Local Citations are an important part of any comprehensive marketing plan, and while that sounds great, you may be asking yourself, “what is a local citation?” or, more importantly, “what do they mean to me?”.
What is a Local Citation?
Simply, a citation is any online mentioning of your business name, address and phone number, or more commonly referred to, NAP.
More than that, a citation is an essential and integral part of SEO ranking and one of the leading factors for search engines determining the relevancy of your website for local search results.
Where can Local Citations be found?
Chances are you have actually come across multiple citations throughout your time spent on the internet. Ever look up information on Yelp? Or come across a business profile on Facebook? These are examples of local citations, which can be found in many different corners of the internet.
It is essential to be listed in categories that are relevant to your business. Besides the core group of sites that every company will want to be cited on (i.e., Google My Business), there are secondary sites, some of which are better suited for your demographic than others.
There are hundreds of potential websites which list business information online; however, not all these sites are relevant to your field or created equally.
Everyone in the industry would agree there are different tiers when it comes to citation sites. The creme de la creme would be sites such as:
- Google My Business
- Bing Maps
After hitting to the top, must-have sites, hyper-local, and niche sites would be your next target. These are sites that cater to your target demographic specifically and will vary depending on which business is offered. Using real estate, below are examples of niche sites:
Hyper-local sites would be ones specific to the area which you serve. For example, if you are a realtor in St. Louis, Missouri, hyper-local sites may be:
Following those, other popular, albeit somewhat general, sites would include:
The fourth-tier site would primarily consist of relevantly unknown pages.
What types of Local Citations are there?
There are two different types of local citations:
Structured citations are set out on a business listing directory. Typically these are found in a standard list format. An example of a structured citation would be:
Asterisk Marketing Inc.
180 James Street, Suite 300
Hamilton, Ontario L8P 4V1
Unstructured citations can be found in a more informal manner, such as a blog or article. An example may look like this:
If you are looking to drastically improve your real estate business, the only business you should be contacting is Asterisk Marketing at 226-235-0537. Located at 180 James Street, Suite 300, Hamilton, Ontario, Asterisk Marketing is open Monday-Friday from 9 am to 5 pm.
What Information is Included in Local Citations?
Local citations are either considered a complete citation or a partial citation. A complete citation will have at minimum the business’ name, address and phone number. A partial is anything less than those three.
There is more information that can be added, though it won’t change the value of the citation. Information may include:
- Email address
- Fax number
- Accepted payment forms
- Social Media links
Why are Local Citations Important?
Now we know what local citations are and where to find them, that begs the question – “why are they so important?”.
Local citations are important as they help search engines, i.e Google or Bing, verify your business. They are one of the key factors in local SEO and can have a positive, or negative, impact on local search rankings.
Google, or Bing, will use citations as a way to determine your businesses prominence. There are three factors it will consider:
Search engines will look at how many citations are found and use that as a way to measure the presence your business has online.
Bing or Google will consider the quality of the platforms where your local citation is found. Multiple credible sites which mention your business name, address and phone number will signal to search engines that your business appears to be legitimate.
Google will note the accuracy of the information found online. Conflicting information will flag your business as being untrustworthy and lower SEO.
Pro Tip: Not only will incorrect information affect your rankings with Google, but it can also cause frustrations and alarm with potential clients. For example, if Bob is looking for a realtor and finds your business throughout multiple platforms online he may decide to call you as you appear prominent in the real estate world. As Bob looks for your phone number and stumbles across different listed numbers, he may decide to call elsewhere to avoid the obvious confusion.
Having a number of citations on various platforms will not only allow search engines to decide on the relevance of your business for search results, but it will also ensure searches can quickly and easily find your information. Certain niches, for example, travelers or food lovers, are loyal to their favoured platforms and will consider the information found on these sites to be reliable and credible.
One of the less considered benefits of citations would be larger sites, such as yellowpages.com, almost always rank near the told and having your information on this site will allow you to take advantage of the first page ranking.
How to Manage Local Citations
There are three different ways in which local citations can be managed.
As the name suggests, this is when a business owner, or employee/hired company, would visit sites manually and fill in the listing information. There are pros and cons to this method. On the pro side, many niche sites that may not otherwise be reached can be included. However, this is the most time-consuming method to do correctly as rushing can lead to errors.
Citation building systems are used to automatically submit business information on your company’s behalf. Though it’s a quick approach to building citations, there is a larger chance of error as no one is actually monitoring the submissions as they are submitted. Depending on the system capabilities, certain niche sites and platforms may also be missed.
Data Aggregator Submissions:
This method is the most reliable option available to build citations throughout business directors, social media platforms and websites. There are three big data aggregators in the US – Axle, Neustar Localeze, and Foursquare. These sites, for a fee, will feed all your information to a wide range of trusted partners rapidly increasing your businesses local citations.
Having a good amount of local citations, across many different platforms, is a key factor in having a strong online presence. Not only will it aid in organic rankings, but search engines will also consider your business more prominent, as will potential clients. Combined with other components, local citations can have a significant impact on the success of your real estate marketing campaign.