Local citations are an important SEO ranking factor and general foundation for digital marketing to any business, whether your business is:
- A Physical Local Bricks-and-Mortar Business
- A Local Business, and an Online Business
- An Online only Business
First of all – What are local citations?
A local citation is any reference/mention of your business Name, Address, Phone number (NAP) on another website. In a similar way to links, Google and other search engines use citations to evaluate the authority of your website. However, unlike links, citations don’t actually need to link to your website to be valuable to you. Simply having your NAP mentioned in plain text on another website is enough for you to be credited.
Example: Webfirm, 85 Coventry Street, Level 2, Melbourne, (1300 932 347)
There is no set standard for citation structure, but consistency in your citations across the Internet connects them all more clearly/valuably for search engine reference. Partial citations are less valuable, but can include variations of your name and phone number, name and address, address and phone number, etc.
The most obvious source of citations are online directories, such as YellowPages.com.au, TrueLocal.com.au, SuperPages.com.au, Yelp.com.au, HotFrog.com.au… the list goes on…
But contrary to popular belief, these are not the only valuable source. Citations from bloggers, forums, social media sites, news outlets, Q&A sites and more, can be extremely valuable also! If a blog or forum or news outlet is specific to your industry, then having local citations on these websites can strongly affirm to Google that you are a serious player in a particular area or industry, worthy of appearing in their search results.
Why are Local Citations Important?
Along with other factors such as links and reviews, local citations are a leading ranking factor for search engines to decide on the relevance of your website for local search results. Basically, to them, a business that is mentioned a lot on other websites (especially trusted websites, relevant to your location or industry) surely deserves a higher ranking in search results than a business that is not mentioned at all.
High ranking for search results inevitably mean that more people find your business website, which can only have a positive impact on your online traffic, foot traffic, enquiries, conversions, or whatever it is your business is looking for!
So, how can Local Citations help your Business… local or non-local.
Local Businesses – most obviously, local businesses benefit from citations that boost search engine rankings in a number of ways:
- Enhances Local Search Rankings. Say your business is a Pizza Shop in Melbourne: local citations (whether that be in business directories, restaurant forums, or foodie blogs) will tell Google that you’re worthy of ranking highly when people search “Pizza Shop Melbourne” – allowing more people to find your business.
- Boosts Map Visibility. If Google rates your business based off local citations, then if somebody in the area locally searches relevant keywords in Google Maps, your business is more likely to pop-up – bringing people through your doors.
- Boosts Domain Authority. With local citations increasing your local rankings, this ultimately enhances your websites overall domain authority, giving your business website a better chance of ranking for a whole range of more complex search queries that are not just relevant to local or map searches.
Local and Online Businesses – businesses that sell in-store, but also sell online, can benefit in many of the same ways as purely bricks-and-mortar businesses (as mentioned above) but also have other unique benefits for their online presence… mainly revolving around the term ‘traffic’.
Where above, traffic = customers walking through the door; whether that be as a result of finding you on a Google Maps search, or as a high ranking result for a location specific search – here, these businesses still benefit from that physical traffic, but also from online traffic to their website.
Website traffic, as touched on in our previous ‘Blog About Blogging’, is extremely beneficial to any business website – obviously increasing exposure and authority, as well as correlating positively to conversion rates.
When it comes to online only businesses, some doubts start to arise as to the benefits of local citations. However, on top of boosting domain authority and the website traffic rewards mentioned above, there are additional benefits to be gained from local citations.
Although, as an online business with a potentially worldwide market, you may not be interested in a localised target audience, local citations – whether they be local to your home office, rented workspace, favourite café, or anywhere else local to where your domain is registered – represent a specific market where your competitors cant compete with you. This is the glory of local citations. Your competitors who aren’t in your region cannot acquire these citations that your website can be credited for, simply by virtue of your location.
Local citations can also be seen as beneficial trust signals for Google – who analyse these as signals to be assured that your business is legit, clearly operates from a particular region, and can be trusted to potentially direct Google searchers to – whether they be local or non-local.
In conclusion, local citations should be considered an important SEO ranking factor and digital marketing foundation for any business website, whether you operate a bricks-and-mortar shop that utilises local search rankings, map search visibility and domain authority to attract customers through your doors – or an online store that can benefit from increased traffic, and gain an exclusive location based audience over your competitors.
For further information regarding local citations, or help acquiring these valuable marketing assets for your business website, contact the professionals at Webfirm today.