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Aug 17th, 2017

The Role of Citations in Local SEO

If you’re currently looking for ways to improve your website’s local SEO, then you’ve probably come across the need to accumulate citations. In this post, I’ll explain what a citation is and how you can leverage it to boost your standing in local search rankings.

What is a citation?

A citation in and of itself is relatively simple. This is an online reference to your business that includes the following three pieces of information:

  • Name
  • Address
  • Phone number

Taken collectively, these three pieces of information are referred to as NAP. It’s important that all aspects of the NAP are correct, as search engine web crawlers make note of NAP references to validate your business’ online authority. We should also note that NAPs do not need to involve a link back to your organisation’s website. You’ll receive credit for these references regardless of a hyperlink.

Smart Traffic Australia NAP

Why are citations so important for local SEO?

Citations are a major ranking factor for Google and other major search engines when it comes to their local search results. Given the importance of ranking locally for your business it is not something that you want to leave out of your marketing strategy.

Always keep in mind that 76% of people searching on their smartphones or tablets for something near to them visit that business within a day. Don’t miss out on this potential business!

Here’s some more reasons that citations are so important:

  • Citations are used by Google and other search engines to accurately display contact details of a business in the local listings. (If you do not have consistent details this will have a negative effect but I will go into more detail about that later).
  • Citations give potential customers more ways to find you online. Having your business on as many high-quality sites as possible increases the chances of getting found.
  • Citations can help build brand awareness and ultimately trust for your business. Being found on high authority websites will help build reputation and people will be much more likely to contact you because of this.

Why Incomplete and Inconsistent Citations are Bad for Your Local Rankings

As I mentioned earlier it’s important to be mindful of incorrect or inconsistent citations. Suppose a specific website gets your address or phone number wrong, and then publishes an incorrect NAP. Other content creators may copy this information to their own directory, multiplying the inconsistently. Suddenly, there are two or more competing versions of your NAP spreading across the Internet. This causes confusion for Google and the other search engines and can lead to lower online local visibility than your site might deserve.

Try and maintain as much consistency as possible across all of your business’ citations. Each citation should precisely match the one listed on your Google My Business page. As an example, this means that every abbreviation should be consistent, as with the choice or whether to place a comma before an ‘Ltd’ or a full stop after. Any format is fine, but you must be consistent.

For this reason, it is important to search the Internet for your NAP on other websites. If you find incorrect or inconsistent information, the webmaster will most likely allow you to request a correction. An online audit of this size is a major undertaking, and it’s something the team at Smart Traffic can assist with.

How Do Citations Boost Local SEO Rankings?

Search engines (and particularly Google) are eager to develop and maintain a strong local component to their search rankings. This means that they need to be able to quickly assess a business’ NAP – and then repeatedly reconfirm it.

The more citations a company receives across the World Wide Web, the more important and prominent that organisation can be. This increases its local ranking and sees the business rising through the SERPs for locally relevant search queries.

Beyond this, Google uses your business’ NAP to confirm your contact details. The more confirmations it can find, the more confidently it can display this information to users. In the end, this makes it easier for local ‘ready to spend customers’ to find you online.

How Can You Get More Citations to Boost Your Local SEO?

If you’re ready to boost your organisation’s local SEO ranking, get in touch with local, niche/industry specific and international directories that are already in the business of listing the contact details of companies like yours. They do this as a service to their users, which means you can have your company’s NAP listed with them which will benefit your local strategy.

Below are a few great examples of directories that you can contact to have your business listed:

Look for opportunities to leave your contact details on relevant blogs, social media sites, forums and other online locations. These will accumulate organically over time, progressively contributing to a more robust local SEO ranking.

Check what your competitors are doing

It is always a good idea to look at what your main competitors are doing, work out what is working and what isn’t and then try to replicate the positives. If it is working for them the chances are that it will work for you. Here’s a few tips that you can use to gain insight on exactly what they are doing.

Step 1. Type keyterms that you want to rank for into Google.

Step 2. Locate the Google My Business Page for each of the businesses on the first page of the local listings and note down the company name and postcode.

Step 3. Search on Google for the following:

“Business Name” “Business Postcode” -site:http://www.businessname.com.au

An example is shown in the image below.

Competitor Citation Search

Step 4: Make a list of all of the sites that are relevant to you but you are not currently listed on, remove any duplicates and start contacting them.

Step 5: repeat step 3 above and change the postcode to their phone numbers.

Do this for all of your competitors websites and you will find potentially hundreds of citations that will be useful to your business.

For more information on how to dominate with Local SEO in 2017 visit our post here.

local seo

Contact Smart Traffic for Expert Local SEO Services

If you’re ready to boost your company’s online presence, Smart Traffic can help you develop the competitive edge you’re looking for. Our organisation has more than a decade of experience helping organisations like yours optimise their websites for search. Contact us today to learn more about our local SEO services or to arrange a free, no-obligation audit of your current website and online presence.

Michael Holder

About the author

Michael Holder

A specialist in SEO and with a wide range of skills and experience. Michael has a particular interest in Local SEO strategies for small to medium sized businesses. When Michael is not working hard marketing his clients websites he enjoys traveling, dining out and watching Formula 1 and football.