Including local citations as a part of the local SEO strategy is always a vital element in creating a local SEO foundation.
But the real question is, do local citations still matter nowadays?
Yes, local citations matter as they assist the customer in finding their way to the physical store or getting in touch with you. Local citations are usually present on social networking sites, directories, apps, review sites, and many more. Citations include online listings mentioning the name, address, and phone number (NAP), and the business owners use them as foundational links for improving local SEO.
Local citation listings, also called NAP listings, help customers discover and explore businesses through local search directories. These listings assist in creating the website’s authority, trust, and relevancy. In other words, citations are exceptionally vital for the online growth of your business. With the help of citation building, you can gain both the search engine’s and users’ trust for your business.
Do you still need to build local business citations?
Then, you are missing out on enormous opportunities to get your business discovered locally. Want to know more about how citations matter for SEO in local businesses? Read on below to know everything related to it.
What Is Local SEO Citation?
Local business citation is a business’ online reference data through their name, address, and phone number (NAP). A local citation is a local directory for businesses to offer their most significant information related to their brand. Citations can be present either on industry-centric platforms or in a business directory. It assists the users in finding the relevant business information on the internet, also impacting the local search results ranking.
Local citations offer accurate data to search engines to create a legitimate and trustworthy presence. Top search engines like Google rely on the best local citations for collecting business data, validating them, and improving their ranking in the local SERPs.
Why Citations Matter for Local SEO?
Local business citations help business owners in ranking their brands higher in local search queries. With a higher local search engine ranking, potential customers can easily explore your business. Now, do you want to know more about why citations matter for local SEO? Let us explore the reasons one by one.
1. Improving Local Rankings
Citations provide businesses with a better chance of showing up in the local ranking. Citation is one of the most significant ranking factors for local SEO. Search engines like Google use different crawlers and bots to compare the different business information referred to as NAP and other data that is present on the website. It will validate and authenticate the information related to the brand in all the local listings and maximize all the marketing efforts for local search engine optimization.
2. Building Trust with Search Engines
Local citations help in the verification of the business website to the search engines and provide information about where your business is present. It proves that your business exists, is genuinely operating in that area, and helps to build trust with the search engines. When your citations are present on several online business directories like the local chamber of commerce, search engines will know that your business is authentic and includes precise NAP data.
For instance, search engines will understand your location with local citations and will place your website with the local competitors.
3. Builds Trust with Potential Customers
You might want your potential customers to find your business as easily as possible, and that will only be possible with local citations. Most of the online customers do local searches to find local businesses for their requirements. Thus, local citations can help those customers to find your brand without hassle. In other words, local business citations act like mini testimonials that tell online users that the information they are looking at is completely true. It also increases the credibility and trust of the potential customers.
For instance, according to Gitnux analysis, businesses having Google My Business profile have a 94% more chance of getting viewed by potential customers compared to those who do not have any listings on it.
4. Increases Traffic and Conversions
You might be wondering what can be the next benefit of citation after building trust with search engines and potential customers.
Well, it has increased conversions and organic traffic.
First, you have to clean the entire website’s on-page SEO and upgrade it. Next, concentrate on claiming and updating the business information on different citation sites. By doing these two upgrades in your local listing, you can increase your organic traffic and conversions. This is due to the fact that the UTM parameters present in the GMB listing will release that traffic compared to other organic traffic present in Google Analytics.
For instance, you have a restaurant that many local potential customers are still to find out about due to the absence of local citations. Due to poor on-page SEO, the website also got lost in Google Maps. Even though there are few local restaurants to compete with, you do not have much business going around. The only solution to this problem is to improve your Google search results by building citations.
5. Extend Brand Reach
Local directories online allow the user to search for a particular business category by filtering the results. Thus, business owners can connect and communicate with potential customers looking for services or products with the help of accurate local citations. If your listing is present in Google My Business profile, your business might be automatically present in smaller listing directories. These smaller listing sites find information from the reputed listing websites without getting any input from you. Thus, for extensive brand reach, you should maintain proper citation management.
How to Get Citations to Boost Your Local Search Visibility?
If you want your business directory listing on the citation sites to boost your search visibility, follow the below ways.
1. Claim Your Google My Business Page
Google My Business page is a free business listing online platform that assists in ranking higher in local search engines. It establishes your business as a legitimate and credible brand online, thus building a strong customer base. Business owners can claim Google My Business page to improve their online presence recognition and brand awareness. Through My business page, you can offer a robust and fully optimized information citation set to potential online customers.
For instance, to claim your business page, you have to first fill out your profile by providing all the relevant information and address for locating it on Google Maps. After that, verify the profile and keep it updated.
2. Use Local Business Schema Markup
Local Business Schema markup includes the properties and types present in the schema.org vocabulary for defining and categorizing local business information. Using Local Business Schema in your website can translate human-readable content to machine-readable content. To use it, you have to first add the necessary properties. Follow all the guidelines related to Google’s structured citations. Finally, deploy and test your markup.
3. Take Advantage of Social Media
Listing through social media helps to focus on local audiences and their corresponding area. Social media such as Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, Yelp, X, and many more have proved to be beneficial in recognizing and improving local audiences organically and efficiently. Social media local listings engage with the potential customers of your town or city. It helps to concentrate more on the local audiences and speak positively about your services and products.
For instance, reap the benefits of social media by using targeted advertisements and related hashtags, joining local groups, celebrating the local community, and many more.
4. Use Local Listing Services
Adding your business to websites for local citations matters as it is a good strategy to gain visibility and improve your local online presence. Citations are key to the algorithms used by search engines to display relevant information while searching for services or products online. By using these citation sources, you can improve the local search engine rankings and thus find potential customers.
