understand. If your business has a membership with another running organization, you could also secure a listing with such relevance.
With many sizes and varied mentions, unstructured citations also come with a business name, address and telephone number except not structured or simply put, not in order. It could be the fragment of an address, just the name of the business, only the city name or just the telephone number. Unstructured citations can originate from a variety of sources such as even the social media profile which may contain your name and address. Your twitter profile could contain your details with the phone number. Unstructured citations source information from imaginatively presented references such as podcasts, blog posts as guests or even your YouTube channel. Organic and local search rankings are boosted because such unstructured citations help build trustworthiness.
Overall, citations can be derived not only from local and industrial directories which are specific but also from alternative sources which can include forum signatures, image descriptions, video presentations, guest post lines, article lines, press releases and other profile pages.
Sourcing effective citations
The relevance of the citations is more important than the authority of such citations and by authority we mean quality. An analysis conducted a few years ago stated that quality was important than the quantity of citations -though it must be noted having just one quality citation will not serve the purpose. Citations have to be built by keeping in mind both quality and quantity to deliver the best possible results. There is no count to the number of citations a business can actually have. It is essential that you conduct continuous comparative analyses and monitor post-citation work to initiate continuous improvements that might be required to steer your business.
There are several factors that can act as driving forces or influences in selecting citation sites. Some of them are industry and local relevance of your business, the competitors listing, domain authority, and the traffic in the site and last but not the least, the design of the site. Industry-specific sites gain prevalence over other sites only because the search engines gather extremely clear indications of the type of your business and the service that you can offer.
By and large effective citations can be sourced from business directories and of course from blogs, forums and social media sites. The directories may require some steps such as creating an email address, filling details of your business such as its description, uploading photos and including hours of operation. It is essential to claim online ownership of the business and verify the listing. Going further down, as you conduct an analysis you will see the websites where the competitors have placed their citations. It is good to replicate these areas for an edge. Using premium SEO tools will help you recognize a competitor’s citation.
What should the citation contain?
An ideal citation should contain DBA or Doing-business-as name, business category, keywords of the business, Phone number from where the business is done, website URL which reflects your business. Business categorization should be relevant and the company name should be used consistently. The HREF portion is advantageous since it contains the link to the listing. It is extremely important to submit information to as many sites as possible that are willing to accept the address. Care can be taken to include your toll free number (if any), company email, images, operational hours, all social media links such as twitter, facebook and LinkedIn and a link to your landing page with a short and long description with relevant keywords in it. The business listing acts as the business entity and there could be some potential customers who might have first time access to the information. It is always imperative to create a business listing that reflects the services that your company has to offer. It has to be noted that citations create a major impact on the search engines that actually rely on these listings and the consistency of the information of your business online.
It has to be remembered that effective, quality local citations can help you improve your rankings. They market your business to users that search for services in an area that might not have much to offer in terms of assistance that might be meagerly available in their location. It is also to be remembered that your business will always be sought after locally because it is either unique in service or close to the user’s location. Some of the driving factors are business signals that have keywords in a business title, external local signals that have citation volume and NAP consistency, on-page signals again attributed to the keywords present in the title and link signals attributed to linking of domain authority and inbound anchor text. Overall, it is necessary to get out there and devour the web with your niche business and service. Have fun!