What’s the deal with citation building?
You would imagine Google and other search engines could pull the business data from the many numbers of directories and sources. Though that’s not always the case.
The number of businesses grows each year — imagine the amount that’s trying to get online and claim their fame to a local search.
Search engines need semantic data to process and confirm information. Citations are a way to provide search engines with that data. Doing so improves the chances of being found in local search. A bump in local? A bump in sales.
This article will go through the idea and process of citation building. It will detail their myths. Along with why it may be best to rely on experts to combat the competition and stand out in the local marketplace.
What is Citation Building for Local SEO?
Citations are mentions of your business.
These mentions are a key indicator for Google and other search engines to recognize the information provided by your business. It’s what the industry calls the NAP (Name, Address, Phone Number).
These are the main items people seek in an online search:
- Hours of operation
These citations come from many sources:
- Yellow Pages
- Social mentions
Among many others which aid in identifying local citations.
The fact that 50% of consumers using a smartphone search (and 34% on computers and tablets) went into the store on the same day is enough to tell you that it’s worthwhile to conduct citation building and local SEO.
Citation building, in a nutshell, is using a combination of on-site and external channels to reinforce the business information. It starts with confirming the business on major platforms then follows suit by reusing the NAP (and other) information to create a continuity.
Think of it like link building.
You want to create links which point to specific information to improve traction and relevance. The same is done with the citation data. Match the information, let search engines reinforce the continuity, and you’ll claim the listing and local keywords — giving you an advantage.
Citation Building: 5 Myths to Avoid
Now let’s get into the juicy stuff.
The point where we cover the local SEO and citation building. Not just what works but what doesn’t. The strategies trounced by “experts” yet have little substance for local rankings.
The myths. The strategies that could harm those rankings.
Let’s tackle the problems:
Minor differences don’t matter
A spelling mistake or small variance of the address seems like it would be a killer. That’s not always the case. Google and other search engines have improved AI and machine learning to the point they pick up basic mistakes such as duplicates and mismatch results.
Don’t worry if everything is correct — just that the main site and Maps listings are accurate. The rest will sort itself out.
Fixing the incorrect data
This falls into the same category as above.
You may have used a service to blast your business information across hundreds of local directories. That was good for the time — though now they barely hold value — but the big concern is when business info changes.
Do you need to change these listings? No.
Outside of Yelp, Google, FB, and the other major platforms… people don’t care. They aren’t finding you through some hyper-niche local directory. Nor are you gaining traction from the site. So don’t worry. You have better things to do.
Set it and forget it
You’ve gone with an automated service to gain citations and local listings. That’s great. It ran for a while but soon you address the budget issue and cut it from your expenses.
Some of these automated services revert to previous information or disappear entirely. Why? That’s a good question to ask if you’re considering one of these local SEO and citation building services.
However, the gist of it all is that the information becomes dated. These automated services help preserve recent information. The best bet is to budget these services accordingly so keep them out of site and out of mind. Knowing they’re working for your gain but without racking up the bills.
Mimicking old information
You took over the phone number or address of a closed business. What do you do if this seems to show old information?
Google catches on to these changes. They will track information based on the old, outdated business and yours. In due time they will confirm your business is the new owner of the location and prominent information.
It’s all about citations
Local SEO is more about citation building.
Yes, that’s an important aspect that will build the foundation but there are other aspects such as content development and social media interaction.
Your content which answers questions for the local community will have higher placement and with it comes additional chances to reconfirm your NAP. The same goes for being active in social. It builds toward a larger SEO strategy.
There’s more but these are the major ones. Cut these out of the picture and you’ve done the most you can do to avoid citation building problems. Those smaller items could be tweaked in time — for now — focus on the big wins.
Of course, you could always…
Learn from the Experts
Local SEO and citations have evolved over the past decade.
It’s not as simple as adding the business to Google search and hoping it shows for local keywords. HTML and semantics matter along with external references.
Want to cut to the chase and make citation and local SEO work for you?
- Budget and hire local SEO services to tweak and refine campaigns
- Join a free webinar or watch YouTube videos covering local SEO topics
- Attend conferences and meetups with local webmasters and business owners to discuss strategies
- Follow best practices and guides from SEO experts
There’s a lot of information floating around online. All that matters is that you provide the correct information (NAP and extras) on the site and third party sites.
In time — the search engines will confirm this information.
Double down the moment the business has been indexed. Improve through strategies covered by experts and experimentation of your own.
You’ll get a hang of it all. Just avoid the costly mistakes.
So… what local SEO and citation strategies do you use in business?