How to Use Local Citations to Build a Solid SEO Strategy

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For local businesses, gaining exposure from the right eyes is all about being able to market yourself and deliver relevant information to your audience. 

Local citations are basic, relevant contact information such as name, address and phone number or simply called NAP for short. This essential information would usually be found in somewhere like Yelp or the Yellowpages and helps people find out about local businesses.

What Are Local Citations

Local citations, also known as business citations reference your business’s contact information such as the name, address, phone number and email. You’ll find local citations all over the internet on websites, social media platforms, apps and maps. Basically, anywhere users need information about local businesses. 

The importance of local citations is undeniable, they help users on the internet to find information about local businesses. However, they also play a crucial role in SEO by establishing credibility with search engines through off-page optimization. Citations are used to validate how legitimate a local business is by search engine crawlers, allowing the search engine to rank the websites by niche and location keywords. 

The more authority and credibility the search engine gives your company, the higher you’ll rank in local SERPs. 

What Does a Local Citation Look Like

Local citations can vary in form and look different, depending on the site. However, local citations will always contain a NAP. Furthermore, it’s practice to include additional information such as your company’s website URL, a business contact email and also a business category. 

If you want to make a dent in your SEO rankings, there are three types of location citations that should be used in conjunction:

  • Local business directories – this involves posting your company’s business data and contact information on important local business platforms and directories. For example, you want to be posting your business information in places like Google My Business, Yelp and Infogroup. Do a little research and find out the most popular places to post to get the most bang for your buck. 
  • Geographical and industry directories – posting your company’s local citations on professional associations or sites like the
    Chamber of Commerce. 
  • Websites – to gain maximum exposure and potential from SEO efforts, post your local citations to websites, blogs, social media and absolutely anywhere that’s relevant. It’s all about posting your company’s relevant contact information across the internet to gain more credibility with search engines. 

Structured Citation vs Unstructured Citation

Local citations can be crafted and represented in two ways: structured and unstructured. The difference between the two is representative fo which websites and directories they’re placed on. 

What’s a Structured Citation?

Structured citations are local citations for businesses listed on directories and sites that are intended for this exact purpose. For example, some of the most popular websites are Facebook, Yelp, Google My Business, Yellowpages and LinkedIn. 

It’s important to ensure that your information is correct and consistent on structured listings. Aside from your company’s basic contact information, it’s best to take advantage of including additional information such as your business category and web address. 

Side note: you may notice that websites and directories list your information differently. Don’t worry if the formatting is different, Google is intelligent enough to use citation information that’s formatted differently and still contribute it towards your ranking. 

Unstructured Citations

Mentions of your company’s contact information in articles, Wikipedia pages, press releases and anywhere else that isn’t a structured local citation for your business. Unstructured citations are usually a mention of your business with a basic level of information (at least the NAP.)

Even with basic information and no backlinks to your company website, search engines still see unstructured citations as valuable, contributing to part of your overall SEO strategy to improve organic rankings

An effective SEO strategy that takes advantage of local citations will implement structured and unstructured citations across the web. It’s important to utilize both to rank higher in SERPs and get your company in front of as many eyes as possible. 

How Do I Build a Local Citation

It’s pretty simple and straightforward to build local citations and it’s most likely something you’ve already started doing. For example, many companies nowadays are likely to add their information to Google My Business or Yelp within the first few weeks of opening shop to help prospects find them. 

Essential information like your NAP is important and it’s great for helping Google and other search engines rank your company. However, providing additional insights and information about your company helps prospects and customers gain a much better understanding of who you are and what you’re about. Furthermore, it gives people more options to reach you. 

Additional information that you can include to help your customers know more about your business should include: 

  • Company website URL
  • Contact email
  • Geographical coordinates
  • Working hours
  • Reviews/testimonials

We believe that it’s best practice to have a strategy in place for almost everything and building your own list of citations is no different. Start by prioritizing the platforms, websites and directories that customers use the most and then move down the list. 

Key Takeaways for Making Local Citations Effective

It may be that you want to take local citations into your own hands and create them as part of a larger marketing strategy, or you may need the help of an SEO professional to get your business on the right track. 

We’ve put together some key takeaways for you to take note of and make sure that you’re local citations are as effective as possible. 

Consistent Data

Ensure that your listed local citation data is consistent and your NAP is the same. You can make small differences like an adjustment from street to st. in the address, however, drastic changes like your phone number are going to cause havoc for your ranking. 

For the best results, make sure that you get your citations as identical as possible.

Use All the Fields You Can

As mentioned previously, creating structured citations will usually offer you more fields than just the basic contact information. If you share more relevant details about your company, the more authoritative you’ll be in the eyes of Google. If you’re given the option, add information about the company website, email address, pictures, logo and the industry that you’re in. It all helps in the grand scheme of things. 

The Number of Citations

Google is a well-oiled machine that loves to see consistency within the ranks of all the businesses trying to climb over each other for the top position. Google robots love to see recent activity; meaning they want you to keep adding business citations to websites and directories. This shows Google that your business is active and it helps towards making you rank higher. 

Conclusion

When deploying a strategy to boost your organic ranking through SEO, it’s important to take local citations into account. Whether it’s structured or unstructured citations that you’ll be spreading across the internet, Google wants quality and quantity. Keep your local citations accurate and try to keep them on highly authoritative sites at first before you start adding them to additional websites. 

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