Local citations are essential for a robust local SEO strategy, and can help your business gain new local leads, thus driving up sales and revenue. Read below to learn more about local citations, and how building them can provide a wealth of benefits to your business.
What Are Local Citations?
Local citations are an essential part of Search Engine Optimization (SEO). They are crucial for making sure businesses find new leads that are local to their location. A local citation is the presence of a business’s name, address, and phone number (NAP) on the web. These citations can exist on internet directories, Yellow Pages, or even on Yelp.
- An adequately defined local citation helps people find your business easily, and improves its search engine rankings. A higher-ranked page will be easier to find, as people are less likely to spend much time scrolling through the search engine results page.
What Is The Link Between Local SEO and Local Citations
Local citations help boost your business’s local SEO because they help search engines to verify the authenticity and legitimacy of your business. If you have properly maintained and updated your local citations, then the search engine’s crawler will find the exact information about your business across various websites and internet directories. This will allow the search engine to perceive your business as legitimate and trustworthy.
- Subsequently, your business will have a better search engine ranking and SEO score, and is more likely to be found by potential clients in your local area. For example, if someone is searching for electricians in New Jersey, the first few results on the search engine’s results page will be dominated by internet directories.
Search engines will almost always return directories, and if your business is appropriately cited, then you can hope to generate a new lead.
Types Of Citations
- There are two main types of citations; structured and unstructured sources. Below is a brief description of each, which will help you determine the best match for your business.
A structured citation is when your business’s name, address, and phone number (NAP) are mentioned on different websites, relevant internet directories, Yellow Pages, and Yelp. Most of such directories and websites are deemed trustworthy by Google because they have huge databases of reliable information, and have been on the web for a long time.
- It is imperative to create local citations in industry-relevant internet directories in order to give your business greater visibility. If you are creating local citations in general directories, such as Yellow Pages, make sure that your business is listed under the correct category.
This way, Google can easily connect your business with potential clients and relevant audiences. If you are unsure which business directories to target for your local citations, then you can quickly search for the best internet directories.
- When a business is searched on Google or an internet directory, the citation is structured if the results are displayed in an easy-to-understand format. Usually, a structured source consists of the business name, its category, an image, contact number, address, whether or not it is open, ratings, and reviews.
The main difference between a structured and an unstructured citation is how the information is presented to the user. In an unstructured citation, the business’s NAP isn’t grouped, thus sometimes making it difficult for potential customers to find your business.
- This citation type is primarily prevalent on websites that aren’t meant to be directories or business listings. Some common examples of such websites are blog posts, reviews, and news articles.
For example, if you have a restaurant, an unstructured citation in a news article about your restaurant would have your business’s NAP mentioned in different paragraphs.
- Brightlocal conducted a survey in 2021 that highlighted the importance and effectiveness of unstructured citations. The survey concluded that 77% of consumers read online reviews regularly when searching for local businesses. A similar survey in 2020 reported the same behavior for 63% of the consumers. This clearly shows an increasing trend, thus supporting the positive impact of unstructured citations on businesses.
How To Build Local Citations
If you are interested in building and creating influential local citations for your business, then make sure to follow the following strategies.
1. Data Aggregators Always Help
There are thousands of business directories available online, and each one of them depends on the business owner to submit their business’s NAP to them. Manually submitting this information online is very time consuming, and is not in your best interest.
- Luckily, there is a solution to this problem. Data aggregators can be used to automate data collection and distribution to internet directories. Data aggregators collect a business’s NAP and then post them on thousands of relevant websites, thus saving you a lot of hassle and time.
There are several data aggregators available online. The best ones include Infogroup, Factual, Foursquare, and Localeze.
- If you want your local citations and local SEO to be boosted, then search for your business on data aggregators. If you find your business, you can claim it and update its NAP. If your business isn’t listed, then you can submit your business along with its accurate and up-to-date NAP to the data aggregator.
2. Use Core Sites
After using data aggregators, your next step should be to submit your business’s NAP to core sites. These sites include Apple Maps, Facebook, Yelp, Yahoo Local, Bing Places, Yellow Pages, etc.
- It is critical that you are only submitting your NAP to core sites that are relevant to your business. To determine this, you can visit these websites and search for companies that are similar to yours. After viewing the search results, you can decide whether or not you want to submit your NAP.
