Local SEO is a way to let people know about your business and what products or services you have available. By improving your online visibility, it expands your reach and helps you attract customers.
Citations are the cornerstone of localized SEO. Without one, not only would it be impossible to optimize your business for search engines – people would also have a hard time finding it on the internet. You could lose potential paying clients to competitors who do have citations.
What is a Citation?
Within the context of local search engine optimization, a citation is an online reference to any business that has a physical location such as a shop or an office. It’s basically a listing which people can use so they’d know where to find you and how to reach you. As such, a local citation will always include three important details about your business:
- Phone Number
The acronym for which is NAP. Though if you want a more effective citation, it should be NAPW to include your website URL.
However, a citation alone is not enough for a successful campaign in local SEO. You also have to position your business information online strategically.
Getting Your Citation in the Right Places
An online directory is any website, platform, or service that catalogs business information. You can think of these listings as yellow pages but exclusively for the internet.
The purpose of these listings is for people to connect with businesses in their area. By submitting your citations to online directories, locals get to enjoy the practicality of finding nearby shops. Businesses benefit from an increase in customers. It’s a win-win.
In spite of this, you shouldn’t submit your NAP to every online directory you can find. Some of them are specific to certain locations and niches, which may not be suitable for you. Ideally, you should only list your business in relevant directories. For instance, a bar can be listed in a food directory but not in a medical directory.
Domain authority must also be considered when looking for places to submit a listing. High authority directories usually rank well on search engine results. If you have citations on their websites, your business will most likely appear on the top searches.
The 10 best places to submit your citations are:
- Google My Business
- Apple Maps
- LinkedIn Company Directory
- Better Business Bureau
Optimizing Your Citation for Search Engines
In most cases, an online directory will require you to provide the name, address, and phone number of your business. However, some directories give you the option to provide additional information such as:
- Business hours
- Email address
- Company description
- Multimedia (i.e. photos, videos)
- An overview of your products and/or services
Building a detailed citation may seem counterintuitive, but it’s one way to optimize for local SEO. It’s actually going to help you connect with the right customers. By being more clear on what your business is about, you can attract people who would most likely be interested in what you have to offer.
Much of what we’ve talked about so far are known as structured citations. A structured citation is what you would usually find in an online directory, and it tends to have a similar format (i.e. NAP). To further optimize your business for local SEO, you should also include unstructured citations in your content.
An unstructured citation is not something you would list in directories. Rather, the NAP is naturally integrated into blog posts and site content. Here, you can actively invite readers to know more about your business or to get in touch.