If your local SEO rankings have been drowning, to say the least, it’s obvious you need more targeted citations.
We’ll dive into all the details in a moment. But first…
What is a Citation?
In simple terms, a citation is a mention of your business on another website. When it comes to citations, it doesn’t have to link to you. Unlike backlinks that are clickable.
A proper citation would include your business name, address, phone number, and other details about your business.
There are 2 major forms of citations:
- Structured citations
- Unstructured citations
Structured citations are business mentions on business directories that hold details of many businesses in a locality. See an example of a structured citation below.
Unstructured citations are mentions of your business on other web properties like blogs, websites, event listings, databases, etc. Below is an example of an unstructured citation.
NAP Consistency of Google Map Citations
NAP stands for Name. Address. Phone number.
And all of these relate to your business.
When a search user performs a local search (e.g., plumbers in San Diego), the search engine looks for relevant citations of local businesses to be able to rank websites that best fit the search.
However, when your business has different details on different business directories, it can confuse search engines.
Your business name, business address, and business phone number are important details that should be consistent across all your business citations. This enables search engines to confirm your business as a single entity.
How Do Google Map Citations Improve Your Local Search Rankings?
Citations help to show your business’ authenticity and credibility in a given city, state, or country. As a local business, you should aim to add your business to as many quality business listings as possible.
In the case of building citations, the quantity is just as important as the quality of the citations your business has.
In a study by BrightLocal, they found that businesses that appear at the top 3 of local searches have an average of 85 local citations.
In most cases, the number of citations you need will also depend on the competition for local search rankings in your market.
How to Discover Citation Sources and Platforms to Get Listed On:
Not all business directories are created equal. Some pass more SEO juice or value than the others.
When you’re in doubt, use these tips when selecting a directory to be listed on:
1. Dig Deeper into Google Search
To know the right citations for your local business, you have to carry out a lot of research. And that involves using Google search to find citation sources.
There are ways you can do this and I'll explain below:
a). Search for general business listings: There are popular local business listings like Yelp that are available to all businesses worldwide. You can search for these listings using Google.
Some examples of these general business directories are:
- Yellow Pages
ii). Search for local business listings: These are listings that are present in your locality. For instance, if you run a business in San Diego, California, there are local listings for businesses in the city and you should add your business to them.
If you own an insurance website in Portland, for example, you can find directories to get cited on like this:
iii). Search for your competitor's listings: To do this, search for an important business term. You can identify 2 of the competitors that rank higher than you for local searches.
All you have to do is then put their detail such as address or telephone number into the search box. This will show you the listings websites they appear on.
You should also add your business to those directories.
Google is a big tool and you can find enough citation sources by using the search engine.
2. Leverage Core Structured Citations
For any business building citations, there are some business directories that your business must appear if you want to maximize your visibility.
These directories are usually the most trusted by online consumers (i.e., your target audience)
It's difficult to have a high local search ranking without a presence on these listings. You should have a list of about 10 to 20 local listings that your business must appear on.
Some local listings that should be a part of your core structured citations are:
- Yellow Pages
- Apple Maps
- Yahoo! Local
After adding your business to these core platforms, you can then search for more directories in your locality and those relevant to your industry as well. And get listed there.
This is an example of a citation on Yelp.
3. Use Industry-specific Platforms
If you offer professional services, then your business should appear on citations that are meant for your profession.
Appearing on these citations will give your business more credibility as a qualified professional.
Most industry-specific citation platforms go through a thorough process to vet professionals who appear on their listings. Some examples of industries with their citation websites are:
- Rate MDs
This is where you find famous attorneys like Gary Miller listed.
4. Expand Citation Sources with Moz Local
If you run your business in the United States or Canada, Moz Local offers citation services for local businesses.
The service can help you publish and manage your local listings through its partner data aggregator sites like Infogroup, Acxiom, Localeze, and Factual.
One of the main issues that businesses can face with their citations is inconsistent information across various platforms.
