What is SEO local citations building service and why is it so important for your Local SEO?
Let’s begin with the local part. Increasingly, we’re spending the better part of our lives in cyberspace. So, online businesses and information sources can meet a lot of our needs. We can even go for entire weeks without leaving our homes!
But as long as we continue to need housing, we’ll exist within communities–even if we’re just visiting the place. So, we must have at least some local contact to get the food and services we need.
You can’t get a haircut or a thorough medical exam online… yet.
This is where and how local citations become relevant.
Table of Contents
What Are Local Citations?
Basically, a local citation is “a spot where your company is mentioned online.”
The purpose of local citations is basic too: to let potential customers and clients know your business or organization exists. It’s also to let them know where you’re located in relation to where they are and how to get there.
At a minimum, citations include the name, address, and phone number (NAP) for your business or organization—so the citations can appear in one or more online directories.
But you can—and should—include more than that.
What Else Is Included in a Directoy Citation?
In addition to NAP, a citation might include some combination of the following further information about your business.
It’s all (or at least most of it) valuable to prospective clients when making decisions about whether or not to visit your store or restaurant, or use your services:
- Business categories
- Hours of operation
- Driving directions
- Business description
- Payment forms accepted
- Owner responses
- Links to social and other forms of media
- Email addresses
- Fax numbers
- Alternate phone numbers
Many of these components can be seen in Google My Business citations (which appear in boxes at the top right of a Google search results page).
Google My Business citations are surely the most common, familiar, and well-integrated of the citation directories.
Local Directory Citations
By no means is Google My Business the only citation directory, though. There are hundreds of others operating globally. And any local business easily could find connections with dozens if not hundreds of them.
Some citation directories are familiar names, while others might sound new to you. Here are examples of some popular directories:
- Yahoo Directory
- Yahoo Local
- AOL Yellow Pages
- Angie’s List
You’ll notice that several of these cover just about any business, whereas others focus on niches (fairly broad ones, though niches nonetheless).
Angie’s List covers home maintenance and a few other niches, and OpenTable and UrbanSpoon cover dining establishments.
Most directories offer functionality beyond simply listing businesses—including customer reviews and discounts for many and niche-specific functions for some, like OpenTable’s dining reservation service.
Citations Building and Local SEO
One of the main reasons to use and build citations, and to add them to directories, is to help make your business or organization more readily discoverable in web searches (and on the street).
Also, citations can direct traffic to your website and contribute to SEO in at least a couple of ways—as follow:
The first way citations help your website is by making it more visible in organic search results. The SEO visibility of a domain is expected to be higher when:
- A domain’s URLs rank higher in the list of search results.
- Many different URLs within the domain make it into Google’s index and have good rankings there.
- The domain’s URLs rank well for keywords with high search volume rankings.
All of these factors are aided by having as many sites as possible pointing to a business’s domain and home page.
This term describes efforts made by or on behalf of a website’s owner to increase the number of backlinks to their website. Link-building is done to increase search engine rankings for that site.
How does this happen?
First, citations are themselves considered backlinks. Second, if the links are attached to reviews or other content, they are even more likely to draw traffic to the originating site.
Local citations will be discussed below. But the main goal of having a lot of them and having them and appear in multiple local directories is to get good SEO results. So we’ll discuss local SEO at this point.
Good SEO Practices
At the most fundamental level, local SEO is like any other SEO—except with an emphasis on the local context. This means using locally-focused content, keywords, and links.
Locally Focused Content
Aim your website copy and blog articles toward local interests. Try to tie popular local events to what your business has to offer. Show your engagement!
Locally Focused Keywords
To the greatest extent possible, keywords should guide your website audience toward the local context. Keywords such as “a doctor near me,” “in (city name),” or something that references a favourite local celebration are good to add-in.
Locally Focused Links
Linking to other local businesses and organizations can have a few benefits for a business owner. Not only does it show users of your site that you’re a team player, not a competitor, it’s also a tried and true way to get backlinks in exchange.
Local SEO Beneficiaries
Businesses that use local SEO tend to be locally owned and operated. This often applies to restaurants, boutiques, and sometimes bookstores.
It applies even more to service businesses such as doctors’ and dentists’ offices or clinics, law practices, barbershops and beauty salons, repair technicians, and any other businesses that depend almost exclusively on a local clientele.
People live in the moment when they’re doing business locally. If they find out that something they’re looking for is available just a couple of miles away, why should they bother waiting a whole day for an online shipment?
Besides, it’s good to shop local.
