A citation is a mention of your business name and address on another webpage. It does not require the presence of a link. One example of a citation would be an online yellow page directory where the business is listed, but no link has been created. Citations are also present on local business association pages or chamber or commercial pages that includes your business information, even if there is no link to your site.
Citations are considered an essential component of ranking algorithms in both Bing and Google. When all other factors are equal, businesses that have a large number of citations are likely going to rank higher than a business with less citations.
A citation that is generated from a well-established and well-indexed portal will help to increase the level of certainty that a search engine has bout your business’s categorization and contact information. In less-competitive niches, such as electrical or plumbing, citations are extremely important. This is because many service providers may not yet have a website themselves. When there is not much other information out there, the search engines will rely on what it can find.
Where to Find Citations to Increase Search Engine Rankings
There are literally thousands of different places where a citation – which is a mention of your business name, phone number, address or website – can be acquired. Each local business needs to focus on the creation of a strong core of citations that will not only increase visibility of the business but also work to increase the “trust” that a business is valid. A high quality and authoritative citation is also considered one of the top ranking factors in regard to local search markets that are extremely competitive.
Some potential sources for these local citations for your local business are highlighted here.
In the U.S. there are four main aggregators in local business data. Factual, Acxiom, NeustarLocalezeand Infogroup have all have all compiled indexes of over 20 million businesses throughout the U.S. These indexes are usually compiled by looking through a traditional phone book, membership rosters for business groups, phone and banking records, business registration entities and other databases.
In return, these aggregators syndicate or license their data to the majority of local search engines, which include Bing and Google. It will take search engines, such as Google, between two weeks and three months to update their indexes with new data from these aggregators.
Local Search Engines
The local search engines, such as Bing and Google will crawl the web for various citations that will help to correct or validate the business information that is present in their existing indexes. Being listed on websites such as Hotfrog, Foursquare, Yelp and others can help to increase the search engines confidence regarding the accuracy of your business name, website and location. The majority of local businesses will have to engage in a citation building campaign that helps to ensure they have an accurate listing in as many quality and relevant local business directories as absolutely possible.
A local blog is a great place to acquire a business listing. These can vary based on geography, but if you simply enter a search on the search engine you use most, a search such as (your city) blog, the you will likely find a few candidates to consider.
The websites that appear for these types of searches are considered well-indexed by search engines and associated with the specific region, city or neighborhood. Businesses that have been linked to or mentioned on these blogs are also viewed as being relevant and trusted results for search engines.
Directories with a Local Focus
Much like a local blog, local directories are considered to be well-indexed by search engines and are considered as being highly associated with a specific region or city. Directories that are edited by a person are much better than the ones that are considered a “free for all.” A human edited directory is much less susceptible to span and this makes them much more trusted by local search engines. Some examples of locally focused directories include the Yahoo Regional Director and the Best of the Web’s Regional Directory. You can do searches for directories for the local area and find a few options for these types of citations.
If you find a website that is focused on keywords and topics that are related to your services and products, it can be included in the sites that a local search engine counts as an actual citation source. This is true even if the website or the directory is not specifically focused on a specific region. For example, the membership director of a trade organization or of a blog that is popular with readers interested in the particular industry will likely be crawled by search engines for citations.
Why You should Invest Time and Effort in Citations
Are you still on the fence about whether or not you should put effort into citations? Consider this:
Quality citations will help your customers (and potential customers) find you.
Citations will impact the local search ranking factors since search engines rely on your business information being consistent over all online databases.
Not all businesses, on the local level, have websites to optimize. However, they do have contact details and the opportunity to get citations.
Prior to creating a business listing you should gather all your business information so that you make sure you submit the exact same thing to every potential citation you attempt to acquire. The first citation to acquire is a Google My Business listing. This is by far the most important when it comes to ranking in the Google search engine results.
Once you have created this citation, be sure to clean up any inconsistent citations that may be out there. Be sure that you search for yourself and your business and that all the information listed is accurate. This will provide your business with the best possible chance of being found by Google and ranking higher.
The Bottom Line
Local citations will take some time and effort to acquire; however, well worth it in terms of search engine rankings. Take some time to get to know all the various options and efforts you can make to help your business rank better. Citations are powerful, but you have to make sure that your information is consistent across the web. With the tips found here, you will be able to do just that. Don’t ignore a huge factor that plays a role in your search engine rank, which is local citations. Keeping all the information here in mind will help you rank higher and maintain this rank regardless of your industry or niche.