Local SEO Citations: 4 citation types to help Google trust your site more
If you’ve ventured into the world of local SEO, you’ve no doubt come across the term “citations”. Citations are a vital part of local SEO success, and they’re not as complicated as they sound.
In this article, we’ll give you a brief rundown of what citations are and how they can help to improve your local search rankings.
What is a Citation?
A citation is essentially a reference to your business that contains information such as name, address, and phone number (NAP).
The most common form of a citation is in a business directory, but they can also appear on any other kind of website and on social media.
Why are Citations so Important for Local SEO?
It’s essential to acquire as many high-quality citations for your business as you can. This not only helps to bring in more traffic directly from the directories and other websites you’re listed on, but is also a vital ranking signal for Google and other search engines.
The more high-quality and accurate citations Google finds for your business, the higher it will value your website as a trusted source of products or services.
Citations help search engines to confirm that your business exists and has a genuine physical location. The more mentions of your business there are online, the more relevant and important it appears, and so you’ll be rewarded with a higher position in the search listings. Citations account for around 13% of local ranking factors.
However, it’s crucial that all citations are up to date and accurate. Incorrect information, such as an out of date phone number, could result in a poor-quality user experience. This can have a negative impact on your SEO and business in general.
Types of Citations
There are several different types of citations. For maximum SEO benefit you should aim for a variety of different citation types from high-quality sources:
1. High-Value Citations
Depending on your industry, there will usually be a list of around 25 to 50 sites that are considered high-value sources of citations. For these services and directories, it’s usually worth submitting your business data manually so you can be sure it’s optimised and correct, rather than automating the submission process through a data aggregator.
You can identify high-value citation sources in your industry by doing a “reverse” search. For example, if you run a wedding planning business, you can search for “wedding planning” and see which results come back first for your area.
You can then take the NAP data for each of these results and run it through Google again or a specialist citation finder, such as the one provided by Whitespark, to see which sites are coming up top for citations.
2. Data Aggregators
Data aggregators gather information about businesses and then distribute this data to third-party directories and apps. To create citations via a data aggregator, you create an account and submit your business data. The aggregator will then make this data available to third-party services.
There are four main local data aggregators currently available:
Each aggregator submits data to a different set of services so you’ll need to submit your business information to all of them for optimal coverage. However, you can also use services like BrightLocal and Moz Local to submit to all four aggregators at once.
Using aggregators is a lot quicker than submitting your business information manually to many different websites, but as the process is automated it may mean that some errors and duplicates slip through.
You also have no real control over where your business data is published after you submit it to the aggregator.
3. Niche & Industry Citations
As well as listing your business in more general or geographic business directories, you should try to get some listings in more industry-specific directories.
For example, TripAdvisor is a well-known directory for hotels and restaurants, and Real Self is a community rating and directory website specialising only in cosmetic surgery clinics and doctors.
Whatever industry you operate in, there are sure to be directory sites available to add your listing to. You can also look into getting listed on your local chamber of commerce website and other local business association sites.
4. Unstructured Citations
Business directory listings are usually structured citations. This means they have a set format for every business, such as business name, address, opening hours, and so on. This type of citation is used on all the big directories like Yelp and on Facebook business listings.
Unstructured citations are any other citation that isn’t in a set format, and these are the most common type of citations found on general websites, press releases, blogs, and wikis.
An unstructured citation might look something like this:
Bob’s Bikes is a fantastic bike shop located on Sydney’s North Shore. You can visit them at 233 Market Street, open from 9 am – 5 pm or call 1234567.
The Importance of Verifying your Citations
When you submit your business data to an aggregator, it isn’t just taken at face value. The aggregator will first verify that your data is accurate and up-to-date before it is included in its database and released for publication.
Aggregators will attempt to verify your business data by looking for your NAP information on your website, checking your Google My Business listing, confirming your phone number, and other checks.
This verification process means that it can take several months before your business information is published on sites included in an aggregator network.
Developing a Citation Acquisition Plan
While creating citations is one of the more straightforward ways to improve your local SEO, it can also be very time consuming to submit your data to many different services and to make sure everything is correct and up to date.
For this reason, many businesses choose to outsource the task to a local SEO specialist who can complete the task with speed and efficiency.
Now over to you.
Are you a local business struggling with online visibility? Perhaps you could benefit from boosting your citations and getting a little more trust from Google to show your business higher in the search results. If you’d like to discuss how we can help, get in touch.
Author - Maz Hancock
Maz is a SEO Specialist based on the Gold Coast and enjoys working closely with digital marketing teams and ambitious local business owners to implement SEO in a way that’s results-focused, simple and effective.