Local citations are a small business’s biggest asset in increasing SEO rankings. Let’s talk about a few of the best ways to use local citations to increase web traffic, and drive revenue for your business.
What is an SEO Citation?
First we should define just what a citation is, and how to use them in local SEO. A citation is a form of an online business listing. They typically include a business name, address, phone number, and a website if the business has one set up. In essence, they are mentions of your business and its information online.
A local citation is just this information, localized. Meaning that a search query for “cleaning companies in Charlotte, NC,” won’t yield results for companies in San Diego.
3 Ways to Use Local Citations to Improve SEO
These citations allow anyone looking to be informed about your business, who you are, what you do, etc. Over time, as you ensure that you have varying accurate citations, you’ll see an improvement in your local search rankings.
Primarily, local SEO improves because you’re associating your business name with locality information (the area code of the phone number, the city and zip code associated with the address, etc.
Make Sure Your Citations are Accurate
The first thing to do is make sure the existing citations for your business are accurate. Google and other search engines really like when you have NAP Consistency. NAP, or “Name, Address, Phone number,” is the most basic data that search engines and data aggregators need to establish a listing for your business.
However, it’s in your best interest to have as much accurate information as possible. For example, having an accurate web address helps bring in more traffic to your website!
Find The Best Places for Citations
Putting citations in the right places online make a big impact on your company’s SEO ranking. Most search queries involving a specific service or business, in a specific area yield a first page full of online review sites like Yelp and Yellow Pages. These sites are where most potential buyers make their purchasing decision. It is critical that your business has an accurate citation on these review sites.
Some other great places to have citations are on social media sites like Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, and your local Chamber of Commerce’s website. Don’t forget about your listing on the Better Business Bureau, they are a highly respected place for people to get information about a business and makes a great citation source.
31% of potential buyers state that when they clicked off the search engine they went to a review site instead of an individual business’s site. These buyers were searching for lists of businesses who provide the service they search for. You need to make sure that your business is one of those listed, if not the first one listed.
Citations Help With Backlinks
The second reason to build your local citations on customer review sites is for backlink opportunities. By listing your company’s website in your local citation on these sites, you are almost guaranteed at least some monthly web traffic. This traffic can increase if you choose to pay for a featured spot.
Every time that a potential buyer clicks onto your site, from a customer review board, your SEO ranking improves. This is because major name review sites like Angie’s List, and Yelp, have a high domain authority. This means that web traffic from backlinks on these websites is worth more in terms of SEO than smaller, lesser known sites.
Better SEO Improves Google Map Pack Visibility
Another reason why local citations are important is because the higher your SEO rankings, the higher your chances are of being highlighted in the Google Map Pack. This is a featured section of the top three most relevant results listed on Google Maps for a specific area. Using local citations to target organic and backlink SEO rankings can really boost your chances of getting into a featured Google Map Pack spot.
In particular, keeping your Google My Business (GMB) listing up to date will improve your Google Map Pack visibility. They’re constantly evolving the GMB service to help promote better local search results.
The good news about local SEO is that it is generally less competitive than ranking for service nationally, or even globally. Of course, this depends on the area your business is in, and how many competitors are in the area. If you live in a less populated area, then you may be able to use these local citation SEO strategies to boost your business into the featured spot on both google web results, and the Google Map Pack.
If your business competes in a more populated, and more competitive area than it is vital that you build local citations on every major customer review site. It is also important that you build the SEO optimized content on your company’s website.
How Do I Handle Citations?
There are two primary ways you can look into building citations: you can do everything manually, or look into finding a citation management service. Doing everything manually has the benefit of you knowing exactly where your information is, but often bots crawl sites like Yelp and YellowPages and grab information to build a citation that you may not know about.
A system like BrightLocal or Moz Local builds citations for you. Often, you only need to provide the data, and their team(s) or bot(s) will search for even the most obscure sites to build a citation on for you. The primary downside is cost, citation management services tend to cost per citation.