If you have been in the local SEO game for a while, you would definitely know what citations are. In fact, you would not even dare underestimate their power. But in case you are just starting out, let me give you a short definition. Citations are mentions of your business on local directories and local business association sites. They may or may not contain a link to your website.
If you are still wondering how citations and ‘NAP’ can help your local business, this article is specially for you. What is NAP you may ask? It’s just an acronym of the name, address and phone number of your business.
How citations empower local SEO
Having accurate and consistent citations, would convince Google about the authenticity of your business. So, the more places cite your business, the higher the chances of ranking in search results.
Let’s talk in figures.
A recent study by Screenwerk suggests that in Q1 2015, local search queries (on mobile and desktop) accounted for almost half of the search volume.
Take a moment to consider these numbers. You will realize that building your citations will also impact your conversion rate.
When users perform any “near me” search, they want ready-to-action information. This could include address/location, hours of operation, reviews and ratings, discovering coupons, etc. You should make sure your citation also mentions your category, links and email ID.
For example, take a look at the screenshot above. The highlighted text shows the following elements of the listings – price, facilities, ratings, reviews. If they appeal to me, I would not give a second thought before booking a room.
One powerful mantra that you should always remember is that consistency is key! Be consistent with every citation you build.
Have a look at the points below to know why citations can empower your local business.
Google is judgmental!
Google enlists those businesses which customers cite and visit more often. It uses local SEO and citations to verify the accuracy and authenticity of the contact details. If 100+ different websites list the exact same NAP , then most likely it’s accurate. Thus, every mention from authoritative and relevant websites builds Google’s confidence in you.
Word of mouth
The more people visit you, the more they will talk about you. Local SEO Citations create awareness about your product and brand in the market space. They provide people more ways to find you online. If your business is listed, it can be easily discovered by your potential users.
Thus, increasing your citations can give your popularity a boost.
Everybody has their own favourite space on the internet. I personally like Foursquare as it has categories covering almost everything. So, when I experience a great service or dreamy food from any restaurant, I write a review on Foursquare. I do the same when I walk out of a spa (listed in the directory), that makes me feel as relaxed as ever. But, a friend of mine (a big time foodie!), doesn’t write reviews on any other place except Yelp.
When all directories cite your business, your chances of getting reviewed are higher. So, if you are not listed on Yelp, you will most likely miss a review from my friend!
Make sure everything is alright!
There might be duplicate listings trying to impersonate you by slightly altering the spelling of your business name. This kind of things could create a negative impression in the eyes of your customers. It’s important for local SEO to enlist your business at all the relevant places which ensures nobody will copy your NAP.
How to build Citations?
In local SEO, before you start building your own citations, you need to check out the competition. Ultimately, the key to ranking is being better than your competitor.
How to find your competitor’s citations?
Here’s a way:
- Identify the keywords that you want to rank for and perform a Google search.
- The top 10 results are your competitors. Prepare an Excel sheet and copy their URLs.
- Once you have their URLs check your competitors’ NAP one by one.
- Make a note of the places where your competitors are listed and enter the URLs in an excel sheet.
Once you know where your competitors built their citation, you have your starting point. If one of your competitors has 5 listings, you need to get listed on those 5 places and some others as well!
Building your listings manually might seem like a tedious task. As it involves analysis of your business niche, it consumes a lot of time and energy.
To simplify this, you can use automated tools. They can pull a list of websites and directories where you should get listed. On Local RankWatch, you can also compare this list with the places where you have already been cited. This will help you build your citations further.
Citations are an asset to your business. You might have a great product, but if people don’t know about you what good is that “unique business idea”? Mentions of your websites increase your business reputation and visibility in the market. You rise in the eyes of both Search Engines and users, which is the ultimate goal.
Shivangi is always in for exploring and learning new things. She uses this inquisitiveness in the art of reading and writing and is always up for new challenges with her let’s-do-it attitude. Currently she is working as a Content Analyst at Local Rankwatch. You can connect with her and the RankWatch team on Twitter and Facebook.