With this service, you can eliminate such an issue as they help you to manage your information on different directories. You'll also be alerted when there’s a change to your details in any of your listings.
Another benefit with a service like this is that they help local businesses to find local directories that would be difficult to find if you have to search manually.
When your business appears on many directories, it can be difficult to track them all manually. Services like this make it easier.
5. Guest Post on Authoritative Blogs
One way to boost your website’s authority is to write guest posts and get published on authoritative blogs.
Guest blogging or Guest posting exposes your website to a new audience and potential customers.
To improve your guest blogging efforts and get better results, you should write for authoritative websites that are in your locality.
This gives your business a bigger authority in that area. Another added advantage to guest posts is that you gain backlinks through the author bio.
If you’re smart, you could get backlinks from within the content. This link is often more powerful than bio links -- because it’s surrounded by relevant texts.
As you already know by now, backlinks are not created equal. A backlink from an authoritative website will give your website a big SEO boost in your industry and locality.
This is an example of a guest post by Dr. Sharonrose Samelak. It’s a post about Chiropractic care in pregnancy on “Bodies for Birth” which is relevant to the audience and medical care.
6. Improve Your Website SEO
Your website is one of your most important ways to build citations, especially unstructured citations. Whatever reputation you’re building online, having a website is an important way of achieving it.
So, what are the tips you need to improve your website for local SEO?
i). Add NAP to your website: You should have important details such as Name, Address, and Phone number on your website pages. You can have it on every page in the footer. Also, add it to your contact page.
This helps website visitors to easily find your contact details.
ii). Publish quality content regularly: When you produce and publish content focused on your business and locality, you begin to gain a reputation in your area.
You’ll see more mentions of your business on industry websites which have their impact as unstructured citations.
iii). Have a good website user experience: User Experience (UX) helps you to keep and satisfy visitors who come to your website.
If you’re new to this concept, you can get started in two effective ways:
- Have a mobile-optimized site
- Optimize your page loading times
You can quickly test your website to see if it’s mobile-optimized or not. Use the Google Mobile-friendly Test Tool.
Simply enter your website address and click the “RUN TEST” button below the search bar.
The tool will analyze your website and give you results. If your site isn’t mobile-friendly, then you’ll see a page like this:
The tool also suggests possible tweaks you can do to achieve mobile-friendliness for your site. Better yet, install a modern mobile-responsive WordPress theme (if you’re a WordPress user). This should fix most mobile-related design issues.
7. Add Your Business to Government Websites
One source you should add your website to is government websites. In most countries, there are government databases for local businesses. You should add your business to these websites.
The requirements for getting listed on a Government-owned local directory are high.
As a result, it boosts your business’ authenticity when you appear on these websites. One example of such portal is the Chamber of Commerce in your city, state, or country.
8. Pay Attention to Data Aggregators
These are companies that have a database of businesses. They cater to both business owners and those looking for local businesses.
Data aggregators usually verify businesses to ensure their contact details are accurate.
Four common data aggregators in the United States are Infogroup, Acxiom, Neustar/Localeze, and Factual.
Other data aggregators are Telelistas in Brazil, YPG in Canada, and Paginas Amarillas in Latin America. There are many data aggregators in various countries and regions.
Note that in some cases, data aggregators may have the wrong information about your business. When this happens, the wrong information may be duplicated to many sources online.
That’s why you must tread carefully when using them.
When your business is listed, it’s your responsibility to track your business information on these data aggregators. You can always contact the site admin to correct or change your address.
Building citations is not the same process for every business.
Because each business is serving a particular set of people in a particular location. One rule to have in mind while building citations is to build citations where your potential customers are likely to find them.
You should also watch your competitors and see which sites and platforms they’re building their citations.
First of all, build your core citations. And add other area-based and industry-specific citations to the mix.
With these steps, you can increase your local search ranking and reach more potential customers.
Building citations can be daunting. It takes at least 10 minutes to get listed in one directory. Now you need about 80 citations to rank in Google local map pack, based on research. That’s a lot of work. And do you even have that time?
Good news is, we can help you.