3. Submit NAP To Industry-Related Websites
The next step is to search the internet for leading industry-related websites and submit your NAP to them. It will make much more sense to your business to submit your information on directories relevant to your business’s industry. This helps you know who else is offering similar products/services in your local area and connects you with potential customers.
- For example, if you are a business in the tourism and hospitality sector, you’ll need to be listed on TripAdvisor.
It is also a good idea to get listed on hyper-local directories. These include your local business associations and your local Chamber of Commerce.
4. Develop Excellent Content For Unstructured Citations
- To make unstructured citations work for your business, you must develop excellent content that interests your target audience. This content can be in the form of articles, blog posts, or reviews. If you cannot write the content by yourself, you can hire content management companies, or even hire a content development team for this task.
You’ll need to conduct brief marketing research to know about your target audience’s interests. You can also develop content that aims to solve problems or answer questions posed by your target audience.
5. Use Supplier Pages For Unstructured Citations
- Another excellent strategy for building unstructured citations is to use supplier pages. You’ll need to perform a Google search to know about the suppliers in your area. It is common practice for businesses and their suppliers to mention their relationship with each other on their websites. A link and NAP are often provided for interested customers to get in touch with them.
To do this, first, you’ll need to do your research. Make a list of suppliers and perform a site search to check if they have already mentioned your business. If not, you can leave them a message requesting that they mention your business and its NAP.
6. Use Internet-Based Tools For Unstructured Citations
- One popular tool that is being used by many businesses is HARO (Help A Reporter Out). HARO works by connecting journalists with sources for new stories. It is entirely free to use this tool.
Simply sign-up and register for daily email alerts. These alerts are from journalists that post questions. You can answer their questions; in return, the journalists will cite your answer and your business in future news articles.
7. Use Internet Forums For Unstructured Citations
- People post their questions and concerns to internet-based discussion forums like Reddit and Quora. It is a beneficial strategy to register yourself on such platforms, as you can set up a schedule to search for posts and queries that are relevant to your industry. You can also set up email alerts.
You will need to answer people’s queries and comment on various posts. If your profile is correctly set up with your business’s NAP, you can find several potential customers from these forums. If you are a regular user and contributor, people will start to see you and your business as an industry expert.
8. Double Check Citations For Consistency
- It is extremely important for you, as a business owner, to double-check your citations online. You must ensure that your business’s NAP is consistent and accurate across all websites and directories.
A recent research study concluded that almost 80% of consumers lose trust in a business when they find inconsistencies in its NAP on different websites. This issue can wreak havoc on your local SEO strategy and cause customer trust issues.
Benefits of Local Citations
Building local citations can bring a host of benefits to your business, some of which are mentioned below:
1. Improve Your Business’s Reputation
Local citations can be thought of as a business’s digital footprint. The more local citations a company has, the greater its digital footprint. Prospective clients and potential customers are more likely to see such a business online. A business’s reputation is improved as local citations enable online visibility of a business’s work.
- Customers that see a business’s NAP on popular directories, such as Yelp, are automatically attracted to try its products and services. This is because customers trust Yelp, and know that only reputable businesses are featured on Yelp.
2. Increase Reviews
One of the main reasons for business owners to have their businesses listed online is to enable customers to post reviews. A recent survey concluded that 80% of purchase decisions depend on online reviews and word of mouth.
- If people can quickly discover your business on online directories and websites, they are more likely to leave reviews about their experiences. If a company has a higher number of local citations, then it has a higher probability of getting reviews.
3. Enhance Business’s Visibility
A high number of local citations help to increase a business’s visibility. Potential customers will have a greater chance of finding it when searching for products and services.
- Businesses with local listings have a greater chance of appearing in navigation apps such as Google Maps, Apple Maps, etc. As a business owner, you can take several steps, such as creating a referral program and rewarding existing customers for introducing new clients to your business.
You can also reward customers for leaving reviews, checking in, or tagging your business’s social media handles on their posts. Collaboration with local influencers can also help to promote your business’s visibility.
4. Boost Your Credibility
- The only way a business can increase its customer base and enhance its revenues is to make sure people see it as legitimate and credible. One way to make this possible is through the use of local citations.
Many people search for a business online before considering visiting its stores or purchasing its products and services. Local citations will help customers perceive the company as trustworthy and credible.
We hope that this article has helped you understand everything about local citations and what they mean for your business’s local SEO. Building local citations is the right strategy for your business if you are interested in generating local leads.