Many SEO marketers believe building citations is an important part of local SEO. According to 2018 findings from BrightLocal, local businesses that ranked in the top 10 positions of Google Local had an average of 81 citations. Meanwhile, businesses that were ranked 1st on Google had an average of 86, businesses that ranked 10th had an average of 75.
From the findings above, it’s important that business owners chase citations, but what are they and how do you get them? Read on below as Ricemedia explores local citations and how they help SEO.
What are Citations?
Citations are an online reference to a business that includes the name of a business, its address and phone number. Typically, when we refer to citations, we are talking about a group of business listings that are posted across various websites.
Most citations can be found in an online business directory, but there are different types of citations that exist.
The majority of citation sites offer the opportunity to put a name, address and a phone number, but a lot of websites also allow businesses to include additional information about their services.
Types of Citations
There are several types of citation websites which SEOs and digital marketers debate over which offers the most value to websites. However, there are a few places in which businesses MUST include a listing on to be noticed online:
- Google My Business
- Bing Maps
There are hundreds of websites that list businesses online, but not every site is relevant to your business. That is why citation sites categorise themselves including lawyers, healthcare, estate agents and many more. Chances are that any type of business you name will have an industry-specific citation site.
While you might want to target citations that have the higher domain authority, if the category isn’t relevant to your business, you could get penalised by search engines.
Local Citations isn’t just link building
It’s easy for marketers to throw citations in with link building. While these sites will have a link to your website, the intent of building a citation profile is different. Search engines know the difference between citations and link building techniques. Spamming your business on every citation site is going to see your website penalised rather than rewarded.
Why are Local Citations Important?
There are a few reasons why it’s important to gain local citations for a business.
Improve Local Rankings
Citations are a vital ranking factor for local SEO. Being listed on an online directory that Google trusts increases the trustworthiness of the business.
The quality of listings, the accuracy of the information supplied, and the quality of the directory all factor into Google’s understanding of your online presence. Local citations and SEO go hand-in-hand, so It’s important to pick your online directories wisely rather than just posting yourself everywhere.
Appearing on a Directory Page that ranks well
Sometimes directory pages dominate local search results. Sites like Yelp and Yellow Pages usually rank for certain searches. By joining their list of businesses, you are essentially ranking well on Google.
This will also help you be seen by potential customers that don’t use search engines to find a service they require. Those looking for a plumber near them will end up in the directory to see a list of the options available. Rarely do you see businesses rank for “near me” local searches, so you must be on the directories that Google ranks instead.
Types of Citations
There are two types of citations that you can gain: Structured and Unstructured.
A structured citation lists important details of a business: name, address and phone number (NAP) of a business. This is what you usually see on directory listings and social media profiles. The information is displayed in exactly the same format for every business, with the page built around the data that has been submitted.
An unstructured citation is when a blog post, news article or forum post mentions a business.
How to Build Citations
There are various techniques that you can implement to build your online citation profile.
1. Submit Information Directly to Core Sites
It’s important to submit your information to display on UK core sites including:
- Google Maps/Google My Business
- Apple Maps
- Bing Places
- BT Phone Book
- Thomson Local
It can be a time-consuming task to manually submit your details to these sites, but it will be a rewarding one later when your rankings grow and more traffic comes in.
2. Submit Your Business to Popular Local Industry Sites
With baseline directors sorted from the list above, you should target industry and location specific directories.
If you run a hotel, it makes sense to submit your business to appear on TripAdvisor. If you’ve got a restaurant, submit your site to Yelp.
You should use Google to search for the listings that are most relevant to your business. This is achieved by conducting the following searches:
- [location] chamber of commerce
- [location] business directory
- [industry] business directory
- [industry] business listings
You can narrow down your search with guides like this one found on BrightLocal which features the top local citation sites for each industry.
3. Chase Unstructured Citations
This is the hardest method as someone has to be interested in writing about your business in an online post.
However, you can also find mentions of your business if a website lists who they supply to and get supplied from. If any of your clients have listed you as a supplier, ask them to put in a link to your site.
4. Check Competitor Backlinks
With tools such as Ahrefs and Majestic, you can analyse the domain of your competitors to see which links these sites have that you don’t. The reports from these tools will include ALL the backlinks they have, which will include guest posts, etc. You can filter the information to find the sites that are directories and if you’re not on there, then submit your contact details.
Keep this information handy as well for when you move onto the task of strategic link building.
If you need support building your citations and SEO strategy, the expert team at Ricemedia has the tools at our disposal to find the right directories to target to help you surge up the rankings. Get in touch with us today to improve your online presence.