Citations, (also called Local Directory Listings), are a key part of local search optimization and are critical to your local rankings in search engines like Google and BING. They can also help you attract customers from a wide variety of channels across the web. Having many citations that are consistent and all display the same information about your business helps to improve your ranking in local search results. Citations have been an important ranking factor in local search for awhile now, with the accuracy & ‘quality’ of your listings considered the most important. Back in June of 2011 David Mihm published the Local Search Ranking Factors where he noted that 25% of the Top Twenty Local SEO factors were related to citations. In March 2015 BrightLocal released the Expert Citation Survey 2015 where they noted that 55% of the panel experts ranked citations as a critical ranking factor for SEO. Business with more citations rank higher than businesses with none.
So what exactly is a citation? A citation is any mention of your business and address on the web. It can be shown in a variety of ways including:
An example of a citation might be a YELP business review listing on the right side of the search results where your business is listed along with 1 or more reviews but not linked to any website.
Both the how and where your business is listed is important in making sure your website is listed prominently in local search. Citations from well-established and well-indexed directories like Yelp and Superpages help improve the comfort level the search engines have about you and your business.
Citations become even more important in target small business segments like martial arts, heating and air, auto service, etc. Many of these don’t have websites themselves so without that information, the search engines rely whatever information they can find in the listings.
Citations and links from these kinds of websites can dramatically improve your local search engine rankings, especially when they are consistent and accurate. So creating new listings, cleaning up inaccurate ones, and merging duplicates are all critical parts of local search optimization. With hundreds of sites to go through the process can be tedious and time consuming. There are third-party citation services that will handle this for you
However the act of manually going through each site to find, update or add a listing yourself is very time consuming and repetitive. But there is help at hand! In this post we compare 5 well-known local listing services and present essential facts that you need to know so that you can select the best service for your needs.
There are plenty of places to find comprehensive lists of these directories with priorities and rankings and even third-party services who will submit and update them for you. In fact we use them to handle this for our clients so we’re happy to help point you in the right direction!