If you’ve just built a website for your business, you are probably researching some local SEO methods to make your site appear higher in local search results. This is when you may come across the term local citations and wonder not only what they are, but whether they will truly help you with your local SEO objectives. Here is a basic explanation of what these citations are, how they work and why they’re so important if you want your business featured more prominently on search engines.
What are Local Citations and Why do Search Engines Use Them?
In SEO terminology, a citation is a mention of your company’s contact information on another website, even if the site doesn’t provide a link to yours. A complete citation would follow the NAP (name, address and phone number) format, while a partial one could contain only one or two of these elements. A common example of a citation would be an online directory listing for your business in the Yellow Pages, or any other business directory. However, citations do not have to come only from directories, but can be from various sources, such as the websites of business associations, your local chamber of commerce, news stories, forum posts, and social media posts.
One of the main reasons why search engines use them is that the more citations a business has, the more likely it is to be legitimate. This is especially the case for citations coming from highly reputable sources, such as a local or national newspaper story featuring your business, or a listing on your chamber of commerce’s website. In today’s day and age, anyone, including a scammer that wants to rip people off with a fly-by-night enterprise, can create a professional-looking website and a few social media accounts. But it would be very hard to get a fake business listed on a local chamber of commerce website or reviewed in a reputable newspaper.
Important Considerations When Using Citations
Having your business listed in various directories and putting your business contact information in other places online, such as on social media profiles and forum signatures will definitely increase the number of citations it has. But for these local citations to have the maximum SEO benefit, they must follow a consistent format.
For example, if the citation listed on your website is: “Acme Ltd. 123 Main Street, New York, NY 10001 (212) 555-0000,” it should be featured in exactly the same format everywhere else that your business is listed. Therefore, don’t use Acme Limited if your business name is abbreviated on your site, or use 123 Main St. if your address is not abbreviated.
Where Do I Get Citations for My Business?
You should remember that while directories are a popular place to list your business and get local citations, they are far from being your only options. Here are some other places where your business information can appear that will result in search engines like Google counting it as a citation:
Social networking sites (Google+, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.)
Discussion forum signatures, profiles and posts.
YouTube video descriptions.
Local chamber of commerce or business association sites.
Business review sites.
Mainstream and industry-specific news websites.
Industry magazines and other online publications.
Are Citations Really That Helpful With Local SEO?
Local citations are an important factor used by search engines when determining your site’s relevance to a certain query. If all other SEO factors are the same for two sites, the one with the highest number of citations will rank higher.
Of course, there are other factors that come into play if you want to achieve a high position in search results. Some factors relevant for local SEO include the number of reviews your business has received and how close it is to the city center. Keep in mind that “traditional” SEO considerations, like having high-quality content and a website that loads fast will also play a role in local SEO.