Today you’re going to learn more about one of the prominent local ranking factors for businesses – Local Citations.
If you are a local business owner or a Digital Marketer working for a brick and mortar location, then you know how important it is to have visibility in the local map pack in your town.
Attention Digital Marketers: We have a list of some of the Best, Fastest and FREE (Did we mention Free?) Local citation sites at the end of this blog post.
Imagine you are an Ice Cream Parlour Owner (I know, we can dream can’t we?) business owner looking in your own town for a search term like “Ice Cream Shoppe Near Me”. But your location doesn’t even show up? How will that impact the foot traffic to your store?
After reading this article, you will have a clear understanding of what local citations are, how you can benefit from them, and why they are so important?
Let’s dive right in.
What is a Local Citation?
Local Citations are simply any mention of a business on the web. A local citation usually contains business name, phone number, address, email, zip or postal code, and website address.
Local citations can appear in numerous forms, for example:
- Company name.
- Company name & phone number.
- Company name, phone number, & address.
- Company name, phone number, address, & website.
- Company name & website.
- Company phone number.
An ideal local citation should be a combination of company name, address, and phone number, or NAP.
An effective citation building strategy is one of the most critical aspects of local SEO.
Search for any service-based keyword, and you will witness the dominance of local business listings in the search engine results page.
Why do Local Citations matter?
Relevant citations in a reasonable quantity increase the reach of your business, which can result in web, phone, and foot traffic, culminating in transactions.
In today’s era, buyers frequently use business listings to contact a business to find products and services. However, inaccurate or old citations can also misdirect potential customers, leading to loss of revenue.
Search engines like Google and Bing also use citations to verify the existence of your business. If your business has various citations from credible sources, it will signal the search engines that your business is real and legitimate.
In a nutshell, Local citations build trust, authority, relevancy, and improve the chances of your business to rank in local search results.
Types of Local Citations
There are two types of local citations, namely – Structured or Unstructured.
A Structured Citation is a mention of your business information (Name, Address, Phone number) on business listing directories.
The format is consistent for all the listings on the site. Usually, all business listing directories accept business information from users and create a listing for them. Some examples of websites for structures citations:
Unstructured citation is your business information (NAP) on any website, blog, or app that is not explicitly created for making business listings.
Common examples where one can spot unstructured citations are blog posts, social media profiles, forum threads, news articles, wikis, online magazines, etc.
And here is an example of an unstructured citation:
“The Beatles Hut is a fantastic restaurant in New York City. Their phone number is (888)888-8888. Our family loves to eat at the Beatles Hut, and we visit it regularly. I highly recommend it.”
You can notice that no link to any website is given above. A citation does not need to have a link in it.
There are endless sources for creating unstructured citations. Some sources include YouTube, Podcasts, Guest Posts – all of these can help you establish trust and build authority for your business.
What is a NAP?
NAP is an abbreviation for three details about your Business – Name, Address, and Phone Number. You will also come across (NAP+W), which stands for NAP + website.
As a customer, NAP is the only information required to get in touch with a business. People who are not very comfortable with technology often use local directories to find a phone number to call.
Why does clarity of NAP matter?
As we said earlier, maintaining citation consistency is very important, and it impacts your local SEO efforts. Every citation should have the same business name, address, and Phone number. If your business has inconsistent citations, it is time for you to timely strategize their retrieval.
According to the Local Search Ranking Factors survey done by Moz, NAP is a vital factor of the on-page SEO signals that account for almost 13% of the results factors.
Do you know that NAPs can also be a significant negative local search ranking factor?
Yes, you read that right. Mismatched NAP citations account for nearly 41% of total ranking issues.
The most common reason for inconsistent citations is a change in the name, phone number, or address at a later stage. Now, if you already have local citations for your business and you are planning to make any changes to your business details, you must update the changes on all the business listings.
A simple solution for this is to conduct a NAP consistency analysis for your business.
Accurate citations can boost your organic and local pack rankings
Citations are still an influential ranking factor, and they influence your rankings in the local pack and organic search results.
Leading search engines like Google and Bing trust the key business listing websites and directories. They gather information about a business from these trusted sources.
Citation Consistency is Crucial
If the collected information is consistent and accurate, search engines will give more importance to it in the search engine results page.
That being said, search engines are smart enough to understand most abbreviations. Some standard abbreviations that can be correctly read by search engines include:
Aly (Alley), Apt (Apartment), Ave (Avenue), Bsmt (Basement).
You can check out the complete list of acceptable abbreviations posted by Whitespark.
Also here we found some of the best local citation sources online for your local business:
People now rely more and more on local searches to discover businesses. If you want to be found online, you need to boost your local SEO efforts.
Local citation building is not a “one time only” project. You will have to work on your overall SEO strategy if you want to rank higher in the organic search and the map pack. Start now so that your business does not get left behind.
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