Citations, or Local Business Listings, are one of the best ways to ensure that your business is visible in Google Maps and search results. BrightLocal, a company that helps improve local rankings for small businesses, did a study of citations and found that the top business in the Google Maps/Business search results has on average 85 citations!
A citation is essentially a reference to your business online. Common citations include Facebook, Google, Bing, and Yahoo. Others include sites such as Yelp, WhitePages, and Mapquest. These services provide information about businesses to online searchers, whether it be directions, reviews, or contact information.
However, many of these companies will gather information about your business whether you volunteer the details or not. If you don’t control the listings, they’ll automatically gather this information from places such as social media and your website. If the information is incorrect, it opens up the opportunity for your listings to be inaccurate. This is common among businesses that have moved.
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!