Local Citations: What Are They and Why Should You Care?
If you want more people to notice and trust your local business online, then you need to start paying more attention to building accurate and helpful local citations for your business.
Local citation is one of the most powerful local SEO strategies that makes it easier for customers to easily find you online when searching for the type of product or service that you offer.
In this post, you’ll learn everything about local citation, from its meaning to why it’s important and how you can successfully build local citations across multiple platforms to consolidate your online reputation management efforts.
What Is A Local Citation?
A local citation is the mention of the name, address, and phone number of a local business online. Local citations can appear on any online platform, ranging from local business directories and websites to apps and social networks. Citations help internet users to discover local businesses and can also influence search engine rankings. In short, having meaningful, unambiguous citations can help you rank correctly on Google Maps.
How To Check Your Local Citations?
If you’re a local business with a website or social media accounts, chances are you already have citations. Before you start building new citations, it’s helpful to first check which citations your business currently owns.
Here are some of the simple ways you can check which sites are mentioning you online:
1. Search Manually
There are literally hundreds of local citation sources you could check. Searching manually would mean conducting a careful audit of your citation by checking all the major citation sites by hand.
You can start by typing your business name on Google or other search engines like Bing and Yahoo.
Also, there are a few popular data aggregators that you can check. These include Facebook and Apple Maps, Yahoo, Yelp, Foursquare, and more.
2. Automated Local Listing Checks
To make things easier, you can check out a few tools like Moz or Ahrefs to check where your business is being mentioned online. The two tools literally work the same way and they allow you to check your local citations across the web for both accuracy and inclusions.
What Are The Types of Local Citations?
Local citations can be classified based on where they are listed. The following are the popular places you can claim or submit your business listing online:
- Major Local Business Data Platforms: As local business owner or marketer, you can create citations on different local business data platforms that exist to serve that purpose. Major platforms include Google My Business (GMB), Infogroup, and Localeze/Neustar. Local business listings can also be built on popular social networks like Facebook or popular review-oriented sites like Yelp.
- Industry- or Geo- Specific Platforms: Apart from building local citations on major local business data platforms that are open to all industries, your business can apply to build listings on websites that are specific to your industry or location. Examples of such platforms include websites of professional associations, trade unions, guides, and more.
The Wider Web: You can either build or earn citations on a wide range of online publications, websites, blogs, news sites, maps, and government databases. You can either deliberately create these citations for your business or earn them based on merit or based on public interest.
What Are The Components of A Local Citation?
The main components of a local citation are a business’ name, address, and phone number (NAP). This can also include a link or reference to a particular page of the company’s website.
In addition, a citation may include some or all of the following elements:
- Business categories
- Hours of operation
- Business description
- Driving directions/ Geo-coordinates
- Owner responses
- Links to social media pages
- Email addresses
- Fax numbers
Why Do Local Citations Matter?
Improve local Rankings
Local citations are considered an important ranking factor for local SEO. Having your company listed in reputable directories sends signals to Google and other search engines to improve their extent of certainty that your business exists. Factors such as the quantity, quality and accuracy of your listings can affect how search engines perceive your online presence.
Earn Referral Traffic
Many people tend to trust businesses they come across online, especially when such businesses appear on trusted sites like Yelp. For example, homeowners looking for services such as roof repair companies are trained to a local home improvement ranking site. Therefore, getting your business listed in as many directories as possible may earn valuable referral traffic to your website.
Appear on top pages
One least mentioned benefit of building consistent citations is that some online business/social directories dominate page one of local search. Sites like Yelp YellowPages, Superpages tend to consistently appear in the top spot of local searches.
Even if none of your page is ranking high in Google, you can join those who are by securing mentions on those pages. These popular directories provide amazing opportunities to earn appearances on page one.
1. Get listed with the major data aggregators
There are probably thousands of business directories on the internet. Manually adding your citations on each of these directories can be tiring and ineffective. Fortunately, there are data aggregators whose job is to collect information about businesses and automatically distribute it to other websites.
If you send your information to these data aggregators, you’ll end up having your citations listed in a lot of places.
In the United States, the tree biggest data aggregators are:
- Express Update
The best part is, it’s completely free to claim, submit and manage your local listings with Express Updates and Neustar/Localeze. All you have to do is search for your business and claim the listing if it’s already listed. If not, submit a fresh one.
Make sure to search for your company thoroughly before submitting a new one. Where duplicates exist, make sure you claim it and ensure that the information is accurate to avoid misleading search engines.
3. Submit to popular industry and local sites
Now that you’ve taken care of the general business listing platforms, the next step is to look for popular industry and geo specific sites to get your citation listed.
For example, if you run a local roofing company, you’ll want to make sure you’re listed on homeAdvisor. If you’re a lawyer, then you’ll want to make sure you’re listed on findlaw.com.
If you’re a real estate agent, then you should be on realtor.com.
If you have a physical location, it’ll be much easier to get listed in places like the local Chamber of Commerce and other local business associations or trade unions. These are industry specific local listing opportunities.
There are a few ways to find these opportunities:
Head to Google and search a keyword or its variation like the following:
- [location] business directory
- [industry] business directory
- [industry] business listings
- [location] chamber of commerce
Use an industry citations list
You can get free resources as a guide online to search for industry specific sites. One of the best sites for that purpose is BrightLocal. The site lists major citation opportunities for up to 40 business categories.
How To Build Citations
So you’ve learnt about the importance of local business listings and you’re ready to start building new citations. Here are some of the options to build local citations:
2. Submit to other core sites
Although those three data aggregators distribute business details to many well-known sites, they can’t possibly send to all sites. That’s why it’s helpful to submit to the relevant sites in your state or country directly.
If you’re located in the US, then you can take leverage sites like:
- Bing Places
- Apple Maps
The above list is just a few examples of sites you can use, there are several more, depending on your country of residence. You can also search Google for more options using keywords such as “sites to submit business citations” and you’ll have tens of results returned to you.
Since there’s a long list of options at your disposal, it implies that you can’t possibly add your business citation to all of them. The best you can do is sift through the option and submit to the sites that seem relevant to your industry and target audience.
If you have a lot of time to spare, and don’t mind doing the work, you can submit to those sites you’ve shortlisted one after the other. Just make sure you do your due diligence by first searching for your business on each of the sites. If it’s there already, make sure the information is accurate and then ahead to claim it. Even if it isn’t accurate, look for a way to claim the listing and correct the mistakes. If it isn’t, submit it.
Use a submission and management service
Submitting your listings manually is probably the last thing you want to do when you have other more important things that require your attention. Luckily, there are a few companies who have built tools to make the process less hassle free for you.
One of such solutions is Yext. The software is integrated with hundreds of notable sites, allowing you to submit and manage your local citations from one dashboard.
4. Pursue unstructured citations
The previous methods are all referred to as structured citations. Unstructured citations are earned citations that come from different places such as press mentions, blog posts, and independent service reviews about your business. This type of citation is a little harder to get than the structured ones.
Your business or its offering must be able to generate enough interest for anyone to think of writing about it.
You can get unstructured citation through strategies such as guest posting or by publishing valuable content on another website in your industry or niche. Many sites will allow you to include your picture, full name, and relevant details about your business, such as its name, address and probably phone number or email address.
Local citations are an important local SEO strategy that, if correctly done, can enhance your ranking in local search, but they’re far from being the be-all and end-all of it. You need to do proper keyword research, optimize your on-page SEO, and optimize your GMB profile and more.