For small and medium businesses that rely on regional customers, citations can help your local search visibility and are an important part of any local search engine optimisation (SEO) strategy.
A local citation is a written reference to a business anywhere on the internet, that includes the company’s name, address and phone number. For small and medium businesses that rely on regional customers, citations can help your local search visibility and are an important part of any local search engine optimisation (SEO) strategy. In this article, we will run you through what business citations can look like, why they are important, and the difference between citations and backlinks.
What Are Local Citations And Where Would You Find Them?
A local business citation is, at its core, a web-based reference to a local business. It prominently features the business’s name, address, and phone number (NAP). It may also include a valuable backlink to their website.
At their most simple, think of business citations like an online version of your spot in the Yellow Pages. Depending on your industry, it is important that your brand shows up in all the right business directories – think Checkatrade, Yell or Tripadvisor. There are often niche directories for your industry as well as more general places that customers will look to for your business information that applies to all industries – like Google Maps, Apple Maps, Facebook or Bing.
Why Are Business Citations Important?
Business citations are important because they are used by search engines as a signal to verify your business’s locale and authenticity. They can also help to build your reputation, particularly on brand searches. Often citation sites will rank well in Search Engine Results, meaning that when a person searches for your business name they will ideally find your site, followed by many of these citation directories or review platforms like Trust Index. The more customers see your name on trusted sites in search results like Checkatrade or Yell, the more confidence they are going to have in your business.
Because search engines like Google also use business citations to verify the authenticity of a business and its location, it is important that wherever your company is mentioned your business details are always the same. This is particularly important to remember if you have a change of address or phone number. The goal is to help local customers and clients find your services effortlessly, and having consistent and accurate citations can have a huge impact on this.
Here’s a round-up of how citations could benefit your business:
- Recognition by Search Engines: Google, and other search engines, have the capability to identify and assign value to local citations, leveraging concepts like Brand Mentions and Implied Links to attribute significance to how often/where a business’s NAP appears online.
- Building Business Credibility: Consistent and widespread citations serve as indicators that a business is well-established and legitimate. When a business’s NAP is cited uniformly across various platforms, it fortifies search engines’ trust in that business.
- Enhanced Visibility: Even without direct hyperlinks, mention of a business’s NAP on credible directories can heighten its visibility on search engine results pages (SERPs).
- Building Trust with Customers: Consistent citations instil trust. When potential customers see a business mentioned across different platforms, it establishes the business’s reputation in their minds.
- Compounding Value with Links: While citations alone are powerful, their value can be amplified when accompanied by a direct link.
What’s the Difference Between Citations and Backlinks?
To fully understand how local citations can impact your business, you need to be familiar with the concept of backlinks. We know that a citation is anywhere a business’s NAP appear online; but here’s where it diverges from typical backlinks, a citation doesn’t necessarily have to be a clickable link leading to the business’s website.
Local citations can work the same as backlinks, but they aren’t technically the same. Google knows how to spot these mentions of your business and thinks of them as a thumbs-up, much like it does with backlinks. The difference is, citations don’t always let users click straight to your website. If someone sees your business name, address, and phone number listed somewhere, they might have to pop those details into a search to learn more, unless there’s a link they can follow right away.
You might be wondering how to keep track of your business citations. This is where a citation-building service through an SEO platform (such as Semrush or BrightLocal) fits in. Citation builders allow you to create, update and manage numerous citations across the internet through one single input, ensuring all your details are correct – everywhere. Without having to manage multiple accounts and logins, all the important citations for your industry can be taken care of. Ultimately providing valuable backlinks to your website, or helping inspire confidence in potential customers and improving the search engine rankings for your business’s name, address and services in local search.
If you are looking for help with your local search visibility, or are interested in our citation-building service get in touch with the IV team today or check out some of our Case Studies, to see how we could boost your business.