Why Citations Matter for Local Search Results

Citations for Local Search Results by Zealous Social

Written by Kalleigh O'Togher

Kalleigh is the founder and CEO of Zealous Social.  Her expertise in marketing comes from 15 years of serving mid-size businesses in the trades, services and retail industries.

SEO

November 19, 2020

If you have a storefront or service a geographical area then you need to do local SEO. You want visibility in local search results on Google.

Citations are a key factor and when done correctly can lead to improved local search result rankings for customers looking for your particular product or service. When done incorrectly they can be a nightmare to fix.

What Are Citations?

A citation is an online mention of your business’s Name, Address and Phone Number (NAP). They form an important part of helping your website visibility to local customers. They are a great way to get your business listed on sites that customers expect your business to be on (i.e., Yelp, Yellow Pages, Lawyers.com, TrustATrader, etc.).

Google can also use these citations to establish your business’s credibility when it comes to your ranking in the search results but it’s widely debated by many SEO professionals just how much it helps.

Just because a company name is mentioned somewhere doesn’t necessarily mean it’s good or bad for the company. I’d see those mentions more as advertising — if you think people are going to see it and explicitly search out your business, then that’s great.

John Mueller, Google

Reasons Why You Want To Do Citations:

Citations provide value to your business when they exactly match the data used on your website and your Google My Business page.

As well as using the data for determining any authority that your business has, Google will also use it to verify the accuracy of the contact details in Google My Business listings. Helping Google to find consistent data across 30+ listings will benefit your business as all of these different citations suggest the NAP information is correct.

Humans will see these citations too. The more places your company details are visible and correct, the more opportunities you have to drive new traffic and visitors to your business.

Check out our Blog: Setting Up Google My Business Page and Location Extensions

Get Citations in Business Directories

Local directories dominate search results. We did a search for “plumber in cornwall ontario” and as you can see the top 3 search results were Yelp and Yellow Pages listings.

Google search results for plumbers in cornwall ontario shows citations in the top results.

This search result didn’t show many actual plumbing sites.

There are many business directories that are national, local and even industry-specific. Some other options include question and answer sites, guest post bylines, profile pages and press releases.

You should always start with business directories as these are the easiest. Here’s an article from Moz, where they’ve separated out some recommendations into business categories – https://moz.com/learn/seo/citations-by-category.

Make sure the business directories you do decide to list on are reputable. A quick way to check what your competitors are doing is to Google “your industry” in “location” and see what business directories are in the top 100 search results. If they don’t show, don’t list your business on them as they won’t be of any benefit to you.

It’s also possible to check the citations that your competitors have for their businesses by using a Google search. For example, you may perform a search like:

“Competitor Name” + “Competitor Postal/Zip Code” -site:https://www.competitorwebsite.com

The reason we add in the minus sign and the competitor’s website address is so that Google filters these pages out from the search results. You can even do the same search for your own business to look at any citations that you already have.

Using the above tactics should get you up and running with at least 20 citations for almost any industry.

Submitting Your Citation Listings

If you don’t want to submit your information on each of these business directories manually, you can use companies like Yext, BrightLocal or Whitespark to submit it for you. They are expensive, and for most companies, it makes more sense to do it yourself.

Periodically do a check to ensure your business listings are up to date and accurate. If you change any business information (i.e.: telephone number, company name, address, etc.) then you’ll need to update this information on the directories you listed your business on.

Local Citations trust report from 2018 by BrightLocal

You do not want your customers to find three different listings for your business with each having different information. You will instantly lose their trust and it will hurt your brand identity.

Other Types of Citations To Get Listed On

These citations provide your business with the most SEO juice but are harder to get. They are press mentions, reviews and blog posts written about your business. They generally provide a backlink to your website which is why they are so coveted for building your search rankings.

PR – When you have a new product or service you can send out a press release to your local Chamber of Commerce and/or newspapers to get them to publish the announcement. They will generally do this to support local businesses in the community if it has value.

HARO – Another option is to use HARO (Help A Reporter Out). HARO connects journalists with sources for their stories. They send out a request to anyone on their email list looking for answers to their questions on a particular subject. If you have the answer and respond to the journalist and they choose yours, they will cite you and your contact information in their article. HARO is free to use and takes time and effort but it’s worth it.

PARTNERS – Contact your suppliers or other businesses you partner with. Many times they will list their customers on their websites, blogs and social media. For example, if you’re a restaurant contact your produce or equipment suppliers or if you sell retail products get listed on your wholesaler’s website.

REVIEWS – Don’t forget to ask your customers to write reviews for your business on your Google My Business page.

Recommendation

Citations are a great way to help with Google local search results but before you spend the time doing this for your business make sure your Google My Business page is set up properly and optimized.

If you’d like help with your citations, contact us. We’d love to help.

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