Local SEO citations are an essential part of any local business’s online presence. They are essentially online mentions of your business name, address, and phone number (NAP) on various directories, websites, and social media platforms. These citations help search engines like Google and Bing to verify your business’s location and legitimacy, which in turn helps to improve your local search rankings.
As a local SEO expert, I have found that citations are one of the most effective ways to improve my local SEO. By having consistent and accurate NAP information across all of my business listings, I have been able to improve my visibility in local search results and attract more customers to my business. However, it’s important to note that not all citations are created equal. Some directories and websites carry more weight than others, and it’s important to focus on the ones that will have the biggest impact on your local search rankings.
What are Local SEO Citations?
Definition of Local SEO Citations
Local SEO citations are online mentions and links of your business name, address, and phone number (NAP) on other websites. Business citations are also called business listings and are primarily found on online business directories. As an example, Yelp is a business directory where you can get a local citation. Other than business directories, you can also get citaitons on review sites and even social media platforms.
Importance of Local SEO Citations
Local SEO citations are important because they help search engines like Google verify the validity and accuracy of your business information. The more consistent and accurate your NAP information is across the web, the more likely your business will appear in local search results.
In addition, local SEO citations can also help improve your business’s online visibility and reputation. When your business is listed on reputable directories and review sites, it can help increase your online presence and attract more potential customers.
As mentioned, some directories and review sites carry more weight than others, which means that we want to spend more time improving our local online presence on those directories.
Overall, local SEO citations are a critical component of any local SEO strategy. By ensuring that your business information is accurate and consistent across the web, you can improve your chances of appearing in local search results and attract more potential customers to your business.
Google, EAT and Local Citations
Google has been making waves in the past few years about concept they call E-A-T. This stands for expertise, authority and trust. The simple definition is that Google is really focused on making sure that a real person is behind the business, content, articles, videos, images.
There are millions of businesses and websites that are either spammy or completely fake. This is often done to trick users into buying something, downloading malware or other malicious purposes. These websites tend to have a pattern where the website owner, author or business is not real. Often they are written anonymously. Google does not want these websites or businesses to rank.
So when you are building your business citations, you are taking the step in the right direction to show Google that you are indeed a live, thriving, registered business with location (or service area) and website. And your website and citations will have the standard information that shows that you are a real business. To simplify, citations absolutely contribute to a positive EAT signal.
How to Build Local SEO Citations?
As a local business owner, building local SEO citations is crucial for improving your online visibility and attracting more customers. Here are some steps to help you build effective local SEO citations:
Choosing the Right Citation Sources
To start, you need to choose the right citation sources. Focus on the big local directories. Number 1 is Google My Business. It is the listing that provides the most value to search rankings and this particular citation deserves the most attention.
However, there are other big citation sites including, Bing for Business, Yelp, and Yellow Pages. These directories are trusted by search engines and can help you improve your local search rankings.
Creating Consistent Citations
Consistency is key when it comes to building local SEO citations. Make sure your business name, address, and phone number (NAP) are consistent across all directories. Any discrepancies can harm your local search rankings. When I say consistent, I mean exact. Don’t use 999 Main St. on one citation then 999 Main Street on another. I know this might seem a bit much but you get ranking boosts when you are 100% consistent.
If you aren’t sure of the status of your citations, we have a free audit that you can use that will scan your citations.
Optimizing Citations for Local SEO
To optimize your citations for local SEO, include relevant keywords in your business description and category. For example, if you run a pizza restaurant in New York, include keywords like “pizza” and “New York” in your business description. Also, add photos and videos to your citations to make them more engaging and attractive to potential customers.
In addition, ensure that your citations are complete and accurate. Include your website URL, business hours, and any other relevant information that can help customers find and contact you.
Overall, building local SEO citations is an ongoing process that requires time and effort. But putting in the work pays off.
Common Mistakes to Avoid
I’ve been doing local SEO now for 8 years, so I have noticed some common mistakes that businesses make. Here are a few things to avoid:
Inconsistent NAP Information
One of the most significant mistakes businesses make is having inconsistent Name, Address, and Phone (NAP) information across different directories. This can confuse search engines and hurt your local search rankings. Make sure your NAP information is consistent across all listings.
Another mistake businesses make is having duplicate citations across different directories. This can also damage your local search rankings. Make sure to check for duplicates and remove them.
Ignoring Niche-Specific Citations
Finally, businesses often ignore niche-specific citations. These are directories specific to your industry or niche, such as lawyer directories or healthcare directories. These directories can be powerful for local SEO, so don’t ignore them.
To avoid these mistakes, make sure to keep track of your citations and regularly check for inconsistencies and duplicates. Also, research niche-specific directories and include them in your citation strategy.
Benefits of Local SEO Citations
What do you really get from good consistent local citations?
Improved Local Search Rankings
When you build a profile of business citations on local directories and citation sites, search engines like Google take notice. They use this information to verify your business and improve my local search rankings. By consistently adding my business information to reputable citation sites, you can increase your chances of appearing at the top of local search results pages.
Also, you are usually asked to be added to a category. So the same restaurant will be listed under pizza restaurants in these directories. The pages will be full of keywords such as pizza place, carry out pizza, best pizza restaurant. This adds relevancy to the citation. The topic of the page that links to your website is part of the ranking algorithm.
Increased Online Visibility
Local SEO citations also help to increase online visibility. When potential customers search for products or services related to my business, they are more likely to find your business if you have a strong online presence.
Boosted Local Business Reputation
Finally, local SEO citations can help to boost your local business reputation. Most of these sites have a rating or review system. This shows potential customers that my business is legitimate and trustworthy. This can help to build trust with my customers and improve your overall reputation in the community.
As I wrap up this article on local SEO citations, I want to emphasize the importance of accuracy and consistency in your citations. It’s not enough to simply have a lot of citations; they must also be accurate and consistent across all platforms.
One of the best ways to ensure accuracy and consistency is to use a citation management tool. These tools can help you keep track of your citations and ensure that they are up-to-date and accurate. Again, here is our free tool that has a citation checker.
In addition to accuracy and consistency, it’s also important to focus on quality over quantity. While having a lot of citations can be helpful, it’s more important to have high-quality citations from reputable sources.
Finally, don’t forget about the importance of reviews in your local SEO strategy. Encourage your customers to leave reviews on your Google My Business page and other relevant platforms. Reviews not only help with local SEO, but they also provide valuable social proof for potential customers.
Overall, local SEO citations are a crucial part of any local SEO strategy. If you have questions, don’t hesitate to contact us.