Citations aren’t normally something that people try to obtain in their everyday life. When talking about local search marketing it is a different story, we want to get as many citations as possible. Plus, what fun is being normal?
What is local search marketing and citations?
Local Search Marketing is the creation of online business listings. Each of these listings are known as a citation. Any mention of your business on a website other than your own counts.
Citations build trust and a solid reputation for your company with search engines and people. Examples of citations may be an online directory like Yellow Pages, Google, Bing or social media sites like Facebook. While there are hundreds, maybe even thousands of options some are more popular than others, but all of them are important to your online presence. Every listing gets referenced by search engines and people. Google, Facebook and Bing may be the biggest and most popular at the moment, but that can change quickly.
Accuracy & Consistency
Accurate and consistent citations improve your search results and help customers and search engines find your business. Creating and claiming listings in directories is normally straight-forward as long as someone else hasn’t already claimed your business. It can be more complicated to maintain consistent and accurate information, which is extremely important.
The consistency of these directory listings is significant for search engines because they are automated computer programs that search through these citations. If there are inconsistencies the computers don’t read the information or tie the information to the location.
Use your website as your consistency guideline. Does your name, address, phone number (NAP) and website address match everywhere it is located on your website? It should. Use this as your standard and make every citation match your website, exactly. That means if “North” is spelled on your website, but it is abbreviated as “N.” on your Facebook page, change it to “North”. It may seem minor, but it can cause an inconsistency trigger and decrease your search results.
Have you ever changed your company name, moved locations, acquired additional locations, changed web address or changed phone numbers? You may have incorrect or duplicate citations which may degrade your search results. This can provide incorrect information to customers and confuses the computer search programs. To the computer these look like separate businesses, so you don’t get credit for the citation. This means your business isn’t showing up as a search result as often as it could.
Citations impact every search that happens online. The obvious impact is for location based businesses where customers come to the business such as a hair salon or convenience store. If someone is searching for a location to visit locally and you don’t come up in the search or the information is incorrect you lose a potential customer because they cannot find you. This is similar to service area businesses where the business travels to the customer such as a plumber. Potential customers search for businesses to help them and often times they look in a close vicinity.
Some businesses service large areas, maybe even nationwide or international and local search still matters. Even if you don’t want or have customers coming to your door you need them to find you online.
Potential customers at a distance still search for the products and services offered by the company. Search engines still dig through all of the directory citations and compile information to provide a search result. Accurate and consistent citations create a higher rating for your business. Your local search citations build your reputation and help your business show up in search results and drive links to your website.
Tackling local search citations requires patience and persistence. Each directory has their own update process and rules that constantly change. Don’t get overwhelmed just take one step at a time. Like Steve Slater said in “I Would SEO, But Where Do I Start”, we are here to help. Validating your citations regularly is a good business practice to ensure your company is appearing correctly to customers and the search programs see it as legitimate. Go get those citations!