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For Local SEO, What is a Citation?

Are you a small business owner? If you are, perhaps you have already established local searches to be your main avenue of traffic. Despite the smaller focus compared to regional searches, standing out can still be challenging for your site.


Local searches can connect you to a significant bulk of your target audience and clientele. According to Search Engine Journal, up to 76% of searches on mobile devices were made for businesses and services within a five-mile radius.


What does this figure tell us? It points us to the power of dominating local searches. One of the most pivotal steps in local SEO is the process of gaining citations.


Citations are some of the most valuable tools you can have in your local SEO arsenal. However, despite their importance, they remain either misunderstood or undervalued.


In this post, we’ll try to put you ahead of your competitors by explaining local citations. Also, we’ll talk about why you need them and how to build them for local SEO.


Are you interested? Read on!


What Is a Local Business Citation?


It pays to revisit a time when you first heard of the word “citation.” Very likely, you may have heard the word outside of SEO or as you’re learning the ins and outs of digital marketing. We’re willing to bet that you heard the word within the four walls of a classroom.


In academic parlance, a citation is a mention of another source you used for a paper or something you studied or researched. It adds credibility to your work but also acknowledges the contributions or ideas of another source.


Now, what does this have to do with what a local citation is for SEO? The concept is not too different. A citation in the context of local SEO will usually come from online directories. Online directories like Google My Business or niche directories like TripAdvisor mention sites.


Think of these and other online directories as a student working on a paper. If your business appears to contribute enough value with services and availability, it will be worth an acknowledgment from these directories.


In a nutshell, that is what a local citation is:


A local citation is a mention of your business in online directories. Your site being mentioned anywhere online can contribute to your ranking — especially in local searches. It is for this reason that you need to pay attention to how well you get citations.


What Are the Results of Building Local Citations


Local citations on any directory can propel you up the “Snack Pack” results of Google’s search engine results pages (SERPs). The Snack Pack results are usually on top of the organic search results. The Snack Pack results show you a list of businesses within the area.


The second result of successful citation generation is arguably more important for local SEO. For building citations in well-established directories, your site or business page can end up on Google’s Local Pack Listing.


Google’s Local Pack Listing features businesses that are close to the user. When a user searches for a service or product (which you provide), Google uses its geotagging algorithm to direct the user to a nearby establishment.


As a result, you maximize the chances of getting site visits. This can lead to:

  • Better local rankings with enough traffic
  • More conversions and purchases


Whichever the result, you can bet that being on the Local Listings is good for your business.


How To Build Local Citations


Now that we’ve covered the importance of local business citations, how do you build them? According to Search Engine Journal, building citations comes right down to the following processes:

  1. Listing your business consistently in the right directories
  2. Optimizing your business information
  3. Tracking your citation’s performance


Let’s go over these three in greater detail.


List Your Business in the Right Directories


At the time of writing, there are hundreds of online directories. If you’re willing to play the long game, you might be under the impression that you would have to list your business in all of them. As you can imagine, doing this would be nothing short of painstaking.


Quality over quantity is the motto for the day. When it comes to directories, you only need to select the ones that will provide you with the most bang for your buck.


Right off the bat, this means including your business in:


The best thing about these directories is that they will allow you to list your business for free.


You can also seek out other industry-specific directories with the help of:


Optimize Your Business Listing


Optimizing your business listing in online directories involves several actions.


First, you’ll have to include the big three of business information. Namely, your business information should contain your business:

  • Name
  • Address
  • Phone number or other contact details


Aside from putting in the right information, you’ll have to ensure that it is consistent across all of your selected directories.


The second thing you need to do is to use keywords in your business description. As we all know, keywords will add points to the relevance of your business, depending on the searches. Having the right keywords can help direct more users to you.


When using Google My Business, you can add a secondary business category. This is also an opportunity to use keywords.


Track Your Citation Performance


Many think that it’s not possible to track your citations' performance. In reality, all that you need to do this is your Google Analytics account. Also, there are tools coming out that allow you to measure how your citations are doing. Some tools are:

  • Little Warden
  • Screaming Frog


Be aware, however, that you might have to pay to access the full features of these tools.


Final Thoughts


Citations are crucial to any local SEO marketing campaign. Citations in online directories not only help you up the local listings of Google but also help customers near you find you.


Does your local business struggle with attracting local customers and site traffic? We at Agency Jet. can help you with:

  • Local SEO
  • Regional SEO
  • On-page SEO
  • Technical SEO
  • Off-page SEO


We have the services that can help your business up Google’s SERPs regardless of its size. For small business SEO that can help you gain visibility, look no further than Agency Jet!

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