When most people hear the word “citation” they think of a traffic ticket, but local citations are something completely different and completely crucial for good local website rankings for your tech business site.
Local citations don’t always get the attention they deserve and companies that don’t pay attention to them or keep them up to date can suffer when it comes to driving local leads to their business.
Find out what a local citation is and why you want to cultivate them as part of a successful marketing and SEO strategy.
Local Citation: Definition
A local citation is any online listing of your company that includes your name, address, and phone number (NAP). They can also include your website URL and other details about your company.
The most commonly recognized local citation is a Google My Business listing, but there are multiple other additional places that your local citation can appear.
Every time your NAP appears online, whether that’s on a website, online local business directory, web app, or social media platform, that counts a local citation.
Sometimes local citations on business listings will be automatically generated by a website and you won’t even know about them. But if they are, they generally include a link that allows you to claim the listing so you can make any needed edits to your details.
Local citations might seem like “internet junk” to some people, but they’re the lifeblood of a good local search ranking and act as one of the lubricants for your marketing engine that keeps your lead generation strategy running smoothly.
The more local citations you have, the better! (As long as the information is correct… more on that later!)
The Benefits of Cultivating Local Citations
If you haven’t paid much attention to local citations in the past, you’ll want to start if you’re looking to boost your local presence. Those listings of your name, address, and phone number that are sprinkled throughout the online world can help your business in two important ways:
- They help more local customers find you
- They boost your local SEO
Let’s take a look at each area separately and why putting your NAP out there in as many places as possible makes such a significant difference for local businesses.
Help Local Customers Find You
You may stick to Google when looking up companies and think that being on Google My Business is good enough for your business. But a potential customer might swear by Yelp and someone else might use Manta, and if you’re not listed there, they won’t see you.
When working on gaining more leads for your tech business, you want to be in as many places as possible where people are searching for local companies online.
97% of people learn about a local company online more than any other way.
People are searching for local businesses online and on mobile devices. There are hundreds of places they can find local company directories, and the most successful companies seek them out and appear in as many as they can.
Boost Your Local SEO
There is a direct correlation between how high you rank in Google’s local search rankings and the number of local citations that you have online.
According to BrightLocal, businesses that rank in the top 10 positions in Google Local have an average of 81 local citations. That means 81 places online where your name/address/phone are listed.
The chart below shows that more local citations mean a higher search position. Businesses that ranked between 1-3 had an average of 85 local citations, while those that ranked 7-10 had an average of 78 local citations.
A Moz local search ranking factors report found that citation signals contribute both to localized organic ranking and local pack/finder ranking. The “local pack” is that coveted spot next to the map in a local Google search.
Local citations were:
- Responsible for 10.82% of local pack ranking factors
- Responsible for 8.41% of localized organic ranking factors
So, how do you get all those local citations and what are the best practices when it comes to using them? We’ll go over that next!
Best Practices for Local Citations
You want to actively manage your local citations and not just hope that someone puts up information about your company that’s accurate. To get the most benefit from those online listings, you need to follow a few best practices.
Ensure the Information is Correct
It’s important to ensure that anywhere your business name/address/phone is listed, it’s accurate and not using outdated information. Having incorrect details on local citations can hurt you.
If Google’s search bots see that there are two different phone numbers listed for your business, they’re not going to know which one is correct. Having mismatched business citations gets you penalized in local search rankings because Google does not want to serve up inaccurate information if it can help it.
If potential customers see that your business listing doesn’t match your website or another local citation they find, they might become uncertain about your company’s stability and decide to call someone else.
80% of consumers lose trust in a local business if they see inaccurate information that’s not consistent in online business directories. And guess who they blame when they see a wrong number or address listed for your company? They’re more likely to blame you than the online directory.
Add Your Company to As Many Online Places as Possible
While having 85 local citations, might sound like a lot, it’s pretty easy to find that many different places online where you can list your name, address, phone number and other information, especially when you start including social media sites.
Remember, the more, the better. So, taking an afternoon to go through a list of online local directory listings to add your business can really pay off when it comes to moving you higher in a local search result as well as getting in front of more local searchers.
We’ve included some of the top online citation websites below where you can add your business listing. You can also find a list of 200+ citation sources from Omnicore.
Top online citation sites:
- Google My Business
- The Real Yellow Pages
- Yahoo Local/Yext
- Bing Places
Fill Out Your Listing Completely
Many of the online directories give you an opportunity to list much more about your business than just your name, address, and phone number. It benefits you, your SEO, and those looking for your services if you fill out the information as completely as possible.
It’s free advertising for you in many cases and gives you a chance to use more keywords that might be pertinent to your SEO (like “computer repair”) that just add to the power of your local search position.
Some sites may also allow you to add online reviews and testimonials that you’ve received on review sites. Sites that have reviews themselves, like Yelp, you’ll want to add into your customer review strategy.
Some of the additional information that may be available to add in a local citation includes:
- Website URL
- Hours of operation
- Business categories
- Business description
- Payment forms you accept
- Email address
- Social media links
- Driving directions
- Ratings and reviews
Search for Directories in Your Local Area
There are plenty of nationwide business directories out there, but don’t overlook local directories as well. There may be websites with business listings specifically for your state or city.
Not only can they give you an extra boost when it comes to your business name being matched with your city or territory in Google’s search algorithm, there’s a good chance many of your potential local leads are using those sites.
Here are a few examples of local business directory listings that can superpower your local citations:
- Sciway (SC)
- The Colorado Business Directory
- Search Maryland
- Phoenix, AZ Business Directory
Just search on your state and/or the cities you serve, plus the term “business directory” to find them.
Actively Manage Your Local Citations
If you’re not actively managing your local citations, you can end up with inaccurate information online about your business, like hours of operations, address or phone number. That can mean lost business and getting penalized in your local rankings.
When you’re on top of your local citations, you can take full advantage of their benefits, find new lead generation channels, and improve your reputation and visibility in your target areas.
You can also gain a competitive edge, because most likely some of your competitors aren’t paying attention to their citations, thus not benefiting like you can.
A strategy for keeping on top of your local citations might look like this:
- Once a month, add a new local citation
- Review Google Analytics for any referral traffic that may be coming from local citations that include your URL
- Every 6 months, review your local citations to ensure the information is still accurate and matches your website contact details
- Keep a listing of all local citations so they can easily be updated when you have a change in phone number or other information
- Every 6-8 months, do a Google search on your business name and address to see if there are any new local citations you don’t know about
Master Your Local Citations
Online business directory listings seem like such a simple thing, and they are. But if you take the time to master them, you can turn that simple listing into maximum SEO and lead generation power.
What are your favorite sites for listing your business? Share in the comments!