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If you’re a business owner, then you know that online visibility is key. You want your website to show up at the top of search engine results pages, and you want potential customers to be able to find you easily, so you can get more local lead generation..
One way to improve your online visibility is by building local citations. But what are local citations, and why do they matter?
Local citations are an important part of your online presence. In fact, they’re one of the most important factors that Google uses to determine how relevant and useful a site is.
In this blog post, we will discuss the benefits of local citations and how you can create them for your business.
What are Local Citations?
A local citation is any mention of your business on the web. This could be in a business directory, or on an industry-specific site, a blog or any other local website.
A local citation can include your website URL, your business name, your phone number, and your physical address.
Local citations can be found on directories, review sites, social media platforms, and even in blog posts.
Here’s an example of what a typical Google Local Pack looks like on a google search page:
5 Benefits of Local Citations:
Help Improve your Online Visibility
One of the benefits of local citations is that they help improve your online visibility. When customers search for businesses like yours on Google, Bing, or Yelp, having a strong presence in these directories can help you appear higher in the search results.
A strong presence is created by having consistent citations throughout the web. If you have many different listings with conflicting information, it confuses customers and search engines alike, which can hurt your rankings. Bright Local found that 63% of consumers say that finding incorrect information would actively stop them from choosing your business, including 66% for incorrect phone number, 60% address, and 49% business name.
Local Citations are Cost Effective
Compared to paying per click (PPC), using a business directory to attract attention online is extremely cost-effective, especially if you’re looking for local results.
Many directories allow local businesses to submit listings for free, with paid versions for extra features.
Possibly the most important citation, is your Google Business Profile listing. This is a free listing provided by Google that allows you to add or claim your business toward Googles directory.
They Help Attract New Customers
Another benefit of local citations is that they help increase your web traffic. By appearing higher in the search results, you’ll make it easier for customers to find your business. This leads to the opportunity to get more clicks to your website.
Local Citations Can Put You Ahead of Competition
Odds are, your competition is paying attention to their local business listings. If you’re not taking advantage of yours, you could be missing out on valuable opportunities that the competition has taken advantage of.
Customers want to be able to find the best option, the easiest way possible. If your competition is making it easier for online searches to find them, Google will reward that.
Improve Your Business Reputation
Most local business directories allow users to post reviews, like your Google Business Profile. These reviews can improve your business reputation and help attract new customers.
We know that some reviews can be negative. However, if the right steps are taken to respond to criticism, most customers appreciate a business making an honest effort to resolves issues and your reputation will remain in tact.
Without citations, your business could appear as a questionable, unestablished business to potential customers, turning them away.
How to Build Local Citations
There are a few different ways to get started with building local citations.
The first is by claiming your business on popular directories, like Google Business Profile, Yelp, Facebook, and industry specific sites.
A great local citation must be viewed as credible and reliable by people browsing the internet and by Google.
When creating or claiming a business directory citation, it is important to have three crucial pieces of information about your company consistent.
- Business Name – This should be your branded name. Don’t try and add any extra words, some sites will penalize you for this.
- Local Phone Number – This should match the number listed on your website.
- Physical Address – This should also be consistent with the address listed on your website.
How to Find Local Citations and Check that they’re Correct
When dealing with local citations, there are many that you could check. In reality, you only really need to check on the major ones on your own. These include your Google Business Profile, Facebook, Apple Maps, and industry specific listings. Moz has more information on where to find core structured citations.
Google Business Profile
What used to be called Google Places and Google My Business, is now Google Business Profile and is the first place you need to be listed. Google remains the current king of search engines, having 65.4% of search queries in the U.S. In fact, Google receives nearly 6 billion searches per day!
Your Google Business Profile connects you directly with customers, whether they’re looking for you on Search, Maps or Google+ so you are knocking out multiple birds with one stone. Setting up is as simple as marking your location, creating a profile, and then verifying it offline through a code they send you via snail mail. Once you enter that code online you are ‘Live’!
