As a small business owner, there’s no doubt that you want to achieve as much success as possible. While you might have a beautifully designed and easy-to-use website, and you might have a tremendous following on social media, your website needs to be in front of your potential customers while they are looking for you. Local SEO enables your website to do just that! And a big part of local SEO is proper citation building. But wait, what are local citations?

Local Citations Defined

Loosely defined, a local citation is a reference to your website. They include the name of your business, as well as its address and phone number. A local citation is an off-site mention of your website by referencing the three primary components of a citation, call the NAP:

  • Name
  • Address
  • Phone Number

A NAP is unique to every business and must be correctly cited to be counted as a proper citation.

Just like Google uses links to your website, the search engine powerhouse also uses local citations to assess the authority of a website, and thus, the authority of your business. Citations are different than links, however, in that they don’t have to be linked to your site for you to get the credit for them. In other words, citations can be printed in plain text.

What do Local Citations do?

WESFED in local Google Search

The local WESFED map listing

As mentioned, citations are used by Google to assess the authority of your website and your business. They are used to place your business on a Google Map listing, as they offer the search engine with a credible source of information regarding your business by making it possible for the search engine to substantiate your business information from a variety of sources.

In other words, a local citation lets Google know that your business exists, that it is legitimate, and that what has been stated about your business is correct and true.

When Google trusts the business, the business will rank higher. Higher rankings in search is just one way to drive more traffic to your business website.

How do Local Citations Work?

When Google locates information pertaining to your company on other citation directories and websites, the search engine is assured that your business conducts business in the specified location. As a result, Google can then display the listing of your business whenever someone searches for the services or products that your establishment offers. This means that people who are interested in locating products or services that you offer will be able to locate your business. This translates to more clients, more sales and more success for your business.

Where can Local Citations be Obtained?

A lot of people assume that the only way to attain a citation is through a directory. While directories are certainly a valuable way to get citations, they aren’t the only option. There are actually a number of different citations, including:

  • General business directories
  • Local newspapers
  • Press websites
  • Directories that are linked to a specific sector, industry or niche (travel site directories or medical directories, for example)
  • Locally themed blogs (local blogs that pertain to a specific industry, such as nightlife, spas, etc)
  • Highly regarded local websites
  • Social profile pages
  • Industry-specific forums
  • Sites where questions can be asked and answered
  • Bylines linked to guest posts and articles

Core Elements of a Local Citation

The specific elements that are associated with a local citation include:

  • The name of your business
  • The address of your business
  • The phone number of your business

There are additional components that can be included in a local citation, such as:

  • A link to a specific website or page
  • The categories of your business; for an interior design business, these categories might include home décor or home furnishings, for example
  • Your hours of operation
  • Directions to your business
  • The description of your business
  • Photos
  • Videos
  • The types of payments your business accepts
  • Your company’s email address
  • Taglines
  • Reviews of your business
  • The geo-coordinates of your establishment
  • Links to social media profiles
  • Additional phone numbers
  • The attributes of your business

How can you Create Local Citations?

The most significant rule of thumb that applies to building local citations is consistency. The more consistent your citations are, the easier it will be for Google to pick them up, assess them, pinpoint their credibility and connect them to your business.

A useful tip for generating citations: go directly to the source. Search your business address on Google Maps. You’ll see exactly how your address appears within their mapping database. Use the address exactly how it appears in Google Maps to generate the most effective local citation, and use it the same way every time.

Why Local Citations are Important for Local Businesses

Local citations are extremely beneficial for local business owners for two specific reasons:

They help boost search engine rankings

The more local citations a business has, the more accurate the information is that they feature, and the higher the quality of the locations where they exist the higher your page rankings will be. Google collects pertinent information about a business, such as the information offered in a local citation. The more of this information the search engine collects, and the more valid the information is, the higher your ranking will appear on the search engine. It is important to remember, however, that the information contained in your citations need to be consistent. If it isn’t, your ranking could be negatively impacted.

They help to influence consumers

When local citations are accurate, those who are looking for products and services that your business offers in your area will be able to actually locate your business. They’ll have access to your phone number and your address, as well as other important information related to your business. This could translate to more phone calls, more traffic to your website, and more physical traffic to your business. In turn, this could lead to more purchases and greater overall success. However, it is important to note that if your citations are not accurate, potential clients could be misdirected, which could negatively impact your reputation and your success.

Local Citation Recap

Local citations contain key information about your business, including its name, physical address and phone number, as well as any other information that you think customers would find important. If they are accurate, consistent, and placed in the right locations, local citations could do your local business a world of good.

Want to see how your local business reputation and rankings are being managed? Try our free local business audit!