You can also use industry-centric directories for catering to the specific geographic area or niches of the business. These sites might include more niche audiences and will be helpful in marketing.
For instance, if you have a healthcare business, you can list it on local sites like Vitals, RateMDs, HealthGrades, and many more for niche citations.
5. Ensure NAP Consistency
Having consistent business information (NAP) is vital for local SEO. As evident from the name, NAP includes the name, address, and phone number of a business that determines the accuracy and relevancy of any business. When you have consistent NAP information throughout numerous local business directories, Google trusts that data and displays it when the searchers search with the particular keywords related to the business.
Thus, businesses should regularly update and maintain their NAP to enhance their chances of getting found online by potential customers.
6. Use Data Aggregators
Data aggregators are defined as websites to distribute and collect business data to various search engines and directories on the business owner’s behalf. This business data helps Google to provide precise information, thus improving its online presence and attracting more customers.
The most common data aggregators where you can submit your business information include Data Axle, Foursquare, Neustar Localeze, and Factual.
Common Mistakes with Local Citations
Local citations still matter in local SEO, but some businesses need to correct some things frequently that hinder the efforts for higher search engine rankings. Let us check out some of them below.
1. Inconsistent Information
The name, address, and phone number (NAP) of a business are the foundation of online local citations. The most common mistake that most businesses make is to provide inconsistent information across several platforms and directories. It needs to be clarified for the potential customers and the search engines. Otherwise, it might lead to reduced credibility and also impact the local search engine rankings. Thus, make sure all your NAP information is updated and consistent across different directories.
2. Ignoring Customer Reviews
Most online purchasers look at customer reviews while searching for local businesses. They tend to click on those businesses’ websites that have higher ratings and positive reviews. Thus, always include Google reviews in your citations to have a higher search visibility. Since Google reviews are associated with the Google My Business profile page, Google will definitely look at your citations while determining the local SEO ranking. Thus, reply on time to all your reviews to have a positive impact.
3. Incorrect Category Listing
Business citation directories and Google Business profiles allow business owners to select the relevant category to their business while setting up their accounts. Always think about the type of services and products you offer and select the category listing accordingly. If you pick an incorrect category, Google will have difficulty understanding and displaying your business in the relevant results.
4. Not Using Industry-Specific Directories
Picking up the correct directory plays a vital role in local citation. Many business owners choose incorrect industry-centric directories and thus waste all their efforts by listing low-quality and irrelevant directories. Research and identify the best directories that come with a good reputation and are related to your niche industry.
5. Neglecting to Update Information
Once you have listed your business on the citation directories, it is important to audit them regularly. Make sure that your citations remain consistent and precise. Thus, maintain the citations with regular audits by checking duplicate listings or outdated NAP information. Address the mistakes immediately to avoid any informational discrepancies.
6. Failing to Add a Working Hyperlink
Working hyperlinks of your website in the citations is necessary to pass on the link juice for local SEO. In this way, search engines and users will know where to go if they like your citations.
Local Citation Link Building
Local citation link building is the procedure of acquiring backlinks for your business website by getting cited or mentioned in online directories and other websites. High-quality links from authoritative and reputed local listing sites are valuable for enhancing the business reputation and local search rank.
Local citation link building also assists in improving the business reputation and local search ranking in Google Maps and other listing services. If you can get links from geographically closer sites to your business, you will have more chances of getting indexed by Google compared to many other competitive keywords.
For instance, you have an online business in Detroit. If you want to improve your local rank simply by citations, then try to get links from websites located nearby Michigan.
What’s Next After Getting Local Citations?
After getting the local citations, tracking their performance and status is vital. You can use different tools with open APIs in the online citation directories to check if the listings are alive or not. Businesses can lose citations due to different reasons. Thus, it is vital to check their status and performance from time to time.
1. Are Local Citations A Google Ranking Factor?
Google’s primary aim is to offer the most reliable and best-related answers to the searchers. Thus, Google uses local business listings and citations as a signal in the local search ranking and local Finder/Pack.
2. Are Online Review Platforms Local Citations?
Yes, online review platforms like Google Reviews, Trip Advisor, and Yelp can generate local citations. Since these platforms include the NAP and other related business information, search engines consider these data highly. It is particularly helpful while evaluating the regional credibility and presence.
3. How Do I Manage My Local Citations?
You can manage your local listings on different review sites, city directories, social media channels, industry directories, and many more in three ways: by manual updates, by an SEO agency, or by automatic software updates.
4. Where My Business Should Be Listed?
You can list your business profile for free on websites like Google My Business, Bing Places, Yelp, Facebook, Apple Maps, Dun and Bradstreet, Foursquare, LinkedIn, Yellowpages, and other industrial directories.
6. Can Too Many Citations Negatively Affect My SEO?
It can be tough to maintain and update all the citations in the local search ecosystems. With too many user suggestions, aggregators, manual errors, and many other elements, Google sometimes cannot trust that the information they are encountering about the business location is reliable and accurate. Thus, creating a GMB profile is vital for offering the only truth about your business to Google. So, too many local search citations will never negatively affect the SEO if you can manage and update all of them efficiently and simultaneously.
Citations are the publication of the core business information online, influencing the user discovery about the brand and improving the search rankings. When you can use the citations appropriately, it will impact the reputation, relevancy, and ranking of the website. Due to high-value local citations, it is significant to engage with authentic and reliable platforms. Whether you are a brick-and-mortar shop, an online brand, or a service-centric business, a strong, sustainable, and ethical citation is one of the best ways to make your local SEO campaign stronger.