We’ve defined citations as any web-based reference of your local business’ name, address, and phone number, and we’ve explained how they affect search engine visibility and rankings. Now, let’s outline a plan for building and earning these vitally important references.
1). Google comes first Google is such a fundamental local business asset that many local SEO experts don’t term it a “citation.” That being said, your Google My Business listing is the most important listing to develop and manage well. Google’s domination of local search makes your listing there incredibly valuable.
2). Core structured citations Search engines, local business directories, and apps offer a specific structure for building out listings. There’s a core set of quality platforms on which nearly any type of local business can get listed. In the US, these would include:
At the very least, each local business needs to create and manage an accurate listing on all of the above platforms, ensuring that they don’t have duplicate listings on any of them.
There are several options for dealing with your core citations. You can build and manage them manually, keeping track of their ongoing status in a spreadsheet. You could also pay a third party to do this for you. Finally, you can opt for the convenience of an automated citation management service like Moz Local, which not only builds citations but also alerts you to any changes made to them and tracks your progress over time. Some core citations are free, while others are either paid or offer both free and paid listings.
3). Geo- and industry-specific platforms Depending on your industry and the physical location of your business, additional platforms may offer opportunities for building more high-value structured citations. For example, hotels and other hospitality industry enterprises can get listed on the very popular travel review website, TripAdvisor.com. Doctors can get listed on a site like HealthGrades.com. Attorneys can get listed at FindLaw.com. General contractors, home service providers, and many other business models will be able to seek out professional/trade association sites on which to build additional citations. Chamber of commerce websites, local business associations, and community hubs also offer places to get listed which are specific to the geography you serve. Some of these citations will be free, while others may require payment. A good rule of thumb is to only pay for a listing on a geo/industry platform if it will send enough traffic or transactions your way to justify the expense.
4). Unstructured citations An unstructured citation occurs on any website or app that isn’t specifically structured for the publication of local business listings. For example, mentions in a news article, a blog post, or on a social media platform act as a reference to your business, just like a structured citation. You can build unstructured citations by submitting editorials or other material to local newspapers, getting featured on blogs, sponsoring groups or events, or engaging in social media campaigns. Additionally, you can earn voluntary mentions of your business by publishing exceptional content, being newsworthy, or by simply being popular. Once a local business has built its Google My Business listing, its core citations, and its geo/industry-specific citations, it’s rarely worth it to continue building an endless supply of citations on low-quality directories. Instead, focus on earning new unstructured citations from noteworthy websites and apps, as they can introduce your brand to new audiences and bring new traffic and transactions to your business. In competitive markets, valuable unstructured citations (like a mention in a major online news piece) can be competitive difference-makers.
5). Don’t forget your website We’re mentioning it last, but your website is the most authoritative representation of your business data on the Internet. Be sure that your name, address, and phone number are formatted and spelled consistently any place they appear on your site. Don’t overlook your header and footer, or references deep within pages of your site. If any part of your business data changes, audit your entire website to correct all references.
6). Remember that all citations serve a dual purpose: To be visible on the platforms that your consumer base uses so that they can find accurate information about your company and connect with it To ensure that search engines like Google find a broad and accurate representation of your business around the web on quality platforms, increasing your chances of ranking well in the local SERPs for important terms. Your ultimate, unifying goal when building citations is to make sure that both consumers and search engines are being properly informed about your business information anywhere it’s published on the web.