Google Local Citations
Google Local Citations refer to the online mentions of your business name, address, and phone number (NAP) across various directories, websites, and online platforms. These citations serve as valuable indicators to search engines, helping them verify the legitimacy and relevance of your business.
Bing Places for Business
Bing is responsible for about 20% of all searches in the United States and another 13% through Yahoo, which Bing also powers. Ignore them at your own risk. The setup process for Bing Places is identical to Google Business Profile. You simply add your listing, verify it via mail, and then publish.
Even though Bing powers Yahoo search, the Yahoo Local business directory is managed separately. Even though you may have already added it through Bing you still need to register with Yahoo as well. One unique element is that Yahoo no longer manages its own business listing and claiming updates. They now use Yext Powerlistings to add or update businesses to their platform.
Yelp is a must for business owners local or not. Yelp is one of the best places on the Internet for consumers to find a quality review and has become the dominant force when it comes to social reviews. That’s what makes it unique and it allows you to maximize word of mouth and interact with your customers in a different way. Yelp gets 142 million unique visitors per MONTH
- There are 2.1 million businesses listed with nearly 78 million reviews
- 80% of Yelp users intend to make a purchase
We all know that our days of looking through that large Yellow Pages book sitting by the phone are gone. Why get off the couch when we can just grab our phone and do a quick search? Since online search is the primary tool to finding businesses today, it’s vital to make sure your business is listed in a variety of places where your customers may be looking. Using these free online business listings is an important piece of your overall inbound marketing strategy and just one more tool to help you meet your customers where they are.
Apple Business Connect
Apple Business Connect is a free online portal that serves as a valuable tool in managing, measuring, and expanding your business. As of March 2023, it is important to note that the platform for creating and editing your business’s Place Card is currently available only on desktop.
The Place Card enables potential customers to locate your business through Apple Maps, Siri, and Apple Wallet, among other channels. The best part? It’s completely free to claim and use, regardless of the size of your business. Showcase your offerings and stand out from competitors with this powerful platform.
How Do Inaccurate Citations Affect Your Rankings?
The problem is that inaccurate citations actually cause you to lose rankings in many areas, such as Google Maps search. The search engines see the inconsistencies, and don’t know which are correct. This causes the search engines to lose trust in your business in comparison to others with more accurate listings.
Anyone who has searched for a business or service in a search engine, particularly Google, has seen how much the distance from your current location makes a difference in your results. But you may have noticed that only three map search results appear in the Google Maps results. This ends up causing lots of competition, especially in larger cities.
Citations can help here! The more citations you have that match, the more reputable your business will look to the Google Search results. Even the small listings help! (Just a note: citations are not the only criteria for search. Other criteria include Google reviews, proximity to searcher’s location, and your Google My Business listing content.)
This is especially important for small businesses trying to compete with larger corporations. Being able to boost your local rankings for the areas you serve can give you a leg up, especially with good citations across other sites!
Local Citation Management Services
There are also local citation management services that will help to ensure that your citations are up-to-date and consistent. These can be a big help, especially if you have multiple locations or franchisees.
Here at 828, we offer Local SEO services that will take care of not only your local citations, but your local listings as well. Over half of searches have local intent, so its important to make sure your not overlooking your local seo.
Frequently Asked Questions
How to do Google Map Citations
If you want to do a Google Map citation, you will need to claim or create your Google Business Profile. When filling this out, make sure to list as much information about your business as possible, and as always, make sure that your NAP information (name, number, phone) is consistent with what’s listed on your website.
Can a Google Business listing Help With SEO?
Yes! A Google Business listing can absolutely help with your SEO. First, it helps to increase the chances of your business being found in a local search. Secondly, it provides you with an opportunity to include additional information about your business, such as opening hours, photos, and services offered, while giving you a strong citation back to your website.
Those who have their business listed on popular directories, will be favored on Google over those who do not.
How Many Citations is Good for SEO?
There is no definitive answer, but more citations will generally be better than fewer. Quality matters as well, so if you have to choose, try to focus on directories that are relevant to your business and have a good reputation.