For small businesses, operating in a local region or town, citations are a powerful way to ensure you are more visible online and get found for locally driven search queries.
What is a citation & why are they good for local business?
A citation is simply a mention of your business name on another website. Citations may include a link to your website but that is in no way essential. They help you get found by people looking for the services you provide and are used by the search engines to help determine where to rank your site amongst the competition.
Typically these links can be on directory sites, both national and regional. These include general listings for all types of businesses, or specific industry directories. On a local level they include business listings pages on local hub sites (town information, business chambers, tourism sites etc.).
So, we’re not talking rocket science here, that is pretty much all there is to it. It’s simple and effective, but takes time to do properly, which is why many businesses don’t bother. So if you want to get ahead, be one of the ones that takes the time to build your citations.
Quality and consistency of details is the name of the game here – consistent name, address and postcode (NAP) are the crucial elements.
Citation starter sites
While there’s no definitive answer to what sites are best (as only Google knows this), there are a number that have been shown to be beneficial, mainly thanks to some really thorough testing by SEO professionals and tools over many years.
Here’s a decent list to get started with:
Each site provides a structured citation and as they spend time and effort to boost their own visibility, you can benefit from being a part of their listings.
For hyper local citations, you’ll need to do some quick Google searches to find local organisations or hubs that have local business directories or listing pages. You should also look for sites that are specific to your area of business e.g. local hotel listings, care home directories etc.
Try broad searches like ‘best —— near me’, ‘local places to eat/stay/buy —-‘, ‘local business directory’. Scan the first couple of pages of results and you’ll quickly build a list of potential citation sources.
Again this is a little time consuming as you’ll need to find out if and how you can add your business, but the benefits will be worth it.
Citations are just part of the answer
If you’re lucky to have very few competitors, a few citations will work wonders, but if your business is ‘normal’ and has a healthy level competition, then you need to take a wider view of optimising your online presence. This includes on page optimisation, links (and local links), reviews and fresh content to come out on top.
Local SEO is an ever shifting field with Google changing the rules of the game on a regular basis and everyone trying new tactics to gain an advantage. Unfortunately it means there are no guaranteed answers, so remember to keep an eye on what your competitors are doing and build your own unique approach & strategy around providing your customers with the most relevant information.
Would you like some help building online citations for your business?
Please get in touch as we offer some really simple and cost effective ways to get started – we can take care of the whole process, or just do the setup, then create a plan that you can take away.
Some further SEO reading
If you’d still like some further reading, here’s a couple more great resources to check out:
Moz Local Citations – https://moz.com/blog/launching-new-website-seo-checklist-whiteboard-friday
Yoast SEO For New Websites – https://yoast.com/seo-for-a-new-website-the-very-first-things-to-do/