Local Citations Building Services
Since the vast majority of online citations are local, the term “local citations” is redundant. We suppose it’s used mainly to emphasize the word “local.” Perhaps this is because so much of what’s on the Internet is not local.
As any local businessperson knows all too well, local businesses can struggle to compete with national or global ones, especially those with local outlets. So, having directories to send traffic to their site and/or the business itself is a huge benefit.
Is There Such a Thing as Non-Local Citations?
Yes and no. For the most part, online-only businesses have little reason to place citations in local business directories since they have no physical presence for locals to visit.
However, if the online businesses have local outlets, as a lot do, or sell their products through local outlets, as many also do, then there’s some reason for them to place citations in local directories.
Further discussion on this intriguing topic will need to wait for another article, though, since the focus here is how truly local businesses use citations and directories to their benefit.
So, what are these benefits for local businesses?
Benefits of Local Citations
How many of you remember browsing at a local newsstand? How many live in a place that still has local newsstands? How many of you now buy your groceries online?
Most newsstands and supermarkets aren’t even locally owned and operated nowadays! But your business is. It’s unique and has a loyal clientele, and you want to keep it that way.
This is why you need to extend your marketing plan into the realm of citations and the corresponding directories. As discussed above, you also need to list in the right directories and lots of them! Why?
Because to many of us, local businesses still mean a lot!
This is why your business needs to work on citation building, whether you do it yourself or use a citation building service.
What Is Citation-Building?
Citation-building means gathering mentions of your business on websites generally as well as in local directories. Having citations on popular and reputable sites can build your credibility with Google and thus increase your search ranking.
Structured vs. Unstructured Citations
There are two types of citations: those found in directories, which are structured citations. Unstructured citations include the citation information more organically and are more open in structure, like blog posts or print news articles.
How to Build Structured Citations
The goal is to have your citation listed in a range of well-reputed local directories. These should include representation from:
- Nationally-based directories such as Google My Business, Yellowpages.com, and BBBOnline.
- Directories that focus on your local or regional area only such as City of Chicago.org, Toronto.com, and ExploreKawarthasLakes.com
- Directories that focus on your business niche(s) only such as Lawyers.com and TinyHouseBlog
- Referral or lead-generation services such as Angie’s List, Thumbtack, and Home Advisor
- Lesser-known but still well-reputed directories such as Yellowbook.com and HotFrog.com
If you need a good list of citation directories to get started, check this one out. There are many others out there too.
Good Places for Unstructured Citations
What sorts of sites feature unstructured citations?
These are found on websites (or apps) that aren’t specifically intended for publishing local business listings. They’re often in product review sites like ConsumerReports.org and Wirecutter or news articles.
Having unstructured citations cam bring some extra advantages. For one, since these sites tend to use blog articles or other types of prose writing, there can be some good organic keyword placement.
Since you’re not likely to be featured on a popular review site—at least not in the short term—why not put together press releases (featuring your favourite keywords) and send them to local news media?
Citation-building services are no more nor less than companies or parts of companies that will take on the bulk of the citation-building work for you and your business.
Did you know that “over 95% of DIY businesses and local SEO solutions offered by local directory citations services fail“?
This is why, if you’re going to do a thorough job with local citations (as you really should), you probably will need some help.
Citation-building services begin with an audit where they review any information shared by the client and then check for any existing listings. They also check those listings for accuracy, such as whether the NAP information is up to date.
In the next stage, most citation-building services will build the actual citations for each directory—of which there could be a few hundred. They build in the type of detail to make it appropriate to the specific directory.
They then go on to create a list of directories that is both broad and focused enough to cover various angles of business. They’ll send the client a report listing all the directories used.
Some citation-building services offer optional extra services such as using niche directories for specific business types or specific to a city.
As we wrap up this article, we’ll say once again that nothing is more important to the success of a local business than playing an active part and being prominent in the community.
And local connections depend on the business owner making connections, reaching out to others, and putting information about their business where people can locate it readily—including directly in their hands if it’s a press release.
One Last Citation… Or a Conclusion
We hope this article has given you a better and clearer understanding of what local citations are, how they work, and where and how to find them. You now should have a basic understanding of the local citation-building process.
Use it well. But, as with anything in the digitally-connected world, don’t take what you’ve learned here for granted. You need to look at SEO-related blogs, websites, and other sources for periodic updates.
Did you know that we offer a wide range of SEO and related services, including comlete Local citations building services, and Fully Managed SEO services? If you’re interested—or just curious about what all we offer, just let us know. We’re here to help you and your business!