What is an SEO Citation?
Promoting your business online should be all about gaining trust. Citations are an essential part of your SEO strategy because they'll tell search engines & potential customers you're trustworthy and successful, but also because their increase in visibility can lead to increased sales and more customers benefitting from your services.
In simple terms, a citation can be any mention of your business or service found on a website, blog, or directory. One way to build an online presence is through listings in standard business directories and other platforms where your service can be advertised. Local citations are essential to ensuring that your company has a robust online presence, a trusted Domain Authority, and is easy to find.
A citation should ideally include the following information: your company's name, address, and phone number. It is better if it has regional relevance and has a link to your website. Common citations you are likely to already know of include listings on business directories like Yell & Thomson Local.
What is their Purpose?
Being indexed by Google Maps can help you rank higher, which helps to ensure that Google knows about your business. Citing your business with Google will make it easier for them to find info about you so they can see what kind of business you are and if they can trust you. Including a consistent name, address, and phone number on various sites will help promote your business.
Generate Visitor Traffic
Many people are loyal to different citation sources. For example, Yelp is an excellent restaurant source, especially if you are looking for new places. To try, while a local university is a perfect source for local businesses. In your content marketing, you need to ensure that you aren't only publishing on one site or tool. A great example of this is Rue La La: they post content on their website, on Twitter, and Instagram, and they also have widgets with news stories on the homepage of their mobile app.
Improve Search Engine Rankings
Citations are a significant factor for local SEO. As such, listing your business with various trusted directories around the web can be beneficial. Doing so will signal to Google that your site is trustworthy and exists, which may help its ranking in the SERPs. This will allow you to show up in local search engine listings, which is an excellent way to draw in new potential customers who are already looking for your services.
It's not surprising that search engines like Google put more weight on online data when calculating visibility. Google does this by looking at the number of listings you have, how accurate those listings are, and how good your ranking is in online directories.
It would help if you chose where to get citations carefully because this will impact the quality of your work.
Develop Brand Awareness
You need to build citations if you want more people to find your business. Quality citations are the top result for relevant local search terms. Sites like Yelp and YellowPages tend to be on the first page when you search for local companies, meaning they're an excellent way to attract potential new customers. It's worth considering linking to them on your website to get visitors through another front.
If you are displeased with your SEO performance, you can use online directories to help. There are many of them, and they provide a way to increase your rankings. The best directories will give your business a chance to be on the front page of search engines and rank at the top of significant listings.
How do they Work?
When Google decides to show your business listing, they consider where your business is located and how far away it is from any search. They also analyze the number of clicks needed from the search result to your listing, amongst other factors.
To take full advantage of all the online citations available, it is essential that you already have a Google My Business listing set up and linked to your Google account. Online directories often come in either a website or an app. They'll ensure that you rank highly in search engines and can get more traffic to your site. They'll also help you establish expertise within your niche area.
It's now well-known that backlinks are hugely crucial in organic SEO. In the local SEO world, text hyperlinks can help boost Google Local Pack listing rankings in searches.
The more high-quality links your site has, the better it will rank locally. When obtaining high-quality links, focus on quality over quantity.
What are the Different Types of Citations?
Structured Citations vs. Unstructured Citations
The world of digital marketing has always been reliant on data. Data aggregators collect, store, and provide digital marketers with valuable data about their customers, audiences, and competitors. They also offer structured and unstructured citations to ensure that marketing campaigns are effective.
Utilizing business directories contains many benefits, like creating the footprint you need to better compete with your competitors. They also allow you to keep track of significant changes that occur throughout the company. Similar directories exist for every industry and are a great way to gain some or all of the resources that many other businesses have at their fingertips.
When listing your business on an online directory, it is commonly referred to as a "Structured" citation. This citation type is usually used for web addresses and contains logos, photos, website links, hours of operation, and more. There may also be categories for specific industries or websites in general.
