As you may know, that Google uses a blended algorithm in local search, in order to determine search result rankings given a particular search term. There are various signals that all bare different weight on the algorithm that can differentiate depending on the industry, market, and competitiveness. One of the most important variables in the current local algorithm is citations.
Citations can be compared to your links in terms of traditional SEO. For Local SEO, citations are references or mentions on another external website referring to your business or website. These are not hyperlinks with anchor text. Citations are typically located on other Business listing websites or profiles that provide information about your business. Google uses these citations or “mentions” as a way to indicate that your company actually exists at the location you have listed and the more “mentions” from relevant, localized, and authoritative sites – the more relevant your business must be for the users local search. Though, Google is constantly changing the variables on the weight of these signals but as of now citations still remain to be key indicators when determining if your business is relevant to the users search query.
There are several ways to build a websites citation profile. Every e-local marketer has their own solution or strategy but I will touch base on a few tools and strategies that are most common and industry-known to help kick-start your citation building campaign.
- Initial NAP Research
Citations hold the most value when they are consistent. It’s like having a bunch of people talking about you but if people keep calling you different names, no one knows who you truly are or where to even find you. This same thought process translates to NAP consistency for citations. NAP is your Name, Phone number, and Address. It is vital to use the correct business information. The best way to determine the correct NAP would be to Google search variations of the business name, address, with your phone number in the query. In order to keep future citations consistent and still hold value for the existing citations already on the web. Best tip when doing NAP research is to use the Name and Address that provide the most search results. This will often lead to using the highest amount of existing citations and what you should use when building new ones.
Google Search Tips:
“DR. John DDS” “xxx-xxx-xxxx”
“Dentists & Sons” “xxx-xxx-xxxx”
“Dentists & Sons Dr.John DDS”
- Determine the Quantity and Quality of Citations you need
This is the discovery process of how many citations your site may have, how many your top competitors have, and what is a reasonable amount of citations to gain in order to be competitive in your localized space.
getlisted.org is a great tool in order to find the major business listings and profiles on some of the stronger, well-known business listing sites. Use this to check your current listings, which profiles you need to edit your NAP, and which listings/profiles you are still missing. This will knock out the stronger and easier citations to get.
BrightLocal – a paid premium service; is another good resource that allows you to run custom reports on the business or client to find out how many citations the business currently has. BrightLocal also allows you to run reports to find potential citation opportunities, on-site analysis, and other SEO related metrics.
Whitespark – is a citation finder and citation builder service. This tool allows you to find citation opportunities based on keywords. This is useful because not only do you want to target strong authoritative citations, but you want to focus on relevant and industry specific sources as well. WhiteSpark also allows for citation builder submissions. All you need is your NAP research and you can use this service to build more citations. Pricing is based on quantity and type of listings. Local/Niche listings will be a bit more but these can have a stronger impact due to relevancy and localization.
Now you have a basic understanding of citations and have a few tips to help get started, feel free to share your thoughts or recommend other useful tools for citation building.