Local Search Citations and Why They Are Important
What are Citations.
If you know anything about local SEO, you know that you need lots of citations in order to rank well. A citation is an online mention of your business or a local business listing on an online directory or site that contains your business name, address, phone number. You may often hear SEO consultants refer to this information as your NAP (Name, Address, Phone number). There are literally thousands of listing directories and websites where you can claim or create a free citation.
Why are Citations Important.
Citations are vital because they are one of the most important ranking factors in local search. Year after year local SEO experts are surveyed to find out what elements affect local search rankings the most. The number of citations and the consistency of the information in the NAP are always at the top of the list. If your competitors have more citations that you or if your citations contain old business addresses and phone numbers, they are likely outranking you and you are losing business to them.
Search engines use citations to determine that you really are who you say you are. If you have been in business a long time, there is a good chance you have more than a few citations out there. Conversely if you’ve gone out of business or your business is new, you likely have few.
Citations also show search engines that you are part of a community. For instance, being a member of a local chamber of commerce is a strong indication that your business is active within that community. If you are mentioned in the local business journal or newspaper, it sends a strong signal to Google that your business should be included (and perhaps rank highly) for services you provide in that city.
If you provide a niche service, citations can be even more important where many service providers don’t even have websites. I know it seems hard to believe, but many local service providers in smaller markets operate largely by word of mouth. In these markets, Google must rely on what information it does have about you. In most cases, that information is the citation in the yellow pages and other similar directories.
Aside from their importance for search, real people still use these directories to find local providers. So the more business citations you have, the more calls, traffic, leads, and customers you tend to get directly from these directories.
Where Can You Get Citations?
I’ve created a fairly large list of local search citations. But here are a few more ideas on how to get some.
1) Create an internship. Many websites that let you post your internship provide a place for you to put your name, address, and phone number.
2) Place an ad in the classifieds. Whether it’s your local paper or craigslist, a classified ad is another great place to mention your business and include your NAP information.
3) Know when other mention you and ask for a citation. Set up a Google Alert and be notified when someone mentions your business on the web. Reach out to thank them and then ask for them to include your contact information. Even if you can only get a partial citation, it will help.
4) Local blogs. Many local blogs have an area where they list local vendors. Reach out and get your business listed.