Unstructured citations are mentions of your business on other, third-party, external websites, blogs, and other digital locations. For example, when websites like online news websites reference a company in their content, that's called an unstructured citation.
Some Citation Examples Include:
- General business directories
- Industry, niche, or sector-specific directories
- Local newspaper and press websites
- Local themed blogs
- Social media websites
How Do I Find Citation Opportunities?
To find the most appropriate local citation opportunities, I would start by noting the main general ones that come to mind when you think of local business directories.
For example, I would note things like Yelp, Google Places Business Profile, and Citysearch. Next, I would research these sites and see if they have a recommendations section where other companies are mentioned. Finally, I would visit my competitors' websites and note their social media profiles. This information can help you develop a list of what your competitors are doing well and not-so-well, which can be an effective strategy for beginning your company.
We recommend the following tools, which we also use ourselves:
- BrightLocal, a paid citation provider, offers a Citation Burst service that requires just a few minutes of setup and then sends out directory requests on behalf of the business.
- SEMrush, a backlink analysis tool that allows marketers to monitor their competitor's link profiles and search rankings, has found that the number of websites ranking in the top 3 positions for Google organic search results in 2018 is at its lowest level since 2012.
- MOZ provides several insights from competitor analysis to help website owners do their job better by keeping them updated with the latest industry trends and providing industry best practices for optimization.
What Makes a Good Citation?
A successful citation should be seen as credible and trustworthy by people looking for information online and on Google. Established brands such as the Yellow Pages, Trustpilot, and Thomson Local provide good examples of citations you shouldn't overlook.
A company's business directory citation is a claim. It is essential to fill out three pieces of critical information about your company for its citation: the business name, physical address, and phone number:
- Name – This should ideally be your branded trading name.
- Local telephone number – This should match the number given on your website.
- Physical address – Again, this should be consistent with the address on your website.
(A general SEO rule, it is worth noting that these three pieces of information must be presented on your website as selectable HTML text and not a graphic)
If you want to be featured in the local newspaper, they are unlikely to publish your company's address or phone number. It is enough for your company name to be referenced as long as it is specified.
Having Google alerts set up for your business, and its competitors are advisable due to the regular opportunities to use them. These alerts will be received as soon as a new link opportunity arises, meaning you can quickly take advantage of it. They also provide information on the link's search engine or social media rank.
This article only correctly applies to creating and correctly filling out general and industry-specific directories.
How to Optimize Citations
Citation management is more than just putting your work out there. A few strategies to keep in mind to optimize your online presence.
Keep a Consistent NAP
Your business's name, address, and phone number (NAP) must remain consistent across all its listings. There have been several studies that show a consistent NAP can affect SEO.
Keep your Descriptions Updated
If you're serious about improving your local rankings, you can improve them by having a well-written business description that is shot through with your company's keywords. Search engines can better understand what type of products or services your business offers, and you'll also rank higher in their search engine results pages (SERPs).
If you're linking to your website and not to a specific page, it's better to link to the homepage. This is because if you provide a search engine with only one URL, they often can't know what webpage they are looking for by providing them with more information on their link, e.g., a page name or section name on your site.
Identify your Business Category
Google My Business is one citation site that allows you to specify secondary categories. This usually helps your rankings for secondary keywords, which can significantly impact your traffic.
Provide Relevant Photos
Adding photos to your website could help increase conversion rates and improve searchability on Google. The right images can make a difference.
Try adding alt and file name information to your images if the directory you upload them to gives you the option.
Share Customer Reviews
A lot of consumers rely on reviews when making purchasing decisions. In turn, Google also looks at reviews to gauge the quality of services & businesses.
What's the Downside?
Creating citations can be time-consuming, requiring extensive research and marketing knowledge to gain journalists' attention.
Many local businesses can benefit from listing their business on Google Maps. This is a great way to ensure your business is front and center for potential customers looking in Google's Local Pack.