Remember in the olden days, when those thick, stackable phone books used to litter homes? Pretty much every human being had one. Why? Well unless you knew someone’s contact information, you had no other way of obtaining this info without having one of those Yellow beasts!
A few years back, they started getting thinner. Like Christian Bale in the Machinist thinner (picture for reference). Why was that though? Well, these big yellow books started to get replaced by something else. Hint: It was the internet.
Nowadays, it is probably easier to find the last remaining Blockbuster than it is an updated version of the Yellowpages. Heck, even the Yellowpages has moved almost entirely online. Today, the world of information about businesses resides in a few places, and we like to call these local citations.
What is a Local SEO Citation?
So what is a local SEO citation? Well, A local citation is any online mention of the name, address, and phone number for a local business. Citations can occur on local business directories, on websites, apps, and on social platforms. Local citations help Internet users to discover local businesses and can also impact local search engine rankings.
To put it simply, local citation link building is a process of accruing mentions of your business across the web on websites and local directories. Having such citations on relevant or reputable websites will boost your credibility with Google and help in the process of increasing your search ranking.
What is the difference between links and Citations?
The main difference between links and local citations is that citations don’t have to include a hyperlink back to your website. It could simply be a repository for your company’s information. Typically, a citation would include your nap as we mentioned above. It can also include the services you provide, a detailed description of your business, your hours of operation, and even images.
Links are normally associated with things like guest posts. Guest posts are articles on other websites that reference you, or your business, and link back to your site providing more authority based on the terms being anchored in the article. In this case, that link is super important! Whereas the business info described above isn’t as important.
If you would like to take things to another level, check out our blog article on the 4 effective local link building practices to improve your local search visibility!
Even if your business does not have a website, local SEO can help your business stand out in local searches, and drive more traffic through online leads. Citations are basically useful for two main things:
1- Ranking higher for local search queries.
2- Helping people discover your business online.
But wait, John, how is that even possible if I don’t have a website? If you have a Google my Business profile, you can obtain the benefits from these local citations, with a better representation on Google Maps! PS…you can also create a Google Website for absolutely Free!
So, why are local citations that important?
Improve Local Rankings:
Citations are considered a ranking factor for local SEO. Having your business listed in trusted online directories sends signals to Google to improve their degree of certainty that your business exists. The number of listings, the accuracy of your listings, and the quality of the online directories can affect how Google perceives your online presence.
This is why it’s important to pick your citations wisely. If you would like to download our Local SEO Playbook, which includes our Citation Management sheet, click here to get your FREE Copy!
Parasite Off Of Bigger Companies:
Another underreported benefit of building local citations is that some online business directories dominate page one of local search. Sites like Yelp and YellowPages (OMG there they are!) tend to consistently rank high for most local searches. So if you can’t beat them, join them!
These online directories provide other opportunities to earn real estate on page one. How does that work? Well, as a directory, they typically break down all the different business categories to help make the process of finding a particular company, easier! So if you are a landscaping company, you will probably be found in the landscape design/lawn care section of the directory.
Have you joined your Local Chamber of Commerce yet? You should because they provide a power link back to your website. Not to mention all the other benefits you receive from being a member!
Earn Referral Traffic:
Many people are loyal to different citations, such as Yelp for restaurants. Many foodies are trained to go to Yelp when looking for new restaurants before going to Google. The same thing can be said for something like Trip advisor for Hotels. Being present in these directories allow you to be shown in front of your potential customers.
Grabs Customers Attention:
In this age of fierce competition, companies are looking at everything which can help them pull ahead of the competition. While many of the companies ignore citations, they can help you and your business a lot, bringing in more customers. Let’s just take a look at citations and how they can help you. Remember, most businesses aren’t actively doing this. The ones that do, typically have a digital marketing company handling this part of their SEO.
Local Search Is Pretty Important:
Did you know that 50 percent of consumers who performed a local search on a smartphone visited a store within 24 hours? Each day, Google records over 5.6 BILLION search results, and nearly half of those are for local services or products. The math is pretty simple there, it’s a big ass number! So one can only imagine, that if you aren’t being found, there is likely someone in your city contacting your competitors at this very moment!
Conversions Nearly Double Based on a Local Search Result:
A recent study found that unmanaged listings can cause your information to change many, many times over the course of a year. Think of it this way: If you own a local coffee shop, a consumer might search for “coffee shop” + location. If the search engine displays two results for your business’s location but each result has a different set of business hours, the consumer is probably going to move on to the next competitor in the search results.
What are the types of local citations?
According to Moz, there are three types of local citations for business listings.
Local Data Aggregators
These are the mega directories that are connected to many subsets of other listing sites. They are essentially syndicating the information via multiple network sites. These usually provide a lot of authority and should be the foundation of any backlinking strategy.
What are the 4 major local data aggregators?
These hold a lot of weight, and usually a lot of authority. Think about your local chamber website. In a lot of bigger cities, these sites have thousands of businesses linked up, and usually produce a lot of content. So they’ve built up a lot of influential power. I wrote about the value of my Halifax Chamber Of Commerce backlink. You want to find these local directories (there will be a few more typically in your city).
This really comes down to your industry. If you are a dentist, then there are hundreds of dental, and doctor related directories out there. Same for your own niche. You just need to search for it. Google something like “Industry Business Directory”, and you will likely find the ones that matter to you. Some do have costs so be wary not to throw a lot of money this way but look through the ones where you see there could be more valuable to you.
Do Local Citations Matter Anymore?
According to Integrated Digital Marketing, they do have less impact than they have before in terms of ranking factors. So, as a whole, when you evaluate your backlinking strategy, make sure that when you are working through the citation world, only look at the most important ones. I still believe having those consistent signals is important, but it shouldn’t be given a heavyweight of the SEO focus.
As you can see, adding local business citations can have a certain role overall when it comes to ranking on Google. Make sure if you haven’t started doing this already, that you make it part of your marketing strategy for your small business. If you are looking for an experienced SEO company to handle this, plus everything else optimization wise for you, contact the experts at Social Spike Marketing Group today!
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