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What Are Citations for Local SEO?

by | Last updated May 28, 2024

Local search engine optimization is becoming increasingly common in today’s online world as a means to draw in local customers to businesses. Local search engine optimization (SEO) now heavily relies on citations, thanks to the proliferation of review sites and directories.

However, what are citations, and how can they impact local search engine optimization?

What Are Citations?

Any time your company’s name, address and phone number (NAP) appear on another website, you have a citation. This might be anything from a traditional phone book to an online newspaper to a review aggregator.

Search engines, such as Google, place a higher value on websites that have been referenced favorably from these citation sources. Businesses with more citations are more likely to be relied upon as authoritative resources. This is especially true when a company’s NAP details are correct and consistent throughout all of its citations.

Types of Citations

Structured Citations

The ones that you’ll find in business directories. These are sites that are specifically designed to list businesses and their contact information. Examples include Yelp, Yellowpages and Google Business Profile.

Unstructured Citations

Unstructured citations refer to mentions of a business that are not found in directories or listing websites. They can occur in blog posts, news articles, press releases or social media posts. Unstructured citations provide an opportunity for businesses to gain exposure, build brand awareness, earn a link and attract potential customers.

Importance of Citations for Local SEO

Local SEO Citations

Local Search Rankings

Citations are one of the key factors search engines use to determine the relevance and prominence of a local business. Consistent and accurate citations across multiple authoritative platforms can boost a business’s visibility in local search results.

Trust and Credibility

Citations act as a trust signal for search engines and potential customers. When search engines see consistent NAP information across various reputable sources, it enhances the credibility of the business. Similarly, customers are more likely to trust a business that has consistent information across multiple platforms.

Local Business Data Ecosystem

Citations contribute to building a strong local business data ecosystem. When search engines find consistent information about a business across multiple sources, it increases their confidence in the accuracy of that information, resulting in improved search rankings.

Best Practices for Citations

To optimize citations for local SEO, businesses should follow these best practices:

Consistency

Ensure that your business name, address and phone number are consistent across all citations. Even minor discrepancies can confuse search engines and potential customers.

Accuracy

Double-check the information provided in citations to avoid any errors. Incorrect NAP information can harm your local SEO efforts.

Quality Over Quantity

Focus on building citations on authoritative and relevant platforms rather than aiming for sheer quantity. High-quality citations from reputable sources have a more significant impact on local SEO.

Local Directories

Submit your business information to prominent local directories that are relevant to your industry and location. This can include platforms like Google Business Profile, Yelp, TripAdvisor, and industry-specific directories like Avvo for law firms.

Monitor and Update

Regularly monitor your citations and update them if there are any changes to your business information. Keeping citations up-to-date is crucial for maintaining accuracy and consistency. If you have the ability to post from a certain citation source (Google Business Profile for example), post frequently to show potential customers you are alive and well.

Final Thoughts With Citations

Citations are a fundamental aspect of local SEO and can significantly impact a business’s online visibility and search engine rankings. By ensuring accurate and consistent citations across various platforms, businesses can enhance their credibility, build trust with customers, and improve their chances of ranking higher in local search results. Even if you don’t have a strong focus on SEO in your organization, it’s recommended to establish profiles on credible citations / directory sites to be available to customers looking for businesses like yours.

About the Author

Thomas Hillary

Thomas Hillary is a professional content strategist. With years of industry experience and an extensive writing backing, stemming from dual bachelor's degrees in English and Communications, Thomas has the skills needed to provide clients with quality and insightful work.

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