Understanding SEO (search engine optimization) requires a solid foundation, this article (and others like Search Engine Land‘s) builds the foundation with citations. Simply put, a citation in the SEO world is your business being mentioned on other websites/online platforms. Citations are valuable because they help your business appear in front of local searchers.
Search engines reward businesses that have the right messaging about their brand. Fundamentally, this starts with accurate basic information such as URL, name, address, and phone number (UNAP). Having your UNAP information accurately listed across relevant websites and web directories is the basis of gaining trust from the search engines. Search engines need to trust your website to deliver accurate and relevant information to searchers to deliver a great user experience. For example, if someone searches hotels in St. Augustine and Google lists pharmacies in St. Augustine the user will have a poor user experience and may even switch search engines (think: Bing). Thus, search engines need to feel confident that your website is actually a hotel in St. Augustine and they do this by reviewing and rating your online business referrals, aka citations.
What are the different sorts of citations?
- Business Directories such as Cylex, Tupalo
- Maps such as TomTom, Here Maps, Open Street Maps
- Internet Yellow Pages
- Local Directories such as Best of the Web, Judy’s Book, eLocal, Yelp or Angie’s List
- Industry, niche or sector specific directories (US Tourism, Resorts and Lodges)
- Local newspaper websites
- Local blogs covering business, restaurants or venues etc.
- Prominent local websites (particularly if they’re related to your business niche)
- Social Profiles (Twitter, Facebook, Foursquare)
What Can I Do?
For starters, a business can take advantage by creating, claiming and optimizing its Google My Business page. This will allow your business to create a legitimate online presence which gives search engines trust in your business to answer search queries. Then, reach out to local associations you are a member of and ensure they have your (accurate) business information on their website. Then, reach out to your local business partners for website listings, likely they will be in a similar vertical or at the very minimum link you to your geo-location for credibility. You want to organically grow your listings. Do not buy bulk listings, search engines will penalize your site by not displaying your website in the results page. Building links and citations that offer a full UNAP and discuss your business is a great way of differentiating your business from others in the area.
How Much Time?
The process of creating local citations can be time consuming and tedious, but the reward of a higher rank directly relates to your revenue. Creating your “referrals” take a considerable amount of time, but monitoring these referrals takes just as much time. It is important to note not all directories are free- be prepared to have a resource budget. Many businesses often choose to have a SEO partner to handle their digital presence, because of the time requirements and knowledge of the best directories (paid and free). Either route, your business needs citations to be shown to searchers.
Gone are the days, when location, location, location was considered the formula of success. Today, it is all about the different digital platforms where your customers look for information. The formula for success has changed to relevance, prominence and proximity. Reach out to our team to ensure your digital success, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Contributed by: Gaurav Varma, Product Marketing Manager