What are Local SEO Citations
Google and other search engines need tools that they can use to identify businesses and direct users to them who type relevant keywords into the search bar. To do this, search engines use “citations.” A local SEO citation is any information on the internet which identifies features of a company, such as its name, address, or telephone number.
You can find business citations all over the web: on the company’s website, social media accounts, and business directories, like Yelp. Search engines collate all of this information and use it to identify a business. The better the agreement between sources, the less ambiguous the company’s identity and the higher the page ranking.
What Types of Local SEO Citations Are There?
Citations fall into three categories.
• Those on local business data platforms. Google’s business data platform is Google My Business. There are others too, including Localeze and Acxiom.
• Geographic and industry-specific listings. Some directories represent specific industries, such as chambers of commerce or guilds. Companies in the relevant trade can list their details with these industry bodies.
• Citations on the wider web. Some companies can earn citations in popular publications, including news sites, blogs, and government databases.
Why Do Local Citations Matter?
There are two generally accepted reasons why local SEO citations are important.
Improve Local SEO
Local SEO, or search engine optimisation for keywords that use local search terms relies heavily on citations. The mentions of a company in relation to a specific geographic area tell search engines that it should feature high in search results.
The quality and number of citations for your company can have a dramatic influence on the rank of your webpages for specific, local search terms. Citations can include all sorts of information about your business. Alongside your business name, address and phone number, they can also include tag lines, your business category, opening hours, driving directions, email addresses linked to your company, fax numbers and so on. When search engines crawl the web, they look for patterns in company data, seeking out firms with the highest number of mentions.
Firms with citations on authority websites also benefit too. The better the sources of company citations, the higher Google and other search engines will rank it. If details about your company are on trusted sites like Yelp or Forbes, then you will rank higher than a competitor whose details aren’t.
Improve Customer Experience
There’s a second, less appreciated but no less critical reason local citations matter: customer experience. Local citations make it easier for your audience to find you and get in touch. By providing business information in multiple places across the web, you make it easier for people to find out about you through their preferred platform.
When citations are accurate, people can quickly find you and get in touch. When they are not accurately, it can negatively affect your reputation and lead to a loss of revenue.
Why You Should Include Citations in Your Marketing Plan
Many businesses neglect to include a citations strategy in their marketing plan. There are several problems with this. First, the business risks inaccurate citations. Anyone can cite your company online, potentially leading to errors. Furthermore, the details about your business may have changed over time, but you have not made the necessary corrections to various sites holding information about your company. Your opening hours, for instance, may have changed, but you might not have updated this across your website, social media and public directories.
The second issue is that you do not develop any strategies for identifying inaccurate data. Again, this hurts both your ranking and reputation by muddying the waters. Neither Google nor your customers are entirely sure how, when and where you do business.
Third, without a proper strategy place, you lose control over how you’re represented on the web. Ideally, all of the publicly available information about your company should be accurate today, not out-of-date or ridden with errors.
Many companies, therefore, take an active approach to local SEO citations. Proactive strategies offer a host of benefits, including the ability to weed out inaccurate data.
Take the example of a company that has just been through a merger or acquisition. After the M&A process, it’s highly likely that several local citations have changed. An active plan enables you to make the necessary adjustments to your online profile so that it doesn’t affect your ranking characteristics.
Businesses that have been through a rebranding can benefit from citation management too. An active approach to citations allows you to weed out all the mentions of your old brand and update them with your new one. You don’t want past references to your company sticking around after you change the name or appearance. You want to present a consistent brand.
If you are unsure how to include citations in your marketing plan, get in touch with us today on 0845 2722350 or visit the Direct Submit to learn more.