Local citations are important for businesses that provide a service or product within their local area. But you might ask yourself, what is a local citation and where do I find them? Simply put, a local citation is a mention of your company’s Name, Address, and its Phone number, also known as NAP. (See image for example). These citations can be found on business directories focused on local areas, on social sites such as Facebook and on websites in general that mention websites within a specified area. While these “mentions” will certainly help your clients and customers find your local business, they have the added benefit of helping your website achieve better rankings in the local search engine listings. It is imperative for you as the business owner to manage the citations to make sure your NAP data is correct wherever it is discovered online.
What are the types of local citations?
Important Local Business Data Sources: There are a few very helpful databases with local business information which is disseminated from these sites to hundreds of other sites. These are feeder databases that provide your NAP data to other sites. It is vital your correct business information is provided to these sources. The major players are Acxiom, Infogroup, Google My Business, and Localeze. These sites will provide information to sites like Superpages, Yellowbook and others. Don’t overlook sites like Yelp and Facebook either as they can also help.
Location & Industry Targeted Directories: Finding local business listings will help with your local search listings. Search engines expect to find your business in directories that target your local area. It helps prove you are located where you say you are. In addition, many directories and websites will focus on an industry and this also makes sense to the search engine to find your optometrist site in a directory of optometrists. It helps prove you are the type of business, you say you are. Professional association and chamber of commerce sites are examples of this type of citation.
Blogs, News, Other Database Sites, Etc.: If a blog, news, government database, mapping website or other helpful resource should include your website and your NAP information, it is wise to contact them to help support your citations. For example, a blog about gardening is a perfect place for your local plant nursery to be included. If a local news organization mentions your business, it helps support your citation profile with a credible site in your area.
What Are the Essential Parts of a Local Citation?
As stated earlier, the essential included in a citation are a company’s name, address, and phone number and will hopefully include a link to the company’s website. These elements can be included, but are not necessary to a good citation. Always include all the information you can when adding your company to a citation-type site.
- Images of your location, employees, products, etc. (Be sure images are of high quality and present your business in a positive light)
- Your logo
- Videos, which can be simple recordings you have made or professional commercials
- Directions to your business
- Description of your business, services, and products
- Your business category
- Days and hours of operation
- Types of payment you accept (cash, check, credit card, and bitcoin)
- Reviews from happy and unhappy customers (Websites that include reviews should be monitored so the customer service team can reply to poor reviews.)
- Social media profiles (Links to your Facebook Business Page, LinkedIn Company page, Twitter Page, and other social media platforms you are active on.)
- Other phone numbers such as a fax number or customer service phone number
- Your company email address
It is important to have all your links and information ready to go before hunting for citations. These examples of what you can include should be gathered and ready to go when you begin.
How Important are Local Citations?
While local citations may seem to be a tedious and not worth your time, nothing could be farther from the truth. Besides having the most up-to-date and accurate contact information for your company, citations can heavily affect your local business listings and how your customer perceive your business.
- Think of it this way, the more mentions or citations your business receives the more likely you are to shown higher in local search results. Each citation is, in essence, of vote of confidence your business. More votes can mean higher ranks, increased visibility and better brand awareness. All good things when Google or Bing is deciding where to rank your local company. Accuracy is also an important part of how trust-worthy your website and business are. It is crucial that your pertinent data is the same everywhere on the Internet. Consistent and accurate information provides a high level of trust in the local search results, proving better rankings for your business.
- This also applies to your customers, not just the search engines. The people searching for your local business in the search engines or finding you in a local directory expect accurate data and information which will help them find you and understand what you can provide them.
Local citations provide this information and support online promotion of your website.
Citations are an important part of the factors when Bing and Google decide how to rank local listings. Local search experts, like ourselves, ranked citations as making up 13% of the major factors that are used by the search engines when determining how well or how poorly your website ranks in the local search results.
Citations are Important
Don’t make the mistake of neglecting the management of your local citations. This means you should be seeking them out and then monitoring them and, if your business information changes through a move to a new location, make sure you update the information everywhere. In rare instances we have seen our clients’ citation information changed to hurt their local rankings. An address has been modified or the hours of been edited and in the worst case, the business was identified as closed. We assume an unscrupulous competitor did this or maybe an irate former employee or consumer.
Remember, these citations influence local search rankings and can have a positive or negative impact on actual foot traffic to your store as well as online traffic. Citations can help with rankings and reputation, so it is worth the time and effort to make certain your business information is accurate and up-to-date and placed on as many citation sites as possible.