I was recently talking with a company about their local search results and the topic of local citations came up. They wanted to know “What are local citations and what are their importance to our online success?”
What are Local Citations?
First, local citations are simply a mention of your company name, address and phone number, also referred to as NAP, on websites other than your own. A good example of a citation would be your business listing on your local Chamber of Commerce website.
For a little background, when Google began way back in September of 1998, incoming links were, and still are, a major factor in ranking websites. Those incoming links are considered ‘votes’ for your website. The more links your website has from quality sites, the better your site will rank.
The challenge with local search is that people don’t typically link to your Google or Bing business listings. So the search engines have to rely on other signals for local search. That’s where local citations come into play.
Local Citations act as confirmation to Google and Bing that the information they have on file for your business is accurate. All things being equal, if Company A has 100 local citations that match their online business listing and Company B has 500 citations, Company B would likely outrank Company A in local search.
I mentioned earlier that the quality of links to your website can help your site rank better. The same holds true for citations. A citation from a website with a very high quality will have a bigger influence on your rankings than having a citation from a low quality directory site.
There are, of course, other factors, like how well your local business listing is optimized, how many reviews you have and the quality of those reviews.
One thing most people don’t consider is that many quality directory listings, like the Chamber of Commerce example mentioned previously, also include a link to your website. So, having your site listed on quality sites can actually give you a 2-for-1 benefit; a local citation and a link to your website!
So, what can you do to improve your local citations? Get involved at the local level. Be a part of your local Chamber of Commerce and other Community organizations. You can also find quality directories to get listed in.
The easiest way to do that is to do a simple search in Google or Bing in the following format: location + industry + directories. So, for example, if I wanted to find a good marketing directory in Austin I would simply do a search for Austin marketing directories. You will still need to evaluate the quality of the sites you find because you don’t want to spend a bunch of time building citations that have little to no value.
The Importance of Local Citations
If you own a local bricks-and-mortar business, like a restaurant or retail store, these local citations can be the difference in whether you show up in local search or not. If you have a service business, one in which you go to other people’s homes and offices, local citations are still important because they can confirm to Google and Bing your service area.
If all of this is a bit over your head, don’t fret. We would be glad to help you. We have a local search optimization program and citation building can be added to that for a nominal cost.
Every citation we build is done by a real human being who has been trained to identify quality sites in your niche and to build accurate listings by hand; because this task is way too important to automate.
Get in touch with us today. We would love to help you succeed with your online marketing initiatives.
And if you have any other questions about local search or local citations, leave them in the comments below.