Local SEO can be incredibly valuable for businesses of all types and sizes. The higher up your business ranks in Google’s Map Pack the more people will visit both your store and website.
There are a lot of ways to optimize your local SEO presence. One of them is creating citations. But what exactly are citations and how do they help with your local SEO efforts.
What is a Citation?
A citation in local SEO terms is any reference of your physical business found online. Typically, citations are found on business directories, but you can also create a citation of your business on Youtube, Facebook and other platforms.
A citation must include at least three important details of your business:
- Phone Number
These are absolutely essential and a citation isn’t really a citation without them. That’s because these are the three things that Google looks for. A citation can include more information, however, like your website URL and your business’ opening times.
Get Your Citation in the Right Places
The hard part about citations isn’t just creating them, it’s building them in the right places. THe vast majority of citations that you create will be made on online business directories which act as online yellow pages.
Most of these will be national or even international and contain businesses of all types. Some, however, will be dedicated to specific industries or geographic areas. Because of this, you don’t want to create citations willy nilly. There will be some websites where your citation isn’t relevant and it isn’t worth creating one. Not only will it add no value but it could even confuse Google.
You should also take a look at the authority of the website when creating citations. Prioritize high authority websites when creating citations and bear in mind that it might be worth creating citations on very low authority websites.
Confused as to where to create citations? Start with these ten websites:
- Google My Business
- Apple Maps
- LinkedIn Company Directory
- Better Business Bureau
Optimizing Your Citation for Search Engines
For your citations to be worthwhile, you will need to include your business’ NAP (it’s name, address and phone number). These are the most important pieces of information for you to provide.
But you want to be careful about how you write them. Every time you write your business’ name, address and phone number, it should be written in exactly the same way and format. Inconsistencies can confuse Google and cause your rankings to drop.
In some cases, directories will give you the opportunity to add more information to your listings. This can include:
- Business hours
- Email address
- Company description
- Multimedia (i.e. photos, videos)
- An overview of your products and/or services
You should always take the opportunity to add more information where possible. This won’t just provide Google with more information to help rank you, but it can also provide potential customers with the information they need to choose your business.