A local citation is an online mention of your business that typically includes your business name, address, and phone number.
Local citations are crucial because they help people contact or find your business. It’s also one of the factors search engines use for local SEO rankings.
Why Are Citations Important?
Local citations have two main benefits:
- Making your business name, address, phone number, and other information easy to find increases awareness and the likelihood someone will give you a try.
- Citations from relevant sources, like business directories and local publications, are a positive signal for local SEO. Even though search engines consider other factors, accurate citations from trustworthy sources can help you rank higher for local searches.
What Kinds Of Citations Are There?
Local citations are mentions of your business that either use structured or unstructured data.
While unstructured data is more organic, structured data uses predetermined data fields to share information about businesses in a standardized manner.
Structured citations are what you will typically find on online business directories or social media profiles. These pages use data fields where you can input your business name, address, phone number, hours, and other information.
Social media platforms and directories use the same template for every business listing, making information easy to find. You will often find the abbreviation NAP to refer to this type of listing.
The advantage of structured citations is that information is easy to locate at a glance. A mobile user who is researching local businesses on the go can find your address quickly, and search engines can pull structured data and display it in special result features.
Unstructured citations are organic mentions of your business. There is no comprehensive list of the different types of unstructured citations that exist, but here are a few examples:
- A customer mentioning your business in a tweet
- A local publication sharing an article with the top businesses in a specific category
- A user recommending your business on a message board
- A blogger reviewing your business in a post
How Do I Get Citations?
The good news is that there are probably some local citations of your business online. Major business directory websites like the Yellow Pages, Yelp, or Manta might already have listings for your business.
There are steps you can take to get more citations, ensure that citation data is accurate, and add content to citations to make your business more appealing to local users:
- Claim your Google My Business listing and verify your location.
- Do the same on Bing Places.
- Create profiles on Facebook, LinkedIn, and other relevant social networks for your audience.
- Claim your Yelp listing.
- Claim listings on the Yellow Pages, Manta, and the Better Business Bureau website.
Many directories and aggregator websites share information about businesses. Identify the websites that can give you quality local citations for your niche.
For instance, FindLaw and Justia are popular directories for finding lawyers. Sites like TripAdvisor and FourSquare can give quality citations to restaurants, and car dealerships should claim listings on sites like CarGurus.
You should update your website with your business name, address, and phone number in a structured format in every pages footer. This simple step makes this information easy to find and can help directories create accurate listings in the future.
There are different strategies you can use to get more unstructured citations:
- Partner with bloggers and influencers in your community
- Get involved in local events
- Sponsor a local sports team
- Reach out to your local business community
- Launch a hashtag to encourage social media users to discuss your business
Do My Citations Have To Be Exactly The Same?
User experience is essential when researching local businesses. Consistent citations across different sources will help users contact your business and visit your location.
If users notice that your name, phone number, or address (NAP) differ from one source to another, they will probably look for an alternative.
Accurate and consistent local citations make your business easier to recognize. These citations will help users in their journey by providing them with accurate information.
NAP consistency is also one of the signals search engines use to rank local results. Claiming different business listings to update your NAP and make this information more consistent can help you rank higher.
What If I Move My Location?
If you move to a new location, change your business phone number, or decide to rebrand your business with a different name, you will need to update your local citations.
Start by identifying your business’s local citations, either by looking up your business or using a citation tracker tool.
Update your website and social media profiles with your new information. Add an announcement to your homepage and pinned posts on social media to let people know about the move.
If you use other content marketing strategies, use these channels to talk about your new address, and share updated information about your business.
Look for business listings for the previous tenant of your new address and report them as inaccurate.
If another Google My Business user has verified your new location, updating your address on Google My Business will result in a duplicate location that won’t show up on Google Maps.
You will need to log into Google My Business, remove the duplicate listing, and verify your new location.
You can then update all the different directories that have a local citation for your business. Yelp has an option you can use to indicate that your business has moved or is closing.
Updating unstructured citations might be trickier. Focus on the most recent citations and the ones that bring you the most foot traffic. You can contact publications and bloggers to ask them to update your address.
Keep an eye on new listings that pop up for your business to make sure they use your new address. What are local citations? Local citations are a crucial element of your local SEO campaign.
It would be best to get more citations and ensure that the current ones are accurate to make your business easier to find and increase your rankings in local result.