Local SEO and citations – a quick guide to everything you should know

Are you searching for ways to improve your local visibility and win more business from local and mobile consumers as we head into 2021? Google data shows that around half of searches are for local businesses – and with local search having a high rate of intent, anything you can do to improve your local pack visibility is well worth the time. Part and parcel of your local SEO strategy, local citations are a quick and easy concept to get to grips with and a quick tactic to implement when you want to shore up your local visibility.

Don’t make the mistake of thinking that local SEO and local pack visibility isn’t important now that the global pandemic has forced many consumers to revert to online shopping. Google’s most recent data confirms that searches for ‘available near me’ have increased by more than 100% in the last 12 months. with 67% of consumers careful to confirm that an item is in stock online first before venturing out. With most of us urged to stay local due to continuing restrictions, local SEO is still a vitally important way to drive sales.

You’ll need to know what local citations are, what they can be used for and how to accrue them if you’re going to put them to work for your business. Read on for our guide to everything you need to know – and how to get started as soon as you finish this article.

What are local citations?

Good news- a local citation can be easily described. It is simply a mention of your business name, its website address and physical address on other websites. Not all local citations will include all of those pieces of information (although the more detail the better should be your rule of thumb). It can be any combination of your business name, its phone number, street address, post code phone number and web site URL.

Where can you find local citations?

Due to the nature of the information contained with a local citation, you’ll find them in various places around the web. This means there’s lots of options for creating local citations too. Common sources of local citations include directory sites such as the Yellow Pages, Foursquare, Yelp, Google My Business and Apple Maps. In addition to general directories, industry specific sites such as TripAdvisor, local newspapers and social media profiles such as your Facebook Business Page and Instagram profile are all sources of local citations.

What do local citations do?

As you might expect, local citations are useful for consumers who want to find a local business. They are valuable to businesses because of their local SEO power. Local citations are used by Google and other search engines to verify your business – both in terms of its authenticity and its address and contact info. The more local citations you have, the more credible your business appears. If all citations provide the same address, phone number, zip code and website, the search engine can also be confident that the information it is presenting to its users is accurate.

As local search and ‘near me’ searches become ever more popular due to mobile browsing, this usefulness and accuracy becomes more important. If you are competing against another local business for a Google Map listing spot, Google is more likely to rank your site higher than a competitor if that competitor has fewer citations, but all other factors are equal.

If your business doesn’t have its own website – if you are a local restaurant, a hairdresser, a bakery or shop for example- local citations become even more important. Not only do they give the search engines validated information about your business to index you for local search, they also provide you with a web presence where otherwise, none would exist.

Get started building your own local citations

Knowing that local citations are important for your local search positions and overall discoverability online, you may be wondering how you can start accruing them for your business? There are a number of sources – keep in mind that the more complete your citation the more valuable it is. So while it may seem tedious or time consuming to constantly input your full address with street name and zip code, full business name and phone number with area code over and over again, these full citations are the most trusted and more useful.

Try these sources to build high quality and authoritative citations:

  1. 1

    Data aggregators

    Data aggregators scour the web for local citations and then feed the data to search engines.

  2. 2

    Local indexes

    There are lots of local indexes such as Yelp and Foursquare. The more of these sites you can submit your site too, the more local citations you’ll accrue.

  3. 3

    Directories and blogs

    The internet is packed with both general and industry-specific directories. These offer an easy way to build citations.

  4. 4

    Use a citation source listing

    Our client BrightLocal has a wonderful and is well worth checking out if you plan to build your own citations. When you begin building local citations, don’t forget the importance of consistency. A complete local citation will include the full address of your business, including zip code, the phone number, site URL and business name. If you begin building incomplete citations, you’ll undermine the credibility of the data, which can be counterproductive to your efforts.

Want some help? We know that time everyone has the time or the resources to manage a local SEO strategy, and it can be frustrating to know that there are things you should be doing that simply aren’t happening. We’ve helped lots of local businesses to better use their time and make the most of the opportunities local SEO presents. Get in touch with our team now to find out more about our great value local SEO packages and SEO audit solutions.

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