With all the talk about links; too many links, not enough links, good links, bad links, natural links, unnatural links, links as Penguin food … it is easy for people to forget that good Local SEO should include citation management.
What are Citations?
Citations are “mentions” of your business name and address on other web pages, usually directories. Citations are also known as web references. Citations are not necessarily links and citations are not necessarily a direct result of your efforts. There are thousands of directories that include your business information without your knowledge and if the data is inaccurate it can lead to confusion among potential customers and could potentially harm your ranking.
Citations are a key component of ranking algorithms used by the major Search Engines. If all other factors were equal, businesses with a greater number of citations with an exact (or close) match, will probably rank higher than a business with fewer citations.
The Best Citations
Citations from well-indexed directories such as Yelp, Superpages.com, MerchantCircle.com, MyLocally.com and YellowPages.com can improve your Local Search Engine rankings. Don’t forget to add and claim your business in Google Places, Yahoo! Local Listings and Bing Local Listings.
Citations are a great way for both customers and Search Engines to authenticate your validity. Membership in associations, chambers of commerce, groups, business directories, and local newspapers or popular blogs are great citations.
Citations are important for ALL industries, but have a greater impact for industries where business owners are less SEO savvy and often don’t have a website for themselves. Without much other information, the search engines rely heavily on whatever information they can find and citations are a great source.
You don’t often get to decide what online properties your business will show up in or how accurate the information is. But that doesn’t mean as a business owner you should just throw your hands up in frustration, you should make it part of your (or whoever is managing your online presence) Local SEO check list.
One suggestion for managing your on line citations is to periodically search your business name. Check how and where your business is listed and make certain it is accurate. Don’t forget to also search your business address and phone number, you might be surprised with what you discover.
Claim and update it as many places as you can. Be certain to take a few minutes to analyze the features of these directories and create a strategy for which ones provide value and warrant your attention.
Now search your competitors listing and determine if they show up in industry directories and whether you should add your business.
Don’t forget to search for directories using a local search query for your industry, ie. Plumber in Temecula, CA.
The latest changes to Google’s algorithm reinforces good old fashioned network building, but in addition to old fashioned hand shaking in the community, today’s business owners need to make sure that their name is consistent and ever present on the Internet through careful management of business citations.