In the Digital Marketing Industry, you may have encountered the term Organic SEO and Local SEO. Organic searches take place when search engine bots decide that there is no local intent or specific geo-targeting. On the other hand, Local SEO differs from Organic SEO given that it searches for industry, service, or product available in a specific location. For example, when someone from Ontario needs a plumbing service for their drain, then that person will type something as “Plumber in Ontario” which will lead to several business listings or organic results on the search engine results page.
The main goal of local SEO is to boost your online business presence so that you will show up in more local searches. Brick and mortar stores (those with physical business addresses) whose main goal is to drive foot traffic are the ones needing geo targeted set of keywords. Apart from that, it is important to make your local business rank in Google.
Citation building is said to be an essential local SEO Strategy as when someone performs a business search online, most organic results are hogged by online business directories. Your Google+Local map listing is supported with other credible resources that tell Google bots that your business exists.
A local citation is any website that mentions your business (also known as an online business directory). In SEO terms, these details can be also called NAP or NAPW (name, address, phone, and website URL).
The following are the most common types of citations:
- General Business Niche
- Industry-Specific Niche
- Local Newspaper and Press Websites
- Local themed blogs (anything that features activities, tourist spots, food, culture, and political and economic climate in a specific city)
- Prominent local websites (websites owned by influencers)
- Social Media Profiles
The citations also help in increasing traffic by referring them to your website URL. The latter can also increase potential leads and sales conversion.
In building citations for your local business, you must have consistent details which include the following:
- Business categories
- Hours of operation
- Driving directions
- Business description
- Images / Logo
- Established Date or Year
- Business Phone
- Contact Person
- Payment forms accepted
- Owner responses
- Links to social and other forms of media
- Email addresses
- Fax numbers
- Alternate phone numbers
Business citations can be classified into two categories:
Structured citations are the ones requiring your complete business details. Examples of structured citations are Yellowpages, Yelp, Facebook, Brownbook, Hotfrog, Manta, Superpages, Mapquest, and not forget Google My Business. There is a long list of these online business directories which can also fall into general or industry-specific niches.
Unstructured citations have the essential business details only (NAP or NAPW) and are mentioned not in the online business directory but blogs, magazines, press releases, wikis, and newspaper sites.
Make sure that when you list your website to these online business directories, you are using the same set of details. Neglecting data consistency in your citation listings may confuse potential clients, leading to damaged brand reputation and can decline your expected revenue. The following are some examples of these so-called passive approach risks:
A small/weak set of local citations
- Inaccurate citations
- Duplicate local business listings
- No awareness of user or competitor edits to local business listings
- No strategy for discovering inaccurate data
- No strategy for managing citations in the event of mergers/acquisitions, rebranding, business moves, changes of phone numbers, hours of operation, or other data
- No strategy for discovering and managing reviews
- Little control over how the business is being represented across the web
By actively managing your local business citations, can make a positive impact on your rankings, brand reputation, and revenue increase. The active approach benefits are the ones listed below:
- A robust, accurate citation set on major platforms
- Awareness, discovery, and correction of inaccurate data
- Permanent closure of duplicate local business listings
- A solid strategy for editing citation data in the event of mergers/acquisitions, rebranding, business moves, changes of phone numbers, hours of operation, or other data
- A solid strategy for discovering and managing reviews
- Maximum control over how the business is being represented across the web
In a nutshell, citations are important so your business can continually gain the trust of potential and existing customers, build your prominence (reputation management through online client reviews and by increasing your online presence). You can also seek some help from search engine optimization experts to analyze all of your business citation links, re-edit your existing ones, and create new ones for you. A citation report can also be presented to you to ensure that all your business details are consistent in all the citation sites you got listed.
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