citations for local seo

With nearly half of all Google searches being local, it’s hard to overstate the importance of local SEO. Making your website the best result for those “near me” searches will have a significant impact on your traffic, lead generation, and sales.

If you’ve been marketing your business online for a while, SEO is nothing new. You’ve likely already set up the right keywords and positioned your brand for local search. It may seem like there aren’t many boxes left to check off, but if you haven’t taken time to work on your citations for local SEO, you could have a golden opportunity to improve your brand even further.

There’s some debate around how they affect search results, but the intangible benefits of citations for brand awareness are worth exploring. Building them is inexpensive and easy when you know how they work. If you haven’t put in the time to boost your presence with local SEO citations, we’ll show you how to get started.

What Are Citations?

A citation is a business listing that can show up on several different websites including social platforms, review sites, and business directories. The most common form is the NAP citation, which includes the name, address, and phone number of the business. Some websites allow more detailed contact information and SEO content.

What Are the Benefits of Citations for Local SEO?

Many SEOs aren’t sure of the exact impact that citations have on getting better search results. But accuracy and consistency can help Google verify your authenticity as a business. That’s crucial when you want to rank on Google Maps for relevant local business searches.

Google crawls directories to understand websites and check information. They won’t help as part of your link-building strategy, but updated citations do tell Google that your business is legitimate. Once they perceive you as an authority, they’ll have more reason to rank you higher.

Accurate and well-planned citations don’t just benefit your relationship with search engines. When your target audience has better information and better access to your brand, you build awareness and establish trust.

Providing access starts with getting citations on popular directories. Users trust websites like Yelp and Yellow Pages when they want to compare local services. If you show up there, you’ll make yourself known to a whole set of users that otherwise wouldn’t have found you.

Having your information on these directories also indirectly helps your Google rankings.

You may have a website and a Google My Business profile, but there’s no guarantee either of them will be visible when a user makes a local search. The major directories, on the other hand, generally get excellent rankings with local searches. You can take advantage of that by tying yourself to those directories and ending up in their shortlists of results.

Potential customers will have an easier time finding your business with well-placed citations. And once they find your business, accurate and robust information will make for a positive experience. It allows customers to contact you conveniently, which can help differentiate your brand.

How to Set Up Local SEO Citations

There are hundreds of places to put citations online, but it’s not worth it to pursue every one. Directories often charge fees to host your information, so you need to be careful to use those that might give you some return. Here are some local SEO citations tips to get you started.

Start with Core Sites

Identifying the proper placement for citations often comes down to your location and industry, but there are a handful of sites that can help any business. Setting up a Google My Business profile is the best starting point to get your name out there. You can also count on quality results from these core sites:

  • Facebook
  • Bing
  • Apple Maps
  • Yelp
  • Yellow Pages
  • Foursquare
  • BBB

Getting on these sites and managing your citation is relatively easy for one person. But to get the most benefit, you need to spread your business information much further.

Using Aggregators

With thousands of places to put your information, manually entering it is impossible in most cases. Aggregators solve the issue by taking your information and supplying it to hundreds of different websites that host business data.

Services like Express Update and Neustar Localeze are free and easy to use. It only takes a few minutes to find your business and claim the listing, along with any duplicates. It’s an efficient way of ensuring that your accurate information is gaining exposure.

Finding Relevant Directories

Aggregators and core sites are great “one-size-fits-all” solutions to start you off, but you need to peg down sites that get the most relevant traffic for your local business. The simplest way of doing this is a Google search.

Search “[your industry] + [location]” and see the top sites. Those are generally the spots that you want to put your listing.

Researching and adding all relevant industry and geo-specific sites can turn into a time-consuming process. To help you handle the chore of finding and managing directory opportunities, you can outsource the job to a third party.

Online tools also let you find lists of relevant websites to put your business listings. These “directories of directories” let you search for your industry and then return a selection of worthwhile sites. Because these directories charge money for listings, you’ll still need to research the most valuable sites on these lists.

Optimizing Citations

There are two basic steps to optimizing your local SEO citations once you place them: make sure they’re consistent and provide as much information as possible.

Consistency is crucial if you want search engines to trust your information. For example, if your business name is inconsistent or your address is misspelled, it may set off an alert with Google and hurt your rankings.

Rich information is even more essential, as it helps both your customers and Google. From a search standpoint, additional keywords in business descriptions or profile images can help your rankings. And with better information, you create transparency and subsequent trust with your customers.

Boost Your Business with Better Citations

Citations for local SEO will improve your brand presence online and your relationship with your target audience. Improving visibility is becoming more difficult as websites vie for positioning, and better citations could give you the edge you need to steal market share and grow your brand.

If you haven’t tapped into the digital marketing potential of citations, we can help you get the most from your investment. Contact our experts at Bipper Media to learn how we can help you build the consistency and authority you need to succeed.

Bipper Media
855 Gaines School Rd
Suite A
Athens, GA 30605