A few months back, my brother, a few friends and I wanted to go to an indoor skate park. Their citation and their website both listed hours from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m.
We drove about 45 minutes to get there, only to find that they’re not even open during the summer.
Luckily, there was an outdoor park not too far away.
Nevertheless, do you think this motivated me to give them my business, or trust any information posted by them online?
In any case, every company needs to consistently attract new clientele in order to survive, but to do this, potential customers need to easily be able to find you and trust the information they find.
Gone are the days of flipping through thousand-page phone books.
When people want to find a business today, they go online.
A survey from BrightLocal found that in 2017, 97 per cent of consumers looked online for local businesses, and 12 per cent of respondents said they go online to look for local businesses every day.
Statistics like this show how important it is for businesses to have local citations.
Local citations make it easier for local consumers to find your business and get in contact with you, and they can improve your search engine ranking, making many of your marketing efforts that much more effective.
With greater visibility in the search engine results and information about your business being more accessible, more customers and increased sales aren’t far behind.
But at this point, some of you might be wondering, ‘What the hell are citations anyway?’
So, before I go any further, let’s get into it.
The Significance of Citations and How to Go About Getting Them
What Are Citations?
In their most basic form, citations are simply listings containing information about your business, such as its name, address and phone number.
They’re typically found on citation sites and online directories, which are basically the digital equivalent of a phone book.
This includes the major players like Bing, Google My Business, Yelp, Foursquare and social media platforms that facilitate reviews, such as Facebook, as well as area- and industry-specific sites, professional associations, chamber of commerce websites and even blogs or news sites.
Some of these platforms charge a fee for citations, while others are completely free. In many cases, they’ll allow you to set up a basic profile for free but put additional features behind pay-walls.
In addition to name, address and phone number (NAP), many other things can be included in citations, such as:
- Fax numbers
- Email addresses
- Hours of operation
- Links to websites/social media
- Methods of payment accepted
- Business categories/descriptions
If you want an example of what a citation looks like, the image below shows The Best Media’s Google My Business listing.
Why Do Citations Matter?
Besides just making it easier for people to find your business and get in contact with you, citations can have a significantly positive impact on your search engine rankings.
How many citations you have, their accuracy and the authority of the platforms where your citations can be found are all factors that influence your ranking.
As with most ranking factors, we don’t know all the specifics, but what we do know is that search engines collect data about businesses that are found in their listings.
If the data they find is reliable, meaning information about your business is consistent across all your citations, then the search engines will consider your business to be more trustworthy, which is a big deal when it comes to your ranking.
A BrightLocal survey of local search experts found that 90 per cent of them think accurate citations are important for your local search ranking.
However, if there are any inconsistencies in the citations, it’s going to work against you and your rank, because you’re now going to be perceived as less trustworthy, not only by the search engines, but also by prospective customers.
In a nutshell, if they’re done right, citations can be of great benefit to your business, but if they’re not done properly, they can have the opposite effect.
Keep reading for some tips on how to go about acquiring and updating your citations.
How to Obtain and Maintain Your Citations
Getting citations definitely isn’t rocket science, so I don’t how much I can say on this.
You’re basically just setting up accounts and filling out profiles on sites that provide these listings.
If you’re trying to obtain citations on other platforms, such as blogs or news websites, you can just reach out to the site owners or administrators and ask if they’ll accept guest postings.
If they do, send them a blog or an article that includes a description of your business and contact information, and hopefully they’ll like your content enough to post it.
Some site owners are really against this sort of thing, but the worst they can do is reject it.
High Authority Only
When we’re talking about a website, the term high authority simply refers to how trustworthy and popular the search engines deem it to be.
You should only have citations listed on sites with high domain authority and a low spam score.
Citations on sites with low domain authority or a high spam score will provide negligible results, at best, and can actually harm your search engine rankings.
The easiest way to find high authority sites is to do random Google searches for various kinds of businesses.
The citation sites that consistently show up on the first few pages of search results are typically high-quality directories.
But if you want to eliminate the guess work, Moz’s Link Explorer is a great tool for looking up the domain authority and spam score of any website.
When it comes to domain authority, a score of 50 or higher is what you want.
As for spam score, it shouldn’t be any higher than a 3.
Accuracy is Key
Unfortunately, it’s all too common to look up a business, only to find that their website link directs you to a site that no longer exists, the phone number’s not there, there’s no address listed, the address is wrong, or the hours of operation are incorrect.
Errors like this not only hurt your search engine ranking, but also your credibility with people looking to give you their business.
So, if your address, phone number, website URL, or anything else has changed, make sure to update all your citations as quickly as possible.
This way, you can avoid any of the negative consequences, such as pissing off potential customers or contributing to Google’s already crippling trust issues.
The More Citations, The Better
While this is true, it’s a double-edged sword.
More citations in more places means more chances for people to find you, and if they’re consistent, the potential for a higher search engine ranking.
But this also requires setting up all these listings, which can be a tedious process.
And if something like your address or phone number changes, you have to go through the process of updating that information across all your citations and hoping you didn’t forget any of them.
Luckily, there’s software out there that you can use to automate these processes, and any good digital marketing agency (hint, hint, nudge, nudge) will be able to provide a citation service, as well.
Want to reap the benefits of citations, but can’t be bothered to set up all the accounts and keep them updated? Contact The Best Media, check out our citation service and let us take care of it for you.