Short answer: Yes. In fact, if it were not for citations, local SEO would be far more challenging for any business that wants to break into Google’s top ten search results.
Vying for even just one of these coveted spots is somewhat impossible for newcomers, especially if you belong in a saturated industry. When you’re competing with hundreds of businesses in a similar niche, it’s going to be difficult to rank. It would also take plenty of time and optimizing before you could make it to the first page. But if you happen to have a local business, a citation can give you a much-needed boost in rankings.
The Importance of Citations in Local SEO
According to Google Consumer Insights, there’s been a 900% increase in “near me” searches and mobile searches with local intent. The recent trend can be attributed to modern devices which are now capable of pulling your location.
Google uses location data to help people find places nearby. But how do they know which businesses to show? This is where citations come in.
A citation summarizes your most important business information – namely, its Name, Address, and Phone Number or NAP for short. Although some citations may include details such as business hours, email, website URL, and more.
Submitting your citation to Google My Business and similar platforms will get you to local listings, thus providing search engines the data they need for local searches.
The Advantages of Local Listings for Businesses
Local listings are basically the yellow pages of the internet. They provide local businesses the platform to market themselves online. Any business that has a brick-and-mortar shop or a physical location is considered a local business, and may qualify for a local listing.
1. People see you first
Local searches are presented in a very different way from usual search results. They appear as local listings above the fold and before the top 10 searches. When people search with local intent, they will see local listings first, followed by the main search results. This places your business front and center where it matters most.
2. Get more traffic
Businesses compete to be on the top search results for many reasons. Traffic is one of them. Statistically, about 90% of internet users never get past the first page of search results. 42% of them click on the highest-ranking result. However, the second result on the search list only gets about 12% of the clicks and it goes down from there.
A local listing can place your business on the first page and among the top searches. This, in turn, could attract significant traffic and potential customers to your website if you happen to have one.
3. Get more store visits
Even if you didn’t have a website, your business can still benefit from an increase in store visits. During the 2018 Search Marketing Expo, Amy Bishop of Clix Marketing said that 72% of people who did local searches ended up visiting a store within 5 miles.
4. Easier to compete
Google uses a unique algorithm for local businesses. And while there would still be competition (only the top 3 results are displayed), it won’t be as tough. You only have to stand toe-to-toe against a handful of businesses who may not be doing local SEO the way you have. So this would give you a clear advantage.