If you own a small business and have a website up and running, building citations should be one of your primary goals for SEO. Citations from credible sources like Yelp, Bing or Yahoo can help boost the trustworthiness and authority of your site, improving your SEO and driving more traffic in the process. However, it’s also one of the hardest parts of making your business more visible in local search results. Here are a few tips to get started.
What is a Citation?
A lot of people tend to confuse citations with links. A citation is basically any mention of your partial or complete name, address, or phone number. Google and other search engines find them valuable because they help associate your business with a location. So if someone makes a query for something they want in your area, search engines like Google can easily prioritize you in the results for the simple reason that they already know you are based there and can provide what the user wants.
Avoid Inconsistencies Early On
One of the worst things that can happen is if there are discrepancies in the information being cited from what’s listed on your site. A simple typo or a wrong phone number is enough to screw up citations and make them less reliable for Google and other search engines to rely on. That can actually be enough to drop you lower in the rankings than you should be. Make sure that the business name, address, phone number and other relevant contact information are listed correctly on your own site so that any citations made in the future that are based on that information will also be correct.
Start With the Most Reliable Listings
There are a lot of local business listings, but start out with the ones that people trust the most. These are the ones that potential customers go to first, so a citation from sites like Yelp, Shop City and SuperPages has a lot of impact right away, not just in rankings, but in driving traffic directly to you. Also, WhiteSpark.ca says:
Google may be king, but make sure you also have correct and complete listings on Bing Places, Yahoo Local, and Apple Maps.
You certainly don’t want all your eggs in the same basket and getting a citation on these listings is a great way of hedging your bet.
Start Building Quantity
Once you’re done with the more influential listings, you can then start rolling over to the more obscure yet still reputable ones. Moz.com recommends:
Perform searches for category terms, service terms, and geographic terms to see what comes up in the search engine results. The websites that come up may be places you would like to list your business, if possible.
How much work that needs to be done will depend on how much competition you have. If there isn’t that much competition, you probably won’t have to build quite so many citations or can just do it on occasion. However, if there is a lot of competition, you’ll definitely want to put in more work, especially if you aren’t ranking anywhere near as high as you’d like to be in the listings.
Maintain Your Citations as the Information Changes
Even if the information is maintained across all your citations, there will be those occasions where you will have to do a little more maintenance. Even moving to a different suite number will be enough to render your citations inaccurate, and these inaccuracies will continue to multiply the longer you leave them unresolved. Try to keep a list of where your business has been cited, then try to do a search using your old contact information to find other sites where erroneous citations might be.